For eight years, George W. Bush has managed to incarnate and reinforce all the prejudices and negative stereotypes the world has of the US. He has antagonized the world more than any other American president before him, seriously damaging America’s “soft” power by inefficient and excessive use of its “hard” power.
Reconciling the United States with itself and the world should thus be the twin priorities for America’s next president. If there is one candidate who can accomplish this, who can contribute, in a split second, to restoring America’s international reputation, it is Barack Obama.
Exceptional periods sometimes create exceptional leaders. Without the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte would have remained a gifted and frustrated junior military officer. Likewise, the current period in America and its relations with the world have been truly exceptional, requiring a leader who can fundamentally challenge a global majority’s view that America has become arrogant, impotent, and selfish.
Of course, diehard anti-Americans will never be persuaded, but they remain a minority, with the possible exception of the Muslim world. The silent majority is ready to be convinced that there is life after Bush.