The USA is confronted with what may turn into a major great depression in 2009. Such a challenge can provide the opportunity to change the gear away from militarism to enhancing social, health, education and climate care with sustainable and long term vision and imagination. Instead of waging war in a way that keeps recreating more wars, it is more important to save people and the planet and use soft power to win the hearts and minds of people.
The policy direction that stimulates the creation of more and more weapons menaces the existence of people and planet. We have one planet earth. If we donít preserve this earth, where shall we find another one like it? If we donít look after it now while it is still alive, tomorrow would be too late. If this generation cannot do the preserving and saving, which future generations will do it? It is with this kind of conceptual framing of the symbiotic existence of earth and people, with a constructive and inclusive mind-set and policy orientation that the USA must approach all problems.
US anti-colonial History
The history of US freedom is rooted in resistance against colonialism. The USA emerged as an anti-colonial democratic civilisation. Until the Second World War, it did not play overtly an imperial political game perhaps with the exception of Latin America, the Philippines and other places. After the demise of Great Britain as a superpower, USA took the leadership role. It is interesting to note that the USA along with HAITI and MEXICO in the western hemisphere supported Ethiopia when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. That stand is appreciated by the Ethiopian anti-colonial resistance to this day. The USA today must resurrect its anti-colonial roots and anti-colonial memory and side with nearly 80 % of the world population that shares an anti-colonial struggle of one variety or another.
The USA cannot sleep in bed with some dictators whilst opposing other dictators. It must not sleep in bed with any dictator having dreams of democracy whilst the dictators have their dreams of autocracy. It must be consistent and oppose all dictatorships and support the oppressed. That would be indeed a USA reinvented from a superpower to a super example that spreads its influence with its ideals and commitment to justice and support to those who suffer under all sorts of dictatorships and oppressors.
The US must rethink its policies in the Middle East, Horn of Africa and other conflict endemic regions. In the current unnecessary and tragic wars that go on in the Middle East, the new administration should start thinking out of the box that it has been locked in for a long time and bring an immediate stop to the ongoing siege and carnage. Israel has the right to self-defence, but it does not have the right to unleash monumental carnage by massacring the trapped people of Gaza. The New administration does not have to endorse the current invasion by Israeli army. It can legitimately hold that Israel has a right to self-defence, but that does not mean a license to attack the population in Gaza and Palestine. During the presidential election, the position on the Georgian and Russian conflict was measured. It did not use ideology to defame Russia and exalt Georgia. It went straight into the reality and the call for restraint was prudent. Subsequent events demonstrated it was correct.
USA should treat Israel with fairness and not partiality. There should be a message grounded on morality and humanity and the passion to see good prevail over evil by standing up against injustice and speaking out against aggression committed whether by friend or foe. This perspective must come first and guide policy as part and parcel of USA showing its power of example, morality and humanity over military power! The new administration can oppose the war by condemning the politics that has exposed people to danger through military exchange and self-legitimacy in the case of Israel by the Zionist narrative of Israeli self-defence, and in the case of Palestine, the self-determination of Palestine by waging armed struggle to achieve anti- colonial self-determination.
These two narratives are irreconcilable until forces from both sides to go beyond them and find new arrangements that work based on some edition of the South African type rainbow nation or some other workable formula to bring people together not through military victory but through appeals to the common humanity of the Jew and the Arab as brothers in Palestine.
We hope a message graced by this elevated new tone graces Barack Obamaís inaugural address on the historic day of January 20,2009, sending a powerful signal that America will not support aggression by both friend and foe and will go full steam for a peaceful, and safe world with confidence and humility.!
The power of example means America mustering the courage to tell friends, when they are wrong, they are wrong. If these friends turn against the USA when the USA stands firmly against injustice, then they are wrong and they better learn that American support is not cheap that anyone can claim by declaring friendship to USA but not to US values. It is even more important that the USA talks honesty to friends than foes! With foes the terms of engagement are different, but with friends it is harder to get the right model of engagement. Using Americanís power of example to friends and foes alike will incentivise foes to become US friends. For example Iran is likely to hear the USA if it knows the USA plays fairly and evenly in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel.
Supporting Israel or any friend that commits unjust acts at any time no matter what scale of harm it inflicts on the defenceless people like in Gaza by pouring preponderant force is not change. We hope Barack Obama can stand up and stand tall and with him Americaís image and example will be restored instantly in the world, though certain sections will brood over such bold and just actions.
The new administration must honour its promise by ending the war in Iraq that the previous administration entered into by violating Platonic wisdom in governing America. The war in Afghanistan will not be easy to solve until governance in Pakistan is stable. It should be much easier to boldly solve the unreasonable blockade of Cuba and use the goodwill of the world from the US election to change US unilateralism to genuine multilateralism to deal with all the problems in the world from the random terrorism that target any civilian of any age and gender anywhere today affecting us all to periodic disasters and preventing new foreseen and unforeseen diseases.
US Support to Africa
When it comes to Africa, president Barrack Obama should support African unity above all else, and do all that is possible to assist Africans to solve their own problems and be responsible for doing so. It is no donor aid that Africa needs; it is Africaís empowerment to be able to use its resources for the education and welfare of African people. The help to help Africa help itself by putting African unity first is the more enduring support America can provide to Africa under President Barrack Obama.
US Support to the Horn of Africa
When it comes to the Horn of Africa, the USA should facilitate getting all those who are armed and opposing, and those protesting against misrule and election debacles, and those ruling to come to a process of reconciliation. The USA should encourage a convening of a global conference where both those external backers and internal fighters come to find a workable modality to address how predictable circulation of elites without violence can be developed. The USA can use its influence constructively without allying with this or that group to get a system of fair transition and rotation where even traditional systems can be included with respect to find lasting and enduring solutions. Such a conference must be patiently fostered to avoid wars in the region and curtail foreign partial support to internal warring factions. The conference can establish new guidelines and procedures to make sure the region emerges from violence and destruction by moving into an overall orientation and dynamics of peace and construction.
The USA should not prefer any of the existing power groups in the region but try to bring them together and establish mechanisms for peaceful transition of power and cooperation amongst the states of the region. We hope the new US administration will succeed in using its uniting power that it is using to unite Americans now in America by also trying its best to bringing all the forces and elite motivators of fractious fighting in our region in the Horn of Africa without making US moral and political and intellectual power partial to anyone in the region. If the USA does this, it will send a powerful signal to assist in solving problems or at least preventing itself to be part of the problem.
If the US power is well behaved, it is not just gain for America; it is even more a positive gain to the rest of the world. So it is in the human and global interest for all humanity to wish the USA to function in the best way to achieve good and spread well in the world, Yes we can, is not just thus a slogan coined to reach the White House. It must be also extended to reach the world with ideals that build life rather than destroy life by stopping the misuse and abuse of making profit from the means of death as an economic activity and power with the military... Yes America can relate with the rest of the world by projecting globally its power of examples, its ideals, its social, scientific and technological achievements, and the example and symbolic value of its current powerful achievement by the election of an African American. Yes we can is to oppose all dictatorships with consistency and principle anywhere.
Even if Barrack Obama does not do any of these changes by making America anti- colonial, progressive, anti- militarist and a new force in the world, we should support him and congratulate him as a brother whose ability to reach there is a power of example to our children! We should congratulate him for reaching this far and advancing the African liberation story with symbolic value and significance so that we can say to our children now confidently... there is not anything you cannot do unless you do not want to work for it. That itself is a historic achievement and feeds the African emancipatory imagination with infinite possibility and hope. That is history. That is the moment.
By Mammo Muchie,
Chairperson of NES and currently NRF/DST research professor, IERI, TUT, Pretoria, South Africa and part-time professor and coordinator of DIIPER, Aalborg University, Denmark.
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