Barack Obama completes 100 days in office on 30 April 2009. It is a good precedent adopted by many to look back and take stock of the positive as well as the negative aspects and if in need of formulating better policy initiatives, both internal and external in the days to come. The youthful President took charge of affairs at a time when US was (and is) facing uphill tasks on the economic front which is still in doldrums or in a shambles. The financial melt-down is still a looming threat to all nations across the world which had its genesis in US, thanks to the unregulated free market economy adopted by the Republican Party (GoP) and its leaders.
Mr.George W Bush, the former President, a Republican who “carved a niche for himself” in formulating a policy affecting both internal and external affairs (thus he became the beloved of all) handed over power on a platter to Obama. Obama was by then kept abreast of all the developments which were not to his liking and hence was not alarmed or embarrassed.
While on his whirlwind tour of US to campaign for his Presidential candidature, he reminded the electorate of gigantic tasks ahead and appealed for their co-operation to surmount the obstacles one by one.
“We must throw ourselves up from the deep pit we have fallen in” – was his message to his supporters.
“While the Wall Street thrives, we should not allow the main street to suffer”- were also his famous words to the American citizen. Those words indicated his determination to rescue the economy from the deep ditch which found itself in as a result of eight years of misrule by the GoP.
With good intentions he proceeded to build up the economy, pumped $787 billion and later pumped more into the economy to bail-out banks, other institutions and for health-care across America. Obama is an advocate of Keynesian theory of economics is not on good terms with free-market economy which is unregulated and it always argues “markets always correct themselves” and there is no need of interference by the government. But that was not to be. The experience proved it with the crumbling down of the economic policies adopted by the former government and its economists like Alan Greenspan.
A man reputed for his coolness, diplomacy and cordiality- Obama is known for these qualities- lost his cool after assuming power, when he came to learn about the huge sums of bonuses sanctioned by the executives of AIG (American International Group)-the World’s largest insurance company which was bailed out with pumping in of tax payers’ money-to themselves. The bureaucrats had no regard for the failing economy and its after-effects like recession and retrenchment were notorious for their selfishness and greed which are characteristics of a capitalist economy. After his scathing attack and with the Government’s decision to impose 90 percent tax on the bonuses they had sanctioned to themselves-some of them returned the amounts in full-not all of them. The bureaucrats of the Citi group also followed suit and they were also forced to remit the bonus back.
Still the damage control exercise is going on but the formidable tasks are still staring in the face of President Obama. Not cowed down by the threats ahead, Obama moves with brimming confidence is a good sign. After the first round of G20 Summit hosted by George Bush to bail-out the global economy in Washington, the then President on 15 November, the second round of the Summit was in London, hosted by Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Britain on April 2-3. Indian Prime Minister ManMohanSingh was also a participant in the Summit. The deliberations adopted there, if implemented in letter and spirit could be of helpful to a certain extent to the nations across the World - all are tasting the bitter fruits of economic down-turn – such as increasing the fund of IMF from $250 billion to $750 billion with the intention of extending help to needy nations to bail-out their economies and to help the member countries to get back huge amounts of unaccounted money stashed in safe havens like Liechenstein Bank in Germany and UBS in Switzerland by the political leaders and industrial tycoons.
Something is better than nothing- it is said. Differences there were, like France and Germany joining hands against encouraging bail-outs, instead they advocated for strict regulations and Britain and US on the other side giving more importance to bail-outs.
With more and more countries turning to the Left- last week Iceland, which was one of the safe havens for black money also turned to the left- after a colossal financial turmoil, still the apostles of Capitalism are busy deliberating on their next steps to bring back the free-market economy through the backdoor.
Obama, after the Summit flew into Germany first, then to France, Czech Republic and his last stop was Turkey. It was a historic tour, he got a chance to display his diplomatic potentials at everywhere he went befriending all without sowing the seeds of animosity, hatred and one-upmanship. The election of Anders Fogh Rasmussen , the former Prime Minister of Denmark as the new Chairman of NATO was a fine example of winning the hearts of everybody in the selection of Rasmussen . As far as Turkey is concerned Rasmussen was a hated figure from the very day a derogatory cartoon of Allah was published in a Danish Newspaper by its cartoonist. But Obama could prevail upon Turkish leaders cajoling them into agreeing for the appointment of Mr. Rasmussen as the NATO Chairman. A defining example of Obama’s statesmanship.
Similarly holding out an olive branch to Iran, which was on collision terms with US during the Bush era and the simultaneous reciprocating gesture by the Iranian authorities is also a step forward, though it is not a great leap, in establishing peace after a long gap. Both countries have a lot of ground to cover to establish durable peace in the trouble prone-area.
One remarkable step forward anyhow is the fifth historic meeting of the Organisation of American States held at Trinidad-Tobago last week. It was an ideal occasion for Obama and the Latin American countries to forget the past and pave the way for camaraderie. Obama’s moment with Hugo Chavez, the Venezeulan Head must have been an unforgettable experience. Chavez’s presentation of the renowned book by Edwardo Galeano titled- “Open Veins of Latin America”- to Obama was reported with much prominence by the International media. But Cuba is still elusive and it is for Obama to take initiative to bridge gaps with the Latin American Communist nation, which is still undergoing sanctions slapped by US in 1948. Sixty years of mutual rivalry has to be put an end to, a new era of friendship and co-operation established. Cuba had to endure many a hardship on account of the frequent and indirect efforts by US to undermine the leadership, especially of the greatest revolutionary of our times Comrade Fidel Castro. CIA, US Intelligence agency in the past vainfully tried several times to physically eliminate him from the whole scene.
Anyhow past is past, now it is an opportune moment to lift the embargo and pave the way for lasting friendship
Keeping in mind all these positive aspects in mind propensity or could we say aspiration for remaining always at the top of the ladder is somewhat puzzling. The dream of a Uni-polar World still remains at the top of any US head’s agenda. A multi-polar World- that is not to any President’s liking. A mystery.
The ongoing crisis in Iraq, an exploding situation confronting Afghanistan and Pakistan and Obama’s undesirable interest and pumping of huge sums to Pakistan to tackle terrorism actually belie our expectations of this young leader.
He has ample time to learn. It is pertinent here to note, he has taken only a few steps ahead. Let us wish him all success in his endeavour to bring peace and prosperity on the occasion of his completion of hundred days in office.
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