The Biggest Democracy

Source: Central Intelligence Agency

A headline today in The Wall Street Journal about developments in India anticipates that Barack Obama’s visit to the country next month will emphasize rhetorical style over policy substance: “Play Obama’s Indian ‘Buzzword Bingo.’”

Reading the full India Real Time article showed the disappointment that the global community has come to expect from Obama:

When U.S. President Barack Obama visits India early next month, he is unlikely, as we have noted, to dwell much on some of the major issues facing the U.S.-India bilateral relationship: The civilian nuclear agreement; U.S. moves against outsourcing; Pakistan/Afghanistan/Kashmir.

Instead, watch for his words that will try to define the relationship between the two countries as one of the most important in the world for the next 100 years.  Yes, there will be some defense deals and some calls for greater market access for U.S. companies, but we expect the emphasis will be on the big, big, big picture – and on Mr. Obama’s famed knack for soaring oratory.

But the world’s largest democracy isn’t alone with its disappointment in Obama.  As reported by Reuters, confidence has also fallen for Obama in Muslim countries, with Americans winning approval from a mere 8 percent of Pakistan’s population and from 31 percent of the people in Egypt, where Obama delivered a widely publicized Cairo speech in 2009, when the United States had a 41-percent approval rating.

Obama’s “Buzzword Bingo” consists of twenty-five words and phrases that he will most likely use in speeches and remarks during his visit to India, all arranged in a 5×5 grid for lighthearted relief from the looming disappointment.  Conspicuously absent from the buzzwords describing the poor leadership that has come to be expected of Obama, however, is the word “English,” the most important language in India and cited as a major factor binding American allies fighting the global war on terror, along with Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


Timothy J. Lynch and Robert S. Singh, After Bush: The Case for Continuity in American Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).


3 thoughts on “The Biggest Democracy

  1. Points well made. But the bottom line is that overall, Obama improved the image of the United States, notwithstanding the disappointment both at home and abroad over the big gap between words and deeds – rhetoric and implementation.

  2. Pingback: 2010 Top Ten Op-Ed Articles « Ronald Grey

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