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Obama's "gain and loss" with his overseas trip
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17:02, July 29, 2008

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US Democratic candidate Barack Obama has ended his nine-day overseas trip, and public opinions differ greatly on its appraisal. A poll indicates a somewhat drop in his support rate among Americans in the wake of his trip, and the camp of his Republican rival John McCain refers to his tour merely as "nothing more than a political show" he has staged. And Senator Obama, however, defends himself by saying that"partners abroad will help solve problems at home."

Why should Barack Obama squeeze the time out of his packed schedule for a tour of the Middle East and Europe? In fact, the situation calls for is prompt action. In offence and defense battles with his Republican rival, John McCain, mainly playing a "military experience" card, accused him of not going to make any field studies in Iraq and of proposing a troop withdrawal without heeding opinions of generals in battlefields and so he is unqualified to serve as the Commander-in-Chief. Consequently, shielding this "soft rib" and "knocking out" the cause for gossips became Obama's main considerations before he set out on the journey.

Senator Obama achieved a speedy success in his first half trip. The stances of "having all U.S combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months" and "sending additional two brigades within a total of 7,000 troops to Afghanistan" he advocated won a hearty welcome from Afghan president Hamid Karzai and a nod approval of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Senator Obama has both joy and worry with the result of his three- European nation tour. What made him most elated is a rare, unprecedented welcome he attained in the "old" Europe: Obama was not only accorded a high-profile reception with much hospitality from the leaders of Germany, France and Britain, but also heatedly sought-after in public like a super rock'n'roll star.

Obama addressed a crowd estimated at 200,000 in Berlin and his speech at the Siegessaule monument in the heart of the city is compared to late President John F. Kennedy's 1963 speech, and his statesmanship has been elevated on a par with that of President Kennedy. The commitments he pledged on such issues as the troop withdrawal from Iraq and in response to climate changes had drawn particularly enthusiastic acclamation. It reflects the great dissatisfaction of Europeans with a uni-polar policy the US government has pursued on some issues as well as their high expectation placed on the new generation of American statesmen.

Nevertheless, "Bad fortune lurketh within good," as a classic Chinese saying goes. His enthusiastic support granted overseas could possibly have an adverse effect in the U.S., especially after his rival's criticism of the trip.

Obama's red-carpet treatment,and hugs and lavish praises offered by French President Nocolas Sarkozy for him were among the etiquettes John McCain had not received during the latter's earlier trip. So, McCain criticized Obama for haranguing to the world's people and media spilled a lot of ink in this regard, and so the general public in the U.S. was distanced and slighted.

A drop instead of a steady rise with his support rate in some latest polls has proven that American voters do not like to be influenced by polls overseas. Moreover, the launch of the Iraq war conformed to public opinions in the U.S. to a greater extent when it was launched in 2003. Furthermore, during the 2004 US presidential race, the Democratic candidate John Kerry was reproached for being pro-France and some prominent Britons wrote to American voters with an urge to vote for Kerry, but the outcome turned out to be just the opposite. However,Obama is, after all, not John Kerry and, to date, most polls still show Obama taking the lead.

Overall, the main objectives for his trip have been basically attained. Obama, though a new hand in foreign policy, has displayed his brilliant foreign policy talent, and the appraisal of him is also quite positive in the countries he has visited. Of cause, there are also some doubts about him due to his declaration to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement and his opposition to sign a new bilateral trade deal with Colombia, and his tendency to oppose to the free trade fills Europeans with worries or uneasiness.

Nevertheless, the Europeans welcome and endorse his unequivocal anti-war stance and troop withdrawal position, his willingness to listen to and unit with allies, his tendency toward a policy of multilateralism and his readiness to settle disputes with opponents through negotiations and diplomatic means.

By People's Daily Online and its author is Li Xuejiang, chief PD resident reporter in the U.S.

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