America Votes, The World Decides

Published: October 16, 2008

“The world has never been smaller,” said Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham. With the United States less than three weeks away from a presidential election, campaigns are being scrutinized from all angles. Nations around the world are paying attention to the candidates.

For this reason, “It’s especially crucial in this day and age that we have a good relationship with those abroad,” said Levinson.

He noted “how inter-related the world is,” by citing things like the effects of the “financial crisis” on the world economy and the effect of the terrorist attacks, both in America and abroad.

Johnathan Crystal, associate chair for political science at Fordham College at Rose Hill:

“Obama is overwhelmingly preferred overseas. The one area where Bush (and McCain) retain some popularity is in the former Soviet Bloc—Eastern Europe and the Baltics. In the Middle East, there’s a widespread feeling that there isn’t much difference between the candidates (and certainly on issues like U.S. ties to Israel…) so the enthusiasm level for Obama isn’t there. But in Asia and, particularly, Western Europe, Obama is widely preferred.  I should say that if McCain wins, there will still be an improvement in relations with the rest of the world—Bush is so unpopular abroad that anyone else will be seen by the rest of the world as an improvement. But overall, I think Obama would do more to repair the tarnished U.S. image. Incidentally, one exception is in the area of trade, where Obama’s call to renegotiate trade agreements has not been greeted enthusiastically by our trading partners.”

Thomas Deluca, professor of political science and director of the international studies program:

“A [reason U.S. standing in the world has dropped] is the unilateralism under Bush—that is, the idea that the first instinct of U.S. foreign policy will be to go it alone, and the palpable disdain for the U.N. …I think the international public believes McCain will be more like Bush than will Obama, to the detriment of McCain.  The refusal of the Bush administration to negotiate at a number of key junctures, not just with Iraq but with North Korea when he first took office, and his failure to broker a peace agreement in the Middle East, is mirrored by McCain’s posture of not being willing to talk to Iran and McCain even raising questions about whether he’d meet with the Prime Minister of Spain, a NATO ally.”

International Students Weigh In:

υThiago Lemos, FCLC ’12, who grew up in Brazil and spent the last eight years in China, said, “In Brazil there are mixed feelings towards the U.S. On one hand, popular culture is heavily influenced by the U.S., and so people may feel that it is cool to be an American or to live the ‘American way.’ On the other hand, many people disagree with the war in Iraq and other current political issues and blame the U.S. for such issues.”

Overall, he said, “I think the Republican ideas of a strong military may discourage a lot of people [abroad].”

He continued, “I think it is crucial for the U.S. to foster effective international relations. The world is becoming increasingly globalized and a problem in one country can easily become a problem in another.”

υ Terence Thiel, FCLC ’11, who has lived in Geneva, Switzerland, for the past seven years and previously lived in England and Germany, said, “Currently America isn’t really regarded greatly abroad.” Thiel cited the beginning of the war in Iraq as the catalyst for the breakdown of overseas relations, as well as the U.S.’s apparent “disregard for the U.N.” and international law.

He offered an example of the international support after 9/11, “Much of Europe and the world were behind the U.S. A perfect example is in Tehran [Iran]—they lit candles on Sept. 11—a country that doesn’t have diplomatic relations [with] the United States.” He went on to say “it’s a shame” how things have changed.

“I believe Obama is viewed much better abroad than McCain,” Thiel said. “Obama has something like an 80 percent approval rating in France, which is almost higher than Sarkozy, the current French president.”

υJean Butel, FCLC ’12, who is French-Lebanese, said that he wants Obama to win the election. “I think he’s more open-minded in foreign policy. He will be perceived better in the Middle East. I think McCain is a pretty smart chap. I like him better than I like Bush. If I were given the vote, I’d choose Obama.  I also like his vice presidential candidate better than Palin.”

υDaryl Yu, FCLC ’12, from Hong Kong, said, “I don’t know if I’m just being brainwashed by the media, but Obama is kind of that breath of fresh air for America, because he’s part of the minority.  It will be interesting to see how people will receive him around the world.”

υParker Lim, FCLC ’12, who has dual American-Canadian citizenship, said that he supports Obama “because of the way his campaign has gone. He’s not just a political figure…he’s been made into a hero.  I support what he’s saying too,” he said. Lim stated, however, that he believes McCain would have a better foreign policy because of his extensive foreign policy experience.

The Candidates on Top Topics of International Relations from


McCain long has been an advocate of promoting democracy in Africa and the Middle East. He said Russia’s recognition of the independence of Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is “a significant and negative step.” He wants to create a league of democracies that could take action if the United Nations chooses not to. McCain voted in favor of the U.S.-India nuclear agreement.


“It is important for us to understand that the way we are perceived in the world is going to make a difference, in terms of our capacity to get cooperation and root out terrorism,” Obama has said. Obama has said that he is “willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe.” Obama supports U.S. assistance to Georgia and said he supports the European Union’s decision to postpone talks on a new European Union-Russia relationship until Russia honors its commitments in relation to Georgia. Obama voted in favor of the U.S.-India nuclear agreement.

The Candidates on Iraq, according to the New York Times:

-Obama wants to begin withdrawing troops in order to “finish within 16 months.”

-McCain is opposed to a set timetable for the withdrawal of troops, but intends to have “most Americans home by 2013.”

-Obama opposed Bush’s troop increase.

-McCain was in favor of Bush’s troop increase.

-Obama was opposed to the Iraq war “from the beginning.”

-McCain has supported the Iraq war since he voted “yes” in 2002.