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Obama, US Politics, and Transatlantic Relations

Change or Continuity?


Edited By Giles Scott-Smith

In November 2008 Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States after a campaign that promised change and renewal. Many in the United States – and Europe – hoped for a new beginning. But what has been achieved?
The nineteen essays in this book provide a timely assessment of the ‘Obama Effect’ in transatlantic relations during the first years of his administration. Ranging from Obama’s importance within US domestic politics to his impact on specific policy areas (national security, international law, the environment) and regions (Middle East, South Asia), the book combines perspectives from the United States and across the European continent to present a unique multi-layered assessment of Obama’s political influence and the current state of play within US-European relations.


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PART I US DOMESTIC POLITICS 23 Barack Hussein Obama His Powers of Language, His Language of Power Rob KROES University of Amsterdam / Utrecht University Barack Hussein Obama: American President Barack Hussein Obama: American President. For sizeable segments of the US electorate this remains a contentious issue. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, more than a quarter of the public have doubts about Obama’s citizenship, with 11 per cent saying Obama was definitely not born in the United States and another 16 per cent saying the President was probably not born in the country.1 Birthers, these doubters are called. Their numbers are swelled by those who call Obama fascist or communist, anything to make him and his policies sound anti-American, or un-American. They all speak in the voice of a white nationalism that lives by the myth of a “real America”, as evoked by Sarah Palin on the campaign trail.2 Ironically, at the same time, a debate is going on among America’s black population on whether Obama, given his biography, can ever affiliate with the sense of history and identity of blacks born and raised in the United States. “Black nativism” is what Orlando Patterson, himself an immigrant from the Caribbean rather than a native-born black, called this exclusionary attitude.3 1 The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points. 2 “We believe that the best of America is...

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