Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, November 2012
President Obama and Remaking of US Presidency
By Mahboob A. Khawaja
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, November 19, 2012
In his presidential re-election winning comments on November 6 at Chicago, President Obama reclaimed his moral and intellectual conscience to state that he “will be open to change and listening and learning and to be a better president to serve the American people.” If contemporary history is a reference point, he made similar assertions during and after the 2008 historic presidential win by a black candidate. Did Obama share new political imagination to pursue a different course of policies and actions in his 2nd term of office? Is Obama a changed person? Does he posses a rekindled consciousness of his broken commitments, failure and challenges in waiting to prove his leadership for the 2nd term? What is there to believe his credibility?
Politics is a game of pretension and superficial acting on stage, and all politicians master the Machiavellian statecraft. The underpinning passion for political obsession is to get elected and nothing else. All other grandeur claims of being honest or doing good for the public are fake illusions evolved to boost the political image to impress the electorates who have paid in advance for political pains. In less fortunate societies, orphans ask for charity so do politicians in the liberal democracy to capitalize on public’s passion and ignorance of the facts of political wickedness. People donated money to Obama and Romney’s presidential campaigns only to be misled by the same politicians. The reality is most often absent from the political roll call on streets and contentious electorate divides.
While Obama shed few tears to impress upon his dedicated campaign volunteer workers in Chicago, there is no logical agenda to know or to assume that he will be a changed president to develop a more favorable future for the United States in global politics or in bankrupt treasury bills and defeated militarism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington based military-industrial complex overwhelms the policy agenda, not the American voters. When the citizens vote, they hold high hopes for change and expect leaders to honor their commitments made during the political campaigns. Ordinary folks do not believe either Obama or Romney were competent enough to deliver promises to public expectations. Obama appeared overwhelmed with joys and unpredictable sorrows (had he lost the re-election strategy), so he turned to human impulse to show that a president –a commander in-chief is also a human being affiliated with the masses. This was the last chance in his lifetime to get re-elected; he will not have it again in history.
Does Obama know the challenges facing America? It is a crucial question that most analysts would like to be addressed during the election campaigns. Of all the pertinent issues, the masses wanted to see an end to the bogus War on Terrorism raging over a decade and that has bankrupted America not just in economic and financial domains but also in moral, intellectual and political spectrums. The consequences of the war on terror are not adequately reported by the mainstream news media. Countless precious lives have been lost by the arrogance and wickedness of the few warmongers in American politics. Its impacts will remain on public conscience for generations to come. The end to war on terror was not part of the active agenda campaign either by Obama or Mitt Romney. The American folks are living in fear of the unknown as was demonstrably clear from the superstorm SANDY affecting millions. President Obama used the opportunity not to campaign for few days but his tour of the devastated areas in New York –New Jersey and utterances were no different than the implicit substance of a political campaign. The timely visits worked out in his favor what George Bush had miserably failed to do during the Katrina in 2007. Many victims of the SANDY catastrophic impacts tell their story as if they were living in “war zones.” The first hand observations could not have been indifferent to these expressions. This could be the consequence to what the US leaders are doing to other nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan Pakistan and Yemen. American operated drone attacks are causing daily killings of innocent people and destruction of the human habitats. As the people in those lands live in “fear” and uncertainty, the same is happening to the American population - the Will of God lives everywhere whether the American commander–in chief takes it seriously or not. All living things in the Universe obey the commands of God. The superstorm Sandy and previous Katrina were no exceptions. These are staunch REMINDERS to human beings, what can go wrong with political arrogance, wickedness and belligerency.
Michael Robeson (“Sorrow, Sufferance and New York City-The spiritual is political” Information Clearing House: 11/5/2012) attempts to share the observations:
“Sorrow and sufferance are the rakes and plows that the great spirit uses in order to open our spirits to unknown depths that our minds would otherwise fear to confront. We are raked and plowed mainly through and by others who we want to love or who we want to love by and who feel the same unconscious anger and enmity toward us. None of us know why. We don’t choose those who we will make to suffer and who will make us, or others, suffer in turn. We are more often than not brought together by forces that we don’t like to admit exists.”
President Obama now claims, he will be a changed president and open to listening and learning. If so, would he take immediate steps to cancel the Kill List and stop the inhuman drone war against innocent people in Pakistan and Yemen? Medea Benjamin – CODEPINK (“A Chat with Counterterrorism Chief John Brennan.” Dissident Voice: 11/5/2012), took initiatives to show solidarity with the innocent drone victims in Pakistan. The discussion turned to John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism chief and the key person making decisions about drone strikes. We wondered if Brennan ever had a chance to meet innocent drone victims, as we did, and feel their pain. She offers touchy narratives of her encounter with the US Chief of drone strategy John Brenann, an unscheduled meeting at his door steps as formal requests remained unanswered:
“The last time we met I was being dragged out of the Woodrow Wilson Center by a 300-pound security man while yelling, “I love my country! You’re making us less safe. Shame on you Mr. Brennan……. I had just returned from a delegation to Pakistan meeting with drone victims, how heartbroken I was to hear their stories, how terrible it is that these drone attacks are causing so much suffering to innocent people and turning the entire Pakistani population against us…. He insisted that it wasn’t true, that we weren’t harming civilians……. “It’s just not true,” he repeated, dismissively. “You are being manipulated……I want you to know, John, that I am doing this from my heart, because I care about the lives of innocent people everywhere and I care about our country. With that, he slammed the door.”
Edward S. Herman (“Beyond Double Standards–and Hypocrisy.” Dissident Voice: 11/1/2012), helps us to understand the political context, how the drone war has devastated the whole region and is creating reactionary animosity against the US.
A joint investigate report by the Stanford Law School and New York University School of Law published in September 2012 entitled Living Under Drones, and based on over 130 interviews carried out in Pakistan offers most credible but horrifying record of the American drone war. The report claims that the vast majority of victims of the drone war attacks are civilians, not “militants”—only 2 percent of those killed were identified as known “militants.” The Stanford University-New York University authors explicitly challenge the US version and deny the official claims of precise surgical strikes by the drones: “This narrative is false.” They also report that an important feature of the drone war is the regular use of a second missile strike shortly after the first strike—the combination euphemistically labeled a ”double tap”—killing many local onlookers and rescue workers coming to the aid of the first-strike’s victims. These secondary strikes “have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.” The Director of the charitable organization Reprieve is quoted in the report as saying:
“An entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies…. Their way of life is collapsing… kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meeting or anything that involves gathering in groups.”
Intelligent leaders lead the masses without shedding tears. In crises, leaders do not cry. Of course, the unexpected political tears of Obama were conveniently personal and emotional, not officials, he could contend. It is common that what leaders say or do could be misinterpreted. Obama could claim that he had some eye rash and simply tears came out of the nowhere. Surely, If Medea Benjamin’s first hand accounts are factual as it seems to be case, Obama could not have shed tears for the innocent children and women massacred by his Kill List drone operations in Waziristan, Pakistan. On November 10, 2012, the eve of Remembrance Day, Mr. McGovern, a former Assistant Director of CIA, made it known to the BBC newsman that the war on terror (raging in Afghanistan and Pakistan) should be stopped immediately. It simply does not serve the American interest. He added, if President Obama wanted to do it, it should be done now, not in 2014 to safeguard the American people and national security.
In an age of REASON and political accountability, Gary Corseri, a well known novelist, poet and playwright on PBS –Atlanta, and one who has performed at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum (“I Voted” Dissident Voice: 11/5/2012), points out the rationale for his vote in the presidential elections:
I voted for peace and justice and sanity In an insane world of violence and injustice. I voted.
I voted for climate-change victims; And for those torn apart by war; Against the Empire, and for the planet; For the hungry and forgotten, For the terrified and abused– I voted Against the military-industrial-media complex And for the dream of MLK– I voted.
I voted for Iraqi mothers and Afghani; In Pakistan and around the world— Because each of them is my mother, also, Weeping like Rachel for her lost children.
For Kathy Kelly and Rachel Corrie, For Cindy Sheehan and Cynthia McKinney, Jill Stein, Helen Caldicott and Medea B.– For standing against madness and lies, Opportunism and exploitation— For all of them, I voted..
To pass from these Dark Ages To a Renaissance of Reason, To a New Age of Enlightenment– I voted.
The 21st century knowledge-based politics and leadership accountability warrants change, new strategies for peace and global harmony and clear sets of principles and moral values from those operating the political powerhouses. If Obama wants to be mentioned in history as President of the people of America who voted for him, surely, he NEEDS a Navigational Change. Logically, any intelligent leader would do his best to change and conform to the requisites of futuristic adaptability when facts of life warrant a change, given the passion for facts, not for fiction. Responsible and conscientious leaders build their moral strength and intellectual integrity – the real force for accountable democratic governance by discarding shortcoming, overcoming failures and political blunders. Obama’s record is not plausible for the first term of presidency as he discarded all of his major commitments for peace and justice across the globe. He failed to stop the bogus war on terror as he promised in 2008 election campaigns and to bring the troops home; he signed the first law to close the infamous Guanatanmo Bay terror prison but failed to implement it. He initiated and promised to strike a balanced approach to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict and to establish the independent State of Palestine by 2011 and its membership at the UN but he failed as PM Netanyahu cowed him down. Informed observers point out to the White House being the latest Israeli overseas settlement expansion. It is too early to speculate how Obama will maneuver escape from the Israeli entrapment. Would Obama try to regain some of his lost political power and integrity as President of the US? History will judge the leaders by their actions, not by their claims. He got the second opportunity with a challenge to prove his leadership perceptions and qualities. Agreeably, conscience is inherent in political morality as it distinguishes between the right and wrong. If Obama has a living conscience, would he tell the American people and the world - what is the purpose of continuing wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Whose national security dictates to kill the innocent civilians in Waziristan-Pakistan? What honor and dignity is he looking for not to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan until 2014? Why not now and before the end of the day? For what national security and purpose more than 3,000 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan and several thousands wounded veterans survive in street ghettos, drug sustained hallways and galleys of shopping malls across the US? Why 18-25 war veterans commit suicide every day across America? Are the people not the real power of the American democracy to change its official policies and practices? Why none of these real world people’s issues not included in the agenda debates during the recent presidential campaigns? If Obama and Romney dreamed of glory and triumph, were they helpless against the election campaign advisors or simply too weak having poor sense of political imagination and judgment and not being able to see the public mirror?
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012)
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