The Global Obama: Crossroads of Leadership in the 21st Century

The Global Obama: Crossroads of Leadership in the 21st Century

344 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84872-625-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84872-626-0

Edited by:

Dinesh Sharma, Senior Fellow
Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Research
St. Francis College, New York

Uwe P. Gielen, Founder and Executive Director
Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology
St. Francis College, New York

The Global Obama examines the president’s image in five continents and more than twenty countries. It is the first book to look at Barack Obama’s presidency and analyze how Obama and America are viewed by publics, governments and political commentators around world. The author of Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President (Top 10 Black History Book) scaled the globe to gather opinions—cultural, historical and political analyses—about Obama’s leadership style. Writers, journalists, psychologists, and social scientists present their views on Obama’s leadership, popularity, and many of the global challenges that still remain unsolved. As a progress report, this is the first book that tries to grasp ‘the Obama phenomenon’ in totality, as perceived by populations around the world with special focus on America’s leadership.


  • Part I: Obama as a Global Leader
    • 1. Obama’s Adventures in Globalization D. Sharma, U.P. Gielen
    • 2. President Obama and American Exceptionalism: Is the U.S. an Indispensable Nation in a Multipolar World? G.W. Streich, K Marrar
    • 3. Obama’s Leadership in the Era of Globalization: A Critical Examination R.S. Bhagat, A.S. McDevitt, M. Shin, B.N. Srivastava, D.L. Ford
    • 4. Barack Obama and Inclusive Leadership in Engaging Followership E. Hollander
  • Part II: Africa
    • 5. Obama, Hillary, and Women’s Voices D. Sharma
    • 6. Afro-Optimism from Mahatma Gandhi to Barack Obama: A Tale of Two Prophecies A. Mazrui
    • 7. African Diasporas, Immigration, and the Obama Administration P. T. Zeleza, C. Veney
  • Part III: The Americas
    • 8. Love as Distraction: Canadians, Obama, and African- Canadian Political Invisibility R. Walcott
    • 9. Changing Times and Economic Cycles: President Obama – the Southern Continent, Mexico, and the Caribbean E. Moncarz, R. Moncarz
  • Part IV: Europe
    • 10. Is Obamamania over in Europe? A. Kalaitzidis
    • 11. Obama’s French Connection D. Morrison
    • 12. A Relationship of Hope and Misinterpretation: Germany and Obama T. Cieslik
  • Part V: The Middle East and Israel
    • 13. Arab Images of Obama and the United States: An Egyptian R. Ahmed
    • 14. Obama, Iran, and the New Great Game in Eurasia P. Escobar
    • 15. Great Disappointments in the Arab World during Obama’s First Term M. Masad
  • Part VI: Asia-Pacific Region
    • 16. Bent by History in Afghanistan A. Muñoz
    • 17. Between Popularity and Pragmatism: South Korea’s Perspectives on Obama’s First Term M. Maass
    • 18. The Chinese View of President Obama B. Shober
    • 19. Radical Manhood and Traditional Masculinity: Japanese Acknowledgements for Literary Obama E. Senaha
  • Part VII: Conclusion
    • 20. A View from Israel: A Critical Commentary of Obama’s Leadership Style D. Efune
    • 21. A Commentary from South Africa: Commentary S. Cooper
    • 22. Obama’s Leadership Paradigm in India: A Personal Reflection S. Singh
    • 23.President Obama: A Commentary From Russia E. Osin
    • 24. America’s Asian Century: A Mirage or Reality? D. Sharma


This book began as a companion volume to Barack Obama in Hawai’i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President (Sharma, 2012), which was rated as the Top 10 Black History Book for 2012 by the American Library Association. While researching and lecturing about the earlier book, which entailed travel throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia, there were varied and diverse perceptions about President Obama as a leader. However, the president frequently garnered higher approval ratings in most parts of the world than in the United States. What a paradox, we thought at the time. The first black president elected with great enthusiasm, loved by people around the world, yet struggling for approval for his policies at home—whether it be the healthcare initiative, the stimulus to bail out the economy, or his “leading from behind” on foreign policies.

We wanted to explore the stark contrast between Obama’s popularity abroad and his suboptimal ratings at home, which puzzled almost everyone we interviewed: Why the inverse correlation between the public image at home versus abroad? You can’t be a prophet in your own land, Obama suggested to the senior editor of India Today during his visit. Thus, the idea was hatched to publish an edited volume on “Ghe Global Obama.”

As Obama himself has said, his life story spans many continents, races, cultures, and histories. It is only appropriate that we try to grasp the total Obama and not try to box him into a preconceived theory, which may capture only a part of his persona. Clearly, part of Obamas worldwide appeal is due to his international biography and global roots, but we found there is invariably a chasm be- tween the soaring rhetoric and foreign policy due to various forces of history, culture, and political cycles. Yet, the search for great leaders who can speak to the totality of human experience is never- ending. Across the cultural divide from North-to-South and East-to-West, the romance of leadership continues.

Barack Hussein Obama’s rise from his early life as a multiracial and multicultural outsider in a broken family—repeatedly changing composition and shifting residence between Hawai’i and Indonesia—to assuming the world’s most powerful executive position is as improbable as it is global in its trajectory and in its implications for the evolving twenty-first century. But whereas his life story has been the subject of several good biographies, his global position as a leader has not been assessed in a sustained manner. Obama’s global leadership qualities and position and how he is being perceived and judged around the world are the central and intertwined topics of this book.

Given that no one scholar, social thinker, or journalist has an expertise in all of the regions of the world we wanted to cover, we decided early on to develop the project as a collected volume, relying on a group of local scholars and observers connected with their communities. Our methodology is broadly social science based, yet also relying on the skills and knowledge of local journalists and reporters. The central theme of the book is Obama’s leadership style as it is perceived around the world. With the guidance of Anne Duffy, the acquisition editor, the series in leadership with Routledge Press became a natural home for this project.

While the book was conceived several years ago, we decided to wait for the reelection outcome to fully gather our views on Obama’s potential impact. His reelection clearly makes this project much more viable, although potentially in need of a follow-up in four years at the end of his second term. Thus, the questions raised in this book do not necessarily draw out a final conclusion but rather sug- gest working hypotheses and specific lines of inquiry to be followed up over time. These are issues we plan to revisit for future analysis. However, we have attempted to organize the debate in a concerted manner around the president’s leadership style, which no other book has as yet attempted. In this way, we hope to make a significant contribution to the field on leadership research and practice and to the emerging field of political leadership within the ever-expanding context of globalization…

Read the Preface here.

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