By Varadarajan, Tunku
Newsweek , Vol. 160, No. 21
Byline: Tunku Varadarajan; With Luke Darby and Jane Teeling
The global reaction to Obama.
A day after the Russian Central Election Commission warned darkly that the U.S. presidential elections would be neither free nor fair, that the vote would fall woefully short of "international election principles," and that Barack Obama would wrest a win by recourse to violations of democratic norms, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appeared to welcome Obama's reelection in a post on his Facebook page. In language that was not entirely gushing, but which, in the current context of U.S.-Russian relations, should qualify as entirely cordial, Medvedev wrote that "Barack Obama is an understandable and predictable partner for us." Continuing his inelegant compliment, one that was both strained and repetitive, the Russian prime minister explained that "predictability is the most important quality for politics. In this respect, Barack Obama is a predictable enough partner for Russia, and I hope Russia is going to have normal relationship with him--that is important for the overall situation in the world." Medvedev had a message, also, for Mitt Romney, the man who'd earned Moscow's opprobrium in the course of his campaign with some famously unfriendly references to Russia. "I am glad," Medvedev stressed, with more than a hint of relish, "that the president of a very big and influential state--U.S.A.--is not going to be the man who considers Russia the enemy No. 1." Medvedev's boss, Vladimir Putin, also took note of the election. The Kremlin reported that he had congratulated Obama-- anachronistically, in this column's view--by "telegram."
A more unstinting message than Medvedev's came Obama's way from David Cameron. "Warm congratulations to my friend @Barack Obama," tweeted an elated British prime minister. "Look forward to continuing to work together." There was, notably, no sense of loss or dismay among Conservatives in Britain's House of Commons. When Obama's victory was announced, members of Cameron's party cheered and waved their order papers with impressive vim and enthusiasm. Romney is not liked in Britain since he disparaged London's preparations for the Olympic Games, and Cameron had made little secret in private briefings of his hopes for an Obama win. In fact, as a report in London's Spectator indicates, Cameron and his inner circle are "mighty relieved" that Obama was voted back into office. The two men--the youngest leaders of any major country in the world--have shown an unlikely affinity, and Cameron indicated within hours of Obama's victory that he was eager to sit down with the American president to address the civil war in Syria. "One of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try to solve this crisis."
Son of the Soil
None of the celebrations in the House of Commons quite matched the ululations in Kogelo, Obama's ancestral hamlet in Kenya, where villagers--fueled no doubt by generous access to the local Tusker lager--responded to the election results with unalloyed euphoria. (The district witch doctor had, of course, predicted the result.) Reuters reports that residents of the dusty little place, which has received numerous face-lifts in the years since its high-flying "son" became the most powerful man in the world, erupted into chants of "Obama! …