Ben Piven and Mohammad al-Kassim are reporting from the United Nations for Worldfocus. He filed this report about how the foreign press reacted to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday.
Heralding a “new chapter of international cooperation,” U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his maiden speech to the U.N. General Assembly today. Obama remains very popular around the world, although he has not yet elicited any major concessions in global geopolitical conflicts.
I asked media personnel at the U.N. whether Obama’s good will might translate into tangible foreign policy benefits.
“I am very proud of the way that Obama has spoken frankly, since he comes from Africa,” said Boukar Doungous, press attache from Chad to the U.N. “But in terms of the tough foreign policy issues, all these conflicts — such as Israel-Palestine — existed before Obama came to power.”
“It’s difficult for him to truly resolve these issues of external politics before resolving internal American political problems. Although he has a clear vision, he’s prioritized the domestic issues for now,” Doungous said.
Brenda Miyeh Yufeh, a reporter at the state-owned daily Cameroon Tribune, said: “Obama has the good will to act, and he will be true to what he says. But he cannot operate alone as the president.” She continued, “There are so many groups with whom he needs to collaborate. The speed at which he needs to act should not frustrate us. As far as Africa is concerned, we need to give him some time to do better than George Bush.”
Watch: Reaction to Obama’s speech from an Indian print reporter, the bureau chief of Al-Arabiya and a reporter from Iran’s Press TV, a state-supported English-language news service.
A reporter for the Arabic-language Algerian daily Sawt Al Ahrar, which is associated with the ruling FLN party, expressed cautious optimism about Obama’s speech.
“He confirmed his intention to reform the foreign policy of the U.S. with regards to international organizations,” Nadjib Belhimer said. “But in reality, to change American strategy is a big task. For example, Guantanamo is still there. With the Muslim world, he has not yet modified the American stance.
Belhimer continued, “The Obama administration knows it’s not easy to shift the foreign policy of a superpower overnight. Yet it’s good to be optimistic. Obama already convinced the world that change has come. This president clearly doesn’t resemble Bush. Still, the whole world is waiting. Everyone wants to give Obama his chance.”
– Ben Piven and Mohammad al-Kassim