Please don’t say that you’re being “self-centred”, you elect your leaders to serve you and I do feel your criticism about his response to Ferguson is legitimate. I did not ever mean to suggest that Americans who criticised Obama were being selfish or ignorant of the bigger picture. I do agree Obama should say more because even though the US is a federal state, American history is littered with examples where the federal government had to step in to protect African-Americans from racist state governments. What I write below is because I hope it gives Americans a perspective of what it is like to not be an American, to live with your attention fixed on this powerful country whose every move can affect you- whose leaders can more profoundly affect our lives than our own elected ones. We are all limited by our own settings- just as I won’t actually fully comprehend the serious problem of institutionalised racism in the US unlike Americans like you who actually live there even if I read about it.
When I said I was glad Obama won instead of Romney, it’s because for us outside of the US who have no vote, the fact is that your country is the most powerful nation in the world who can just as easily destroy or help us. Perhaps, it is unfair to an extent that your leaders have to spend half their time embroiled in foreign conflicts instead of focusing wholly on US citizens- as you are right to demand-, but it is the way of the world where America is a superpower.
It is not just about “image" to the outside world, but life and death for many non-Americans- like the Iraqi Yazidis and Christians who were surrounded and besieged by ISIS on a mountain- and facing genocide- who were begging for American airstrikes. There have been times when the US failed to intervene- like in Rwanda. The cruel part was people didn’t even need US soldiers on the ground, but just equipment and money- the US government pressured the UNSC to instead cut the already overstretched UN peacekeepers already there. At least 800,000 people were murdered.
Or the Iranians worrying about whether the US would escalate from sanctions to war- just as Iraqis first feared it when Bush announced he was invading. Obama has actually handled Iran pretty well by de-escalating the situation and shutting down those who wanted war. To Iran’s neighbours, who know a destabilised Iran would have severe consequences for them. That is good for Americans too- soldiers will not be sent into a conflict that could have been defused diplomatically. Next to Romney, it was plain to us Obama was the president who had greater knowledge and understanding of the nuances of global conflicts. Romney came off to many of us as the epitome of white American privilege- and someone utterly blind to it - embracing the old forms of arrogant US exceptionalism that has harmed many of us, where everything is about brute force and appearing “tough”.
And…well speaking as a non-American, many many things Obama has done hasn’t exactly made us happy either. Here’s a few: Many Pakistanis are angry at the increase in drone strikes. Palestinians are completely against the way the US has propped up Israel. Many Asian countries wish he would really beef up US military presence to deter China for example. Syrians felt they were left to die when there should have been military intervention against Assad- which would not have allowed ISIS to grow into the threat it is today (ISIS seems to have originated in the Syrian civil war). He certainly has not pandered excessively to non-Americans at all, but to many of us (though not all), as imperfect as he is, he is a vast improvement over Bush because he clearly better understands the world and doesn’t use the very jingoistic kind of American exceptionalism I see in a lot of Republican politicians who go around saying things like “I won’t ever apologise for America!” when the US government committed hideous injustices on people who deserve not just apologies but compensation.
No American president is perfect, and even those who are generally beloved today like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln made plenty of mistakes and had their own detractors. FDR interned Japanese-Americans unfairly, even when there was no evidence of widespread disloyalty. He also failed to bomb the concentration camps. Lincoln was called a dictator even by some pro-Union politicians because he greatly expanded his wartime powers to deal with the seccessionists and their suspected sympathisers in the Union and slammed by abolitionists themselves who felt he was too hesitant and too slow in making the step to officially abolish slavery.
This is why many non-Americans pay so much attention to who your president is- because we have a huge stake in it. You are right to criticise or be dissatisfied with Obama where he has had his shortcomings, because all US presidents too have to multi-task. You elect your government to serve you- you are only asking for what is owed. But this is how things are like through our eyes, and as imperfect as Obama is, he has so far shown a better understanding of using the US military wisely and not to show off, than Bush- all the while facing the extremely unreasonable obstructionism in Congress I have seen as somebody who’s studied US history. By all means, hold his feet to the fire. But I do hope you understand why non-Americans pay such attention to and feel we have a right to comment on US politics- because it affects us.