As David Miliband arrived in Nottingham days after the American Presidential election, which saw President Obama narrowly re-elected, it was unsurprising to find a question raised by an audience member regarding his views on the matter.
Miliband began by defining himself as an “internationalist,” and someone who believed that Obama’s re-election was not just his preferred result, but a result that was “good for the world.”
Whilst this drew laughter from the audience, he elaborated by stating that the Obama administration was an important force in the United States, with an executive and cabinet making real changes to America’s foreign policy across the world.
When compared to his opponent Romney, Miliband stressed that Obama has tried to rid his country of a dangerous “cold-war mindset” that had dominated thinking, particularly toward the East in countries such as Russia and China. Miliband added that Romney’s terminology, and his most popular attack on China as a “currency manipulator,” was the best example of this danger.
Such a point raised another important question from the audience – was Romney not correct in labelling China as a “currency manipulator?” Miliband agreed, but emphasized that there were many forms of currency manipulation, and that the West’s methods of quantitative easing could also be considered in this vein.
Romney, Miliband believed, was the embodiment of a worrying trend; an idea that, in a time when “economic power is shifting from the West to the East,” western governments could believe that economic protectionism and turning in on themselves, and away from global trade, was a good thing.
Miliband also brought attention to Obama’s emphasis on talking about the notion of projecting soft power through negotiation and positive imagery, rather than using techniques of intimidation and the threat of violence, especially in regards to the problems of the Middle East.
His final compliment towards Obama’s strategy compared the economies of Britain with the United States. Miliband suggested that the coalition could learn from strategies of the Obama administration, which with its fiscal packages and investment into the economy, had allowed America’s growth rate to rise to 1.9% for the year. In contrast, the UK’s growth rate forecast had recently been “slashed” to just 1% by the Bank of England.