It’s a fascinating and important time for the USA and the wider world, and there was significant election fever in the states we visited last month. Admittedly we visited mostly hardened Democrat country, but it was interesting to note that there were vast numbers of posters for Obama, but none (that we saw) for McCain.
Quite randomly, I picked up an intriguing book while in the USA called What We Do Now. It’s a collection of essays by left-wing and Democrat thinkers and activists across the USA published just a few weeks after Bush won his second term in 2004. The book suggests ways in which those who were aghast at Bush’s victory can recover, reorganise and come back stronger.
They were interesting essays, and while the Democrats appear in the ascendency in the forthcoming vote for President, it seems that little of their angry idealism has been realised. I wonder, for instance, whether Obama is really all that much of a saviour for the American left.
While driving through Seattle, for instance, we caught a bit of the first presidential debate on the radio and I was disappointed and alarmed by one thing Obama said. He attacked McCain’s belief that Iran was at the heart of the “War on Terror”, saying that in fact the front line was Afghanistan.
Wrong. Both wrong.
If you look at the decades-old resentment Muslims (and many others) across the world have at US foreign policy, much of it lies in the Israel-Palestine conflict, not Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq or anywhere else. Key within this anger is the perceived hypocrisy of a country which is keen to bestow (or force?) democracy and self-determination upon Muslim countries like Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, but not on Palestine.
Obama simply doesn’t get this.
Indeed, he believes that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel, seriously undermining the viability and integrity of any future Palestinian state. Regardless of your views about the Israeli-Palestinian problem, it cannot be denied that it lies at the root of much of the Muslim world’s unrest, and is one of the major reasons why the USA is so hated in many parts of the world. Whether that hate is justified or not, it is unarguable that it is a significant cause of the “War on Terror” and a continued source of threat to US security is.
To fail to recognise this, and to fail to take seriously the quest for a Palestinian state, Obama will in turn fail to remove one of the major obstacles to security in the USA, never mind the Middle East.
On account of the fact he’s not a Republican, I hope he wins. But do I think he’s going to save the world?
Far from it.