Sec­ond Chance to Get it Right

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama gets an­other chance to re­form his legacy

Southasia - - Contents - By Arsla Jawaid

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

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