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Comment
Last Updated: 11/16/2008
Barack Obama: a new beginning?
Johann Galtung

Johan Galtung reviews the monumental challenges that Barack Obama will face as the 44th president of the United States, as well as the intense support he is likely to receive from his own citizens and the international community.


Yes, it is.  The race barrier broken, the referendum on the 43d US president, George W. Bush won overwhelmingly, there will be a basic change in the image of the United States of America all over the world.  People around the world love to love USA, warts and all.  Bush made it impossible for most, Obama makes it easy, natural.  The biggest win for a Democratic candidate in popular votes since 1964, a landslide in electoral votes, a one party country, President-Senate-House united.  The road is open.

Well, maybe a New Beginning, maybe not.  Obama's foreign policy is not anti-Empire, had it been McCain would have won.  Ramon Lopez-Reyes (lop-rey.zop-hi@worldnet.att.net), psychoanalyst rooted in Freud, Jung and deep cultural understanding around the world, and a retired Lt.Col. -with three years he deeply regrets in Viêt Nam- sees McCain as an embodiment of the warrior-hero archetype, with a post-traumatic stress disorder.  A very dangerous man. The election was over the job as administrator of the dying US Empire, and in T.S. Eliot's words, "This is the way the world ends--Not with a bang but a whimper,” McCain would end it with a bang.  Maybe even a nuclear bang.

Obama will do so with a whimper.  He embodies much of what the world would hope for in a world president.  The world will give him a honeymoon, maybe one hundred days counting from the inauguration 20 January next year.  But if they find that he essentially walks the same trails trodden by his predecessors even his charisma will not save him.  There will be deception and sarcasms from all over, and his failure to preside over the fall graciously will speed up that fall.  And here Lopez-Reyes enters, seeing Obama as an alchemist, trying to produce gold in a laboratory he neither understands nor controls.

He is up against the forces of secret treaties, secret findings from the "intelligence" community, military-industrial complexes, corporate USA and--the dark specter--the real threat of assassination.  John F. Kennedy.  Martin Luther King Jr.

And yet there are possibilities, in spite of his advisors, the old gang.  Buffet, Powell, Summers, Brzezinski.  Obama's position on Afghanistan reads like Brzezinski's analysis of the grand chess board, inspired by century old McKinder geopolitics seeing Central Asia as crucial for the control of the world--a vision that has fascinated several US presidents.

To see Afghanistan as the center of "terrorism" is wrong; for Muslim resistance in neighboring Chechnya and Kashmir yes, but not for Muslims in all the 25+ countries the West has trampled upon in the last century.  Communism could give in to reality and implode, unable to overcome the disconnect between myth and reality.  But Islam, like Christianity, is a pact with divine forces, tested not in a social reality but in the souls of the devout.  There will never be any capitulation.  The war is unwinnable, two more combat brigades amount to nothing, European countries are sick and tired of the whole thing and increasingly feel, like the Swiss when they withdrew March this year, that they had been invited to a peacekeeping that turned out to be peace enforcement, a regular war.  An additional $1 billion a year in nonmilitary assistance to Kabul-Karzai will feed corruption.  And, to try to split the Taliban when they are all against secularization: only if USA withdraws completely.

His policy on the Middle East freezes the untenable. Support for Georgia and Ukraine as NATO members steps up Cold War II.  And Middle East: Israeli security is non-negotiable, but through equitable peace with all neighbors.  They are ready.

Any way out?  Yes, there is one: secret negotiations, emerging with a done deal.  He seems willing to talk with no preconditions, and would benefit from leaving his advisors behind in Washington.  There is something new, fresh about Obama greatly needed in the world.  He simply might understand that to solve a conflict there has to be a tit for tat, like withdrawing missiles from Turkey in return for the Soviet Union doing the same in Cuba.  To demand that everybody else steps down in return for nothing is Empire.  And the magic is gone.

Travel to North Korea and offer a peace treaty, diplomatic relations, normalization--not only removal from the list of "terrorism", in fact, drop that stupid vocabulary.  The nuclear issue will wither away.  As it will in Iran, if he offers an apology for the CIA-MI6 coup in 1953 against a legally elected prime minister, Mossadegh.  Repair the past.  Admit mistakes, in return for verifiable solutions.  Solution orientation, not war.

Talk with Hizbollah, Hamas, Syria, about the Middle East.  They are willing to recognize a more modest Israel with fixed borders close to 4 June 1967 in return for an end to occupation, if possible with a nuclear free zone in the Middle East.

Travel to Russia.  Respect their concerns, agree on an Andorra type solution for South Ossetia and a federation for Ukraine; stop NATO expansion in return for no Russian military presence in the Americas.  Let Russia be Russia.

And keep the 16 months promise in Iraq, adding an offer of generosity in rebuilding of the country after the devastation, even an admission that the 2003 invasion was a mistake.

In short, try to short-circuit the usual trappings of the Empire.  And the USA will gain enormously, both at the global level and domestically.  

Only keep in mind: Change, YES, WE CAN!

________________________

Note from the editor: Prof. Johan Galtung’s book #5, The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What? Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism or US Blossoming?, will be released in December/08 by TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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