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Baada ya kumwua Osama, Obama awaelemea Republicans...........

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Rutashubanyuma, May 6, 2011.

  1. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Are the Republicans any match for new Action Man Obama?

    Osama bin Laden killing has transformed US president from procrastinating intellectual to decisive commander-in-chief



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    • [​IMG] Barack Obama looms at the head of the table in this photograph from the White House situation room during the mission against Osama bin Laden. Photograph: Reuters/White House

      Barack Obama is flying to Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border to thank the special forces who stormed Osama bin Laden's hideout. He has good reason to thank them personally: the raid transformed the way Americans view their president, changing him overnight from dithering nerd-in-chief to decisive action man.
      Since Obama began campaigning for the presidency in 2007 he has faced criticism, some of it racially charged, that he was not up to the job. First from the Hillary Clinton campaign: that he was too inexperienced, that he could not handle the crisis call at three o'clock in the morning. More followed from John McCain and Sarah Palin. Then came the rightwing commentators Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the Tea Party movement. He was too detached, too academic. His patriotism was questioned and his religion too.
      Stephen Hess, one of America's most respected commentators on the White House, who has served in two Republican adminstrations, acknowledged the change since the death of Bin Laden. "His image, fair or unfair, is that he is an intellectual, which he is and which is unusual in a president. Obama thinks about things and takes his time in making decisions, which I think is a good thing."
      Hess, a political scientist at the Brookings Institution, saw the Abbottabad decision as "very gutsy, tough, made quickly" and responsible for changing the dynamics of American politics. "It is going to be very hard for Republicans to use any more that label of weak and indecisive in foreign policy," Hess said.
      Helping to reshape the image are those pictures of Obama in the situation room looking grave, grim and anxious as the raid is taking place. He was risking not only the special forces he had sent in but his own presidency, with the danger of a Jimmy Carter-style Iranian hostage rescue debacle that could have finished any hopes of a second White House term.
      Richard Wolffe, the author of two books on Obama, acknowledged the perception had changed but insisted the view of the president as weak and naive was always wrong – a continuation of the theme by his opponents during the 2008 presidential campaign that he was not up to the job.
      "If he was really as cautious as people said, he could have flattened the building with a bombing raid," Wolffe said.
      "He makes a few big gambles but cautiously. He will make the gutsy move but gets there more slowly. It is a weird combination because we are used to someone who shoots from the hip like Bush or someone more hesitant like Kerry or Clinton. But we have someone who is a combination of the two, someone who is cautious but who makes the calls."
      There is a hard core that will never be convinced Obama is truly patriotic and will continue to insist he was not born in the US, that he is a secret Muslim. But their numbers have dwindled fast because of the combination of his release of his long-form birth certificate a fortnight ago (and his ridiculing of Donald Trump at the White House correspondents' dinner on Saturday night) and the Abbottabad raid. Beck, Limbaugh and former members of the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, joined in the praise for Obama.
      David Frum, who as assistant to Bush wrote the "axis of evil" speech, deplored the vilification of Obama as some dark-skinned alien. "So we had this situation where he was not an American, a Muslim, not a patriot. I do not think it [the Bin Laden killing] ends the paranoia but it shoves it back from the centre to the margins. He has shown he understands that the nation has enemies and that force is sometimes the only remedy," Frum said.
      The White House and Pentagon almost threw away its advantage with its poor handling of the aftermath, offering exaggerated accounts of what happened and then having to recant. Obama's emotional visit with the 9/11 relatives on Thursday and his trip to see the troops at Fort Campbell have helped undo some of that damage.
      Within minutes of Obama announcing last Sunday that Bin Laden was dead, US commentators were tweeting that the president had the 2012 election in the bag. That is grossly premature. Obama has not enjoyed the kind of spectacular jump in approval ratings he might have expected from Bin Laden's death. He has not soared into the 80s, instead seeing relatively modest rises that take him from the mid-40s to the mid-50s. That is mainly because of the sluggish economy.
      Democratic strategists, speaking anonymously, reluctant to sound negative in a week of good news for the president, are far from convinced he is invincible and are nervous about the slowness of the economic turnaround, even with a rise in new jobs.
      Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon polling, agrees. "There is no reason for Democrats to say it is over. I think Republicans thought the same thing in 1991." George HW Bush had seen the Berlin Wall fall on his watch and had high approval ratings for his handling of the Gulf war, but he still lost.
      "There is plenty of time for Obama's shine to fade. Now you have all this stuff surrounding the release of these photos. Not wanting to put them out feeds into the old Obama image, not wanting to offend Muslims. We are a a tabloid country. We want to see pictures of Bin Laden," Coker said, predicting that Obama's modest bump in the polls would last only a week before being halved.
      Obama came to power with some of the highest approval ratings in US political history. Millions turned out for his victory night party and inauguration. He has managed to get some of his programme through, delivering on his promise to introduce near-universal healthcare, due to begin in 2014. He has had other gains too, on gay rights, a US-Russian arms reduction deal and preventing the shutdown of government. But there is a lot left to do, including closing Guantánamo, reforming immigration laws and ending tax breaks for the wealthy. These failures have brought criticism from the left.
      Clarence Jones, who was a lawyer and adviser to Martin Luther King, writes regular commentaries calling on the left to mobilise and press Obama to do more. While pleased that it went well in Abbottabad, he would like to see the president "apply the same careful, premeditated, calculating weighing of options about major domestic issues as he did in determining which course of action to pursue to get Bin Laden".
      Jones, who helped draft King's "I have a dream" speech, believes there was an undercurrent of racism behind many of the jibes about the president not being up to the job. "Yes, his academic professorial background was used by his critics to portray Obama as some ivory tower intellectual incapable of taking decisive action. Regrettably there was a racial undercurrent in the suggestions he was not up to the job." Jones does not believe that the elimination of Bin Laden has exorcised that.
      Politics will return to normal in Washington next week. The Republicans will resume their confrontation with the White House over the size of the national debt. But catching Bin Laden has given Obama an edge in those negotiations. And an edge in the longer term. National security is usually a point of weakness for Democrats. But next year, when any Republican rival questions his credentials, the president will have an easy one-word answer: "Osama."

     
  2. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    The US election is one away but Obama remains an American presidency favourite...............................
     
  3. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Opinion
    Breaking bread with terrorists
    Asymmetric warfare is the result of conflict between the powerful and the powerless, reinforcing a cycle of violence.

    Tarak Barkawi Last Modified: 03 May 2011 15:13





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    [​IMG] Bin Laden's guerrilla campaign and the huge reprisals locked much of the world in a cycle of violence [REUTERS]
    In an earlier moment of resistance against the Western world order, the Hong Kong Chinese opened a front in the bakeries. They nearly wiped out the entire European community on the island by kneading arsenic into their bread. But the bakers were too generous with the arsenic, which caused the Europeans to vomit before the poison could take effect.
    The British were trying to open up Chinese markets for the sale of Indian opium. It took them two wars to do so in the mid-nineteenth century and the "terrorist bakers" provided part of the excuse to get the second war started. The prime minister, Lord Palmerston, railed against those who would kill British subjects by "murder, assassination, and poison".
    The irony that he was practising narco-colonialism on a grand scale by force of arms, addicting Chinese in order to balance payments, perhaps never occurred to him.
    When those who are weak in conventional military terms seek to fight the strong, they often do so through unconventional tactics and ruses. To do otherwise is to be stupid and risk being mown down by superior firepower. Yet tactics like poisoning families as they break bread expose the weak to charges of barbarity.
    These tactics fuel the desire for righteous revenge in the West, for "justice" as those US citizens celebrating bin Laden's death called it. Palmerston made his remarks at an election rally, where he also spoke of insolent barbarians. Such desires have a way of licensing their own forms of savagery and reprisal.
    A blinkered vision of warfare
    This cycle in the war of the weak against the strong is an old one. The strong can afford traditions of warfare which prize decisive combat between military forces. They are genuinely shocked and horrified when their opponents find ways to shoot them in the back or massacre their loved ones. Yet the strong somehow do not see the great suffering they inflict, whether through violence or the kinds of mass slow death that capitalism specialises in for those enmeshed in its lower rungs.
    As Victor Davis Hanson comments, "we in the West call the few casualties we suffer from terrorism and surprise 'cowardly', the frightful losses we inflict through open and direct assault 'fair'."
    The great problem for those leading revolts in the era of European empire was that their local resources, no matter how cleverly deployed, rarely could match the global power of the West. A troop convoy on the way to fight Palmerston's war of choice in China was diverted to crush the 1857 rebellion in India.
    Guerrilla warfare could beguile and tie down Western armies, but ordinarily it could not achieve decisive results. One of bin Laden's predecessors in resistance, Omar Mukhtar of what is now Eastern Libya, repeatedly flummoxed Italian forces with his lightning raids and local support in a fight that lasted twenty years from 1911.
    The Italians responded with one of the great tools of counterinsurgency: concentration camps. They transferred and locked up around 100,000 people from Mukhtar's home region, draining the sea around the guerrilla fish in the Maoist idiom.
    Invented by the British to deprive Boer guerrillas of their civilian support, the concentration camp would morph into the strategic hamlet in Malaya and Vietnam and the concrete barrier in Iraq, all designed to separate insurgents from those who succour them.
    Mukhtar had but the resources of one mountainous area with which to oppose the modern state of Italy. How could a local people counter the weight of the strong and their world order?
    End of empire
    It was the Second World War which finished off the European empires, draining their resources while Japanese victories punctured forever the myth of white superiority. For those who tried to hang on to colonies, Mao, Fanon, Ho Chi Minh and others had evolved answers.
    In various ways, they developed political strategies that could be served by guerrilla tactics. Military operations became armed propaganda exercises, aimed at local and faraway populations. They turned to the idea of the nation to mobilise the masses, requiring the West to devote large numbers of troops to obscure, hot places.
    Back in the West, a combination of media and democratic politics made those wars politically unsustainable over time, leading to the axiom that guerrillas only had to avoid defeat to win. Western armies were very rarely defeated in the field, but eventually were forced to withdraw by their own politicians and publics.
    But victories in taking over countries only reproduced the problem of the local and the global in new form. Another of bin Laden's predecessors, Muhammad Ahmad, the Mahdi of the Sudan, had managed to wrest control of the Sudan from Britain's Egyptian clients in 1885. No matter, the country could be left isolated for fifteen years before it was convenient to organise an expeditionary force to retake it.
    The struggle for liberation
    The nation-state can serve as a kind of large concentration camp, walling off from one another peoples with shared interests in resisting the West. Revolutionary leaders in places like Egypt, Cuba and Vietnam took state power amid a hostile world. They could be subject to sanctions, embargoes, and covert attack while they struggled with their own internecine conflicts, inflicted disastrous economic policies on their populations, and became corrupt.
    Eventually they faced a choice between withering on the vine or re-entering the capitalist world order on unfavourable terms.
    This was the stalemate between the local and the global that bin Laden sought to bust open with his spectacular attacks on the US. With the greatest armed propaganda operation in world history he sought to generate a revolt that did not respect sovereign borders.
    Westerners mocked his idea of the Caliphate as a seventh-century throwback. They did not appreciate what a creative response it was to the division of the world into nation-states, which could so easily be turned into clients of the West and partitioned off from one another. As an al-Qaeda website once noted with contempt, "A 'Karzai' regime exists officially in all the Muslim countries."
    But bin Laden lacked a politics with which to capitalise on his armed success. His brand of Islam divided rather than unified even those who shared the faith, and had no appeal for those outside it no matter how much they suffered from Western power. After all, who wants to fight a revolution only to live in something like the Taliban's Afghanistan?
    In the late 1980s, El Salvadoran guerrillas struggling against a US-supported client regime considered using their immigrant population in Washington DC for terrorist attacks on the city's subway. Despite their desire for revenge, they cool-headedly rejected the idea out of fears that it would simply call forth a more direct and violent reprisal from the Americans.
    In essence, 9/11 was like a brilliant guerrilla raid that exhilarates young fighters and gives them the taste of a victory they can never achieve. Its immediate effect is to call forth legions of imperial storm troopers on missions of reprisal, missions that wreck the rebellion and inflict suffering on those it sought to liberate.
    Like bad schoolboys, bin Laden's followers never quite learned the lesson. They repeated smaller scale terrorist attacks that sowed division and generated reprisal. About the only people receptive to their propaganda were other groups of would-be young terrorists. They were enough to keep the conflict going
    –
    and the reprisals coming
    –
    but never sufficient or minded to build anything serious politically.

    In the long arc of the decline of empires and great powers, the main consequence of 9/11 and the wars that followed is to hasten the decline of the US. Precious resources needed to regenerate the US have been spent on wars of reprisal as well as the fantastically corrupt arrangements for economic reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having allowed business to feed so well at the public trough for a decade, US politicians now deny their own people desperately needed funds for healthcare, education, and modernisation.
    Guerrilla raids and imperial reprisals both achieve little but further human suffering. Nonetheless there may come a day not too far off, in the violent world of competing powers to come, that we may long for the world order built by the Anglo-Americans and for the grand ideals of many of those who resisted them.
    Tarak Barkawi is Senior Lecturer, Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge. He specialises in the study of war, armed forces and society with a focus on conflict between the West and the global South in historical and contemporary perspective. He is author of Globalisation and War, as well as many scholarly articles.
    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
     
  4. Yericko Nyerere

    Yericko Nyerere Verified User

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    Binafsi namuona Obama na chama cha ni wenye kumcha mungu ktk uga wa Pennsylvania! Katikati ya msongo mkuu wa kudoda umaarufu wa Obama panaibu chipuko jipya tena lenye kutakasa!! God bless America!!!!!!
     
  5. Yericko Nyerere

    Yericko Nyerere Verified User

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    May 6, 2011
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    Binafsi namuona Obama na chama cha ni wenye kumcha mungu ktk uga wa Pennsylvania! Katikati ya msongo mkuu wa kudoda umaarufu wa Obama panaibu chipuko jipya tena lenye kutakasa!! God bless America!!!!!!
     
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