Allies’ runaway wishes to bear on Obama
The world is agog at the prospect of a Barack Obama presidency, but are expectations of a revolution in US diplomacy justified?
No US leader, including Obama if he beats Republican John McCain, can wave a magic wand to bring peace to the Middle East, or halt climate change, or force "rogue states" to renounce their nuclear schemes.
No president can ram through an international treaty or trade agreement if Congress takes umbrage.
What a president Obama would bring, however, is a vast well of goodwill in a world thirsting to re-engage with the sole remaining superpower after eight years of President George W. Bush.
"There is an acknowledgement on both sides of the Atlantic that both the Americans and the Europeans need to manage expectations," said Derek Chollet at Washington's Centre for a New American Security.
"Every European diplomat I talk to is aware of that. But it's hard for me to imagine somebody better than a president Obama in terms of the image it sends to the rest of the world about who we are," he said.
"If he is elected president, the United States will no longer be defined by Guantanamo Bay, by torture, by Iraq," said Chollet, who was the foreign policy adviser to defeated Democratic White House runner John Edwards.
Any doubts about where foreign sympathies lie in the US presidential election were dispelled by reactions to Obama's victory over Hillary Clinton in their arduous primary race.
In Britain, The Times was representative of adulatory global press coverage with its declaration that Obama had "rekindled America's faith in its prodigious powers of re-invention -- and the world's admiration for America."
Africans in general and Kenyans in particular rejoiced at the mixed-race Obama's emergence as the first black presidential candidate of a major US party.
But in a portent of disputes to come should the 46-year-old Obama beat McCain, 71, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso fretted over the Democrat's tough talk on trade.
"I think we have to discuss this... with our American friends because we need the United States of America to be the frontline for open economies in the world," the head of the European Union's executive arm said.
Both Canada and Mexico are aghast at Obama's threat to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. China has looked askance at his talk of cracking down on countries that fail to play fair in commerce.
And in the Middle East, Iran was infuriated and the Palestinians vexed by Obama's speech Wednesday to a US-Israeli lobbying group, in which he promised an "undivided" Jerusalem and vowed to "eliminate" any Iranian nuclear threat.
"Obama out-Bushed Bush with his proclamation on Jerusalem. This is not an anti-imperialist we would be electing," commented Karen Dolan of the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies.
"But it's true that he elicits those desires for the second coming of Camelot and John F. Kennedy," she said, referring to the romanticised White House of the assassinated president.
"There's so much goodwill toward him. There would be a honeymoon phase where folks at home and abroad would give him the benefit of the doubt."
In truth, provoking the ire of Tehran and the Palestinian militants of Hamas was probably the intention of Obama, who stands accused by McCain of being soft on US adversaries with his offer of direct engagement.
It is with his promise to end the war in Iraq that the Illinois senator represents the clearest break with the Bush administration, and with McCain.
That, and his promise to redeploy the US military against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, has found an eager hearing among France and other European allies grasping to mend the transatlantic rupture opened by Bush's "war on terror."
Even if Obama is the favoured son of the foreign electorate, McCain too would represent a paradigm shift in US diplomacy with his vows to attack climate change and shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.
"Both the candidates, it has to be said, are a big change on Bush," Chollet said.