Wednesday, December 29, 2010

President Obama’s Latest Victories

Upright Opinion
December 25, 2010
President Obama’s Latest Victories
By Saeed Qureshi
In one of his stirring comments made after the Passage of the tough Health Care Bill, president Obama remarked that he always comes from behind and takes a lead. It is akin to a race horse or a sprinter that seems to be trailing behind but in the final moments wins. The month of December has been particularly quite propitious for president Obama as he scored a string of victories that carried bipartisan support and thus look more credible with wider acceptance. These windfall victories appear to be more stunning and impressive as these came on the heels of a dismal defeat in the November elections that he dismayingly yet aptly described as shellacking.

These victories should impart enough confidence to president Obama to move forward and address the pressing items on his election agenda that somehow have not made a tangible headway. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of Obama’s success is his less aggressive or rather mild postures towards the outside world. Unlike his hard-core predecessor G.W. Bush, his image has remained that of a benign and mellowed president of the United States. Despite villainous provocations and name calling bordering on vituperation, he has maintained his dignity and cool and the virtue of not stooping low.

He has been tough with Iran and has been markedly successful in stiffening the sanctions against Iran. Primarily these sanctions are uncalled for because they trample the principle of equality and evenhandedness in inter-state relations. Now it is a common knowledge that it is essentially at the behest of Israel more than America’s own choice that Iran is being pressurized and isolated to force her to either abandon the nuclear program or keep it on a certain dictated level.
But a sovereign country as Iran is, she would not be cowed down as to wind up her advancement in nuclear technology. Although the ideologically and historically Arab adversaries are also behind such a move, it is fundamentally Israel that feels threatened by Iran’s nuclear program.

So in comparison while G.W. Bush invaded Iraq with a massive military incursion under the pretext that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Obama has desisted from such a dangerous and ruinous move with regard to Iran. Instead, he has been keeping the doors for parleys open while tightening and enhancing the embargoes on Iran. Obama knows that the world at large was disinterested in suffocating and annihilating Iran by sanctions, as such tactics seldom worked to obtain the stipulated results. Amazingly, of late, many American companies have been allowed to resume trade with Iran.

As such Obama would not make the fatal mistake of launching a military assault on Iran while two other similar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have remained disappointingly inconclusive, draining the American economy and entailing loss of troops. Soothingly, he has stuck to his commitment of recalling troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, which also enhances his credibility and sprouts his stature.
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a New START treaty in April this year. Its ratification, which had been in doldrums, by the U. S. senate, is being viewed as a significant victory for president Obama. President Obama’s has also been successful in taking Russian along on the question of placing more sanctions on Iran.

President Obama signed three bills within a time frame of three weeks that benefit the American citizens and are to be assessed as great humanitarian accomplishments. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010(also known as Obama Tax cuts) with an 858 billion financial outlay was signed into law by Obama on December 17.
Primarily it benefits the affluent classes but in equal measure, it would bring relief to the lower sections of the American society. Had this bill not been approved,( happily by a bipartisan effort) the rich would still be comfortable but students and poor sections would have enormously suffered.
Despite, Republicans’ back down, the senate passed the legislation covering medical costs for rescue workers and first responders who developed health problems following the 9/11 incident. It was an issue that has been hanging fire for almost ten years now and no one dared touch it.

Now keeping in view the pattern of complex and rigid partisanship in American Congress, these achievements are not mean by any yardstick. They are monumental by virtue of being passed with a spirit of non-partisanship, more demonstrated by the hostile Republicans than the Democrats themselves.

One wonders as to why president backed down and put up a low profile on Israel’s refusal to freeze the burgeoning settlements in the occupied lands of Palestine. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defiant behavior was not only presumptuous but exuded an impertinent disregard for the American patronage without which it cannot survive even for a day. Since then the president has neither responded to Netanyahu’s insolence nor spelled out his next strategy to deal with this overly intricate problem. May be he is bidding his time.

Equally, he has not been able to get the Dream Act passed whose passage fell short of five votes. Nevertheless, he has vowed to continue fighting for this most pressing cause as on its approval hinges the future of innumerable young boys and girls, most of them adults, to be lawfully acknowledged as the citizens of the United States.

Hopefully, despite pressure from the war lobbies, he would be able to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan where a counterproductive war entailing financial disaster and loss of troops for no cogent goals, is underway.
For president Obama the challenges are formidable. But the kind of temperament that he has and the inborn intellect and civilized tenacity that he possesses, he might be able to make history and disentangle United States from the oversees wars for the first time in six decades.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
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