The international candidate

The last eight years have cost our nation much, from human life to personal liberty to, most recently, our sense of economic security. Still, the most tragic loss may be that of AmericaâÄôs eminence around the globe. The world has taken notice of the declining state of our nation, and never before has the United StatesâÄô standing abroad been so short and uninspiring. Recent polls at the Pew research center reveal that the worldâÄôs opinion of this country, both among enemies and allies alike, has decreased sharply since the year 2000. (Thanks G.W.) Whoever occupies the Oval office come January will have an enormous and perhaps insurmountable task of washing clean the United StatesâÄô stained image around the world. The sour taste of President George W. BushâÄôs arrogant policies will remain in the mouth of the world and simply cannot be cleansed by an election cycle. The shadow of this administration will surely cast over the next presidency and Barack Obama or John McCain will carry with them the faults of their predecessor. The annual Transatlantic Trends Survey in 2002 found that 64 percent of Europeans thought that American leadership in the world was desirable; six years later, the same survey found that support for US leadership is now down to 36 percent. The begrudging memory of the Bush years will not soon leave the forefront of the foreign mind, and this will hamper any effort to restore AmericaâÄôs image abroad. To have any hope of recapturing our once dignified distinction in the world, we must elect the man who least resembles Bush. McCain would be perceived as a mere continuation of the Bush doctrine and cannot be considered a realistic candidate for recalling the hearts and minds of the world. Obama is clearly the better man for this job. ObamaâÄôs preference around the world is unquestionable. If the crowd of over 200,000 Germans at Tiergarten Park in Berlin isnâÄôt enough proof, consider recent polls: The BBC World Service recently released a survey of over 20,000 foreign nationals and, by a margin of four to one, Obama was preferred over McCain. Furthermore, on average, 46 percent of those polled said AmericaâÄôs relations with other countries would improve under an Obama presidency, while just 20 percent thought McCainâÄôs election would improve international relations. I can envision the conservative-minded population cringing at the suggestion that foreign opinion play a role in domestic politics, but itâÄôs a new age and we must recognize that never before in human history has our economic and political world been so intertwined and, thus, never before has a favorable foreign opinion been so important. In the era of globalization, AmericaâÄôs success will be increasingly dependent on the strength of our allegiances and the cooperation of our allies. The 21st century has introduced an age of unprecedented interdependence and a poor national image carries a slew of negative consequences. Our next president must offer a friendly, humble hand to a cautious, understandably defensive world. It will require great diplomatic skill to break down the walls that BushâÄôs aggressive, unilateral style has erected. Obama possesses the political talent and personal temperament to achieve this objective. McCain, who in his old age seems increasingly aggressive and eager to cling to his antagonistic military roots, is not the man we want to send into an unreceptive world. Now, more than ever, we need a president that can reach a global audience. I trust history will recall AmericaâÄôs great fortune in having a candidate that enjoys unparalleled, messiah-like international appeal. Ross Anderson welcomes comments at [email protected]