By: Harold Michael Harvey
I’ve written elsewhere how enormously busy this president has been since taking office less than 100 days ago. He drafted and moved through congress the most massive spending legislation in the nation’s history, fired the president of General Motors Corporation and sent congress a three trillion dollar budget to wrestle with while he traveled across the pond to be wooed on the world stage.
What are the five things the president accomplished in his first major overseas foray?
1. He set a new tone and alerted the world that America came to listen and not to dictate. The strength of his message is that America is prepared to take back the moral authority it lost during the Bush years in the White House.
2. Queen Elizabeth was dazzled by the charm and grace of the president and Mrs. Obama. The Queen in a rare show of emotion hugged the waist of Mrs. Obama, who returned the show of affection without any of the backlash that other visiting officials received in the past.
3. He demonstrated his hand at settling disputes when he came between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Republic of China President Hu Jintao when the two argued over tax shelters in the Republic of China. Sarkozy threatened to walk out of the G-20 conference if he did not get his way. The American president witnessed the exchanged and got the two men to agree on a resolution to this sticky problem.
4. President Obama spoke to the Turkish Parliament and declared that America was not at war with Islam. This message is sure to resonate in the Muslim world and is the beginning of a dialogue between America and Saudi Arabia, a major broker in peace negotiations in Northeast Africa.
5. The president paid a surprised visit to the troops in Iraqi just hours after a car bomb killed several people outside the capital. His message to the troops clearly defined the American mission during his administration. He told the troops that it was time to turn over operations to the Iraqi forces. A sure signal that he will keep his campaign pledge to bring the troops home from Iraqi.
Pundits will spend the next several days talking about the success or failure of President Obama’s first tour abroad using the old paradigms of the 20 th century, but as I discovered last summer on the campaign trail, this president can not be judged by any model we have seen in the past.
There is a new world leader on center stage. He is humble, he is a diplomat. He is a peacemaker. Yet he must change the world to his vision on disarmament, as he did in resolving the dispute between France and the Republic of China, or he will leave his country weaker than it was when he began.
© April 8, 2009