Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paul T Zeleza, "The dawn of the Obama era: In memory of the ancestors," Pambazuka News, January 22 2009.

The Obama era has begun. Like millions of people in the United States and around the world today I sat glued to the television watching the historic inauguration, relishing the man and the moment, its substance and symbolism. Tomorrow, of course the hard work starts and the harsh realities facing the new president will break today's magical spell. America's daunting challenges will puncture the bubble of messianic expectations invested in the young president. The extraordinary euphoria that has gripped this nation and parts of the world is obviously unsustainable, and it will inevitably evaporate in the predictable whirlwind of stumbles, setbacks, even scandals, not to mention the structural obstacles, the systemic imperatives of this mighty but beleaguered capitalist country and imperial power that will constrain bold changes, truly progressive transformation.

  In almost every instance the simple, honest answer to the question ‘Could it happen here?' was no.
Gary Younge

The challenges are immense indeed: ending two foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have depleted the nation of treasure and trust and abandoning the misguided commitment to "war on terror" which even Britain one of America's staunchest allies thinks is a mistake; managing the economic crisis and administering an effective stimulus package that will halt the economic recession and restore growth; expanding access to health care and improving the quality of education and overcoming the inequities of the prison industrial complex that has devastated African American and other minority communities; pursuing sound and sustainable domestic and global environmental policies; and promoting smart foreign policies and allegiance to multilateralism. The biggest challenge facing President Obama is how to manage the relative historic decline of American global supremacy in a world of new emerging powers and growing intolerance against authoritarianism whether within or between nations; in short, a more global and nationalistic world impatient with the old injustices and hierarchies of power and well-being and hungry for development, democracy, and self-determination.

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