Dial O For Obama


As he prepares to say good bye to the White House, President Barak Hussein Obama leaves a trail of successes and failures.  Notorious among the former are the Iran deal, the US abstention in the December 2016 resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in Occupied Palestine, the killing of unarmed Osma bin Laden, the visit to Cuba, the Obama Health Care even if it stands no chance to live on when the new administration takes office.  As to the failures, they are numerous.  Think of the still unresolved Palestinian question, the quagmire in Syria, the blood bath in Iraq and Libya, not to mention the devastation of Afghanistan, the killing of so many innocent people with drones, to name but a few setbacks.

Still, what is important about Obama as President is that he has paved the way to other Americans–namely, Jews, women, Blacks, and even Hispanics to run for high office.  Viewed from this angle, he is a pioneer.  The other high note of his presidency can be found in the way his family has behaved for eight years.  All the Obamas have conducted themselves with decorum and indeed dignity:  not a single digression nor one let down and this is in spite of their young age.  They are a super model to follow.

That Obama weathered many storms is true.  It is also true that he steered the ship to a safe harbor more than once.  Many in Congress and outside of it wanted him to fail miserably, but he did not.  He held all its members (the Republicans in particular) in check for eight long years.  He could have done better had he had a majority.  Today as we look back at his tenure, we can only surmise that it was no easy feat to be at the helm of the most powerful nation on earth.

Although I voted twice for Obama, it really frustrates me to think about the question of Palestine which he could have solved had he had a fair-minded interlocutor on the Israeli side, not a war monger like Bibi Natanyahu who remains an obstacle as well as a stumbling block to peace in the region.

Some people would say that Obama privileged the Chi’aa narrative when the US reached an agreement with Iran and that he marginalized Sunni Islam in spite of his visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt during his first term.  The claim may be true for two reasons: one, he remains true to his father who was  Chi’aa and more importantly he really wanted to rub it in the face of Natanyahu, whom he never took to or trusted for that matter.  The normalization with Iran led to a different rapport de force in the region, a move Saudi Arabia and indeed Israel did not entertain let alone accept.

How will Obama go down in the annals of history remains to be seen.  One thing is certain, he has broken down all the boundaries, racial in particular, that had barred so many like him before his election.  A black man will soon leave the White House.  How white is will be after his departure is a question in time answered.

An internationally renowned literary and cultural critic, Mustapha Marrouchi lives on borderline between the West and Rest. He is the author of half-a-dozen books, including The Fabric of Subcultures.


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