Obama: On a slippery slope?

This Article was published in
Pakistan Observer (November 12, 2010)

By Sahibzada Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri

The results of the mid-term polls in the US have been unexpectedly surprising for even the observers of the American political scene. A party and its candidate that were voted into power with such a great demonstration of public support amid huge expectations have lost out to the very same party, which had crushing defeat in November 2007. The Republican Party has been able to gain its majority in the House of Representatives besides improving its strength in the US Senate. The Democrats also lost coveted positions of governorship in ten states. The outcome of the pollsconstitutes the discontentment of the American people with the way President Obama has ruled the US ever since he got into power in 2008 amid much fanfare. The mid-term polls are significant from many angles having bearing on the future of the Obama administration as well as the world. Consider the following:

The first and foremost aspect of the recently concluded polls is the demonstration of maturity of the American people and the American political system. Through their vote, they have expressed their dissatisfaction over the policies of the Obama administration. When the American people voted for Obama in 2008, they, having been disappointed with the disastrous policies of George W. Bush, wanted a change in the US policies both at home as well as abroad so that fast dwindling American image could be saved from further damage. Candidate Obama made all the right vibes and struck relevant chords. His characteristic speaking style and charisma mesmerized millions promising them a fresh beginning. However, two and half years down the life, the much-trumpeted promise has to yet to be realized with the overall image of the US getting more tarnished with the passage of time.

The major factors that explain Obama’s fall from grace are domestic in nature. The global recession, which hit the capitalistic world two years ago, has had huge repercussions whose effects would continue to be felt for many years to come. The US like the rest of the developed world also got badly hit by the world economic crunch. Millions of jobs were washed away in a span of days with the result that the unemployment rate in the US has touched all time high in its history.

President Obama’s bailout package of worth around eight hundred billion dollars for the Wall Street was resented by the common man who did not like the idea of taxpayers’ money being squandered away on the big fish. More than 300 Nobel Laureates wrote a letter to the President dissuading him from taking any such action. Such drastic have been the changes brought about by the global meltdown that the US has never been the same again. The financial crisis also exposed the weak foundations of the capitalistic order which favoured the rich and moneyed classes with little space for underprivileged sections of society. Coupled with the issue of high unemployment rate has been the failure of the Obama’s administration to thoroughly implement Health Reforms Bill.

Yet another major factor that caused decline in Obama’s electoral fortunes is the policy muddle that now characterizes his Afghan policy. The failure of the Obama administration to formulate a consensus-based creative policy on Afghanistan has led to more confusion about how the US plans to approach endgame in the war-torn country.The ‘surge and exit’ strategy unveiled last December in 2009 with much fanfare has failed miserably in producing the desired outcome conducive for the promised withdrawal of the US forces in July 2011. The presence of clear difference between the military commanders and civilian leadership has served to making things difficult for the US.

In the absence of a clear-cut representative Afghan strategy that takes every stakeholder on board including Pakistan, the American losses both in man and material have been on the rise. There is no denying the fact that the US and ISAF forces have been unable to achieve their objectives of surge so far. With the onset of winter, the situation is likely to worsen making it impossible for the allied forces to undertake any fresh invasion. The cost of Afghan war, which runs into four billions per week, has further crippled the American economy. Nine long years down the line, the US economy has suffered a staggering loss of hundreds of billions of dollars. The cost of Iraq misadventure is in addition to that. The failure of the Obama administration to right the historic wrongs has annoyed the American people further alienating them from the Democrats.

Therefore, in choosing to vote for the Republicans, the electorate has sent a very strong message for the US President who has now come to be known as someone ‘high on words and low on action’. The American people voted on the domestic agenda by shedding their so-called idealism. The powers of the Obama administration may now be dented in view of strong presence of the Republicans in the American Congress. Whether Obama would take up the gauntlet and change tack to secure his second term in office remains to be seen. It requires him to do something revolutionary. Will he rise to the occasion or allow himself to be thrown in the dustbin of history as one-time accidental president?