In Nov. 2008, President Obama’s election “unleashed a renewed love for the United States after years of dwindling goodwill” — generating overwhelmingly positive responses from around the globe. UK Conservative Party Leader David Cameron, now the country’s Prime Minister, said at the time that Obama’s election “shows that the United States is a beacon of hope and opportunity and change.”
Last night on Fox News, Newt Gingrich tried to advance the illusion that the world has reacted similarly to the GOP’s strong showing in Tuesday’s midterms:
GINGRICH: I mean, imagine if you were in China as a dictatorship and you watched the American people cheerfully firing people, and you thought to yourself, Wow, that’s a pretty cool idea. Or imagine you were an Iranian student thinking, you know, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to fire Ahmadinejad, the way Americans go about their politics? So I think it actually strengthens us.
The other is, I think this was a real signal to the world not to assume that the United States is a weak, timid country, not to assume that we’re going to tolerate bad economic policies and not to assume that we’re a country you’re going to be able to push around or run over because I think the American people are exhibiting a robust willingness to change the entire game. And that’s a pretty good historic reminder to other countries that we are a remarkably powerful, and if necessary, remarkably dangerous country when people try to behave in a predatory way towards us.
However, this reception Gingrich speaks of only exists in his mind. In fact, the world is worried that the U.S. will actually be tolerating bad economic policies such as wanting to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich, as the New York Times reports today:
“The rest of the world, including Asia, is looking at the United States and seeing no real effective policy measures in bringing the economy back on track,” said Bart van Ark, the chief economist at the Conference Board, which measures American economic indicators. “That is making the U.S. lose its legitimacy in the global economic community as a leader in terms of providing solutions.” [...]
“Republican claims to fiscal probity are a little difficult to buy into,” said Simon Tilford, the chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London. “What they’re advocating would probably increase the deficit rather than effect the dramatic reduction which they claim they want to bring about.”
Benedict Brogan, deputy editor of the right of center Daily Telegraph in London said “you will find folk in Downing Street who fear mainstream Republicans are on the wrong economic path.”
As the AP reported, “China’s interest in the elections was high,” but not because the Chinese want to be like the U.S., as Gingrich said, but because of worries “about the election’s fallout on the U.S.-China relationship, which has been marked by tensions over trade and currency.”
And Iranians probably don’t heed American election results as an impetus to remove Ahmadinejad from office — as last year’s disputed election protests in Iran clearly demonstrated. A Tehran University professor of North American studies said that Iranians view the U.S. midterms and are actually more concerned about “easing tensions” between Iran and the U.S., something the new GOP House majority will be fighting against.