He’s our President, not yours

Just after we came off air on Monday I got this email from Howie in Florida. See what you think.

‘Hey Ros how are ya? Enjoying the freezing weather and massive crowds there at our national mall? Its blue jean and tshirt weather here in Florida.

My point:

I just finished listening to your broadcast and there was a very disturbing recurring theme.

There was a time or two when i was yelling at my radio! What got me so angry you ask Ros?

Well every time you asked someone from Kenya, or some other African country, “what do you want President Obama to do for you?”

Ros, no offense intended at all, but last time I looked Mr Obama won the presidency of The United States Of America, he wasn’t elected to any office in Kenya or anywhere else.

There is more than enough work that needs to be done to get us back on track.

I’m glad to see the world opinion of President Elect Obama, is as high as it is but you and everyone else in the world has to understand that there is not a New World Order, one government, president of the world.

I am a huge supporter of the Mr. Obama but I’m not only worried that some of us Americans are expecting for some miracle to happen and on January 21 and that all is going to be well, but on top of that oh yeah everyone in Kenya will magically have everything they want as well.

I’m more worried that people in other countries look at him even more as some deity that has come down off of Mount Olympus to make everything right.

Its scary Ros that there are such gigantic expectations of a man all because he can speak and doesn’t sound like a uneducated cowboy.

Well I think I have vented enough, this is why I love the BBC. Keep up the good work. I always want to call but ya’ll telephone numbers are odd and i dont know how much it would cost me to sms ya’ll, so here is my number if you ever want my opinion and I have one on everything.’

In answer to your last point Howie, an SMS will cost your regular rate, and a phone call will be international rates but we call you right back. From the US the number is 01144 20 70 83 72 72.

42 Responses to “He’s our President, not yours”

  1. 1 steve
    January 19, 2009 at 23:22

    I voted for you Ros. But give the man a chance!

  2. January 20, 2009 at 00:00

    While it is true that Barack Obama was elected to be President of the United States of America, our choice to continually get involved in and impact global affairs (both positively and negatively) means we do have a responsibility to the rest of the World.

  3. 3 Bert
    January 20, 2009 at 00:25

    Ros, I have to admit, my sentiments run along the same lines as those of your Florida correspondent.

    On this blog, some time ago, a poster from Africa said that he backed Obama, and that he thought Obama could solve Africa’s problems. My response was, to the extent that voters here in the US thought Obama would go after solving Africa’s problems, that was the extent to which he would lose the election.

    It’s gratifying to see that so much of the world is so into this new administration. It’s great to see some return of goodwill, and I truly hope that we can get our troops out of these Vietnam-style conflicts, and our economy back on an even keel. But solving all the world’s problems is something else again. It’s hard enough to make US citizens behave responsibly. I’d hate to think we have to take on this extra, impossible task. A president who tries, I truly believe, would be a one-term president for sure.

  4. 4 Ramah in Nairobi, Kenya
    January 20, 2009 at 01:41

    Spot on!!!!

    I’m a young Kenyan journalist who’s been following the reaction to Barrack Obama’s ascent to the White House; — and the sheer irrationality of the expectations here are astounding!!!

    I guess, for someone in the west it would be even more bizarre, so allow me to explain it [at least, the bts I understand] to you.

    Kenyan society’s still extremely patriachal. You’re defined, in part by who your father is. Its a common line of thought around here; — you’re not just your father’s son, if you happen to be a successful person [by whatever standard that is], that ‘success’ is not just yours; — your so-called ethnic community will also ‘claim’ ownership of it.

    Apply this to Barrack Obama; — his father, Obama senior, was a product of the heady days of Nationalistic, post-indepence Kenya. Back then, communities would come together to fund the education of their best and brightest.

    Right now, in modern Kenya, that’s all changed. Those ethnic barriers have broken down to some extent, which is why you have young Kenyans who see themselves as Kenyans first; — not their tribal affiliation first, and their national identity a distant second.

    Back to Barrack ; — now that he’s in the White House, the simple fact that he’s got Kenyan roots makes some here in Kenya fall back to that outdated ethnic-patriachal paradigm.

    Quite frankly; — its daft. That’s me speaking as a Kenyan, not a journalist with ice in my veins.

    What’s more ironic however, is much as we’re all so ecstatic about Barrack’s ascent to the White House, if he ever stood for office in Kenya, he’d not have been elected!!!!

    Look at the politicians we have; — we have no idealists, no real thinkers, no aggressive policy makers who actually deliver, people who can get their hands dirty working with the people who put them in office!

    The concept of the consent of the governed means something to Barrack Obama. I’m willing to bet that we can have an hours long conversation over the concept and its related precepts from Hobbes to Rosseau; — but there’s not one politician here in Kenya who can even break that concept down for you. The best example; — our Foreign Affairs Minister’s over there, in Washington, right now, using my cash as a Kenyan taxpayer to travel for an event he’s not even invited for!!!

    We, Kenyans, put those….individuals….in office. So as much as we’re getting all worked up and asking for public holiday tomorrow [since we’re going to be up late watching the inauguration]….I agree with you Howie…shame on us for our attitude towards the events in the US.

    Historic they certainly are….but he’s your President, the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the United States, FIRST….not ours.

  5. January 20, 2009 at 01:43

    Inauguration means to me that the dreams that once spoken by martin Luther King Jr “I Have A Dream”, today Obama speaks “Yes We Can,” meaning we can do whatever it takes to change the world. We as the people have come together as one nation under God to unleash the dream of the past. This inauguration seem like the million man march but, today it will be call American Billion Plus march as we the people come together on this special day of Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday. Inside Obama lives Martin Luther King Jr. spirit as all American stand together to watch the first black young spiritual man that God place as the 44th President the leader of one nation Under God. Don’t you find this kind of strange? one day before Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday this is a God sent man that has been put here for some strange reason to lead the world for change into a better day. We the people have been in darkness and God spoken in the bible those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last. Isn’t that something! God is good all the time.

    Here’s to Mr. Obama Happy Inauguration to you!

  6. January 20, 2009 at 02:13

    Ros and the WHYS Staff!

    I think that Mr. Obama is everyone president…here in the United States and around the world….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  7. 7 Andrew
    January 20, 2009 at 03:39

    It is odd though, the US seems to want to lead the world, shape the world, act anywhere in the world – as it does so why then should those who are affected by the intense US influence have a say in what they do and for whom they do it?

    If the US has come to your country to act militarily then you more than anyone would have a say!

  8. January 20, 2009 at 04:09

    Howie can’t have it both ways. So long as the USA continues to interfere with the affairs of other countries or considers itself the “leader of the free world”, the rest of us will have an opinion on what your policies are.

    I wouldn’t worry too much if I was Howie though…American foreign policy is always based on “what’s best for America” rather than what’s best for the world.

  9. 9 J in Portland
    January 20, 2009 at 05:05

    I agree with some of Howie’s points.

    I voted for Obama and am looking forward to seeing what he can do for everyone, but right now the disaster that is going on in the USA should be paramount on his mind.

    Granted he will be addressing foreign affairs as well, especially in relation to the current world economic disaster, but I think we will give the man a chance to get into office, find out what is really going on and then work to change things.

    Thanks Ros for your show and continued efforts to let the ‘World Have Your Say’.

    @Howie….try the text thing to get on the air they call back very quickly….my carrier handles the text the same as any other text…check your provider’s website.

  10. January 20, 2009 at 09:06

    Hi Howie in Florida
    Ros in Washington
    Delighted at your candid assessment of President Obama, Howie.
    Perhaps the BBC has been underlining the problem of all those who live outside America. We don’t know who he is or who you are and what to expect!
    The Swiss Embassy which houses the US Interest Section in Tehran has relocated the office well away from its own quarters. Doesn’t that mean something?

  11. 11 Gaitho Ben
    January 20, 2009 at 10:04

    To begin with, i am Kenyan and i took time before i slept to listen to world have your say on this whole matter of expectations not only from Americans but also from everyone around the world. I find the above comments disturbing and i only hope that the validity of Ros’ question is not going to be overlooked. This guy is so expecting i don’t know what he/she will do in case of any disappointment from Obama because man is not God.

    People from Kenya like any other country are concerned because much of what America is doing is directly affecting us. I cant name everything but the war in Iraq is just an example. I would ask this guy to stop commenting in a manner to suggest he/she is thinking that America does not need another country even as Obama is sworn in.

    Let there be a new dawn for America!!!


  12. January 20, 2009 at 10:41

    The decision made in Washington do have impacts around the world, and affect almost everybody alive in at least indirectly. Therefore people should have the right to voice their hopes and fears about what Obama will achieve. However, as the listerner states, Obama only has to answer to the American people. Us outsiders therefore shouldn’t automatically expect him to act on our concerns.

  13. January 20, 2009 at 11:34

    He is our president not yours,
    oh no, it is wrong to say,
    being a president of the United States,
    you can say he is your not ours,
    but as a president of a superpower,
    which has crucial role in the on going world affairs
    he is for all with equal position.

    We, as a Pakistani,has huge ex

  14. 14 Brett
    January 20, 2009 at 12:27

    Well with how involved the US is in nearly every aspect of the worlds affairs, its understandable how other citizens can be so excited that we won’t have another moron ‘running’ the country [into the ground] for the next 4 or 8 years.

    It is odd how other countries citizens are calling for ‘change’ within their own country and looking toward obama to bring it to them.

    I think we have learned enough about forcing ‘change’ on other countries (though sadly our leaders probably have not). It comes from within ladies and gentlemen. You want change, start the movement, Obama isn’t gonna fix all of your problems. He won’t even be able to fix all of ours here in the states.

  15. January 20, 2009 at 13:31

    He is president of the United States,democraticaly elected president of the single super power of America.

    The world people has huge expectation attributed to him,such as peace in the perticular parts of the world,
    peace in middle east,negotiation some specific issues with persian states.

    In case, the newly elected president,through his changed policies is suceeded to bring peace ,he will be remembered with high esteem by the people of the world.

    peace loving,democracy loving people would describe him as president of the states is repersentative of all democratic countries in the world.

  16. 16 John in Salem
    January 20, 2009 at 13:43

    Given the impact that the outgoing administration has had (and will continue to have) on the lives of people all over the world who suffered under it’s attempt to force it’s vision of a “New American Century” on them it is understandable that they would feel an immediate level of involvement with the new one, especially since he is such a direct polar opposite of what they have known.
    To me it feels like we are finally regaining control of our country from a group of hijackers – I can’t imagine what it must feel like to people around the world.
    Obama may be OUR president, but it is neither hyperbole or exaggeration to say that this is a landmark moment in world history that everyone can share.

  17. January 20, 2009 at 14:06

    United states is the strongest democracy in the world,
    so democraticaly,Obama has been elected,
    people of the world has expectation with him.

  18. January 20, 2009 at 14:54


    I would say this; Do you think that people of Iraq don’t have expectations for Obama? How about Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Russia, or Georgia? Economically speaking, do you think China, South America, and India don’t have expectations for this president? How about Pakistan that has both the attention of the US economy and military? Do you think that the Saudis have an interest in how we approach fossil fuel consumption?

    All of these players have diplomats and lobbyist who have different means of braining with an administration who are receptive to their plight of cause. Our selection of a president is far from an isolated and local decision with only limited ramifications. It has world wide affects. The citizens of those countries have every right to voice their expectations.

  19. 19 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    January 20, 2009 at 14:59

    Um, like Kyle said. The US really is the 300 pound gorilla in the global room, the only hyperpower politically, militarily, economically, culturally. It can do a lot of good, and a lot of harm, even without intending to. Lately it’s been mostly harm.

    We’ve been kidnapping people from all over the world, imprisoning them for years without charge, and torturing them, sometimes to death.

    We’ve very nearly destroyed the global financial structure.

    A President who is intelligent, and who neither speaks nor acts like a cowboy, is a fine start to setting things straight. The bar is set very low by this point.

    The rest of the world doesn’t get a vote, but we can’t blame them for being, let’s say, attentive.

  20. 20 patrick
    January 20, 2009 at 15:00

    I dont see why you are pained, we are not taking him away from you. Yes he is your President, but the fact is that he is also our kinsman, and we are proud, along with the rest of the world!!

  21. 21 steve
    January 20, 2009 at 16:12

    For those who have lots of expectations of the US from outside of the US, the economy is the major issue for Americans. The US cannot really even do foreign aid without tax revenues unless they deficit spend, which only hurts future generations, so by helping the US economy, which would boost tax revenues, the US could do more to help out other nations (or hurt them, as tax funds are also used for the military).

  22. 22 LinoA
    January 20, 2009 at 16:51

    No-one disputes that Mr. Obama is the AMERICAN president. However, in my country there is a saying that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches pneumonia, so it is clear that the US president, whoever he is, will leave his mark on the rest of the world, be it Europe, Asia, South America or Africa. This gives the rest of the world some “ownership” of the US president and indeed of the US itself. One has to also keep in mind that the US is the only free, democratic superpower and the leader of the free world. As such the US President will belong in some way to the rest of the free world apart from the United States of America and it is natural for the peoples whose lives Mr. Obama will affect, to have their expectations of the new US Presidency.

  23. 23 Ramesh
    January 20, 2009 at 20:06

    I agree with the yelling that Obama is the president of the americans only and people from other countries should not have any expectations of him! I wish the same sense would get into the minds of the american politicians that they either don’t have any right to occupy countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. But why do they do that, I just wonder. Why the writer didn’t touch that matter?

  24. 24 Howie from Florida (yes that one)
    January 20, 2009 at 23:53

    its nice to know that i wasn’t the only one who felt this way. i really hope President Obama does everything he can but I just hate hearing people who think he’s magical. everything is going to take time and he swore today to uphold our constitution. at this very pivotal point in our nations story i just feel he has to work on our issues first, everyone needs to come second. great job Ros keep up the good work.

  25. 25 Tom D Ford
    January 21, 2009 at 02:20

    He’s our US President but he is an extraordinarily inspiring leader for the world.

    What ought to scare the world, in a good way, is that I think he will ask more of you and of we US citizens than most leaders have ever asked before, I think he will ask us to be and act better than we ever have in the past, and then we will have to face our own past selves and make ourselves better.

    I wish Obama and all of us well.

  26. 26 Lawrence
    January 21, 2009 at 10:01

    Were are you from LinoA? Maybe your country is not free, especially if is in Africa, but the are other free countries in the world besides the USA. Have you heard of the EU countries, Australia, New Zealand and many more?

  27. 27 angela
    January 21, 2009 at 15:02

    I am concerned with the fact that the whole world is looking to obama to change the situations of the world. The situation of the world are tragic yes,but they are all written. And must happen in order to fulfill prophesy. I would encourage people of all our nations to look to your faith and to god not man.then change will curtianly come. Jah bless all those in the struggle for peace.one love one earth one unity

  28. January 21, 2009 at 17:20

    Of Course the American Foreign policy affects the whole world. The tube and bus travelers in London were impacted for siding with America over Iraq? The fact that Brits are less likely to see a repetition of that and Brit soldiers will be less likely to have to risk their lives in Iraq anytime soon. From a Brit writer in sunny Florida.

  29. January 21, 2009 at 17:24

    Howie. He does not need to be ‘magical’. He will be better in his sleep than the ‘gang’ in charge for the last eight years. Just suck that fact up and look at him from that standpoint. I have the utmost faith that he will be awesome and that just following the failed policies will make it a ‘walk in the park’ to improve on matters.

  30. 30 Abel kaludzu, Malawi
    January 21, 2009 at 18:00

    As long as America is a world heavy weight in many ways,Obama is also our president no matter where we are coming from.I realy undersatnd the impact that Obama can bring on lives of many Africans,including myself and ofcorse the people of Zimbabwe.So why not calling him “Our President?”
    Obama is “Our Man”,”Our President”,”Our father”.
    But lets not expect alot from Obama as he has alot of job to be done in “His Country,America”.If we expect alot,we might end up being dissapointed!! Lets wait and see his focus.Let all presidents and Countries give him the support he deserves!!!!!
    “He is Our President!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  31. 31 Cara in DC
    January 21, 2009 at 18:01

    Obama made it clear in his inaugural speech that he is here for the rest of the world, but yes, they’ll have to wait for a while. Nothing good is happening in the US right now, so let him get us have his full attention for a while to get us back on our feet.

  32. 32 Jaysun from Florida
    January 21, 2009 at 18:13

    This is Jaysun from Florida, Howie’s best friend.

    While I supported neither party for office, and really hold no specific loyalties towards the new commander in chief, I can’t help but agree with Howie’s sentiment.

    I understand that the U.S. tends to lend many of its resources to philanthropy but, by no means, should our efforts be seen as mandatory. Just because the president has roots that lie within countries which we regularly assist does not mean that our efforts will, or should, increase.

    As several have stated, there is much work to be done here in the U.S. Regardless of our oft stated “superpower” status, the citizens of this country have fallen upon dire times. Unemployment is at a point that I’ve never seen. One in every 20 homes are in foreclosure due to a flawed lending system. Government bail-outs that help now are eventually going to fall in the laps of peole like Howie and me. And while these issues may pale in comparison with some of the issues that affect economically inferior countries, they are devastating to American citizens. I personally know no less than a dozen people that have lost their jobs in the last 6 months, due to the struggling American economy. I can’t help but be infuriated if Obama fills the outstretched hands of begging countries before focusing on getting the peole of HIS country back on their feet from the wobbly legs that we currently stand on.

  33. 33 Morf
    January 21, 2009 at 18:25

    While Obama, or any president of the United States, is in fact the leader of the nation – he (or she someday) is never ONLY that.

    Like it or not, the influence of the US is international.

    The rest of the world would not be in a financial crisis today except for the bungling of the economy here in the USA.

    President Bush held the philosophy that he (and by extension, America) could do anything he wanted – no matter what other nations said. Obama, on the other hand, clearly recognizes that we are all citizens of the world – with responsibilities to each other across geography and history.

    Bush’s isolationism ruined our international reputation and left the economy floundering.

    Obama is very clear that none of us is alone on this earth.

  34. 34 Right Paddock
    January 22, 2009 at 11:51

    US citizens who say they want Obama to solve domestic economic issues must understand that whilst the US is no longer a manufacturing powerhouse, it remains a powerhouse in financial markets. The US has been extremely successful in exporting its toxic sub prime mortgage derivatives, which means that we have a global financial crisis – you we are infected by your ailments too.

    This is not the first time the US has infected us with its toxic financial systems. The Great Depression and the S&L Collapse are two other instances of the US successfully exporting problems in its financial markets to the rest of the world.

    67,000 factories have closed in China in the past few months, commodity prices have collapsed, that has a severe impact on the economies of Brazil, South Africa, Australia etc. Have a look at what’s happened in Iceland.

    Perhaps if the US could find a way to prevent its economic woes becoming everyone’s economic troubles then they may take less interest in US politics.

    Like he asks I’ll judge Obama by his results. Mostly all we’ve had is rhetoric and some of that has been more than a little tortured and turgid. And he’s nominated some folks for his Cabinet.

    IMO someone who falsely claims to have been bombed in Bosnia is not fit to hold office of US Secretary of State, and apart from being a former President’s wife what qualifies Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to hold that position anyway. I see the Ross’s, Holbrooke’s etc are trooping back onto Foggy Bottom – the same guys who allowed Milosevich to remain in power, North Korea to produce plutonium and Pakistan to export uranium enrichment centrifuges to Iran, Libya, North Korea and who knows where else – Saudi Arabia?.

    It’s been alleged that Admiral Dennis Blair his nominee as Director of National Intelligence “green lighted” the activities of the Indonesian Army backed militia in East Timor in 1999. In doing so he may have knowingly disobeyed orders. As a result of militia activities 100’s died, 1000,s of buildings were destroyed, hundreds of thousands were displaced – including being forced into Indonesia.

    His Chief Economic Advisor Larry Summers masterminded the deregulation of the markets during the Clinton Presidency – a major factor in the creation of the current global financial crisis — a “you broke it, so you fix it” attitude may not be appropriate when the stakes are this high.

    The Treasury nominee forget to pay his taxes, and is one of those who handed out the 1st $350b tranche to the banks, no one seems knows what they’ve done with that money, except that did not lend it to anyone. It seems that they may have trousered it.

    Bill Richardson had to bail out of a Cabinet post when some of his dubious influence peddling activities were exposed by a grand jury.

    Looks like a warmed over Clinton Presidency to me, is that better than a warmed over Bush Presidency – we’ll see.

  35. January 22, 2009 at 19:43

    It’s the fallacious ‘war on terror’ effect fall out resulting in much state violence and genocide around the world that has probably caused this spontaneous response from far and near. A wiser change of course is much needed to buffer the disastrous ‘cowboy effect’.

  36. January 22, 2009 at 20:02

    hi people, I’m from Ivory coast , a country in West Africa, where the biggest US Embassy in West Africa has been established.
    OBAMA is your president, not ours !but you can’t imagine the way US foreign policy affect the rest of the world!
    but the fact is : Obama is black ! he’ll continue to inspire black people from Africa and all over the World.
    He’s kind of hope for young generations. African from Africa, don’t expect to take your president! cause we know it’s not possible. We’re just thinking like, Obama has done it, so from now Everything will be possible! Thanks to him Some African start to think that One day Change will happen in Africa, and it will be a better place for us to live.
    (sorry fo my poor english)
    -french native-
    Gyk from Casablanca – Morocco

  37. 37 Mustafa
    January 22, 2009 at 22:09

    It is a big day for all the humans on this tired planet ,a real democracy lesson for all those who never believed on it before , and a face of hope, I wish that he will have the good will and all the power to make all his promesses come true, we need a world with much peace and tolerance between all the humans ! God bless you Mr President !

  38. 38 Sabastion
    January 23, 2009 at 19:35

    Personally I’d be proud that the people of the world feel a connection and propriety for my president, he was hired to be the face of the country. If the world takes pride in the choice, maybe he was the right choice. Besides the united states is the melting pot of the world, if it can succeed perhaps that means there is hope for the rest of us, as such don’t we all have a stack in it, our ancestors colonized it, nourished it, shaped it, joined it, bled for it, and cried for it, and our descendents will have to live in the world with it.

  39. January 24, 2009 at 04:46


    It is a fact that he is not my or my country’s president, BUT his actions and words do effect what the world thinks and says.

    As far as I am concerned, what he does or what is expected of him is none of my business..

    He does know how to step way from things.


  40. 40 Shakhoor Rehman
    January 24, 2009 at 12:18

    I’ve got one word for Howie: Globalisation. It’s not a fruit salad, you cannot pick and choose what you want or do not want.

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