Global Disappointment in Obama Actually Rational, unlike in US (Pew)

The [pdf] Pew Charitable Trust Global Attitudes Survey finds that most publics abroad have experienced substantial disappointment in Barack Obama. Indeed, Middle Eastern Muslims are hoping Obama will be defeated next November. But, the rest of the world isn’t experiencing buyers’ remorse about Obama for the same reasons as the American public. Not even.

Global disappointment with Obama focuses on three areas, according to the poll, with the Middle East respondents more disappointed than the Europeans.

They had expected him to seek the cooperation of others rather than launching unilateral policies.

They had expected him to do something about the declining situation of the Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he did not.

They had expected him to address the problem of climate change, and from their point of view, he did not.

Aside from not meeting their expectations, he also disappointed them with a new policy, that of throwing drones down on other countries without so much as a by-your-leave.

That these genuinely important issues are the basis of global disappointment with Obama shows how divorced from reality the great American Bubble Island has become, where the bubble-headed spew complete nonsense on the airwaves on certain channels 24/7.

Most Americans don’t believe in man-made climate change! Some will allow as how it seems a mite warmer around here, but they cain’t be sure as to the whys and wherefores of it, apparently not having passed 8th grade chemistry. (The Tea Party, which doesn’t believe in climate change at all, effectively controls the House of Representatives).

Americans think the Palestinians (most of them having been made refugees or stateless or both by the Israelis) should be screwed over even more than they have been, so that Jay-sus will descend sooner from the sky in his Aryan glory.

They think ‘multilateral’ sounds suspiciously French. Bein’ French ain’t exactly a compliment in these parts, what with them havin’ turned socialist ‘n all.

And, unilaterally landing an American drone on an unidentified group of suspicious-looking brown people in another country with a funny name is just about the greatest thing in their eyes since the invention of the traveling gun show.

American disappointment with Obama took the form of the Tea Party, which was formed to make sure that white people don’t have to pay anything toward medical care for minorities, even if that means white people themselves have to go without medical care. That’ll show them.

You see the difference?

The US is peculiar in its attitudes toward reality because it is one big Company Town, where the corporations actually buy and sell politicians, where a handful of them control the major media, and where basic freedoms such as public assembly for protest and petitioning (especially against corporations like those on Wall Street) have de facto been abrogated by aggressive and militarized police tactics. It has a bizarre inheritance in racial attitudes that make the public easily divided and ruled. In short, the US is peculiarly corrupt and peculiarly authoritarian among industrialized democracies, making it possible to pull the wool over a lot of peoples’ eyes. One thing wrong with the famous Lincoln quote is that it is possible and sufficient for the plutocracy to fool most of the people most of the time.

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36 Responses

  1. If anyone believes as I do that the rock-bottom lowest a human being can sink is to support a war he or she expects anyone but themselves to fight or make sacrifices for, then the moral turpitude of Americans is clear. We crossed a moral Rubicon in early spring 2003 and we haven’t come close to recovering from it.

    That said, I hope things aren’t as bad in America as you and I think they are.

  2. “Middle Eastern Muslims are hoping Obama will be defeated next November.”

    “They had expected him to do something about the declining situation of the Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he did not.”

    The alternative, at the moment is Mitt Romney. It maybe the middle-east is unfamiliar with Romney and unaware Mitt is a steadfast hard line Zionist. Romney already clearly stated in matters of the middle-east Romney would seek the opinion and advice of his long time good friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu and Romney have been close friends since Mitt’s early days at Bain, before Mitt formed Bain Capital. Netanyahu is currently married to a former Bain partner of Mitt’s.

    Romney is strongly for the invasion of Iran and is on record wanting to expand Gitmo. Mitt’s staff advisor is Cofer Black, the CIA administrator that backed and brought in Mitchell and Jensen the creators of enhanced tortures.

    Jose Rodriguez has recently published a new book has defending enhanced tortures and justifies barbaric. Just in time for Mitt’s announcement and the brain washing of American into programs Romney will strongly be behind. Rodriguez and Black intimidated CIA agents that did not approve of the enhanced torture programs.

    Mitt Romney Torture Series
    link to

    Romney strongly backs the Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping,corruption of courts, judges and attorneys.

    If one feels Romney has a compassionate heart – they will be greatly disappointed.

    In the legal field there is a term “practice and practice”, although people in the Middle-East may not take note of the years of systematic cover-up of abuse of women and childhood sexual abuse in the LDS Church dominated over by the Romney’s. Abuse that and cover-up that often was threatening and brutal. Feeling it is not the pressing issue at hand.

    Or, they may not take note the many times Romney has been arrested, or complaints made by police for Romney flying into a rage when Romney was stopped for violating the laws, or when Romney wanted to ‘police’ the public himself – as Mitt did during the Olympics.

    They may not take note, if a young Mitt Romney who tackled a fellow student because Romney wasn’t going to ‘put up with’ the boy’s longer length haircut.

    Or note that Romney’s father indulged Mitts fascination with impersonating a police officer.

    …” laid out on his bed was a Michigan State Trooper’s uniform. He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father…. He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler. We all though, “Wow, that’s pretty creepy. And after that, we didn’t’ have much interaction with him” – Robin Madden, Romney college dorm mate.

    Pattern and practice.

  3. I agree with the assessment of the rest of the planet.

    But to be fair, from the day President Obama moved into the White House, the GOP were determined to destroy everything and anything he proposed with a historic number of filibusters and obstructions. McConnell announced to the world what the GOP intentions were—to make President Obama a one-term POTUS—and to that end they are destroying the United States and we the people and laying the blaming the President for their destruction.

    Are the GOPTea ready to do something about climate change? No, they want to abolish the EPA and deregulate corporations even more so that BP and Dutch Shell Oil can blithely continue destroying our oceans, air and Earth.

    Are the GOPTea willing to do something for Palestinians? No, they want more war and weapons as a Foreign Policy.

    Never have I seen a more uninformed and ignorant American people mesmerized into deep sleep by the pack of lies spewed by Faux and Rush and the unceasing lying negative campaign-ads thanks to Rove/Koch’s SuperPacs which what the GOPTea are counting on to get re-elected. The GOPTea are so backwards in their ideology they are attacking women’s rights at an unprecedented rate, are deeply suspicious of Science, any education, and sex education in particular.

    I’m still hoping for a miracle—that enough Americans have awakened and smell the Plutocracy and will vote-out the GOPTea and Blue Dog Dems and give our country a fighting chance to redeem ourselves not only in the eyes of the world, but in our own eyes.

    “What the people want is very simple —
    they want an America as good as its promise.”
    ~ Barbara Jordan, Congresswoman, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

    • Your comments remind me of the never fully-extinguished existence of racism which has been brought forth by Obama’s election. It’s an argument whether it has come about spontaneously or has been nurtured, but it really makes no difference.

      There appears to be a substantial # of people who would literally cut off their nose to spite their face. If that is the case, and a more balanced offset does not emerge, we have simply had it.

      • I think you’re correct, Travis. We have a “never fully-extinguished existence of racism,” especially in the McConnell’s of our government. We know that after President Obama was elected, the leaders of the GOPTea gathered together in a ‘secret’ meeting to plan how to destroy POTUS.

        What happened to a U.S. government dedicated to doing what is best for our country and we the people? Long gone, or the few that remain are seeing their voices drowned out by the corporatists.

        We need investment in our infrastructure, but the GOPTea won’t vote for it.

        We need investment in clean green energy, but the GOPTea won’t vote for it.

        We need a cease and desist attack on women’s rights, but the GOPTea are dedicated to sending woman’s rights back to the 18th century.

        President Obama is not a King and cannot do much of anything without the congress and this GOPTea-obstructing congress will not do a thing for this POTUS.

        As for the drones and the Afghan war, I lay that at President Obama’s feet. He could and should end the Afghan war today, and quit the unceasing drone attacks.

        • Well I truly agree w/ the article, the writing style is less enjoyable. The Replies though have been astute and contribute to well-rounding the piece — thanks to all, espec. Kat,
          I deeply feel that drone warfare is a setup for endless war, let alone that it’s against our American principles of the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty, etc…

        • Scott, Kat;

          In the documentary “The Fog of War”, McNamara said that General LeMay confessed that the firebombing of every major city in Japan would be ruled a war crime if it was done by the side that lost a war.

          I think the legal issues of cremation-bombing millions of people even in a Congressionally-approved war have been ignored by subsequent generations of Americans. I believe this is because the firebombings were so quickly followed by the advent of nuclear weapons. It was in the interest of American policymakers to entangle the two; if the world lets the US kill a million Japanese civilians to retaliate for Pearl Harbor, then there was no doubt that the US would do even worse if the USSR struck US military targets. However, note that once this sequence is played out with nukes, Congressional authorization disappears (probably because Congress would disappear when the first nuke hits Washington).

          The irony of this is that the Pearl Harbor-justifies-Tokyo argument made nuclear deterrence very stable; there were no doubts. But America wanted a monopoly on this argument, but ended up with the USSR equipped to join in the chorus, later joined by more and more nations.

          So the US hypocritically undermined deterrence, looking for an edge against the USSR. That meant trying to disconnect bombings of Soviet allies from Soviet retaliation, trying to wage covert wars unseen by Congress, and finding ways to reduce the death toll of bombing so we could do it whenever we pleased without consequences.

          All of these things reduced the chance of megadeath wars, at the cost of making US wars happen more often. That’s the second irony, leading directly to the drone strikes. Pick your poison.

          Now if Congress had done its job and ruled the Cold War to be a “special case” because of the USSR’s rapid overkill capability, then we’d have a clear line drawn between justifying warfare against civilians as part of a struggle with WW2-level consequences, versus using it to wage pathetic wars of colonial maintenance. But as we’ve seen with the decay of the War Powers Act, Congress doesn’t have the discipline to reassert its prerogatives in conflicts in which there is clearly no imminent danger of America being destroyed. If we lived in such a world, then it would be in Congress’ ballpark to decide whether bombing some Pakistanis while aiding other Pakistanis made any sort of sense.

          But you know what? I think in that world, Congress would still rubber-stamp whatever the Administration asked for, because it wants global hegemony maintained and the Vietnam experience taught it that merely questioning our conduct in wars of colonial maintenance can endanger our hegemony.

  4. With all due respect, I’m sure many, many of us sympathize entirely with your evident exasperation with the consistency and comprehensiveness of the trends you’ve just outlined.

    Still, you have to understand this post had me thinking at some level that your site had been hacked, to the extent you exaggerated your observations so far as to make them appear ridiculous.

    Your initially assessment of Obama got to the heart of his actual performance, aggravated by the promise of his being anything BUT such a leader. But then, with your “Most American think….” generalizations, the effectiveness toward which your point was building spun out of control.

    For some time it has struck me that truly representative democracy has a serious flaw with how the mass of yahoos can be (and now are being) mobilized. That’s why a republic is preferable, where there are several levels of responsibility insulating key policy-makers from the rabble. However, with new media focus on serving the prejudices of individual markets, and the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated propaganda tools, the freedom of responsible action by responsible (and responsibly constrained) authorities is being eroded.

    The response needs to be an offsetting discourse, AS WELL AS some new mechanism(s) to educate EVERYONE to less simplistic, black and white realities. The human condition, alas, may make that sort of awareness genetically impossible. In lieu of such new mediums and communications, it seems all we can hope for is a Benevolent King to emerge, at which point we are accepting the case for a Unitary Executive, which at best is like playing russian roulette.

    The Practical Move? See link to

    • “[I]t seems all we can hope for is a Benevolent King to emerge”

      And a Benevolent Senate, and a Benevolent House of Representatives, and Benevolent Supreme Court, and a Benevolent Armed Forces, etc…

      But hey, dreaming is free.

  5. What is it about The Captive Mind that falls for ideological solutions?

    I’ll jump ahead to what I took as the major point from what follows. Tony Judt argues that the major ideology is not anti terrorism, but our brand of capitalism which has so captured the mind that it is not possible to even imagine alternatives.

    In what follows, I am going to quote from an article by the public intellectual Tony Judt who died from ALS in 2010. His article ” You can search for … captive minds tony judt … to get the article and commentary. The article is included in a book of essays.

    The title of the article is taken from the book of that title, “The Captive Mind” written 60 years ago by the Polish-Lithuanian writer Czeslaw Miloz. He explores how the German people fell for the Nazis.

    Here is Judt’s experience teaching the book in the twenty first century

    “[W]hen I first taught the book in the 1970s, I spent most of my time explaining to would-be radical students just why a “captive mind” was not a good thing. Thirty years on, my young audience is simply mystified: Why would someone sell his soul to any idea, much less a repressive one? By the turn of the twenty-first century, few of my North American students had ever met a Marxist. A self-abnegating commitment to a secular faith was beyond their imaginative reach. When I started out, my challenge was to explain why people became disillusioned with Marxism; today, the insuperable hurdle one faces is explaining the illusion itself.”

    Friends in college teaching have noted that many Freshmen are unable to reason. They don’t understand facts or how to make an argument. With the devolution of education in the USA how are people to understand something as complex as an ideological frame.

    This is from Judt’s article published in 2010

    “Today, we can still hear sputtering echoes of the attempt to reignite the cold war around a crusade against “Islamo-fascism.” But the true mental captivity of our time lies elsewhere. Our contemporary faith in “the market” rigorously tracks its radical nineteenth-century doppelgänger—the unquestioning belief in necessity, progress, and History. Just as the hapless British Labour chancellor in 1929–1931, Philip Snowden, threw up his hands in the face of the Depression and declared that there was no point opposing the ineluctable laws of capitalism, so Europe’s leaders today scuttle into budgetary austerity to appease “the markets.” ”

    It is being played out in Europe and USA today. This article is further control by corporations.

    “But “the market”—like “dialectical materialism”—is just an abstraction: at once ultra-rational (its argument trumps all) and the acme of unreason (it is not open to question). It has its true believers—mediocre thinkers by contrast with the founding fathers, but influential withal; its fellow travelers—who may privately doubt the claims of the dogma but see no alternative to preaching it; and its victims, many of whom in the US especially have dutifully swallowed their pill and proudly proclaim the virtues of a doctrine whose benefits they will never see.”

    “Above all, the thrall in which an ideology holds a people is best measured by their collective inability to imagine alternatives. We know perfectly well that untrammeled faith in unregulated markets kills: the rigid application of what was until recently the “Washington consensus” in vulnerable developing countries—with its emphasis on tight fiscal policy, privatization, low tariffs, and deregulation—has destroyed millions of livelihoods. Meanwhile, the stringent “commercial terms” on which vital pharmaceuticals are made available has drastically reduced life expectancy in many places. But in Margaret Thatcher’s deathless phrase, “there is no alternative.” ”

    “For Miłosz, “the man of the East cannot take Americans seriously because they have never undergone the experiences that teach men how relative their judgments and thinking habits are.” “

    • Tony Judt has put out a lot of very, very worthwhile pieces, especially pertaining to the practical ramifications of events over the last decade or so, and he’s going to be missed.

    • “What is it about The Captive Mind that falls for ideological solutions?”

      The wealthy minority, whose interests conflict with those of the majority, is forced to hide its self-seeking aspirations, to pretend that its economic and political aims are those of society as a whole, and to wrap itself in the toga of non-partisanship and pseudo-social science. The only captive mind is the one that denies ideology.

    • Has there ever been an empire that was not a captive of a self-serving ideology? I don’t see how else an empire can be created. And I don’t see any alternative to its eventual doom. Unfortunately, declining empires just get mugged and usurped by rising empires with their own lies. Presumably, the newer ones have more recently taken stock of reality, their leaders have developed strategies to deal with that reality, and they have fewer entrenched interests standing in the way of their ambitions. Then the rot starts all over again. That’s about all the improvement we get out of this process.

  6. Prof. Cole, Perfect! Your latest is the best of many
    years work.

    If our present “democracy” were a horse the vet would tell
    us it had to be put down. If it were a human the doctor
    would tell the family it was time to disconnect the life
    support system. Beyond fixing.

    I was the proudest man in the USofA when Obama took the oath
    of office. I was sure that my grandchildren would see a
    minority person in the White House, and not as a janitor, but did not think that my children let alone myself would witness the day. I was conned. Mr. Obama is half black and that half never got to DC.

  7. @Kat makes a good point about GOP behavior since day one of Obama’s term.

    But I’m disappointed in Obama from a left of center progressive point of view as well. Sometimes I feel like a foreigner in my own home country.

    • I know exactly how you feel, GeorgeJanczyn.

      But we do need to remember that the GOPTea, Norquist, Rove, the Kochs and their billionaire club are obstructing President Obama every step of the way and attempting to complete the buy of their Oligarchy in November.

      The Progressive views of the great Sen. Bernie Jacobs are utterly lost on this intractable congress. Our Republic is still in the hands of the voter, for all the money of the SuperPacs, but if the majority of voters are Faux-informed, we are lost, and that is a great tragedy.

      I’ll stay optimistic and hope enough of us are awake still and will vote-out the GOPTea and vote-in more Progs/Libs/Indys along with Dems.

      • Yes, but the GOP obstructiveness had nothing to do with his de facto decision to keep Gitmo open or kill US citizens without a trial. And for Americans (I don’t really care about this one), his failure to put through single-payer medicare when he had a majority in both houses instead of the pale imitation of the Swiss medicare policy.

        There are probably other instances of failure but I don’t follow your politics that closely.

        So there is more to Obama’s failures than GOP obstructiveness.

        • Well, a majority in the Senate doesn’t mean a damn thing if your party’s senators decide to adopt rules ensuring that every major piece of legislation requires 60% approval. I’m sure the many conservative Democrats in the Senate pushed for that exactly for the purpose of joining Republicans in obstruction when their corporate masters demanded it. The question is, why did neither Senate liberals or Obama see that this would occur and take a hard stand against the Blue Dogs out of simple self-interest? In fact, the concept of single-payer was so obscure among Democrats that even liberals would have been divided on it.

          That is the nature of the Democratic Party.

  8. Immigrants rights groups are upset that he’s deported one million people. He’s set a precedent by killinng a US citizen without due process. He fought hard for government secrecy and for increased spying on Americans. But , while the right is watching Rush Limbaugh, the rest of us are watching Dancing With Octomom and letting Obama’s PR lull us to sleep.

  9. Bravo. Well said…..unfortunately, it’s nothing really very new under the sun. We’re a predominately clueless country – and damned proud of it.

  10. Hi Juan,

    In light of recent developments, have you reconsidered your position that Egypt is a model for Syria?

  11. Editor:
    is it possible to add a feature so that posters can edit posts within the first 10 minutes of posting ?
    that would improve the readability of some otherwise excellent comments.

  12. “When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”
    ― Napoleon Bonaparte

    Add this to that modern education is limited to TV’s mind numbing drivel and how to use a smartphone to play games…………

    The hope that some appreciation of the mess the US is in raised by the comments so might lead somewhere is quickly drowned by any thoughts of how difficult the task is to fix the mess; and how there might be a way upwards and with whom?

  13. It worries me that the gulf between Americans and the rest of the world is now so great that if liberal, moderate, and independent Americans knew how far to the Left everyone else is, they’d freak out and push the button. For instance, do they know that the conservative party in Mexico is the one pushing for legalizing marijuana?

    • >if liberal, moderate, and independent Americans knew how far to the Left everyone else is, they’d freak out and push the button.

      The rest of the world isn’t to the left, it’s the center. America has been levered to the right by people who want it there, and paid to get it pushed there, and pay to keep it there, primarily for purposes of personal control and profit. Mayer’s book on German subversion by Naziism, They Thought They Were Free, comes to mind. If one’s information comes primarily from the Tube or radio, effective avenues for transforming profit into influence and more profit, the resulting view is intentionally skewed. Which is why information flow via the internet is under constant attack.

      • You are correct, but I wanted to word it this way to emphasize how scared Americans would be if they actually found out that everyone else believes in universal health care, decent working conditions, global warming issues. Which by our standards means that the world is Socialist, maybe even Communist. Liberals react badly to being threatened on their left flank, because perserving wealth and capitalism still is vital to them.

  14. One thing wrong with the famous Lincoln quote is that it is possible and sufficient for the plutocracy to fool most of the people most of the time.

    Only in certain brief periods of time is wool pulling needed… election seasons.
    You only have to fool some of the people [enough voters to win] briefly. The structural problems [electoral college; ancient priestly in the Roman sense supreme court ideologues; gerrymandering in the House; the permanent gerrymander of the Senate) outweigh temporary aberrations of the electorate.

  15. This was not an unexpected outcome. Mr. Obama has shown by statement and deed that he intends to honor few of his earlier promises.

    It reminds me of the old commercial hack for Arpege perfume; “Promise them anything, but give them Arpege!” Perhaps Obama heard the commercial too many times as an youngster?

  16. Obama’s entire life has been built around creating ‘appearances’. He is more concerned with appearances than reality and the American people are only too eager to play along. The election is a beauty-ugly contest. One candidate tells us how beautiful he/she is while the other one tells us how ugly he/she really is. A significant portion of us vote on ideological lines, while the rest prefer to remain superficially informed and are waiting to be swayed by some visually appealing chimera. Concern for what the US is doing to the rest of the world while pursuing its’ own interests would be a liability not an asset in the election. The American people prefer to be fooled by the candidates because facing up to the truth would be hard work, and I mean extremely hard work and nobody has the stomach for it except idealists who have always been despised and derided by the Media hacks.

    • Roger, it is difficult for people to know what is going on in the background, what the press does not cover and/or information only known to a few. Until the ‘few’ speak up. It can be impossible for them to do so, because they have to maneuver through people who have enlarged ego’s

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