America’s domestic issues notwithstanding, international intrigue and interest were embedded in the 2012 election. In particular, three nations — Israel, Russia and China — were keenly interested in knowing which candidate, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, would become the U.S.’s 45th president.
They watched in Israel, where it’s common knowledge that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an icy relationship with Obama, who won re-election Tuesday night, and has sparred with the president over the nuclear ambitions of Iran and disputed Israeli settlements.
They watched in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has been key to the ever-tricky relations between Washington and Moscow. Putin, however, was one of the world leaders to send Obama a congratulatory telegram after his Election Day victory, The New York Times reported.
And they watched in China, where leaders wondered if Romney, had he won, would indeed label their nation a “currency manipulator” and begin an all-out assault on China’s monetary and export policies.
In truth, the U.S. election and its political aftermath were tracked by the entire globe. As the world’s most powerful and richest nation, America and its influence touches all continents and most counties, friendly or foe. It isn’t mere curiosity that causes others to follow U.S. politics. It’s a necessity to know who is moving into the White House — or staying there, in this case — and what that means long-term.
In the English-language Moscow Times, writer Georgy Bovt posited this week that the U.S.-Russia relationship would steer to the right under a second-term Obama. If correct, that doesn’t bode well for those who held slight hope that affairs would warm between these former Cold War adversaries.
“The relative restraint that characterized Obama’s position on human rights and democracy in Russia during his first term might give way to a harsher approach, and he may be more likely to classify the regime of President Vladimir Putin as autocratic,” Bovt wrote.
“Obama will likely become less tolerant of Russia’s anti-U.S. rhetoric and stances in the global arena. This means that we will probably see a cooling of U.S.-Russian relations during Obama’s second term.”
Indeed, the whole world will wait to see how the second Obama administration relates to other nations and the threats, economic or otherwise, some may pose.
It’s not only bureaucrats and politicians who followed Tuesday’s results.
A series of photographs Thursday in The Times showed the widespread interest in the U.S. election. One image showed villagers in Nyang’oma Kogelo, Kenya, where Obama’s father grew up, celebrating the president’s re-election. A photo taken in New Dehli showed U.S. embassy officials mingling with residents during an election gathering.
And a photo taken in Moscow featured an Election Day party at a Russian diner. One side of the diner was bathed in blue lighting for Obama, the other side red for Romney.
What other nation’s presidential election would be followed so far and wide?