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The United States is still the same country it was a year ago, give or take about 6 million jobs. But its international branding campaign, as led by the new President, Barack Obama, is so different that the rest of the world might be forgiven if it has to do a double take.
Most of the hallmarks of the foreign policy of George W. Bush are gone. The old conservative idea of "American exceptionalism," which placed the U.S. on a plane above the rest of the world as a unique beacon of democracy and financial might, has been rejected. At almost every stop, Obama has made clear that the U.S. is but one actor in a global community. Talk of American economic supremacy has been replaced by a call from Obama for more growth in developing countries. Claims of American military supremacy have been replaced with heavy emphasis on cooperation and diplomatic hard labor. (Read "Obama in Europe: Facing Four Big Challenges.")