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Global Ethics Corner: Obama: Hope and Change, but for Whom?

November 14, 2008

Election Day is over, and Americans made a remarkable choice. Few doubt the historic significance of an African American president. Many welcome the chance that this change means more social justice and less war.

People abroad are no less hopeful; governments and citizens are offering encouragement and support.

But how will President Obama deal with the hopes and fears of people abroad? Will his priority be the interests of the United States or will the welfare of those beyond America's borders also count?

European observers warn that Obama may not fulfill their high expectations, that he must eventually put country first.

What if American trade policy becomes restrictive to save American jobs? This harms other country's economies. What if the administration asks Europeans for more troops in Afghanistan? This strains their domestic politics.

The President is the world's most powerful head of state, and decisions affect every corner of the world. As election night demonstrated, Obama is the hope of many. People in distant countries feel that, in a way, he is their president too.

What are your thoughts? Does this imply that Obama has an ethical obligation to take global interests into account? Or, is his mandate and obligation essentially American?

By Eva Hausteiner

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