Nov 05 2008

In Mideast, Obama Just Needs to Implement Agreements

Published by at 7:26 pm under Articles

The Huffington Post
NOVEMBER 5, 2008

Daoud Kuttab

Posted November 5, 2008 | 11:17 AM (EST)

In Mideast, Obama Just Needs to Implement Agreements

My eighteen year-old daughter Tania who is a freshman at Easter University in Philadelphia woke me up Wednesday morning with an exciting voice. “Dad, we won. I voted today and we won. Obama is President of the United States.” The words of this first time young voter more than anything any pundit or politician can say to sum up the extraordinary events that made history in America and throughout the world.

The pronoun ‘we’ might be the most interesting part of her jubilant statement. If ever a candidate has succeeded in energizing the electorate, in getting young people involved and in getting them to believe in government, hope for the future and do something about it, this was it.

Barack Obama’s success is not only in galvanizing young voters but in reminding Americans and the world of some of the values that the United Stated of America stands for. Democracy, liberty and the pursuit of happiness might be the bedrock of the American political system but for the past eight years the world has replaced them with harsher terms. Instead of democracy Iraqis witnessed occupation, and liberty was replaced with torture and Guantanamo. John F. Kennedy’s scientific pursuit of the moon was replaced with perfecting the technology of eavesdropping.

The first African-American president elect of the United States used his Chicago victory speech and his own path to the presidency to remind all of the foundations of government in America as stated in the Constitution. A government for the people and by the people.

People are excited about change in US foreign policy which has brought disastrous results to the world and especially to the Middle east. While it can be argued that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant that needed to be dealt with, the way he was dealt with has increased radicalism, splintered Iraq, caused a human tragedy, and has strengthened Iran and its supporters in the region. Hardly a rational policy for the Middle East region.

For many in the Arab and Islamic worlds the litmus test of any sane US foreign policy will be how it will deal with the continuous Israeli occupation of Palestine and the arrogant violation of international law through the support of illegal Jewish settlement building in occupied territories and the construction of a wall deep inside Palestinian lands.

Barack Obama stump speech included a clear opposition to lobbyists. He has repeated that statement that lobbyists have not funded his campaign and they will not be welcomed in his White House. While many experts accept that for the most part Obama’s campaign has not been depended on lobbyists, the power of the most powerful lobbying group, AIPAC has been clear ever since his candidacy became serious. In a speech to the annual AIPAC dinner, Obama outdid most other nominees and the existing pro Israel Bush administration in the way he spoke about his support for Israel. Some of his supporters believe that he had to say what he had to say for political expediency (he did retract some of his words on Jerusalem the following day.) Others insist that what he says represents the consensus in America that no serious candidate can oppose if they want to reach the top executive office of the land.

To his favor Obama seems to be serious about one promise regarding the Arab Israeli conflict. He has stated that he will not wait four or eight years to get involved but will persue peace in the Middle east from day one of taking office. This became evident last week when one of his senior advisors Princeton University professor Dan Kurtzer made yet another visit to the region. Kurtzer a former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel met with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders last week and will no doubt play a senior role in the upcoming Obama Administration.

The next US president will also have a few an easier role in trying to bring about peace in the Middle East. His philosophy of taking to your enemies will certainly be an improvement to the Bush military unilateralism and political exclusionism. And although Obama has favored talking to Iran but not to Hamas, it is hard to see that he will block some type of indirect talks with the Palestinian Islamic movement for ideological reasons. When President Obama looks into the Palestine Israeli conflict he will not be totally ignorant to its history and the justness of its cause. Obama’s days in Chicago has put him in touch with people like professor Rashid Khalidi, the late Edward Said and Palestinian activists Ali AbuNimeh just to name a few of the people that have personally met and influenced the former Chicago university professor.

But perhaps the ace in Obama’s pocket as he tackles this contentious conflict will be the official position of the US government over the years. Washington has repeatedly opposed Israeli occupation in 1967 and has called for its end. It has been consistently and publicly against settlement activities and the current resident of the White House has articulated a policy that calls for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state on the lands occupied in 1967. The US has also opposed Israel’s unilaterally annexation of East Jerusalem and along with every nation on the planet has refused to recognize Israel’s application of Israeli law on its residents. Furthermore Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated publicly and repeatedly that a Palestinian state is in the national interest of the United state of America.

So if president elect Barack Obama wants to bring about peace in this volatile region, all he will have to do is to dust off US policy towards the region and make sure that all parties implement it immediately and without hesitation. The mandate he has received from Americans and the international support he has received since, should allow him to call out any party that will fail to produce implement the will of the international community.

Copyright © 2008, Inc.

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