Obama: First Global President?
For the first time Americans have a rare opportunity. They have a chance to elect a man as President whose vision and leadership is sought not just by many Americans, but most of the World.
Commentators across the globe cannot wait for Obama to become the next President of the United States. Whether it is friends across the Atlantic or even those whom we consider as our enemies, are hoping that Obama will take residence in the White House come January 2009.
Like a vast majority of Americans, the world too cannot wait to see the back of President Bush. His policies have made the world tired of and disillusioned with the United States.
The Promise of Obama
But providentially, we still have an ace in the hole — the ‘promise of Obama’. It is hovering tantalizingly on the horizon.
At home he is seen by Americans as a candidate who transcends not just partisanship but also politics. He is poised to bring about change not just in the government but also in the manner in which government does its business. He is determined to become a unifying force – reaching out not just to opponents at home but also to enemies abroad. But most importantly he has awakened a political responsibility in millions of American youth who for decades have remained indifferent to politics.
His personality is a composite bridge. He is both white and black. He is native as well as foreign. He is at once young and mature. The black Obama carries within him the echoes of America’s disempowered margins. The Harvard Law alum Obama personifies the white elite. The Hussein in his name acknowledges that things which appear to be foreign – like Islam — are also native to America. Even his association with Rev. Wright is quintessentially American. It is a bridge to America’s dark past from where ghosts still come to haunt the present.
Obama is surreal. He is like a customized bridge designed specifically to bridge every divide threatening to tear America apart today.
Obama and International Hopes
Of the two leading contenders, Obama and McCain, the latter has already won the hope of nations abroad. McCain threatens the world with a third Bush term and Obama promises a radical departure.
Most commentators abroad expect John McCain to basically adopt the Bush foreign policy albeit minor changes. On the positive front they expect that McCain will be less inclined to adopt tactics like torture and kidnapping that Bush has used. His acknowledgement of global warming is a relief. On the negative side they think he will repeat Bush’s folly in Iraq by starting another nightmare in Iran.
Obama on the other hand is seen as free from the foolhardy hubris of neoconservatives and not completely enslaved by special interests. If he is elected, it is hoped that he will transform US foreign policy. Experts overseas expect that he will be willing to seek genuine international cooperation; will rekindle the dead spirit of multilateralism, and replace bellicosity and arrogance with diplomacy, tact and understanding.
Barak Obama is not just an ordinary Presidential candidate; he is a phenomenon with global reach.
I am convinced that if Obama is elected, the worldwide epidemic of anti-Americanism will deflate instantaneously and the world will reset their perceptions of America. Obama will start with a world eager to work with America to repair the global damage done by the ill-advised and ill-executed policies of George W. Bush. Even in Iraq, nations across the region will cooperate improve the regional situation. His consistent opposition to the Iraq War will also help improve relations with the Middle East.
Obama and American Realities
Obama’s victory is not guaranteed. There is a minority of motivated and reckless conservatives who will vote against him purely on ideological grounds. But he might still attract some Republicans hoping for a new direction.
Then there are three types of Democrats who claim that they will not vote for him. They are ideological feminists, racial bigots and working class white democrats. Frankly, they have no choice but to ensure an Obama victory. If McCain wins, he will appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe V. Wade and reverse the gains made by feminists. He will pursue tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the working class (white included) and he will send their children to fight in what he says is a ‘hundred years war’.
For the first time Americans have a rare opportunity. They have a chance to elect a man as President whose vision and leadership is sought not just by many Americans, but most of the World. Obama, if elected, could be America’s first World President. Electing him makes Global Sense.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
This article was originally published by Middle East Online.