Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama Creates History In A Nation That May Soon be History

My first reaction to the US presidential election results was “Thank God! McCain did not win”. This World is not ready to tolerate another uncouth, ill tempered person who is completely ignorant of world affairs a la George Bush. Neither were Americans. Barack Hussein Obama, whose Muslim father was from Kenya and mother from Kansas has assured himself a place in American history, by being the first non-white American winning the US Presidential election. By electing Obama, the New Age American people have proved that they have come of the age of racism. John F Kennedy during the last year of his life 40 years ago predicted that a black person could be the President of the US in 40 years. He was ridiculed then. He is proved right now. The reasons for Obama’s easy win are numerous. The US and the World has witnessed 8 years of unprecedented hypocrisy, blatant lies and the US administration acting like a subsidiary of big corporations. The poisonous foliage called Bush has brought down the prestige and credibility of America to abyss. The last straw was the implosion of economy. The American public has put behind them their color prejudices and voted decisively for the 46 year old Afro American.
U.S. politics has never seen anything like Obama. The 46-year-old senator from Illinois had a change-oriented message that resonated with voters and a personal history he calls a uniquely American story. In spite of initial media ridicule about his race, name and antecedents, Obama has surprised even his worst detractors with his tenacity and youth following. His emphasis on need to change has resonated well with the beleaguered America. Obama will be the first Black man to walk into the White House as its master.
So what will happen after Obama takes over on January 20th , 2009. Nothing drastic will happen. At least not in his term or terms. Why not, one may ask. Obama has played well to the gallery by emphasizing on need to change without specifying what and who needs to change. The public who have been sick for the last several years with the Bush administration and its policies and paranoid of their future after the unprecedented financial crisis assumed something else will change which would be for better. Very few of them have realized it is they who have to change. Let me list out a few items where change is necessary and see if this is possible in the near term of say 20 years from hence.
1. The US government living off its treasury bonds by selling them to foreign nations should change. Its current debt is close to 3 trillion dollars and a lion’s share of it is from dictatorial countries in Middle East and China. At any given point of time, these countries can bring down the dollar to such a hyper-inflation stage that the US will buckle on its Knees.
2. The Americans living off on debt with utter disdain for borrowed money just for a wee bit more materialistic comfortable life should change their life style in line with their actual incomes.
3. Americans constitute 5% of the world population but consume 25% of the total energy. This needs to change.
4. Americans consume 900 billion calories of food every day, some 200 billion more than needed. Enough to feed 100 million people. They need to change their eating habits.
5. Americans throw away 200,000 tons of edible food each day. Because the food industry provides umpteen varieties of the same food item in the name of consumer choice, which are thrown out when they near the expiry date.
6. About 80% of the corn and 90% of oats are fed to livestock. 60% of available land is used for beef production. About 100 liters of water is required to produce one KG wheat where as 10,000 liters of water is required to produce 1 KG of beef. Agricultural priorities need to change.
7. Americans are just 5% of the World population but own one-third of world cars and produce carbon emissions equal to the rest of the world. This needs to change.
Now we know why nothing will change in the near short term or near long term. For any drastic change to happen suddenly in societies, countries and the World a cataclysm of event or events should happen. It could be as simple as oil producing nations refusing to deal with dollars and insisting on a more stable currency like Euro. This will lead to demand for dollar collapsing and since the dollar doesn’t have the backing of Gold standard, it could simply turn into worthless paper.
when one reads world history what strikes forcibly is that the people living in those times could never believe that the end was near. No Roman had believed during the height or decline of the mighty Roman empire that it would cease to exist. No English man believed, even in modern times, that the mighty British Empire where the Sun never sets will be bankrupt and crunched to its original pea nut size in a matter of a couple of years. No country or power is an exception to this nature’s law.
I only hope that Obama will at least lay the foundation for this change and the future leaders and future American generations will change the destiny of this once great country for better. If that doesn't happen --------
Amen !


Rajesh Kumar said...

What is that change is a question the world waits to hear. The challenge before Obama is of huge expectations, not just from his countrymen, but from people and governments across the globe. Either he succeeds in meeting this expectation and possibly win a Nobel prize, or he would be another leader, whose ascent to power would be remembered, no more. My views..

Yateendar said...

I agree that there are unreal expectations of Obama, and given the stupendous challenges he faces, there is bound to be a sense of failure. But I disagree completely with many of the other things you have said. Change has already happened. By whole-heartedly enrdorsing Obama, and rising above all prejudices, American citizens are once more awake as citizens of the world. Like Kennedy, he is a leader with remarkable intellect, integrity & extraordinary vision, who connects with the people and provides them hope. Isn't that a mortal need in these despairing times? Which other current politician on horizon, can do so? By setting a bold goal of complete Energy Independence in 10 years, Obama has put us on the threshold of another decade of unprecedented innovation & opportunity. I also disagree with you on the many other observations. Recent events have shown the Euro is still perceived to be as fragile, as its underlying Union. America's debt finances the export-led growth of China & much of the developing world. We can debate this forever...but my take is Americans maybe down, but certainly not out. The world needs Americans to pick themselves up, and they have shown us that they will.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. One more point to add, in general it is Pentagon that runs the United States through a human medium called ‘President of the United States of America’. So you are absolutely right – Obama has to learn not to be the medium of Pentagon in order to make the change he is talking about, and yes, the people have to change if they want to see the change ( time to mass educate US on Gandhi’s philosophy).
Vijay Prasad

Anonymous said...

The world is analyzing Obama’s election from every possible angle. I am sure several books will be published in months to come on the topic. Ramana posted a blog giving 7 arguments on why we shouldn’t expect much from a change in leadership. Political affiliations aside, I was very impressed with the flawless nature of his campaign. Some loud thinking on 10 basics we can try to get right in our campaigns:

10. Gain market share while you can – Aggressive use of resources to build an extensive lead while the going is good
9. Not falling for easy options/ labels -could have easily adapted the African American platform, refused to do so
8. Conviction, confidence and content - information at his finger tips, all the time, including how many homes he owned!
7. Early identification of success strategies: states that were never considered to be in play suddenly were toss ups due to focus on voter registration, key messages
6. Dignity and grace - I heard somebody say he defines "cool"
5. Consistent message across the entire organization - “Yes We Can”.
4. Adaptability: Preparing for eventualities- rapid switch from "bring troops home" to "fix the economy"
3. Think Big, Sieze the moment . Many people thought he was not ready and should wait for 2012/2016 - get more experience. He didn’t.
2. Predictability -Stake holders don’t like surprises. no Sarah palin here
1. Building a proper delivery (execution) foundation: grass root offices, volunteers, advisers, media and campaign managers and most important –got the funding strategies right.


Anonymous said...


I would tend to support Ramana. I was surprised to know that Obama is only the sixth minority senator in last two hundred years, and that interracial weddings were illegal in 16 states. Also technially Obama is not the descendant of an immigrant black and hence still it is not inclusive since he did not suffer their social or economic risks fully. I would think that if both his parents were black, chances are he may not have been here. Technically history is still not made, I believe.

It is understandable that nations which were fundamentally created through evil means ( by ethnically cleaning natives or bringing slaves) do have a sense of guilt and look at any opportunity to.
glorify themselves. Do you think an aborgine can ever become the Prime Minister of Australia? Go visit a settlement and you will see how they are designed for exclusion. We all talk about blacks in USA- will a native American ever rule USA? Wonder how many native americans are senators?

Personally I think this emotion of correcting a wrong is highly a private affair of the USA. So all the execution excellence that we are talking is very contextual to a particular society.

Despite all its mordernity, and democratic values that it preaches to the world, its scoiety is going through its adolosence if you will.
So any achievement will be glorified.

There are more examples of minority leaders in India , at the equivalent of the senator level and considering that Caste system has been here for thousands of years, looks like we have been more inclusive in our politics and democracy, and so are nations like South Africa. China's ability to shake communism and so quickly then must rank at the top.

Achievements were made under greater constraints with lesser marketing and communication - many of them like Mandela, Gandhi or Ambedkar were so focussed that they did not bother to document or market the way Obama's campaign is marketed. Looking at them one wonder's why at all it took so much time for a country like USA to reach here.

I would suspect that it is too early to borrow and adapt lessons from Obama's campaign.

All views are personal and not intended to reflect prejudice.

Ramana said...

yati, if Americans really have thought Obama on the lines of Kenedy, he would not have needed to fight such a hard and bitter battle for the Democratic nomination. After 8 years of Bush's rule and the recent economic disaster, even Michael Jackson or Eddie Murphy could have won the Presidential election on a democratic nomination. I do hope that Obama has the vision of laying the foundation for a better America but if the American people and the next leaders continue to follow the wrong route, disaster awaits America. You see from the American point of view when you say that Americans spending through debt is fuelling Asian economies, whereas I see it as Asians subsidizing American's luxury life style through their sweat. Goods can be cheaper only to some extent through process improvements and automation. The major extent of cheapness comes from long working hours, less pay, unhealthy working conditions and lack of worker benefits. we can debate endlessly. But one thing is certain. America's debt and huge dollar reserves are owned by countries that care too hoots for human rights, democracy, people's will or international opinion. There lies the danger. And in crisis America will have to tow the line of these countries. If America flexes its military muscle, these countries will flex their economic muscle and then they will choose Peso or Yuan if not Euro.

Rajan said...

Ramana, I can’t agree with you better. More reasons why ‘Nothing will change’ . . . until some of these large issues are addressed with a drastically different approach

Iraq: Can he even think of abandoning Iraq or ending the war ? Quoting CBS new verbatim “he will face enormous pressure to abandon his pledge to stop the war in Iraq. That pressure will come from some within his own circle of advisers, many of whom saw Obama's antiwar stance as good politics but bad policy. It will come from hawkish Democrats outside Obama's circle, from those elbowing their way to get in, typified by Richard Holbrooke, who found himself shut out of Obamaland after he endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primaries. It may come from more hawkish Democrats close to Senator Biden, who voted for the Iraq war in 2002. It will certainly come from conservatives, neoconservatives, and the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.”

Above all these, the most important resistance would be from his own Huge US Army, specifically General Petraeus, who is so imbibed into it, that he is not likely to sit back and take orders from an incoming Government – planning to change tracks early in its days.

Even Obama’s views on the war, during his campaign trail was a bit mixed. Not once has he explicitly announced that Troops would be pulled out, but always played around with English to hint that he was alluding to the fact that ‘Iraq’s need to use their surplus and pay up for the war’. Knowing the state of the Iraqi economy, this is a farfetched dream. Similarly, he warns that ‘Americans need to tighten their belts because of the cost of the war in Iraq’. Will it mean that the war will continue ?

Israel: The double standards are evident. While Iraq needs to pay for the war and become self sufficient, Israel or the situation in Israel in his own words- ‘still needs to be monitored’. The question is – for what ? After paying each Israeli citizen over 100,000 USD each over the past 30 years, what is it that is to be monitored ?

Financial Crisis: The lesser said of the same, the better. With the country is such a massive debt and the coffers empty, strategies, plans and visions will take a yeomen task to be launched out of the drawing board. At the end of the day, there is a dire need for money to invest into long terms strategic plans and unless the coffers start filling up – these remain on the shelves.

There is also another smoldering fact that will need to be dealt subtly – that of the racial divide which now seems to be rekindling itself and in the process, establishing a deep wedge in the social structure of the nation. The post election interviews across the country by the common man, the Gallup feedback on the sentiments echo these facts. Remember, at the end of the day, whether America likes it or not, a large percentage of the metric of Obama’s win, is to be attributed to the basic issue of Black v/s White strata in the society. If this racial divide is not laid to rest at its early stages, we have another of the fragmented social structure in the making at one of the world’s largest democracies.

YES HE (PROBABLY) CAN, if he manages to change the psyche of the American DNA – to leave the problems of the countries to themselves, to use their own armies to defend themselves and not use them as a mercenary force against the so called ‘rouge nations’, as Ramana said - to get the Americans to change the way of life (and not just living) and lastly stop CIA constructing more terrorist groups – like the current headache, which consisted of 17 Saudis, 1 Bahranian and 1 Qatari.