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Ayoon wa Azan (If Readers Shut Their Eyes)
Published in AL HAYAT on 24 - 08 - 2009

While we give precedence to how the Obama administration deals with Arab and Muslim issues, especially the Palestinian cause, I want to say that all the issues faced by the American president are quite important, with some of them being interlinked. Moreover, should he fail to solve the problem of the US and global financial crises that he inherited from George W. Bush, he will also fail to solve the other problems. Therefore, it is very important for us to look at the entire picture in order to understand the situation as it really is, and not how we want it to be.
In fact, there are many signs that the financial crisis is hitting the bottom, which means that the world is effectively getting out of the hole which was dug by the previous administration's war gang. This gang had wasted away a trillion-dollar budget surplus left behind by Bill Clinton, spent a trillion dollars that did not exist on an unjustified war against Iraq, and on an open war against terror that has only increased terror around the world instead, multiplying its reasons and all without solving anything.
While it is true the financial crisis has been debated to death, I just want to return to this issue to mention the steady gains achieved in stock exchanges in recent weeks worldwide, and how US unemployment has now stopped at the 9.5 percent mark. It then fell even after experts predicted that it would hit 10 percent. All of this encouraged President Obama to say that he sees the beginning of an economic recovery.
In any case, if the readers shut their eyes and then randomly put their finger on any point on the globe then open their eyes, they would find a problem there that the US is a part of, even if their fingers hit water, since this would be related to global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps.
Meanwhile, and on the sidelines of the G-8 Summit last July, President Obama invited 17 countries to a round table talk that included, beside the G-8, nine emerging countries. These latter had raised the issue of adhering to reduced carbon emissions in their countries by 80 percent, and by 50 percent in the rest of the world by 2050. However, they did not provide any specific commitments or a plan to achieve this, and it was clear that China, India and Brazil were opposed to any commitments that would dampen their industrial growth.
Furthermore, President Obama visited Russia and hosted a summit with Chinese leaders in Washington, with climate being part of the discussion agenda.
The visit to Moscow in fact came a year after the confrontation between Russia and Georgia. In this regard, Obama and President Dmitri Medvedev were able to agree on an early anti-ballistic warning system and on the mutual destruction of 34 tons of plutonium with military-nuclear uses. They also agreed to reduce their strategic nuclear missiles by 25 percent, and to a return of military cooperation between the two countries, in addition to opening Russian skies to American aircraft operating in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Russian president, in addition to the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was not convinced that the American missile shield in Europe is aimed at Iran, and said that these weapon systems threaten their country's security. They also expressed their worry about the weakness of the dollar. Nonetheless, the two sides agreed to continue their discussions in December, which will be centered on the agreement over reducing their nuclear stockpiles.
As for China, the issues were centered on climate change and the need for “clean” technology, nuclear non-proliferation and fighting terror. The Chinese, just like the Russians, also expressed fears about the weak dollar; this is because they are the leading country holding dollar reserves, while the US is China's biggest debtor (it should be mentioned here that the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner visited the Gulf countries to reassure them that their dollar investments were safe).
While we see our issues and sometimes cannot see beyond them, I have noticed that at every meeting, President Obama has raised the same issues of environmental pollution, the danger of global warming, and rising sea levels. Also, there will be another G8 session to be specifically held to agree on climate measures.
Furthermore, he did not neglect these issues even in his dealings with Latin America; he raised all of the above mentioned subjects, as well as steps on how to tackle the swine flu pandemic, at the summit held with Canada and Mexico this month.
However, I feel like Obama's biggest success in Latin America was in dealing with the coup that ousted the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya; his opposition to the coup in fact prevented the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from inciting people against yet another American “conspiracy,” which Chavez having sufficed himself with asking the US to not send troops to Colombia.
There is a backdrop to these issues that is worth noting here: The neoconservatives from the war gang and the Israeli lobby claimed that there was an alliance between Iran and Venezuela, and that the latter was facilitating the entry of Hizbullah fighters to Latin America. Then they claimed that Venezuela, Russia and Iran were trying to form a natural gas producers' alliance, in order to pressure consumers.
Nonetheless, President Obama did not take the bait; he succeeded in preventing the formation of a Venezuela-Bolivia-Ecuador alliance, just like he defeated the plans of American Likudniks.
It is my hope that Arab readers see the entire picture thus, and not just the part that concerns them.


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