Credibility Matters, Esteem Does Not
Even before the 2008 election of Barack Obama it was clear that an administration under his leadership would place a high priority on reestablishing America’s reputation in the world. This reputation had, admittedly, taken a battering in most countries during the presidency of George W. Bush. This was chiefly due to the War in Iraq, although such issues as climate change and whether and how to meet the challenge of international terrorism contributed to the gap that opened between America and many countries that it normally counted among its friends and allies. In addition to new policies, the Obama administration believed that a new approach and tone in the conduct of foreign affairs was needed. This, the administration and its supporters believed, would restore America’s standing in the world and thereby increase its influence in foreign capitals that had been alienated by the words and actions of the Bush administration.