Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
US President Barack Obama, victorious after a bitter contest, now has to work with Republicans to avoid a crisis – on January 1, 2013 a budget act will come into force that will boost taxes and cut spending so drastically that the US could sink into a crippling recession.
The US faces an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent. More than 46 million Americans are now living in poverty compared to 43.6 million four years ago. Some 47 million Americans rely on food stamps to fight hunger, compared to 35 million when Obama took office. The US trade deficit has zoomed to $42 billion a month compared to less than $38 billion four years ago.
Obama won because most Americans believe, according to polls, that it was George Bush’s policies that precipitated the disaster and that Obama offers some hope for improvement. Obama’s presidency had sent expectations soaring but his performance didn’t match the expectations.
Still, he stopped the US slide into recession, created jobs, got health care to 35 million poor Americans, took the US out of the Iraqi war, signed an important pact with Russia and took steps to rescue the US from the Afghanistan quagmire. His emphasis on research and quality education promises good results.
The Republicans adamantly fought his recovery plans, hoping to tarnish his image by worsening the recession, poverty and unemployment.
They now have to choose between being obstructionist, which would isolate them from the people, or cooperating with Obama to find a way out of the morass. The Republicans favor slashing expenditure and government programs while the Democrats prefer some cuts and increasing revenue through higher taxes on the rich. Sensible economic compromise should solve the problem.
US creativity should improve the US economy. But the days when the wealthy in the West lived lavishly while the rest of the world could barely meet its basic needs are gone. Globalization, technology and emerging talent in Asia, Africa and Latin America should make the future more equitable for the world’s people.
It’s in foreign relations that the election campaign highlighted the dangers the world faces from US high-handedness.
China, Iran and Israel became the primary foreign policy issues with both the candidates agreeing on goals and differing somewhat on strategy.
Both spoke of US support for democracy and freedom. Nobody mentioned the illegal and unprovoked US invasion and occupation of Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents and inflicted widespread destruction.
Mitt Romney lambasted China for intellectual piracy, lowering its currency to boost exports and flouting international norms. He ignored America’s attacks and interference in other countries.
The US tramples on sovereign nations by flying drones over their territory (as it did when it flew U-2 spy missions over the Soviet Union and other countries). It conducts cyberwarfare and espionage against countries like Iran. It kills, by drones and other means, those it suspects of having “extremist” views without impartial or reliable evidence of their wrongdoing. The US acts as accuser, sheriff, judge, jury and executioner.
It isn’t bothered by innocent people being killed and maimed by its missiles.
It attacked Afghanistan because the Taliban government refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the US after the 9/11 attacks that killed 2,996 people.
The Taliban were not involved in that atrocity, but Bin Laden lived in Afghanistan while masterminding the plan.
But US politicians and bureaucrats also plan attacks on foreign countries or send arms to countries that oppress and kill Muslims and occupy their territory. By the US logic, victims of the US actions would be justified in targeting American politicians and bureaucrats. The US would call them terrorists.
When Gen. Chiang Kai-shek faced defeat in the civil war against Mao Zedong, he and the Kuomintang fled in 1949 to Formosa (Taiwan), a Chinese province.
But when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, President Harry Truman ordered the US Seventh Fleet to prevent Chinese troops from entering Taiwan. The US also kept selling arms to the Kuomintang. Would the US have tolerated China’s military intervention in the US Civil War, or selling or giving weaponry to American rebels?
Obama and Romney favor attacking Iran if it comes close to being able to develop nuclear weapons. By this logic, other countries should have attacked the US and Israel when they started manufacturing nuclear bombs.
Obama keeps giving Israel whatever it wants. However, he refused to attack Iran and discouraged Israel from doing so. For this he was accused of throwing Israel under the bus.
Obama talked of being in Israel when “the rockets were raining.” He didn’t mention the unjust treatment of the Palestinians. US policy now is not to support Israel’s survival but to help it to expand, and there has been little protest from the media and politicians. It seems that Americans believe that only America matters and that other human beings do not count.
– Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge. He has received the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and the Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee medals