The above may well be a little unjust to Obama's image, but his image remains untested in the muddy waters of a global economic crisis. Previous economic crises have ended in wars as a form of resolution. We hope Obama lives up to his image and steers away from that. But for him to do so, the focus may well be for him to focus on getting the American economic ship back in order. So lets temper our euphoria a little for what Obama will do for us in the rest of the world...
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Are We Over-Celebrating Obama?
There is much celebration, it seems worldwide, of Obama's victory in the US Presidential Elections. And indeed there is much to celebrate. At least Obama presents some hope for change, unlike his rival McCain, who looked like an older, less accident-prone but outwardly more conservative version of George W. Bush, who's probably internationally the most hated US President since Nixon (who's also probably more popular if you exclude American sentiments).
But whilst we celebrate the victory for change in the US, with perhaps some legitimate hope that things will be different in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine whilst diplomacy with North Korea, Iran, Russia and others, including ourselves, improves, lets not forget that Obama, self declared 'citizen of the world', will be first and foremost, President of the United States of America, and charged with defending the interests of that country with extreme prejudice.
What does this mean? It means that the priorities in his first term in office should be very US-centric; especially if he wishes to deliver the US from its present crisis thus guaranteeing his second term as President. Does this mean that he will not deliver his promises on Iraq et al? Not necessarily, but President-designate Obama would only be too aware that the last legs of his campaign focussed on the American economy, allowing him to pull away from McCain.
Americans will now see the fixing of their economy to be a key priority, well ahead of Iraq, and so will their President. If withdrawal from Iraq helps, then all the better. But as fiscal stimuli is the economic flavour of the day to tackle the present crisis, don't be too surprised to find Obama trying to balance things a little dangerously. For instance, his strategy in Iraq may be a fire-sale of US weapons left behind as troops withdraw to Iraq's pro-US government.
This article penned by Obama during his nomination campaign is controversial when put against his image as it begins with disturbingly familiar post 9/11 rhetoric. It does nevertheless evolve into a presentation of ideas that are more in line with Obama's mass-market image, where even the US Military's expansion may be geared to good works internationally. But even then, Obama emphasised that for all its foreign aspirations the US had to get its house in order first.
For Malaysia, I see this as the perfect time for us to disengage from the US-Malaysia Free Trade (USFTA) talks... but that's another story...