Obama G-20 Presser

3 04 2009

At his G-20 presser yesterday in London, President Obama deftly handled a question about the death of the Washington Consensus and the decline of American standing in the world. Jonthan Weismen of the Wall Street Journal asked ” is the declaration of the end of the Washington consensus evidence of the diminished authority that you feared was out there?”

After citing a few polls noting a favorable opinion of the U.S. and noting that American influence in the world still remains high, the president observed that the world has changed in ways that call for forging more  “partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions.”

He also cautioned against comparing the current G-20 summit to the Bretton Woods accords, which created the financial architecture of the post-World War II era.

“Oh, well, last time you saw the entire international architecture being remade.” Well, if there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s a — that’s an easier negotiation. (Laughter.) But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.

Its so refreshing to hear a U.S. president talk like that instead of fumbling around and simply looking out of place like Bush did. That kind of humility will certainly go a long way in restoring American standing in the world. But so will recognizing the efforts of other countries that have made significant strides during the last few decades.

And so that’s not a loss for America; it’s an appreciation that Europe is now rebuilt and a powerhouse. Japan is rebuilt, is a powerhouse. China, India — these are all countries on the move. And that’s good. That means there are millions of people — billions of people — who are working their way out of poverty. And over time, that potentially makes this a much more peaceful world.

And that’s the kind of leadership we need to show — one that helps guide that process of orderly integration without taking our eyes off the fact that it’s only as good as the benefits of individual families, individual children: Is it giving them more opportunity; is it giving them a better life? If we judge ourselves by those standards, then I think America can continue to show leadership for a very long time.

Drop the needle at the 2:07 mark in the video below to see the exchange between Obama and Weismen.

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