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L'Orient le Jour, Lebanon

Obama, Back Again



By Issa Goraieb

Although his achievement is indeed remarkable – a second term narrowly won despite a variable track record – Barack Obama, the most powerful man in the world, is far from being entirely the master in his own home.

Translated By Clare Durif

8 November 2012

Edited by Kyrstie Lane

 

 


Lebanon - L'Orient le Jour - Original Article (French)

A closely-fought election, a snatched victory and, to end it all, an exchange of tributes and congratulations between the two duelists: How beautiful and even glamorous America seems when, after a fierce and Hollywood-style campaign that has cost billions of dollars from generous (and self-interested) donors, the rest of the world is witness to such courtesy, fair-play and respect of democratic principles!

However, this appealing image may prove fleeting. For, although his achievement is indeed remarkable – a second term narrowly won despite a variable track record – Barack Obama, the most powerful man in the world, is far from being entirely the master in his own home. With a good half of Congress against him, he will doubtless struggle to keep his electoral promises regarding growth, the fight against unemployment, reduction of national debt and other internal concerns, which will take up the bulk of his time and energy.

His position as the leader of the U.S. superpower, however, means that international tensions will invariably threaten to perturb his domestic preoccupations. Heading the list of these firebrands is the Iranian nuclear issue, a veritable time bomb that has already started ticking. For, if the current American administration is devoted to calming the warlike fervor of Israel – preferring instead diplomatic action and economic sanctions against Iran – it has made a formal commitment to prevent, at all costs, the republic of the mullahs from equipping itself with nuclear weapons. According to more than one expert, this could become a reality as of 2013 or 2014 at the latest.

However, this is not the only area where the implications of the inescapable Israeli connection could haunt the nightmares of the American president. It is true that during the campaign Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, concurrently wooing Jewish and evangelist voters, surpassed all records of eloquence in affirming their unfailing friendship with Israel. Moreover, at no point was Barack Obama heard to mention, even on the airwaves, the peace negotiations in the Middle East, brought to a standstill by the bad faith and intransigence of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Nevertheless, behind the constraints and electoral demands in the United States appears the ponderous dispute between Barack Obama and such a dissident and arrogant ally. By insisting stoically upon the continuation – and even intensification – of the colonization of the Palestinian occupied territories, the Israeli head of state has in fact literally discredited the president, shattering his exciting vision of a Judeo-Arab peace and regained harmony between the West and the Muslim world as evoked during the historic Cairo speech of 2009. Two years later Netanyahu, by airing his grievances in public in Washington before receiving a standing ovation from a Congress decidedly more royalist than the king, then attacked the pride of their crownless monarch.

Is it too much to believe that Barack Obama, as the Israeli press now fears, is in a much better position to call the recalcitrant to order? Since every American presidential election concerns or affects the entire world, directly or indirectly, our small country is naturally not spared from the sometimes confident, sometimes agonized, questioning. Because, for us, it goes beyond the local repercussions of a war against Iran or the permanent settlement in our territory of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, these forgotten ones, in a settlement process that is itself ghostly. With a Syrian inferno threatening a little more as each day passes to spread beyond its borders, it is peace between Arabs and Arabs, between the Sunnis and Shiites in the region, which is on the verge of becoming the most tragic, unthinkable, and indeed most urgent of all priorities.



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