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Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Global President

With so much of the world rejoicing in the recent victory of Barack Obama, there can be little doubt that his administration will want to send an early signal of “change” by taking a world tour soon after (or even before) entering office. Traditionally most presidents have taken their first foreign trips to Canada or another country in the Western Hemisphere; although some, like Nixon, have made dramatic debuts in Europe. (Having been attacked with bottles, rocks and all manner of street debris during a trip to Latin America in 1958, he probably was not keen to repeat the experience.)

The 60th anniversary of NATO will happen next April, and Obama’s voyage to the capitals of Europe would send an important signal—repairing relationships with old allies is job number one. But count on him to go somewhere else beforehand, or better yet, simultaneously. Obama already has become known for displaying a dexterous mix of discipline and audacity. Yes, pay homage to the old guard in Old Europe: but keep on going—to Asia, to Africa, to the Americas—on behalf of a different commemoration: the centenary of the voyage of the Great White Fleet around the world.

An inaugural circumnavigation: what more fitting symbol of the man and the times?



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