Too Early to Call

Created on 25/2/2009

The Obama presidency is still so new that no one can judge how it will turn out. Those of you who follow my articles will know I have long harbored doubts about the man. Yes, I admire his spunk, his undoubted ability as an orator, his undoubted charisma and his physical appeal he carries like a Hollywood leading man. The man is a star, but I also remember the early days of Tony Blair’s Premiership in the UK carrying all the same signals.

I am one of the few British people you will meet who still like Blair; most of his once mighty army of followers long ago having folded their tents and gone to pastures new.

One thing that Blair had in spades for the first few years of his leadership was unbelievably good luck. Everything he touched turned to gold and that’s a gigantic political advantage he exploited to the full. We are about to discover if Obama also has that special alchemy.

But there was something too much of the Cheshire Cat about that Blair grin and there’s a faint whiff of the same odor of contrivance about President Obama.

Because Obama is so vital to us all I sincerely hope I am wrong in this early judgment. We need a brilliant and strong President Obama but I am beginning to see through the mist to a man who is beginning to find it all a lot harder than he ever imagined it would be.

I am not talking about the economy, or even the war on several fronts that America’s forces continue to fight. No, I refer to the war just starting to be waged by the President with the Congress and Senate and the Defense top brass. This will be the battle that really decides our fate. If Obama is right in his policies he has to win without getting too bogged down in micro managing detail, which might be his Achilles heel.

One can discern that Obama and his staff spent a great deal of time preparing a strategy that looks great in theory but as we all know the devil is in the detail. Now it’s as much to do with luck and timing as it is with the execution of potentially ill conceived tactics.

Just because his predecessor followed one path does not mean that this President should necessarily do the opposite but that seems to be the track being presently traveled.

It is apparent that the other major powers in the world plus the enemies of democracy are waiting to see what the rhetoric of Obama means on the ground.

I believe that Obama intends to handle overseas diplomacy more diplomatically, and that seems a good idea in most circumstances. However it only works with willing partners or at least other parties who are willing to have a genuine dialogue. How true is that of countries like Iran?

One result of this new, more statesmanlike resolve from America is likely to be that everything moves very slowly. Don’t expect instant results or even fairly quick fixes. More likely we are going to get the kind of results that gave the UK its diplomatic reputation of Perfidious Albion. The US appears to be much more cautious and time will tell what results this will generate. One perceptible result there has been from this approach is that America is no longer the instant cartoon hate figure for the street protestors of the world. The world likes the look of Obama and the kind of future America he embodies. Of course this could be the result of his color or the perception of many that America will be easier to handle and deal with now.

The economic necessities are forcing Obama to act in a way that the Republicans clearly loathe. But what other routes are immediately to hand? It is not socialism to prop up the banks and key industries, but it is prudent when the alternatives are cataclysmic for jobs and the economy in general.

The President has already rolled the dice and we all hold our breath as they spin in the air, where they land will decide our world’s future for the next couple of decades. Let’s hope the new President is lucky!