For the last two or three months we were made hostage to the US presidential elections and the activities and speeches of President Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney. The atmosphere really heated up as election day, November 6, came nearer. The two opponents toured the whole country and blasted each other, and each speaker exhorted the public to vote for him. Then Hurricane Sandy struck, played havoc and put a temporary damper on their campaigns. Timely warnings and precautionary measures limited the number of human casualties, but damage to property has been estimated at about $50 billion. If a storm of this intensity had hit the coast of Pakistan, there would probably have been hundreds of thousands of casualties.
We saw many debates between Obama and Romney and analysts thought that Romney came out better. On election day, electoral votes showed an initial slight advantage to Romney. However, after 150 to 160 of the electoral votes had been counted, Obama surged ahead and won 332 electoral votes, about 45 more than the number he needed to win. The aftermath still continues and will do so until President Obama appoints his new team. There are rumours that Hillary Clinton will quit in order to build up her own image for the 2016 elections.
The US elections provided a good opportunity to many of our journalists and anchorpersons to enjoy visits to America and keep us informed. President Obama’s victory has again raised many expectations and similar guesswork is going on as happened when he was elected in 2008. Some of our analysts are once again wishing for the moon. I still remember the hype after President Obama flew to Cairo and Ankara and made speeches hinting at a balanced US policy towards Muslims.
He later reneged on his promises to appoint an envoy for Pakistan and India to help solve the Kashmir dispute, to withdraw all troops from Iraq, to close down the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, to wind up the Afghan War and to help establish an independent Palestinian state. Everything turned out to be no more than hollow promises. The Israelis have now occupied a huge part of the West Bank, usurped East Jerusalem and killed Palestinians with impunity. With the United States’ active support, the Israelis are proving with their brutalities that they are no better than the Nazis under Hitler. Unfortunately, the policies of the rich Arab rulers have been equally disappointing. The US veto power is always used should there be any UN resolution to even admonish Israel, let alone demanding that it stop its brutalities. Meanwhile, drone attacks are remorselessly killing innocent men, women and children in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
In my column of June 24, 2009, in this newspaper I had more or less forecast this. As far as foreign policy is concerned, Obama and Romney were two faces of the same coin and they hardly differed in their debates. There were only some differences in their respective approaches to domestic policies. Voters obviously considered Obama to be a safer bet. As a “toothless” black president he could easily be manipulated by the rightist fundamentalist establishment. The Jews see in him a loyal supporter. If the Republicans want to win the next elections in 2016, they will have to find a more dynamic candidate who is willing to offer really drastic changes in the prevailing system.
Muslims in general, in particular Pakistan, should not expect any gifts or favours. They will only have the same bitter experience as before. The “gift” of slavery which Musharraf gave us will continue and the drone attacks and arm-twisting will persist. Even more important, the US will go all-out to support the present leaders to rule us as their agents. To hope for anything better will be like asking for the moon.
Whoever had won, Obama or Romney, it wouldn’t have made much difference to us. It is just like Shaikh Sadi’s famous saying: “What difference does it make to us if the bull has gone and the donkey has come? It does not matter to us.” As far as the US elections are concerned, we, as a nation, had nothing to think or worry about. We have a voice that sings only his master’s tunes.
A large number of articles and analyses have been published before and after the elections and are still being churned out, each person giving his own views. I have been reading many, if not all, of them. One article that I personally appreciated was that by Richard Falk under the title “Interpreting Obama’s victory,” which is available on aljazeera.com, and which, in an abridged form, was published on November 9 in this paper.
He wrote: “People heaved a sigh of relief when Obama won the election; not for Obama’s victory, but for Romney’s defeat.” Richard Falk wrote this because, in his four-year rule, President Obama had done nothing worth being proud of, nothing worthy of being called a success. His unwise step of sending thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan had turned out to be a failure.
Richard Falk is afraid that the strong rightist establishment will become more powerful during the second tenure of a “lame duck” Obama, will probably engage in aggression against non-western countries, prefer force over negotiation and discussion, and will make even more use of the illegal and immoral drone attacks. The drones, which kill innocent people, are an abhorrent aggression in violation of UN resolutions and international law. In short, Falk castigated the US government for its state policy of murdering innocent non-Americans with impunity.
He was also highly critical of President Obama’s total disregard of the crimes committed by the Bush government and for not taking any concrete measures to call to account those who indulged in illegal actions and murders in Iraq and Afghanistan. All those deeds were simply overlooked and the entire attention and all efforts of the government were to find and catch those who leaked information about these heinous crimes and misdeeds. He pointed out that “...when state secrets are guarded so zealously and crimes against humanity are granted immunity, it is a sure sign that the republic is not morally flourishing.”
It looks like we are in for another four years of aggressive and immoral US policies under President Obama. His first-term slogan: “Change we can believe in” brought no real change, and his second term is going to be the same. He will be no more than a puppet on a string.