Thursday, November 8, 2012

A slalom awaits Obama's second term

So, Barack Obama gets into his second term as US president. Iran was quick to absorb it by saying it would be good for the the country, hoping US will see the logic in its 'nuclear-for-power' program while Israel was a bit skeptical over Washington's dealing with Teheran.

However, Obama is 'accepted' well worldwide. Even the Cubans see him as a moderate 'leader of the imperialist' while in Teheran, some joys were observed when he was announced winner against Mitt Romney.

However, what does the win mean for the Middle East when Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu get more 'intimately' involved in prospering Tel Aviv regime and orchestrating falsified effort to free the Palestinians?

Obama’s re-election victory represents an important vindication of his approach to Iran and its potential nuclear ambitions – and, for the world, a new face of American policy in the Middle East that will relegate the aggressive policies of George W. Bush into the distant past.

For all of his well-worn criticisms of Obama’s Iran policy as insufficiently bellicose and too reliant on diplomacy rather than military threats to bring Iran into line, Romney never really offered much of an alternative – beyond his insistence that he could create a better outcome by speaking in a louder voice, and the clear implication that he would be more willing to use force against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

His initial ambition to jump-start the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace process floundered and with it his efforts to rebuild relations with the Muslim world.

His Administration’s attempted 'reset' with Russia, too, was essentially stillborn, while its 'pivot to Asia' has been more a feature of rhetoric than a measurable strategic shift.

Rather than set the agenda, Obama has largely found himself forced to react to crises in the Middle East and the Afghanistan-Pakistan sphere, managing the challenges of extricating US troops from the Hindu Kush and relying on drone strikes to kill off the US enemies there and also in Yemen; averting the dangers posed by the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program by building sanctions pressure on Teheran, and formulating a response to an Arab rebellion that swept aside longstanding US allies and empowered Islamists in their wake.

His administration developed a form of limited military engagement that relied on others to undertake the heavy lifting - known by the ghastly term 'leading from behind' - to help bring down Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, although the killing of four US diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept 11 highlights the fragility of the resulting order.

More recently, the Obama White House has struggled to find similarly low-cost policy levers that could break Syria’s bloody stalemate by ousting President Bashar Assad.

A foreign-policy legacy may not seem the obvious pathway for Obama to pursue given the limits on American power within which he operates. And he’s clearly mindful of the reality that any restoration of US global fortunes depends first and foremost on repairing the domestic economy.

In Bali, Indonesia, Iran president Ahmadinejad who was attending the two-day Democracy Forum which also saw participation by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, criticised the situation in Europe and the US.

“An election, which is one of the manifestations of the people’s will, has become a battleground for the capitalists, and an excuse for hefty spending,”  he said.

An estimated US$6 billion was spent in US federal races, making the 2012  general election the most expensive poll in American history, experts have said.

Ahmadinejad, who did not comment directly on Obama’s victory over his  Republican rival Mitt Romney, added that “democracy has turned into the rule of  a minority over the majority”.

He said problems continued “even in countries who claim to be the  forerunners of democracy”.

“Slavery, colonialism and rights abuses continue to be imposed on human  beings,” he said, without singling out any countries in particular for  criticism.

Romney frequently accused Obama of taking too soft a line toward Teheran, saying Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability, and that it has never acted less deterred by America.

Now, the question is how much he has been stung by such criticism? Will Obama retain confidence in his dual strategy of squeezing Iran with economic sanctions while also extending offers of rapprochement? Or will the fact that Iran keeps building centrifuges and enriching uranium despite Obama's efforts persuade the White House it needs to try something new?

Perhaps the greatest and most immediate foreign policy crisis Obama must confront in his second term is the civil war in Syria, which threatens to spill into neighboring states.

The US need to make Syria a priority, and it has to do more to try solve the crisis.

In the Middle East and elsewhere, Obama does not want another war with a Muslim country, even if he is cheered on by Arab leaders in the region who want Iran’s program destroyed.

He fears a backlash by Muslims in the street, the prospect of increased terror against the United States, the possibility of delaying rather than destroying Iran’s program and the chance of being forced to use ground troops that could get mired in another long war.

He also fears that war will cause a spike in oil prices that will doom his program for economic recovery.

If Obama does not attack Iran and Israel feels forced to defend itself from what it sees as an existential threat, the US may face many of the same consequences. Much, of course, depends on the success of any operation, but Obama officials have been warning for months of the potential negative repercussions for US interests of a unilateral Israeli attack.

On a broader scale, Obama has to develop a vision for future relations with the Arab world. His first term policy was neither idealist nor realist; he had no ideology or world view shaping his policies and made ad hoc decisions to address each crisis.

In his second term, he will need to decide if he supports democracy for the region. If so, he will have to distinguish between democratic processes, such as elections, and democratic outcomes that lead to freedom for Arab citizens and the protection of their human rights.

And from now on, he can expect more 'harrowing' moment in managing US foreign policy.


ex-diplomat said...

US foreign policy will not change, sir... no, it wont.

whoever sits in the Oval office, the US policy on Israel and Palestine will remain unchanged - that Israel will forever be their priority.

so, no hope at all to see a peaceful middle east...

al-walid said...

it was a slim win. had romney spent a little bit more to buy the odds, he would have made it.

obama is just like any other us presidents who treat the middle east peace process to their whim and fancy.

as long as they show a little bit of engagement, the whole world will applause them.

the us will never give proper attention to the palestinians and the muslims.

its policy is simple and well-known: to control the world without any muslim superpower!

mat gombau said...

salam waghih,

den kona obama ni tapi dio yg tak kona den...hahahahah

den tau satu hal yo pasal amerika ni. diorang ni takkan ketopikan israel walaupun esok kiamat.

israel ni darah daging dio, apo yg tel viv mintak dio akan bagi.

kalau israel bunuh 1000 orang palestin, amerika akan diam tapi kalau palestin bunuh soghang yahudi, amerika akan kutuk.

macam ni la nampak eh sampai bilo2...

memang kiamak punyo amerika!

Anonymous said...

what crap are u talking.

even our leaders love to be in intact relation with the us. look at how najib and gang browsed with obama recently.

what does that show?

penangan said...

salam tn,

dalam keadaan apa pun, dasar luar amerika akan tetap memihak dan memelihara kepentingan israel di muka bumi ini.

tidak kira siapa pun jadi presiden, dasar itu akan dikekalkan walaupun sudah ada suara ramai rakyatnya sendiri yang mahukan ikatan amerika-israel ini dilonggarkan demi keamanan sejagat.

Anonymous said...

obama will protect the axis of the devils - tel aviv forever. he will intensify effort to achieve the peace in middle east but he personally knows that israel will not want it... so, its all a game of policy!

Anonymous said...

i was hoping for romney to win because he is more moderate than obama in his words about israel, iran and the middle east...

but in any discourse, the satan wins!

silap undi said...

baguslah obama menang lagi.

masa dia menang mula2 dulu, satu dunia termasuk malaysia sambut baik dan lihat dia sebagai pemimpin sederhana yang boleh membawa perubahan kepada dunia.

tapi ternyata tidak. dia tak ubah seperti seorang lagi george bush!

pro-Pakatan said...

nik aziz is better than obama.

believe me?


tauke lim said...

America and israel are one, so how to work on a peaceful middle east?

That also u dont know aaar!!!

Anonymous said...

Obama is going to myanmar and thailand beginning nov 17.

In myanmar, he will allow the buddhist to keep on oppressing the rohingya muslim while in bangkok, he will tell them how to deal with the southern muslims once and for all.

Thats how he will toy around with his foreign policy...

Anonymous said...

Pro Pakatan,
Perli nampak,sapo makan cili api rasolah podehnyo.

lim brady said...

tell him to fly kite lor.

he chose myanmar and thailand. he had visited indonesia but skipped malaysia because he knows we are so vocal against the US policy on middle east and israel!