The Whole World Is Watching — Really!

Barack Obama speaks in Berlin July 24, 2008
CBS
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office Tuesday, the whole world really will be watching. CBS Sunday Morning checks in with three world capitals:

Tel Aviv:

Whether it's with the ring of armor around Gaza, or the wall of concrete and steel surrounding the West Bank, Israeli-Palestinian relations right now rely more on separation than long-term solutions.

Keeping violence under control here may be America's immediate best hope, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth.

"You can't ignore the Palestinian issue, but don't expect to reach a successful conclusion, resolution, political resolution in the near term," warns Israeli security analyst Yossi Alpher.

But according to Alpher, a former senior official of the Mossad (Israel's CIA) and co-editor of the Web site bitterlemons.org, a peace agreement could be right around the corner - with Syria.

"It needs American, heavy American, involvement," Alpher said. "This is where there is a chance for success in 2009. If Obama wants to hit the ground running with this, both Israel and Syria are ready and waiting, and here this is a far greater payoff, anyway, both for the U.S. and for Israel."

Syria's president knows his people are tired of being isolated - and poor.

Damascus hints that with U.S. backing in deeds and dollars, a peace deal with Israel is possible. That would leave Hamas, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, with just one sponsor in the region: Iran.

In the world's most dangerous neighborhood, Iran is the growing power, stoking Islamic militancy and publicly pledged to Israel's destruction.

And Iran is developing the ultimate threat. Israel believes Iran will produce enough fuel for a nuclear bomb sometime this year. If it's America's new policy to engage old enemies, Israel wants in on the conversation, reports Roth.

"There's a lot of concern in Israel that you'll do some kind of a deal with Iran at our expense," said Alpher.

"My advice would be, figuratively speaking, on your way to Tehran, you must stop in Jerusalem. You must listen to our security concerns and reassure us that you're going to represent them faithfully in your dealings with Iran."

In Gaza, Israel said it stopped the offensive because its goals were achieved. That may cool the crisis for a new American administration. But it's no one's victory, and it isn't peace.

London:

O'Leary O'Reilly O'Hare and O'Hara,
      There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama.
You don't believe me I hear you say,
      But Barack's as Irish as was JFK.
Eager to claim a piece of America's new president with proven Irish ancestry, the Corrigan Brothers, from Moneygall, Ireland, are celebrating Mr. Obama's inauguration with a YouTube hit.

It is giddy enthusiasm for Barack Obama, who was happy to play along.

"I've always maintained 'Obama' is an Irish name," the president-elect said. "Just put the apostrophe after the O."

Mr. Obama is now more popular than most leaders here in Europe, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar, and there are high hopes.

"He is a political and cultural icon all over the world, and there is a wonderful sense of hope," said Gerard Corrigan.

It was that new sense that brought hundreds of thousands of Europeans out in Berlin to listen to a presidential candidate on a July evening last year, and persuaded Andrea Mann that she should contribute, by blogging for EnglandForObama.com.

"Here is a man who is about to be inaugurated, whose middle name is Hussein," said Mann. "I think that is a very healing thing for the world."

Now she's heading to the inauguration.

But before the new president can even unpack, big problems lurk.

First, the global economy. In the richest countries, people blame the U.S. for the financial crisis.

In Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says American leaders have been unable to take appropriate action. Watch for more frosty relations there.

Then there is Afghanistan. President Obama will plead with European allies for more soldiers there, and he will have to grapple with the legacy of one of the most divisive issues of the Bush administration.

Mr. Obama has said he will close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but there are trials due to start, including that of Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when he was captured.

The new president will have to decide what happens to Khadr, and to any new prisoners.

"If those prisoners are still being taken, (it will be) how we're going to treat them that is going to be the next big test, too, of Obama's commitment to human rights," said Clive Stafford-Smith, a human rights lawyer who represents some of the prisoners in Guantanamo.

Expectations? Yes, there are just a few, reports MacVicar, from Europe and Ireland, to his father's homeland, Kenya.

In the words of step-grandmother Sara Obama, on her way to Washington, now he has to work well for America, for Kenya, and for the rest of the world.

Tokyo:

In Asia, the new president faces a headache of nuclear proportions, reports CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen: North Korea's nuclear program.

The North is more advanced than Iran. It has already set off one test bomb. And negotiations just got harder with speculation that leader Kim Jong Il is ailing.

There is also bad news from China. The Chinese bought billions in U.S. debt, keeping American interest rates down and demand for Chinese products high.

But with U.S. demand falling, and anger among laid-off workers rising, future Chinese billions will be spent at home on make-work projects like construction.

Investors on the China stock exchange think that is just fine.

Chinese money, says Ms. Zhao, should save China. We need help here, she adds.

And Japan may be the blueprint for the struggling U.S. economy. Japan went through a crippling recession beginning in the early 1990s that lasted for years. What it did right - and wrong - could guide the new American president.

"There is a way out, that we don't have to suffer a Great Depression or major recession," said Japanese economy expert Richard Koo, who has worked in the United States.

Koo said when Japanese property prices dropped a staggering 87 percent, frightened people didn't borrow or spend; they used those first years paying down debts. The government spent billions on projects to buy time and keep people working.

But the first signs of economic rebound led to a fatal mistake: ending the stimulus too soon.

"The economy improved and there was, 'Oh, the budget deficit is too large,'" Koo recalled. "We cut it. The economy collapsed again."

Once a year the Japanese pray for divine intervention in their economy, says Petersen. But experts say it is government intervention that will determine if the American downturn could be over in three to five years. But get it wrong and - as in Japan - it could go on for a decade or more.