human behavior

Return of the American brand

Posted in American Culture & Politics, Anti-Americanism by humanb on October 9, 2009

The United States has catapulted to the #1 spot in the ranking for the nation with the best global image, according to a 2009 Nation Brands Index survey.

In 2008 – prior to the election of Barack Obama – the U.S. was ranked 7th.

I’m not the only one shocked by this:

“What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States in 2009,” explains Simon Anholt, the founder of the Nation Brands Index.

Here’s the Top 10:

  1. United States
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Japan
  6. Italy
  7. Canada
  8. Switzerland
  9. Australia
  10. Spain and Sweden (tie)

I could scarcely believe that Obama could be responsible for this radical and rapid rebirth of the American brand – that is, until the New York Times reported that Obama had won the bloody Nobel Peace Prize.

Goodness grief.

What a spectacularly premature decision.

What a daft idea.

The Nobel Committee has this to say for itself:

The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee… told reporters that Mr. Obama, who took office in January, had already contributed enough to world diplomacy and understanding to deserve the prize.

Asked whether the prize was given too early in Mr. Obama’s presidency, he said: “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.”

Republicans are going to have a field day with this. They’ve been preaching that he’s egomaniacal since the primaries. They repeatedly accuse him of believing himself the Messiah, while some of them swear he’s the anti-Christ.

I’m not sure this prize will do anything to enhance Obama’s image in the US.  It’s far too high an honor for a president who hasn’t even completed one year in office. It’s the wrong type of honor for a president presiding over two wars and Gitmo.

I support my president. I voted for him. I campaigned for him. I donated to his campaign. I follow his efforts, mishaps and successes in government. I’m proud of him and I’m disappointed in him. He hasn’t showed enough courage and grit to fight for his campaign promises. But I want him to succeed, and I want America and the world to be impressed with him.

But this prize is ridiculous.

Make no mistake. This prize is not about what he’s done, because he’s not done much at all, beyond inspire many in the world and frustrate many in America. The inspiring of millions is a big deal, but only if it translates into positive, tangible changes, and it’s just too early to tell. The nomination deadline was in February, not even a month after he took office. No, this prize is about the Committee wanting to publicly coerce the most powerful man in the world, into pursuing and or/staying true to those policies and positions the Committee espouses. This has basically been confirmed by Committee members who admit to wanting their prize to be more influential in world affairs.

Tell the man he’s great, to compel him to aspire to greatness.

The Committee could also have wanted to influence America’s opinion of it’s own president, so as to provide Obama with more leverage to act internationally. His poll numbers are stable, but not stellar.

This prize is also about the world’s infatuation with the man himself.

Just today, I had two patients in the mental health ward to which I am attached, express their love for Obama to me when they heard my accent. One was a Filippino teenager who loved Obama’s looks and style. The other was a Kenyan who spoke of him like a father would a son – ready to admonish him if he acted out of line. Their minds may have been confused, but their thoughts on Obama were clear.

The Nobel Committee however, has clearly lost the plot, and not a small amount of credibility.

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