Sunday, April 5, 2009

A New America is in the Making

By Saeed Qureshi

Under President Barack Obama a definite change in the foreign policy of the United States is underway. It’s a change from conflict to reconciliation and from belligerency and arm twisting to diplomacy and peace around the world. Who could imagine that a few months ago that the USA would be ready to talk to Iran for sweetening of the soured relations on new foundations of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence? It was certainly inconceivable that a time would arrive when it would be the United States to take the initiative for dismantling the barriers of mistrust and bitterness accumulated over almost three decades since the clerical Islamic regime assumed stewardship of the country.

Israel and its lobbies in America are against building such a friendly relationship with a country whose atomic installations it wants to destroy. The initiative of the new American administration to outreach Iran treated till recently as an evil state is stunning. In his address on the Nauroz, the first day of Iranian calendar, president Obama said, “My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community."

For American and Israel, the resistance against the allied forces in Iraq had the support of Iran. Indeed there is nothing final or ultimate in politics. The magnanimous offer of president Obama to mend fences with Iran speaks for the radical tilt in the foreign policy of the United States. United States under the new administration is even ready to start a constructive rapport with all countries that are red marked or are treated as hostile countries.

President Obama is visiting Turkey in April another Islamic country that has been half way with US on its military incursion in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite its stake of entering the European Union and for that matter not to antagonize America and the Western countries, it has taken a principled and more honorable stance by not allowing US to use its territory in its war against two Muslim countries namely Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey under President Abdullah Gul and prime-minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is emerging as an important country that has a significant role to play to help United States, disengage and withdraw from the fruitless war in Iraq. Turkey has also brokered negotiations for better relations between Israel and Syria.

Obama’s friendly moves towards the Islamic countries of Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Syria clearly indicate a distinctive change in American foreign policy and its relationship with the Islamic bloc. For Pakistan, Obama administration is increasing both economic and military aid, which signals a more enduring or pragmatic pattern of relationship with Pakistan. These policy changes are ostensibly aimed at repairing the damage that America has suffered in various manners during the senior and junior Bush eras. It is also meant to isolate the radical Islamists like Taliban and Al-Qaida in respective Islamic countries from where these outfits operate. Unlike his hard-line predecessor, Obama’s strategy is to prop up liberal and moderate Islamic polities that can go along with the enlightened, democratic and open systems of Europe and America. In this effort Obama is not only helping America itself by taking it away from bellicosity to nurturing goodwill, but also the Islamic countries to shed their orthodox baggage and join the liberal societies and modern states.

While under the burden of delivering America from the ongoing predicament of futile wars, Obama seems to have a soft corner in his heart for the Muslims around the world and as such doesn’t want them to suffer any more at the hands of America. Obama is wary and opposed to dubbing the Muslims as terrorists and opponents of western civilizations. With the withdrawal of military from Iraq, Obama’s administration heralds the beginning of a process of winding up of America’s perpetual involvement in wars since the Second World War. It is a giant step and a monumental shift in America’s global outlook with had remained focused first on browbeating the communism and socialism and later on bludgeoning the Islamic bloc. In case of communism it succeeded: in case of Islam it flopped.

With a switch of policy from war to peace and conflict to reconciliation Obama has disarmed and disabled the strong war lobbies within America. Equally, his fast and punitive actions on domestic fiscal indiscipline and scams have earned him more esteem and trust of the American people. His stimulus package aimed at resuscitating the ailing US economy is also having its salutary effects and there are positive signs of slight recovery at the moment, which might pick up pace and momentum in due course. His swift remedial move against the giant Insurance Company AIG for squandering stimulus money on payment of bonuses to the bigwigs of the company has emitted an unmistakable message that the era of misuse of tax payers money was over.

If president Obama remains at the helm for his entire constitutional term and even for the second term then, hopefully, much of the economic meltdown, to a large degree, would be contained. The accountability and strict financial oversight that has been put in place by Obama administration might even in shorter period of time offset the tide of economic tsunami that America is passing through. Besides, following the withdrawal of forces from Iraq and later from Afghanistan, along with the peace offensive that the Obama administration plans to gear up, the huge savings in the coming years cannot be ruled out.

America is essentially a good country thanks to the essential goodness of its constitution and system based on strictly guarded equality, liberty, liberalism, fundamental rights and a marvelous social welfare system. America is one country that takes lead in immigration from all parts of the world. It is a country that gives the aid and assistance more than other donors to the poor and backward countries for development and for humanitarian causes. The only misplaced penchant that overshadowed its good side since the Korean War was its attempts to tame the entire world through military muscle and dubious covert operations. It was a strategy that backfired and instead of achieving the goodwill and the perceived objectives, made it look like an imperialist power. Obama administration seems to remove the duplicity and deceit in America’s foreign policy and in her past dictating pattern of dealing with the world at large. The aid with strings attached has always been counterproductive for promoting American interests around the world.

With a clean image and in the backdrop of bitter lessons learnt in the past several decades, the Obama administration intends to embark upon a friendly course and adopt the time tested strategy of winning the hearts and minds of the global community and not physical annihilation of the foes. Equipped with the unbounded confidence, unshakeable faith in hope and profuse vision and truthfulness of his new role of rescuing America and restoring its grandeur, Obama would prevail in the final count. It is expected that despite the unremitting opposition from domestic hostile lobbies and rival politicians and other hurdles, he would take America out of the troubled waters.

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