World

World media: 'We will miss Obama'

  • 11 January 2017
  • From the section World
US President Barack Obama Image copyright Reuters

Barack Obama's farewell speech evokes wistful regret about his imminent departure amongst some commentators in the world's media - but others offer an at times harsh assessment of his record.

"Barack Obama lifts America one last time," says the website of the UK's Guardian, and its reporter admits that she, and many in the audience were "in tears".

"A fiery plea for democracy" is German public broadcaster ARD's assessment of the speech.

The UK's Daily Telegraph highlights Mr Obama's "urgent and fearful warning" about the state of American democracy.

But the paper offers criticism of his legacy in terms of the UK, with a commentary declaring his departure an opportunity for "Britain and America to rebuild the special relationship" under Donald Trump.

Image copyright Welt.de
Image caption "A catastrophe unfortunately. Why he will still be missed." - Germany's Die Welt

A commentator in Germany's Die Welt finds Mr Obama's political achievements meagre and his foreign policy record even "catastrophic", accusing him of being too timid on Iran, Russia and Syria.

But "we will still miss Barack Obama", he adds - for his style, sense of humour and as a symbol of the hope that the US might still pull itself out of the "moral swamp of racism".

Image copyright Hindustan Times

India's Hindustan Times strikes a similar note, but is more critical, especially on Mr Obama's perceived policy failings over Pakistan, Iran and Cuba.

"We will miss Obama for a while," it concedes. "But his misses, and their consequences, will be with us for a long, long time."

A commentator in the English-language Saudi paper Arab News says Mr Obama leaves a world "bitterly divided", and adds that his "untidy withdrawal" from the Middle East and lack of decisiveness on Syria strengthened Iran and frustrated the US's allies in the region.

"It is fair to say that the world, and much of the US, is disappointed with Obama," he concludes.

Image copyright La Razon
Image caption "And Obama couldn't" reads Spain's La Razon's headline

Spain's La Razon sees in Mr Obama a "man trampled by reality", whose initial idealism was replaced by the need to take the "same decisions that he rejected in his predecessors".

'Complete failure'

The harshest and most unequivocal criticism of Mr Obama's legacy comes from Russia's pro-Kremlin media.

"Obama will be remembered first of all for a complete failure in foreign policy, in particular the Middle East," says a report on Channel One TV.

Recalling Mr Obama's original "Yes, we can" campaign slogan, state news channel Rossiya 24 sneers that "in the end it looks more like 'he did what he could'".

The channel's US correspondent says Mr Obama's pledge to make the handover of power as smooth as possible "sounds like a cruel joke" in light of the "organised bullying" of Donald Trump.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Barack Obama was joined on stage by his family in Chicago

The Kremlin has previously described accusations that it intervened in the US election on Mr Trump's behalf as a "witch-hunt".

A more nuanced take comes from China, which has already publicly clashed with Donald Trump.

Official Chinese broadcaster CCTV quotes a poll that suggests most Americans feel that Obama "tried but failed" to keep his campaign promises.

But at least US relations with Beijing have been "stable" during the past year, the broadcaster says.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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