In less than a week the United States of America will elect a new leader to replace George Bush. Since polls are tilted in favour of Barack Obama, it is likely that John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin may watch in frustration the crowning of America’s new king, whose middle name is Hussein.
Since the ignominious defeat of the other Hussein, whose dethronement from the imperial palace of Baghdad followed a carefully crafted script drafted in the corridors of the White House and the Pentagon by a legion of neo-conservatives, Americans seem ready to crown their Hussein.
If November 4 proves to be a decisive victory for Obama, many pundits from across the political spectrum in the US will claim that it’s a tribute to the maturity of American democracy. That the son of an African migrant from the rural backwaters of Kenya whose family are Muslims could rise through the racist elites of a country hitherto regarded as the world’s only superpower and claim the title of President, will be touted as proof of this maturity.
Yet, in the excitement of celebrations many unspoken realities will remain unheard. While an abundance of rhetoric has accompanied the grueling run-up to the elections, mainly focused on domestic issues like taxes and health care and the faltering economy, very little has engaged both candidates about the defining characteristics of failed foreign policies.
Undoubtedly, the biggest red flag fluttering in Obama’s face is the humiliating failure of the Bush administration to secure a “peaceful” resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict by the end of its term. The other is Iraq and the huge current impasse resulting from the text of the so-called Status of Forces Agreement [SOFA]. The third is Afghanistan and reversals faced by the US and Nato forcing the occupying forces to re-package the Taliban.
Then there is Pakistan, a failed state on the brink of collapse yet powerful enough for reasons of strategic value because of its nuclear weapons.
Perhaps Obama’s biggest challenge lies in the terrain of global reforms the Bush administration has stubbornly frustrated. Given the disaster of America’s failed economic policies and the resultant tail-spin in the rest of Europe and global markets, will Obama even consider the critically important task of ending the poverty and underdevelopment in which millions of Africans are trapped?
And what prognosis does he possess for countering Washington’s right-wing military power in the post-September 11 eras? All indications are that based on his commitments to the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, Obama will continue pursuing the ill-fated “war on terror” which Tariq Ali describes as US Empire versus Radical Islam.
Ultimately, the new President of America will be judged on his ability to either support or demolish the pillars of global apartheid. Being a nominee of the Democratic Party doesn’t guarantee automatic allegiance to values of justice and much of the pronouncements made by Obama thus far do not signal any hope that his reign will be any different to George Bush’s or for that matter, Bill Clinton’s.
After all, Palestinians remember too well the setback they suffered after Clinton’s ascension to power. It was under his presidency that the US first designated Hamas as a terrorist organization and banned any transactions with it when Executive Order 12947 of 23 January 1995 “Prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process” was issued.
If America is going to be saddled with a Hussein for the next four years – blame Bush for going after a Hussein, thousands of miles away.