Obama's call for an end to the "skepticism and distrust" that built up during Bush's tenure was paved by his willingness to eliminate torture and his attempt to reach out to Iran.
The result is a renewed trust that the United States can hopefully leverage to help address some of the world's most enduring problems: global warming, poverty, HIV and AIDS, nuclear proliferation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ...
"Make no mistake: This cannot solely be America's endeavor," Obama said. "Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone."
When Obama spoke of his ban on torture, the world applauded.
"If Bush delivered that speech, no one would believe it. People would not believe that U.S. polices designed to serve U.S. interests would have served other countries," M. Taylor Fravel, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told AOL Black Spin in an interview.
"Obama says we have overlapping interests. The United States will take the lead, but you can't free ride. You have to do something. It's a powerful and balanced message," Fravel added.
We already have proof that going it alone doesn't work: The United States' nearly unilateral invasion of Iraq and our refusal, under the Bush administration, to take any solid steps on climate change have only weakened our efforts on other fronts.
Even abrasive Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi could not help being moved by Obama's comments. "Obama is a glimpse in the darkness after four or eight years," said the Libyan leader, who referred to Obama as "my son." "We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as president of the United States."
I know his comments were over the top, and some may take them as the type of praise Obama doesn't need, but it's clear that this president has already restored some goodwill toward this country.
"If the U.S. is genuinely prepared to lead in climate change, other countries will go along. There will be a lot of politics about the nature of that formula and how reducing climate change is achieved, but it's a positive step," said Fravel.
With all that's going on in the world right now, we need a few positive steps in the right direction.