A new face for American diplomacy

I agree with an article in the NYTimes I read recently, that there is never any real way to predict what sort of president anyone will make before he or she moves into the oval office.

But this is why my choice comes down firmly on the side of Barack Obama -- not what he will do, necessarily, but what he is and what THAT will do.


Barack Obama is perceived by Muslims abroad like no other candidate. He would begin a presidency with tremendous potential to heal U.S. relations with much of the world.


Article by By Hooman Majd

Feb. 21, 2008

| When I was in Tehran, Iran, a year ago, I was asked by several senior government officials, including former President Mohammad Khatami, what to make of Barack Obama's candidacy for president of the United States. The young senator from Illinois was still barely on the international radar then. My response was that I couldn't see Americans nominating, let alone electing, a black man whose middle name was Hussein. My answer, clearly wrong in hindsight, stirred smiles and raised eyebrows among the Iranian leaders because they'd had no idea that Obama had a Muslim father. Even more surprising to them was that he carried, apparently without shame, a Muslim name. From Khatami this elicited an "Ajab!" -- Farsi for, essentially, "You've got to be kidding!" There were also many nods of agreement with my conclusion about Obama's chances.

At this point in the presidential race, although it is deeply heartening that I was so wrong in my judgment of American voters, Obama's great potential to connect with the Muslim world, and to change how Muslims perceive the United States, is conspicuously absent from our national debate. A crucial question about who should be the next president is whether Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain is most likely to be able to heal the rift between the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, a rift not created but dangerously widened by the administration of George W. Bush. What is abundantly clear now -- at least to many foreigners and particularly to Muslims in the Third World -- is that Barack Obama is the candidate by far the best suited to begin healing that rift and restoring America's global reputation, and perhaps even to begin reversing decades of anti-Americanism. Obama would begin a presidency with a huge advantage in terms of world perception...


Sure would be a way to tell the world that the American population has turned away from the era of the self-serving treasury-plundering short-sighted provincial rednecks, that it's over. And that it would be a lot easier than rounding them up -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, et al, -- and turning them over to the World Court to be tried for Crimes Against Humanity.

Although maybe we could still do that, too.


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