Thursday, 6 November 2008

President Hussein of the USA

I just thought it was rather ironic that there will be a new President Hussein. Who is going to try to fix a new ‘regime change’? Saddam Hussein was the darling of the eye of the US until he lost his usefulness – or rather he acquired a different usefulness in being public enemy number one. Barack Obama is incredibly useful now. He has solved a lot of problems at one stroke. People are very angry at the current administration and at the threat to their livelihoods and homes. The world hates the USA. Now, suddenly, people are happy again. The world is happy. Obama will not be able to solve any problems and will get drawn into more world conflicts – there is a lot of trouble brewing out there – as every Democratic President in recent history has done. Then the Republicans will come back, say, ‘We gave you a chance,’ and we will be back where we were.
I mentioned Biden*, because, if my cynicism is more than just that, Obama will not last long and he will be president. Biden is a foreign affairs specialist. But the real person to watch will be who will be the new secretary of state. During Clinton's time is Madeleine Albright who was the real decision maker.
So much for cynicism. Let's accept for a moment the ‘audacity of hope’.
I did see the queues to vote and it reminded me of the queues when South Africa voted when Apartheid was defeated. I do remember the civil rights struggles in the USA. I remember Martin Luther King. As a teenager the fight for rights in the US and in South Africa seemed like an impossible dream. Many people then, including me, thought it was a dream that would never happen. It is impossible not to be moved seeing the long queues to vote. I feel deeply glad to have lived long enough to see at least the symbol of a person leading both countries who represents the people. If the unpaid cheque that Dr King presented has still not been paid in full, at least it has been acknowledged and there is the audacious hope that it may yet be redeemed.
Another hope is the apparent seriousness of Mr Obama. It seems far less likely that he could get drawn into a personal scandal. He also seems to have the intelligence to avoid traps and pitfalls – but Lyndon Johnson was also highly intelligent.
One of the problems of having a broad consensus – and a well funded campaign – is that there is little room to do anything radical. I doubt that he will be able to get through a decent health care or education programme. It is absolutely shameful that the ‘greatest nation on earth’, as they keep telling themselves, does not look after her sick nor educate her young as a citizen's right. Democracy, justice, education and health are still the best you can buy and not the basic right that any advanced mutually supporting human society should provide for itself. Europe is far better in that respect.
Mr Obama's position on Afghanistan and Pakistan is worrying. He is in favour of increasing troops there and not being afraid of making incursions into Pakistan, ‘to protect Afghanistan’. Mr Biden is his foreign policy adviser. He might be worth studying, even if he doesn't taking over the presidency. If an Obama administration gets sucked into an escalation there or in Iran or in South America to counter the ‘red revolution’ there, then his credibility as the new face of the US will be destroyed. He seems to want to move nearer to Cuba, but events may overtake him.
Another thing that worries and rather surprises me is that he seems to be in favour of judicial state murder (capital punishment) where the ‘community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage.’ That is precisely the wrong and worst motive for the treatment of any offender.
*You are wrong about me seeming to know about Biden. I didn't even know how to spell his name. US names are confusing sometimes. I would have thought that Biden would rhyme with Midden – which is probably why it is pronounced as though it meant having two dens (like a polygamous lion). Colin is such an ordinary name – it seems to exude the essence of ordinariness. Perhaps that is why General Powell pronounces it as meaning fellow lin. No one ever heard of a plain Colin becoming a General, let alone Secretary of State. Who would take orders from a Colin? Colin is a mate, someone who always buys his round when it is his turn. You'd never say dirty jokes to a Colin, he'd tell his mum. Poor General Powell. His middle name is Luther – he couldn't use that either, not if he wanted to be a military man.