Friday, Dec. 17, 2010

Wounded At Home, Obama Stares Down Main Rival Abroad

From the Nov. 22, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine

Three days after the democrats' defeat in the U.S. midterm elections, Barack Obama headed out on his longest overseas journey as President: a 10-day tour of Asia, where his foreign fans far outstrip his domestic ones. The itinerary included visits to India (the world's largest democracy) and Indonesia (the world's biggest Muslim-majority democracy), then on to a pair of global summits in South Korea (a dictatorship turned democracy) and Japan (democratic Asia's largest economy). Where did Obama not go? Decidedly undemocratic China, whose recent blustering over slights real and imagined has got Asian nations thinking that staying in Uncle Sam's good books is a useful insurance policy if the dragon really starts to breathe fire. But don't expect China to sit back while the U.S. polishes its image in the region; a day before Obama visited Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood, China announced plans to invest $6.6 billion in developing the nation's woeful infrastructure. The struggle between the U.S. and China for Asia's hearts and minds has only just begun.