In that November of 2008, Barack Obama had broken the highest glass ceiling in America to become the first ???black??? man to enter the White House. Young, handsome, cerebral, with exemplary oratorical skills, an inspirational life story and audacious electoral campaign. He had caught the imagination of US voters. More than that, the campaign seemed to connect America directly to the world at some level. After a long time, there had appeared the vision of a US president who was truly a citizen of the world, one who wanted to make peace, not one blinkered by partisan national goals. It didn???t take long for the sheen to peel off the man. And four years on, what we see is not merely a diminution, but at least on the world stage, almost an inversion into what you???d have thought a polar oppositSo, as he sets out in his quest for a second term, it???s with an alarming drop in his popularity ratings, leading many to ask: how big of an underachiever is Barack Obama? The world is reeling under a global economic crisis, but instead of creative ideation one sees him lapsing into protectionist rhetoric. The entire Arab world is in the throes of a political upheaval, but he is a cautious onlooker. For a man who promised to bring a pacifist turn in world affairs, Obama has neither been able to make peace with the Arab world, nor keep Israel complaisant. Hardly the effect one would expect a statesman to have.Back home, Obama???s detractors in the Republican Party are labelling him as a ???softie??? and an ???apologist???, trying to apologise to the world for the policies of his predecessors. But many of his erstwhile supporters and admirers are also disappointed at the opposite: with the compromises he is making, often by diluting his own policies and at the cost of ignoring many of his electoral promises???whether to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison, where over 170 Al Qaeda prisoners are being held, or his vow to deal with the Arab world as ???equals??? or his claim to enc
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