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Thursday, 29 January 2009

Too Early Maybe Too Late

No matter what you say about the new US President Barack Hussein Obama, the swift and very fashionable reply from some head popped around the door seems to be, "It's just too early to tell."

In an unprecedented show of good will toward the Arab nations, President Obama held an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network. It was immediately hailed "a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president's international popularity."

But President Obama dropped a large clanger in the works when he forgot to put what Palestine has just been put through before his administration's undying support for Israel.

Whoops! Never mind it's just too early to tell, right?

Then came the new US ambassador to the UN's comments. Susan Rice promised "vigorous" and "direct" nuclear diplomacy with Iran but appeared to be setting preconditions for possible talks. She threatened increased pressure if Tehran refused to halt uranium enrichment. Does that not sound like the last US administration's line?

OK,"One swallow does not a summer make."

On Iraq US troop pullout, reports of Obama's cries of let's get our boys home for God's sake, have rather mellowed to: the new President is being advised by a high-ranking defense team at the Pentagon on a number of options open to the US with regards to the country.

"Haste is the invention of the devil."

And President Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrived in Israel to call for the cease-fire to "be extended and consolidated" just as Israeli warplanes landed back at their base after having bombed the Gaza Strip again.

"Express not in haste the thoughts of thy mind, for thou canst reveal them."

Obama's Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton has also come up with the kind of talk on Iran that smacks of a not too distant collision course. She said Iran has a "clear opportunity" to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community. That is patronizing condescension in any language.

"You can't judge a book by its cover."

Just over one week into Barack Obama's presidency, what has been left intact of his campaign promises is the order to close down Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba and a directive to cease all unconventional interrogation methods employed in CIA jailhouses around the world. But how will we ever know if the CIA indeed moves to stop such techniques, because after all, the CIA is a secret service and by definition, it can proceed as before in secret.

And we have run out of proverbs at this stage to get our point across.

The stalwart of the US foreign policy seldom stops to take note of objections by any new president. America's economics are based on owning the lion's share of the international markets and creation of new market environments overseas suitable to the US business operations. The US financial base is similarly finely tuned to operate.

There is very little left to be said to those who believe in the existence of a benevolent superpower; except if they stay up long enough next Christmas, they just might catch a glimpse of St. Nicholas climbing down their chimneys to leave them a present!