Obama mended some relationships and strained others

By Claire Suddath and Christopher Power

PHOTOGRAPH Alamy

PRESIDENTIAL FRIENDS AND FRENEMIES

BUSH

MERKEL

A German tabloid called the 2006 G-8 backrub “Bush’s Love Attack on Merkel.”

NETANYAHU

Netanyahu: “I don’t think we’ve had a greater friend in the White House.”

KING ABDULLAH

Bush: “I’m convinced that the stronger our personal bond is, the more likely those relations between our countries will be strong.”

PUTIN

Bush: “I looked the man in the eye. ... I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Bush: “She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.”

OBAMA

MERKEL

Obama: “I’ve now dealt with a lot of world leaders, and I think that Chancellor Merkel is smart, practical, and I trust her when she says something.”

NETANYAHU

Obama (to Sarkozy): “You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.”

KING ABDULLAH

Obama: “I’ve been struck by his wisdom and his graciousness.”

PUTIN

Obama: “He thinks in terms of what’s good for Russia and will pursue interests aggressively.”

QUEEN ELIZABETH

In 2011, Obama toasted the Queen and “the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples.” Buckingham Palace’s orchestra drowned him out.

PRESIDENTIAL VISITS DURING FIRST TERM

BUSH | OBAMA

IRAQ 1 | 1

AFGHANISTAN 0 | 3

CHINA 2 | 1

JAPAN 2 | 2

S. KOREA 1 | 3

RUSSIA 3 | 1

U.K. 3 | 2

FRANCE 3 | 4

GERMANY 1 | 2

THE VATICAN 2 | 1

MEXICO 4 | 3

CANADA 3 | 2

INDIA 0 | 1

BRAZIL 0 | 1

EGYPT 1 | 1

SECRETARY OF STATE FREQUENT FLY-OFF

COUNTRIES VISITED

Condoleezza Rice 85

Hillary Clinton 110

DEMOCRACY RISES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Whatever their deficiencies, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Qaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad were certainties. With two gone and one vulnerable, the U.S. has gained and lost. The rise of democracies means that anti-Western groups are no longer forced into the shadows. Washington’s inability to break the impasse over a Palestinian state angers many Arabs who thought Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo signaled change, but America still has solid ties with all the region’s countries except Iran and Syria. That’s partly because the U.S. doles out financial assistance. The U.S. Department of State last year established the Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions, which oversees U.S. aid to Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia.

IRAQ

Though Washington wants Iraq as an ally, the country is in Iran’s corner.

EGYPT

Obama was late to the 2011 revolution. By spring 2012 only 19 percent of Egyptians view the U.S. favorably.

YEMEN

The U.S. finally backed the opposition, but the use of drones to hunt down alQaeda has angered many.

TUNISIA

Organizations funded in part by the State Department taught young Tunisians about civil society.

LIBYA

Better than you’d think, given the murders in Benghazi. Many Libyans are grateful to the U.S. for helping the rebels.

MOROCCO

Had its own quiet Arab Spring. Its attitude toward the U.S. is neutral to favorable.

BAHRAIN

The U.S. suspended arms sales during the uprising of the Shiite majority but has since resumed them.

SYRIA

The regime feels betrayed by the U.S., which has called for al-Assad’s ouster. But the U.S. has not armed the rebels, either.

*based on polls and reporting

SOURCES National Democratic Institute; Pew Global Attitudes Project; Stratfor; U.S. Department of State

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