Much of the World Applauds Obama

"There's a belief that Obama will certainly pursue policies that will move the United States away from the policies pursued by the Bush administration," said Tariq Fatmi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

"Redirect the relationship towards one of economic engagement, support for people-oriented programs. Present America as a promoter of good rather than a messenger of death and destruction."


And nowhere, perhaps, does America have the reputation of such a messenger moreso than in the Middle East. Much will hinge on Obama's Israel policy and his ability to bring peace to this fractious region.

Most Israelis have been captivated by his charisma, his youthfulness and skills of communication. Many say they wish they had a politician like Obama there. Israelis will be voting in their own elections in February.

During the long campaign the majority of Israelis and their political commentators have become convinced that a President Obama will not compromise on Israel's main preoccupation, security.

If there are reservations, they concern his apparent desire to engage with America's enemies in the Middle East.

He has said he will talk with Iran about its nuclear ambitions, which makes some Israelis nervous. A nuclear Iran is their No. 1 fear and, despite today's euphoria, some there will be wondering if the future president will be tough enough on Tehran.


Obama's stance on Iraq has been a cornerstone of his campaign. He wants to bring troops home within the first 16 months of his presidency.

This policy made headlines earlier in the year after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared to use Obama's plan of a 2010 troop withdrawal during negotiations with the Bush administration. Many interpreted this as an oblique endorsement of Obama by Maliki.

But this does not mean all will be clear sailing between Maliki and Obama.

The Iraqi prime minister is more concerned with playing to an internal audience and consolidating his power in upcoming local elections. Iraq's state broadcaster, al Iraqia Television, which Maliki controls, chose not to carry any of the live coverage of Tuesday's elections or even report the results in its regular morning broadcast.

Al Iraqia's decision to ignore the American election is seen by some as a more calculated message from the government, designed to show that Iraq is truly a sovereign nation not the least bit concerned about who will lead the United States for the next four years.

Indeed, when asked their opinions about Barack Obama's historic victory, many people in the streets of Baghdad on their way to work this morning had the same question: When will the Americans go home?

"The Iraqi people were hoping that Barack Obama would win the U.S. presidential elections because Iraqis know that he issued orders to withdraw the troops," one elderly man wearing traditional dress said. "Iraqis are optimistic about this decision."

But another man wasn't as hopeful about an immediate change in U.S. policy: "Obama's victory won't change anything because U.S. interests in Iraq and the whole Middle East region are selfish," he said. "U.S. policy is all the same, whether it's Barack or McCain."

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