PAKISTAN: “Obama’s drone program has fostered anti-American sentiment here”
With Obama’s slogan of "Change", we expected major changes in the way the United States deals with the rest of the world. But looking back on these past four years, it seems not much has changed at all. Yes, he killed the main suspect behind 9/11 [Osama Bin Laden, who was hiding out in Pakistan], but wars have continued, and drones are still attacking targets in Pakistan – it’s been more of the same.In fact, the number of drone attacks have increased during Obama’s presidency. These attacks are killing many civilians, and so of course this is only increasing anti-American sentiment here in Pakistan, especially in the tribal regions, which are the most affected by drone strikes. We just want peace now; we don’t want to fight the United States’ war any longer. The next president, whoever he is, needs to quickly realise that the current policies aren’t working.
SYRIA: “Obama has made many nice speeches about Syria, but has done nothing”
When Obama was elected, Syrians were very happy. Because he comes from a minority that was oppressed, we thought he would fight against oppression throughout the world, using the United States’ power to defend the weak. His big speech in Cairo was a promising start. He pledged to forge a new relationship, one of respect, between the United States and the Muslim world. So we were quite surprised with how he acted after that. The United States just kept looking out for its own interests, and always sided with Israel, even though it oppresses Muslims. As for Syria, Obama made many nice speeches, but hasn’t done anything to help us. The climbing death toll here has done nothing to change this.I don’t think Mitt Romney would be any better, but perhaps, if he were elected, he might make some efforts to help us in the beginning, if only to show the world he’s better than Obama and try to restore the United States’ lost prestige. Maybe this is just wishful thinking. But in any case, the Syrian revolution will with time succeed – with or without the next American president’s help.
LIBYA: “I’m glad Obama helped Libya, but why refuse to help Syria?"
I was very happy when Obama decided to help us save Benghazi and succeed in our revolution last year. Most Libyans saw him as a saviour after that, and they still do. They believe his is motivated by justice. However, I’m a bit more cynical – the United States loved Muammar Gaddafi, even bowed before him, because they had economic interests in Libya, notably oil. Only when the wind turned for Gaddafi did they turn against him. The US’s motivations have become even clearer in the past months, as Obama has refused to help the Syrian people, who are in a similar situation than we were – they just don’t have much oil. This is really awful to see.However, I do hope Obama is re-elected, as it’s important for Libya to keep good relations. If he does become president again, I would like him to keep in mind that it wasn’t the Libyan people who killed the US ambassador – it was the work of extremists. He was a true friend to us, and we loved him. I hope this won’t tarnish the relationship between our countries, which the ambassador had worked so hard on developing.
MEXICO: “We thought Obama would reform immigration policy, but he’s let us down”
Four years ago, I was very happy to see Obama, a Democrat, win the White House, because the Republican president before him had proven unable to deal with the rest of the world except by waging war. I also liked the fact that he represented a minority ethnicity, because Mexicans are also a minority in the United States. So here in Mexico, many people were confident that Obama wouldn’t support any anti-Mexican policies, and in fact believed his promises that he would reform immigration policy.However, he did not live up to these expectations. [Obama recently admitted that the lack of immigration reform was his "biggest failure."] His policies have stayed pretty much the same. The authorities are still ruthless in hunting down people trying to cross the border, and in some US states the police are harassing all Latinos, whether or not they're illegal immigrants. Moreover, following the economic crisis, his policies were not enough to re-activate the economy in a way that would have been beneficial for Mexico, as the United States is our biggest economic partner.In some ways, however, his failures have been good for Mexico – it has encouraged Mexican producers of goods to look toward other trade partners, particularly in Europe. It has also forced the Mexican government to take more responsibility in supporting its own population, since during the economic crisis Mexicans in the US sent less money home.