How can President Obama strengthen America’s image abroad?

America’s image has improved in most parts of the world, reflecting global confidence in Barack Obama. This week at the United Nations, he’s pursuing a busy agenda, focusing on climate change, peacekeeping and nuclear proliferation, among other issues. How can President Obama strengthen America’s image abroad?

Showing the people of the rest of the world that the United States of America is a country open and willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue about critical issues the world is facing today. By arguing for changes – however unpopular – in the US and elsewhere that signal a commitment to a fair and equal treatment of domestic and foreign affairs. The promotion of a scientific and rational approach to solving key problems, i.e. energy conservation, preservation of nature or improvement of living standards will also improve the image America is projecting. -Christian Schardt, Aachen, Germany

The U.S. is unique in the world in taxing its citizens regardless of where they live and thus forces foreign banks to play by their rules, even if they have no activities in the US. Imagine the government of Denmark telling the Bank of Chicago to provide it with account details of Danish citizens living in the US. Should a local bank be required to provide proper tax documentation for all 200 countries in the world? The result is that US citizens living abroad are no longer welcome customers. The US insists on unilaterally setting the rules and enforcing laws even extraterritoriality. Far from being a beacon of freedom, the US has become a place of arbitrary unfair rules and laws and a place to avoid. -Karl Steinke, Cham, Switzerland

Barack Obama is on the verge of an age of enlightenment for the American people. Soon we will hopefully top thinking as an island nation and acknowledge that we are a global community. This will represent a major shift in the world’s perception of America. He is also bringing a depth of sincerity and integrity to his global partners, in terms of respect for earth’s resources, both human in terms of justice and equality, and but natural, embracing the entire environment of all life forms and issues ranging from the air we breathe to the land we develop and the food we eat. His vision is holistic; we have little option than to embrace it. -Tony Barr, Island Lake, IL

By giving up America’s long-standing practices of meddling in other countries’ affairs and conducting pointless wars. This means withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as possible and leaving the policing of the world to regional allies in the very few cases when such policing is necessary. -Karen Sandness, Minneapolis, MN

The American image had changed overnight on November 4, 2008 almost in the entire world. Despite the drone attacks which were universally hated in Pakistan till Baitullah Mahsud was killed Obama continues to be immensly popular . The President can further strengthen America’s image in the Muslim World by: a) announcing the strategy that US would focus on Power Policing and would leave Afghanistan as soon as an effective Afghan Police Force is established; b) annouce that America would be an honest broker in resolving Middle East Conflicts and c) Support the idea of a Nuclear Free Middle East. -Shahid Akhtar, Toronto, Canada

America needs to focus on America! If Americans can ‘t manage to bring a civilized health care system into being, or to address local poverty and crime, or to take leadership on reforming the curent system of corporotacracy, overhauling a failed financial system and meeting its future energy needs without depending on wars and bullying, then it has no moral high ground anywhere. -Steve Racz, Murchison, New Zealand

As an American living overseas I have regularily experienced the skepticism that too many citizens of the western democracies have regarding what they viewed as an Oil Grab in Iraq. It is time now to point out to the world that the US did not cut and run when the going got tough as most of these people advocated and instead saw the job through to insure that stability came to a country that has had none in nearly 30 years. He could clarify what we have done for the economy and the people of Iraq-and that 5 years on it proves our policy was not about an “oil grab”. Using Iraq as a standard he can then explain our hopes for Afganistan. -Tom Hughes, Auckland, New Zealand

Best ways I can think of… Publicly reduce funding to Israel while increasing funding to Palestine and while on a visit, openly criticize the wall. Visit Brazil and India for “economic summits” as well as other developing economies, specifically S. America and SE Asia. When visiting Asia, begin the trip by visiting Thailand, Malaysia, or another ASEAN country before visiting China or Japan and spending the time discussing whatever is important to both countries. Finally, he shouldn’t ignore Africa. Not just with regards to issues but also with Air Force One. -Chris Allen, Muncie, IN

After 2 terms of the W administration, all Obama really need do is NOT be George Bush. The smug indifference and self-righteousness of the previous administration did more to damage the American image abroad than any other factor, and Obama’s refreshing intelligence, articulateness and sincere attempts to be non-partisan is like tall, cool glass of spring water to a person lost in the desert for 8 long, seemingly unending years. -Sean Earl, Hong Kong, China

As a citizen of the United States who has chosen to live in Canada, I feel that Pres. Obama has a very difficult task in this regard. His primary task, as I see it, is to speak and act reasonably, and I feel that he is doing an excellent job of this. However, the thoughtful and polite demeanor that he has brought to such issues as health care seems to be drowned out by the over-emotional “anti-socialist” rhetoric used by his opposition. No matter how reasonable President Obama is, that image is negated by a United States Representative shouting, “YOU LIE!” at him. -Jack Arnold, Merrickville, Ontario, Canada

By admitting, and demonstrating this admission, that the US is not the ONLY country in the world, and that despite its power and influence, it is willing to allow other cultures to be other cultures (except of course when other cultures begin to spread anti-Western sentiment within WESTERN boundaries). I think the world has had enough of……”Well, we’re the USA…what we say goes”. Gimme a break…… -Ken Macdonald, Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, Canada

Take decisive action on climate change by passing cap and trade legislation. Someone has to go first. Someone has to lead. The closer we get to Copenhagen the more it looks like the meeting will be a talkfest washout – he has the power to implement change that other countries will follow. -Philippa Courtney, Brisbane, Australia

Follow through by closing Quantanamo by the end of the year as promised. There are few things that would show the world more convincingly that the dark days of the previous administration’s illegal and immoral behavior are behind us, and, in my opinion, few things that would be met with more relief in other countries. -Larry Johnson, Beaverton, OR

Share your reply in the comments: How can President Obama strengthen America’s image abroad?

  • Mike in St Paul

    It’s simple. When taking international action, be inclusive and build a broad-based coalition. Discard the cowboy mentality and address issues multilaterally.

  • Rich from Edina

    The single-most action with greatest impact is to take a hard line against the Israeli’s and to some extent the Palestinians. In one fell swoop you would eliminate an apartheid state, and reduce the threat of terrorism worldwide, and gain the respect from around the world!

  • Steven

    This is a small thing (but small things can be important in international affairs): Quit using the word “agressive” in a positive sense. Outside the US, English speakers closely associate “agressive” with “agression” and “agressor.” In international law, “act of aggression” is a technical term for an unjustified use of military force. I strongly suspect that when “agressive” is translated into other languages, it has those negative connotations as well. So, instead of speaking of taking “agressive” action about various problems facing the world, I suggest our government officials use words such as “vigorous” or “assertive” or “pro-active.”

  • Kelley

    flex the pecs, and solve world peace.

  • James

    Why do we care what people THINK of us?

    If we stopped being a global police force and a free grocery store to half of the people alive on this planet. Maybe we could be a great country once again. DON’T TREAD ON ME.

  • George

    Just curious: Where do those elite comments above these ones come from?

  • R Gary Hendra

    Unlike the Leftist “Kool-aid” drinkers who have commented on this question, I see what the President has done so far as being overwhelmingly dangerous to our national security. Please Mr. Obama, stop apologizing for America wherever you go. Be a leader in the world, instead of a cowering follower. Mr. Obama seems to think that making America weaker will make up for wrongs he thinks America has done. The only thing that American weakness will accomplish is to embolden the despotic governments of Russia and China to take leadership in the world, and assert their growing military superiority.

  • dick holt

    Humility and most of all willingness to listen. It also helps to know something about our history as it relates to other countries, e.g. US support in the overthrowing of democratically elected govt. in Iran in the early 50’s.

  • Mary

    The President’s popularity is at an all time low in the US. Listening to other countries tell us how to run the US is only pertinent if they have found answers. Other countries are not set up with our constitution and were not founded with God at the center of life. Asking other countries to comment on the US is a little like asking a medical doctor how to build a house.