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Martin Amis on Barack Obama

THIS WEEK
Martin Amis
Reflexive anti-Americanism will find itself in a multicultural tangle
Martin Amis
We asked writer Martin Amis for his take on what an Obama presidency would mean for the rest of the world. [Originally broadcast June 5th, 2008.]

Obama's core message is hope.

He's been called "the Pope of Hope" and this has put the Clinton camp and the McCain camp in the awkward position of being anti-hope.

There's been a great deal of trashing of that quality we call optimism.

But does it speak to a need, not only of the American people, but also of the world?

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A "slave" president?

The reason I hope for Obama is that he alone has the chance to reposition America's image in the world.

It's interesting that Osama bin Laden, for instance, classifies Americans as consisting of Jews and infidels and Freemasons, but also "the slaves", which is his word for black Americans.

How will he feel about a "slave" president?

And the kind of reflexive anti-Americanism that we're so used to finding here and elsewhere in Europe will also find itself in a multicultural tangle.

It's easy to hate Bush; it won't be easy to hate Obama.

Respect and face

He will be in a position to leapfrog over the self-imposed obstacles that most of the leaders have settled for.

He will be able to talk to Ahmadinejad and perhaps with Hamas.

Questions of respect and face are tremendously important in world politics and a reaching out to Iran would create a kind of self-respect that has so far been lacking.

The president of the United States is by definition the most powerful man in the world and the most powerful man in world history.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel won't need to like him to listen to him and yet he will have this aura of freshness.

I expect him to be as attractive to them as he is to many of us.

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