Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 3rd was a very important day

Republican Politics, American Style
January 10th 2008 in Metro Eireann By Charles Laffiteau

January 3rd was a very important day. January 3rd was Election Day in America. It was the day that voters in the centre of the country, in the State of Iowa, caucused in churches, schools and public auditoriums to cast ballots in favour of the Republican or Democratic candidates who they believed should be the next President of the United States of America. It marked the beginning of the end of the Presidential nomination and election process which culminates ten months from now on November 4th 2008, when one of these candidates will be chosen to lead the United States (US) for at least the next four and possibly eight years. January 3rd was a very important day.
November 4th 2008 will be the most important day of this coming year. In America and the rest of the world, November 4th 2008 will also be the most important day of this decade and quite possibly the 21st century. I say this with all due respect for those who perished in the US and other parts of the world in spasms of pseudo-religious political violence in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. on September 11th, 2001, in Bali Indonesia on October 12th 2002, in Madrid Spain on March 11th, 2004 and in London England on July 7th 2005. November 4th 2008 will be the most important day of this year, this decade and yes, maybe even this century, because America stands at an extremely critical turning point in its political history. The direction US citizens choose to take when they vote on Election Day November 4th 2008 will affect the lives of every man, woman and child living on this planet. November 4th 2008 will be the most important day of this coming year.
There are many who may wish to disagree with me regarding the importance of America and the impact its future decisions will have on the rest of the world. Part of this is due to the fact that any hegemonic super-power is bound to stir up resentments among citizens and political leaders in the rest of the world who are jealous of the economic and military supremacy that hegemonic super-power possesses. But America has also disappointed and frustrated many of its own citizens as well as its allies and friends around the world through the injudicious exercise of its economic and military power over the past seven years and its failure to live up to its own moral and political ideals.
So for these and other reasons, I can fully understand why there are so many people around the world who truly believe the world would be much better off if America would just stay at home and mind its own business. Indeed, America’s stewardship in its role as the most powerful economic, military and political force in the world has been far from peaceful and far from perfect during this century. But if America’s many detractors are correct, then what other country or group of countries would you suggest represents a credible alternative to America’s hegemony?
Russia, a quasi-democratic country dominated by organized crime? China, an authoritarian capitalist state which has thus far been unable to cope with the rising income inequalities and environmental consequences of its drive for greater economic growth and power? India, a democracy with simmering violent religious conflicts in Kashmir and other regions, which has likewise been unable to cope with the environmental consequences of its unfettered economic growth? The EU, whose members are constantly squabbling among themselves and are loath to committing their military forces to intervene in conflicts even when they know genocide is being perpetrated? The United Nations, which has been unable to stop genocide in Darfur and other areas of Africa or conflicts in other parts of the world?
What other nation or group of nations would be willing to make the financial and military manpower commitments necessary to maintain a global presence and keep a lid on simmering tensions between long time rivals in Asia and Europe like South Korea, Japan and North Korea, India and Pakistan or Greece and Turkey? Maybe it’s just me or maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see any other credible alternatives to America in its role as the world’s only remaining super-power. Unfortunately, I’m afraid America’s detractors around the world would only appreciate America’s worth as a stabilizing influence if they actually had to live in a world without it for a time.
Thus I believe the world’s best hope is that America’s voters will choose to elect a President who remains committed to engagement with other nations around the globe on economic, environmental, health, human rights, peace and security concerns and who envisions America taking a leadership role in resolving problems related to these issues. America’s next President will have to work hard to shift the mindset of American citizens away from the current President’s rigid view of the world and foreign policy perspectives which are driven by and based on fear. America’s friends and allies will also have to be patient and stay focused on the big picture while the next President attempts to shift America’s foreign and domestic policies or initiatives in a totally different direction from the current President’s course.
While it pains me to say this, I believe Barack Obama is the only person capable of shifting America and its course of action away from current US policies rooted in the culture of “fear” that President Bush and Congressional Republicans have been cultivating for seven years. Unfortunately only one Republican candidate has called for a shift away from the unilateral, militaristic strategies of the President towards multi-lateral interaction with nations including ones the President calls his “enemies”.
Next week I will discuss why I believe that out of all the presidential candidates, only Barack Obama has the leadership skills and vision America will need to deal with its current and future problems.

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