Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Obama Administration

The euphoria over Barack Hussein Obama's election to the United States of America's highest political office has more or less settled down. People are now back to worrying about the economy, and the recent dives in the stock market has not helped stem the overall gloomy mood. The new President will have his work cut out for him when he takes the office in January.

I hope things turn around, and that his administration will not be ineffectual. Some of his recent moves have given me pause. Only days after his win, he rebuffed Iran's attempt at opening a dialogue between the two countries. It was disappointing.

He had ran his campaign under the slogan of 'change', and people voted him in thinking that his victory will bring about a new approach to US foreign policy; to have the world regard the US government favorably again. And the reason why so many foreigners welcomed his election was that they too envisioned a leader that would be open to resolving problems through dialogue and positive influence (soft power) rather than hard power (force).

The question is, will there really be change, or has he been just talk?

To see him, spout the same old line as the previous administration AFTER Iran made the first positive move is inexcusable. Did he even accept the congratulations from the Iranian President? I didn't see any report that indicated so.

Despite the whole hoo-ha made over Obama's "link" to the Muslim world, him having lived in Indonesia for sometime, I believe that an Obama administration's dealings in that part of the world would be no different than any other previous Democratic administration. Do not expect any miracles in the Palestine-Israeli issue. Still, better than a Bush administration though, most would agree.

I am aghast that he is actually considering Senator Hillary Clinton for the secretary of state position.

Tom Friedman of the NYT wrote this that sums up exactly why this would be a bad idea:

“It takes America’s friends and adversaries about five minutes to figure out who really speaks for the White House and who doesn’t,” wrote Aaron D. Miller, a former State Department Middle East adviser and the author of “The Much Too Promised Land.” “If a secretary of state falls into the latter category, he or she will have little chance of doing effective diplomacy on a big issue. More likely, they’ll be played like a finely tuned violin or simply taken for granted.”

When the U.S. secretary of state walks into the room, Miller added in a recent essay in The Los Angeles Times, “his or her interlocutors need to be on the edge of their seats, not comfortably situated in their chairs wondering how best to manipulate the secretary. If anything, they should be worried about being manipulated themselves.”

My question is whether a President Obama and a Secretary of State Clinton, given all that has gone down between them and their staffs, can have that kind of relationship, particularly with Mrs. Clinton always thinking four to eight years ahead, and the possibility that she may run again for the presidency. I just don’t know.

I don't know how well an Obama administration would fare. I would wish it does well enough for him to be re-elected for a second term. But that depends on a multitude of factors - the economy, Iraq, Iran, terrorism, minimising polarisation between Republicans and Democrats etc......

He won people's hearts - let's just hope he keeps it, and surrounds himself with good advisors and capable people.

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