Sunday, April 5, 2009

Obama's New World Order

Posted on behalf of Alysse Rossner:

Last week President Obama attended the international G-20 summit. Not only was he a representative of the United States, but he also became a representative of the Western world and even Americanization. On Friday, April 3 TIME Magazine online published an article titled, “Barack Obama’s New World Order” (,8599,1889512,00.html). In this article, writer Michael Scherer reflects on the positive impact that Obama’s presidency has made on the international stage.
Upon reading this article, two things struck me: 1) Obama is “branding” the U.S. and 2) he truly is impressing leaders and foreign press around the world. Scherer feels that the United States’ “international branding campaign” led by Obama is effective. According to Baron and Davis, political economists may even say it is important that he is actively working for social change (213). Why is this so important?

As the most powerful country in the world and the most economically influential, America’s “cultural imperialism” was being addressed by Obama at the summit. According to Tomlinson, cultural imperialism ranges from “a pattern of inherited colonial attitudes and practices” to “the practices and effects of an ongoing system of economic relations within global capitalism” (Tomlinson, 223). In order to address this cultural imperialism during these economic times, “Obama has made clear that the U.S. is but one actor in a global community” and he has replaced “American economic supremacy” with a call for an increase in the growth of developing countries (Scherer). Is Obama imposing another form of cultural imperialism or is he truly asking to be a part of a team effort?
Obama’s perspective is taking on a ritual perspective role. The ritual perspective requires grand-scale interaction and the realization of “mass communication as the representation of shared belief where reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed” (Baron, 216). In other words, Obama’s words on behalf of the U.S. imply more than a “new frontier,” but a global change in the perspective of America. Scherer recounts when the foreign press applauded as he left the stage after Obama took questions from the British, Indian, and Chinese reporters. An event and reaction like this reminds us that due to the media, we “get a somewhat distorted picture” about what life is like in other parts of the world and even in our own” (Rosengren, 232).
On the other hand there are parts of the world without access or a lack of access to the media that cannot contribute to the “global village” or the social organization as electronic media that ties the entire world into one a great social, political, and cultural system (Baron, 220). The cultural elites still prevail making it even more important for Obama to spread his message.
Is Obama succeeding at changing how the world perceives America? Baron and Davis feel that the “ideal form of media will evolve naturally, no matter what we try to do” (Baron, 221). Do you think Obama and his administration have more control than the media when shaping these new perceptions? It is the foreign press that is impressed by him, or the countries they represent? Whatever the reasons, he has made it clear that he is looking for collaboration to build a collective vision and that is even impressive for Americans.


  1. According to chapter 8 in Baran & Davis “Political economy theorists have remained centrally concerned with the larger social order and elite’s ownership of media (213). It is important for President Obama to show that he actively working for social change because the elites should not get full control of the media. There is a need for diversity and other opinions and Obama showing that he is open willing for change. Yes, I believe that President Obama and his administration are changing the way the world perceives America. Before it seems that European and other countries disliked Americans and President Bush for example President Bush had a shoe thrown at him. But for the Obama’s for example look at the warm reception President Obama and his wife Michelle got from the London press. They were treated like superstar. Even the Queen of England innate a hug with Michelle Obama and she has never done that with any pass President from America. The Obama’s are doing a good job of raising American’s popularity being liked and respected by the world. The media has the most control over the perception people will have of America and Obama’s administration. It seems during the elections the press was really nice to President Obama. But now after the election the press had got more critical and harsh at President Obama. But I think the Obama’s trip to the G-20 summit helped improved the perceptions of them and America in to a positive light.

  2. Is Obama succeeding at changing how the world perceives America? This is the question that I primarily focused on in my response. Look at the Obama paraphernalia everywhere. You can hardly walk down the street without seeing a Barack t-shirt or hat. Obama’s face is used on magazines, billboards, advertisements, and just about anything else. Over spring break I took a trip to New York City and was even presented with an Obama condom on the street! Clearly, the image of our president has changed within this country. America’s perception of their nation’s leaders has taken a 180 degree turn. I think the fact that America’s perception of their president has most definitely affected how the world perceives the President. I think that many nations rely on America for support and leadership. But nations also rely on America for trends, new thoughts, ideas, and perceptions of the state of the world. Why would the president be any different?
    Baran writes that “In other words, new forms of media transform (massage) our experience of ourselves and our society, and this influence is ultimately more important than the content that is transmitted in its specific messages-technology determines experience” (p220). We saw on the television that Obama spoke, delivered his speech, paid his visit. But was that what we were really paying attention to? Could the world have been more interested in the reception that the president received, and how he reacted with his fellow dignitaries? Was Obama’s personality influence stronger than the content of his messages delivered through the summit?
    Yes, I think Obama is changing how world perceives America. And I think he is succeeding.

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