The Voices Reach Out
Monday, January 9, 2012
The Consequences of the Year 2011 and its implications for the Year 2012 in American Politics By Eucharia Mbachu pwww.vowac.org
The Americans have survived the days, weeks and months that constituted the past year. Those of us who pay adequate attention to the unraveling of things during the past months cannot help avoid what went wrong. We cannot deny what the news media and talking heads said about our leadership and our present state of affairs. The concatenation of historical circumstances that define us as Americans and humans simultaneously , now affect how we see ourselves and how we relate to both domestic and international issues. Once upon a time our politicians debated among themselves as to whether the old doctrine of isolationism matters; now we all know that three forces and factors have made it categorically clear that to be American is to be fully human. In order for the American to be fully human, he or she must acknowledge the geo-historical imperatives of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans related to this reality with its attendant implications and consequences.
America and her people are the growing racial and ethnic diversity of the country. Once upon a time, the American Story was basically an Atlantic one. This is to say, it was European, White and Christian. Asia and Latin America were entertained for a limited degree and their populations were kept at a distance. Asian religions and ethnicities were kept at a distance. Frankly, one could now argue that over the last one hundred years, the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago prophetically prepare the Americans as to what was forthcoming. Historically speaking, one could now contend that, at that moment in time , ethnic groups that were virtually unknown and had token presence at that conference were somehow destined to be here to stay for good. If such persons were tolerated minorities, the events of the last century have made Chicago not only the constituency of the First Black President of the United States of America but also the home of greater racial, ethnic and religious diversity in the United States. The recent census would tell us that America is the best landing site for comparative human studies. This factor must be noted by the political leadership and in their campaign for the presidency as well as Congressional positions, it is imperative that they focus on the nature and destiny of America in the human condition here below. Failure to acknowledge these facts are more likely to make the forthcoming elections a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think. It is going to be tragedy if the political elites who willfully avoid the burning issues which singularly and collectively affect all our lives. Immigration, social security, child welfare, labor opportunities, state attention to faltering infrastructures, and other matters that petrified the living and the conscious, are going to come up through the year 2012. There is a mystery about these numbers. And the events in the year are going to help us decipher the future. There is no need for us to consult the writings of Nostradamus. What needs to done here and now is for us to visit the historical narratives of the ancestors in the last century and traced the footsteps of the long departed during the Cold War.
What the Cold War did to, and for America, has become more evident since the days of Ronald Reagan, the Bushes and Clintons. This is why, in addition to the Cold War, another factor that is shaping the way many Americans are being forced to look at things in foreign lands and to be more critical of things at home, is the paradox of modernity and the hegemony of the electron in American society. Ironically, it was America’s steadfast campaign against the Communists that made many allies abroad and influenced people. But unintendedly one could now argue that American society and culture have been more affected by the Cold War than the former Soviet Union. The irony lies in the diversity and plurality of the society. Factors and forces that foster lingering residual ethnicity and half-hearted dissolving of foreigners into the widely celebrated melting pot are before us. In the coming elections our politicians must face the music and smell the coffee. The train of destiny is running fast and the coming elections tell us that three set of factors and forces deserve our attention, the consequences of the Cold War and the relationships which define and shape American policies abroad. What is being put forth here is that American domestic policies and international relations are captured in a single basket of dreams, hopes and worries.
Why is this metaphor appropriate? Simply, because our economy and those of other people around the world are now inextricably linked together; paradoxically, we live with many dreams and hopes of material heavens but condemned to share one earth. Witness the charges made by the members of the occupation movement. Lamenting the financial greed and arrogance of Wall Street, in the name of justice and economic wellbeing for the rank and file of the American public, such agitators have made a big point against the establishment. However, because their logic is mathematically short-sided, they failed to realize that their problem is related to the rest of the world. Targeting one per cent of the American population when the rest of the people in the planet who failed to obtain even one or two dollars a day, see them as a part of the dominant minority from the North. Ask the struggling Latino who prepares herself against rape and bad adventure in her desire to enter America illegally and to earn a living. What about the African women who migrated to Qaddaffi Libya in order to wangle her way to Europe by way of Italy and Spain. American’s coming elections are both domestic and international. Domestically speaking, the candidates would be challenged on how they propose to deal with the immigration issue. The complexity of the collective problems facing the leadership has made the domestic and the foreign policy separate but connected. One is the question of global markets and the changing role of American society in the whole matter. The second is the inability to the political class here to exercise control over all things
But while talking about the events of the year 2011 it is also equally important to make sense of the trend of events and personalities whose stories captured attention around the world. the Arab Spring and its impact in African societies, the stories about elections in Africa during the year and the political violence and the abilities of African political elites to struggle for power and reconcile with one and other. In judging the sitting President Obama his rivals are most likely going to refer to the conduct of his administration in North Africa, the Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia and Cote Ivoire. Taking these issues one by one, one could see that the 2012 elections would force the competing candidates to debate the linkages between domestic policy on financial policy and the spending of American money overseas. The linkage issue is bound to come up when the debate about early withdrawal from Iraq hits the papers. The likes of aborted former presidential candidate Herman Cohen are going to dig in and with their political knives they would try desperately to score some points. After going through the trial by ordeal with devastating consequences for his wife and family, the former candidate has seized upon the idea of a movement al a Jesse Jackson. Apparently, his movement is going to be a counterforce against President Obama. There is an old political saying from one of our prominent French West African leader from Senegal who used to say, “If you control the reins of government without my cooperation, be rest assured that a handful of sand will be spread over your political soup.” This African metaphor seems to be the political wisdom from Herman Cain. Opposite to Obama from the very beginning, he dwells in the foxhole of the” house Nigger” in the old language of Malcolm X. In the articulation of his personal ambitions recently, he indicated his desire to secure the Defense Ministry at the Pentagon. According to his comments, after successfully dismantling the Obama Wagon, he and the Republican Party would fix the mess of prematurely withdrawing the soldiers out of Iraq. This charge is most likely going to be compounded with other allegations of neglect elsewhere. Banking heavily on the paranoid of a military weakness under Obama’s watch, Cain’s anti-Obama rhetoric is going to be loud and clear. Certainly, piracy in Somalia and the claims that al-Qaida is working with al-Shabab is going to reverberate in the firmaments of his political discourse.
· In tracking the domestic and international aspects of the forthcoming elections in America, Africa and its relevance would be worthy of our scrutiny. Here the questions of elections would once again enter the picture. The election of Jonathan Goodluck has raised an issue which could come up again. In this particular case, it is the question of linkage between Nigerian domestic politics and American international policy on terrorism. Perceived by his political opponents as an American Boy who happens to be Christian in the Nigerian political game, especially in the post Cold War world, Jonathan is now facing political and economic difficulties. The Boca Haram has served his administration well by attracting American warriors against terrorism. However, some of the American analysts with deep knowledge about the Nigerian society warned against the policies and approaches of the Goodluck administration in the conduct of this campaign. Real or not, the bold fact is that, both Father Hassan Kukah and Jean Herskovits have come out against what they believed to be divisive. Such analyses from Nigeria and America could re-echo within the American political process. It is too early to tell. Hopefully, the Obama administration will develop a policy that compartmentalized the three most dangerous objects during the campaign. The first is the financial bomb which is most severe in Europe and the heartbeat of the Euro is keeping the doctors busy; the second is the immigration bomb which is understandably linked to the drug, the weapon and the law enforcement activities of the government. Here the Homeland Security becomes the Achilles heel of responsible government. Since the Bush Administration, it is now dangerous and unwise to separate these issues. But talking about African elections and their relevance to the forthcoming American elections, the questions of human rights in Burma, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in Africa are bound to surface when terrorism become the buzzword. Both in North Africa and in Africa south of the Sahara, the struggle against terrorism is going to be exploited by competing factions seeking America support. Within the United States the Republic candidates will blame the Obama administration for failing to contain the African terrorists in Somalia. After Black Hawk Down, it is most unlikely that the Obama Administration will make the small mistakes as first President Bush and his successor, Bill Clinton.
It is true that the uncertainties of elections in Cote Ivoire, Liberia, Congo and the Gambia have led some politically active members of the growing African Diasporas to court and harass the Obama Administration for intervention. Although such statements for U.S. intervention in Africa are misleading, the fact that America gave a lending hand to the anti-Qaddaffi Libyan cannot be excluded as the source of such dreams and hopes. It is in light of this changed nature of America’s demographics and the interpenetration of American domestic politics and foreign policy that Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe revolve around the American political and cultural orbit.In concluding this brief narrative, let me say that this election in America is going to have the following consequences. There is bound to be a moment of celebration if President Obama is electorally given a second term. If elected, then the rest of the world are going to say : “his first election was the moral affirmation of America’s triumph over past historical errors because race matters; and his second re-election would be noted joyfully as the salutation to America’s minorities as demonstrated in a two volume book, American Immigrant Cultures: Builders of a Nation, published by Simon & Shuster in New York some years. Another perspective would be that, denying Obama a second chance is to overlook the following successes: elimination of Osama Bin Ladin; the elimination of Muammar Qaddaffi who was the single political character who kept the streets of the White House shielded from the American Public because of terrorism; the successful creation of a new nation for the people of South Sudan; the implementation of a policy and program that help crystallized the Arab Spring; the invisible navigation of the American economy from being drawn into the European waterfall nicknamed “Euro fall”. Americans who looked at Greek, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy cannot be too harsh in their perception of young Obama. Rather, they are bound to say, if this man has survived the most stressful economy crisis of our age, he deserves to get us to elect better congressional partners for a better four years from 2012 to 2016. If Herman Cain was being guided by some aliens from another galaxy, to muddy our waters aka Nostradamus, then his calculus could be explained hereunder. His 9, 9, 9 (27) arithmetic’s simply means to deny Obama during 2012= 23=5; desperately prevent 2016=9; from coming into being.
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