Barack Obama a Year Later: The World View

"We like what he said, but it was too much. It's actually become counter-productive and done harm while he's tried to achieve good," said Mishaal Al Gergawi, a newspaper columnist based in Dubai who said Obama is perceived as "weak" and "reactionary" on Iran.

There is also frustration with what is seen to be the administration's continuing support for Israel and its inability to extract a proper settlement freeze from the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Israel, people have grown suspicious of the new president. Many are still captivated by his charisma, but supporters of the right-wing government feel his earlier insistence on a settlement freeze was unfair and revealed a bias towards the Palestinians.

Relations with Netanyahu's government started badly and have been slow to improve.

"He's about more than rhetoric, because it's reminiscent of a time when America really came through for the world," Al Gergawi said. "I don't think he's going to have any headway in the Middle East."


Last year, as speculation swirled over issues of security and the future of U.S.-Japan relations, the nations' leaders, who both were inaugurated in 2009, met.

President Obama and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama agreed that the alliance between the two countries needed to be strengthened to reflect the new challenges of the 21st century. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

"America's commitment to Japan's security is unshakeable," read Tuesday's statement from the White House, "and our cooperation to meet common challenges is a critical part of our engagement with the world."

This "cooperation" is being watched closely. Last week, Japan ended its naval refueling mission in the Indian Ocean that was supporting U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan. And last month, Prime Minister Hatoyama delayed by several months a contentious decision about the possible relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

While many residents -- especially those from the namesake town, Obama -- welcomed the president's visit to Japan last year, many hope the Nobel Peace Prize recipient will find time to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities directly hit by U.S.-detonated atomic bombs.

"As a Japanese citizen," Toshikawa commented, "I highly esteem President Obama's leadership in pursuit of nuclear abolition speeches."

Despite the issues the Obama administration faces, Toshikawa said, "I sincerely hope that they keep pursuing the theme of 'change' and sustain the passion we all evidenced when they assumed the government."


"The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world," said Obama said last July.

Since then, the relationship has been somewhat tested.

During his trip to China last November, Obama experienced firsthand the powerful PR machine of the People's Republic's censors.

His speech on the merits of Internet freedom was not carried on any major T.V. channel. And when the floor was opened to questions from the audience of students from Shanghai, the microphone was not handed out at random. Those who asked the president questions had been carefully selected.

He left the trip disappointed, returning with none of the hoped-for concessions on trade and climate change. And climate change caused more tension between Obama and his Chinese counterpart during the Copenhagen conference.

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