Second Chance to Get it Right
President Barack Obama gets another chance to reform his legacy
By according Obama a second term, most Americans wish to see a continuation of policies that can close a chapter in their history. For many non-Americans, Obama’s second term is his last opportunity to get it right.
President Barack Hussein Obama has just secured a second presidential term, illustrating the sentiments of a majority of Americans. Though barely beating Governor Romney in the final run, Obama’s win is important for a number of reasons.
As depicted through the polls, the voting bloc in America is rapidly shifting. Obama, secured the majority of Hispanic and women votes and was the clear favorite to win from this demographic. It is predicted that these two particular voting blocs will grow exponentially in America, over the next five years. Most young voters also voted in his favor while Governor Romney secured votes from pre-dominantly white, Caucasian voters and the elderly (Surprising, since he aims to revolutionize Medicare and Medicaid).
While the two candidates remained neck-and-neck in election results at home (right till the very end), an international opinion poll conducted by the BBC World Service illustrated that President Obama was preferred to Romney in 20 of the 21 countries, including India. Pakistan was the only country that showed a lower rating (11 per cent) for President Obama and a 14 per cent approval rating for Governor Romney. While Obama’s foreign rating may have been higher, there is no doubt that U.S elections (like in any country) were dominated by domestic concerns of unemployment, healthcare, a dwindling economy, job creation and most recently, the effects of climate change. A stark difference that stands out between the U.S and a country like Pakistan is that foreign policy is also deemed an internal affair in Pakistani politics whereas few in America are concerned or informed enough about it, despite the fact that America has been embroiled in its longest (11 years now) and most expensive war in Afghanistan.
While domestic concerns may have dominated the political discussion up till now, President Obama will have to delve deeper into immediate matters of foreign affairs. The world is currently in turmoil and America’s position as a global superpower has been compromised in numerous instances. The biggest threat the U.S will undoubtedly face comes from China’s growing economic dominance and influence, especially in the South Asian region. The U.S and China are already at loggerheads over strategic and development projects throughout the region and America is adopting an increasingly aggressive stance towards Chinese moves. However, a blatant military strike is highly unlikely but aggressive diplomacy cannot be ruled out.
The other elephant in the room is Iran. Interestingly, President Obama has been accused time and again by the Republican party for not “doing enough” in Iran. Governor Romney, during his campaign trail blatantly expressed that he would be willing to launch a “unilateral military strike” against Iran if it did not cooperate with the U.S and halt its nuclear program. President Obama however, has much more experience in strategic diplomacy and a far greater understanding of regional, political developments to make such aggressive and unfounded remarks. The President is expected to step up major sanctions against the country and inflict greater diplomatic isolation, to force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. While both candidates may have employed lofty rhetoric during the campaign trail, now that President Obama has won a second term and will not be able to return to the office after 2016, he is likely to make more assertive decisions.
Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East will continue as is, with further scope for engagement. The Libya tragedy that cost the U.S one of its most able ambassadors drove the point home that America has a presence throughout the world that can easily be jeopardized by events occurring at home. International anger towards America’s hegemonic status are a clear reflection of the country’s current reputation. Though Obama may have started off well in the international arena with his Cairo speech emphasizing plurality and multilateralism, his rhetoric took a hard-hit with Islamophobia on the rise within the United States. Painstakingly, Obama strived to convince the world that the U.S government