World capitals on Wednesday braced for a new political order in Washington, as policymakers and analysts tried to assess the impact on foreign policy of a new Republican-led US House, a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate and an American president many fear has been left weakened.
In China the midterm elections were watched particularly closely, since China was cast as a villain in campaign ads by candidates railing against American jobs being shipped overseas.
“It will be harder to build strategic mutual trust in the coming years,” said Sun Zhe, a professor at Tsinghua University's Institute of International Studies. “China will face a tougher Congress.”
Other analysts, however, thought the power shift could prove useful in reining in Democrats' “protectionist” tendencies.
In Moscow, there were fears that emboldened Senate Republicans might make a first test of their new clout the pending START treaty limiting nuclear arms. Although Democrats retained control of the Senate, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor in chief of the magazine Russian Global Politics, said it is clear that the Republicans will push for significant concessions from the administration in return for their support for ratifying the treaty.
For decades, going back to the Soviet era, Moscow, much like China, preferred dealing with Republicans in Washington. But after a dramatic worsening of relations during the presidency of George W Bush, the Kremlin has embraced Obama’s “reset.”
In Indonesia, Masdar Mas'udi, deputy chairman of the country's largest Islamic group, said he feared the election results would hamper Obama’s outreach to Muslims.
In Kenya, Obama-mania remains strong, even though his star power appears to have lost some of its luster. In comments posted on the Daily Nation, readers were divided over Obama's policies and whether he would win a second term.
In Pakistan, early reaction centered on fears that a divided US Congress would take longer to approve aid packages for the country. Last week, the Obama administration announced $2 billion in new military funding over five years for the Pakistani army, but the proposal awaits congressional approval.
In Britain, the news media have spent recent weeks entertaining the public with tales of the colorful tea party politicians populating the US campaigns. But fatigue and alarm crept in this week, with some voicing fears of what a Republican resurgence might mean.
“Obama has brought to America's international leadership an intelligence, grace and dignity most of the world justly esteems,” columnist Max Hastings wrote. A decline in Obama's power, he added, would be “a tragedy not only for Americans, but for us all.”
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