Barack Obama locked in on a key element to win the United States presidential election in 2008. “Hope and Change”, the key message of his campaign, was something for which the majority of Americans were ready. It was a message that caught on worldwide, perhaps for different reasons, but one for which the world was waiting.
The self-imposed image of the U.S. is as “the leader of the free world”. It is a philosophy that is predicated on the belief that the leadership of the United States knows best what is good for the world. In this, the U.S. is no different than the British, the French, and all the others who sought world dominance and waged war to achieve it.
The U.S. pursued, as part of its campaign, regime change – in Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq and Afghanistan – to name a few.
So, along comes a man who wanted to change how America viewed, and related to, the rest of the world. There was a promise to end the war in Iraq; pursue a more humane policy of dealing with prisoners in Guantanamo; an outstretched hand instead of a fist to its “enemies”.
And, for a time President Obama lived it, addressing the Arab world from Egypt, a key gesture, among others.
But the harsh realities of politics and a free-enterprise economy had other plans. Congress blocked the president’s move in many key areas. “Hope and Change” had hit a roadblock.
The state of the U.S. domestic economy was not doing so well. The buoyancy in the economy that would support the international “hope and change” movement was not happening. “Hope” faded and “change” stalled.
A bright spot, from the American point of view at least, was the change that was happening in a few countries in the Arab world. That change would eliminate the “strongmen” of the area and hopefully bring a new thriving relationship between the countries of the Middle East and the U.S.
That has not worked out so well. Syria’s Assad has decided he will not roll over and play dead. He is fighting back with a vengeance that has clearly demonstrated his disregard for his people.
Domestically, for the U.S., the hawks have been trying to pressure Obama to get involved. After all, that is what Americans were used to doing. To his credit, Obama, at least so far, has visibly (one is uncertain of covert operations) remained on the side lines.
Then, along comes Libya. The attack on the consulate in Benghazi cost the lives an American diplomat and three other members of his staff. Many, given the election in the air, are ready to say: “Change be damned. That is no way to treat the United States”.
The U.S. has traditionally seen itself as being above the crowd – the leader, and it has the military might and the economic wealth to prove it. It would not support, for example, the International Criminal Court on the grounds that the potential would exist for Americans to be tried there and that would be unseemly.
So, Barack Obama’s plan of a change in approach in dealing with “the enemy”, the equivalent of turning around an ocean liner on a dime, has essentially been stalled, at best. The new regimes that have assumed the power in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring did not bring the goodwill with them – or so it seems.
But here is the thing: If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could see where the recent events in Libya could have been masterminded by those who want to add to the reasons for the defeat of Obama in November.
Perhaps I have watched too many spy thrillers, but the circumstances around the attack on the consulate are very suspicious. The date: September 11th. The event: under the cover of a demonstration against an odious movie. Then, there is the movie itself, coming to the world’s attention on the eve of this very significant anniversary in the American calendar.
How difficult would it be to enlist the aid of the “militia”, rumoured to be the attacker on the consulate, to do just that?
If Obama gets a second term, in all likelihood he will seek to get the “change” back on track although he recently made the somewhat ridiculous observation, and a contradiction to his earlier campaign, that change cannot come from inside Washington, it has to come from outside.
On the other hand, should Romney win, in all likelihood the U.S. will open another war front, this time against Syria, and possibly Iran.
By PATRICK HUNTER