“Congratulations, Mr. President! Four more years!”
‘Four more years!’, ‘Obama wins again!’ were the slogans echoed on the streets of America filled with millions of euphoric supporters holding American flags. All over the world spectators were glued to the television screens and watched as the jubilant crowds danced and cheered their president’s victory. The nail-biting campaign against Mitt Romney finally drew to a close when President Obama managed to secure 270 votes in the Electoral College which were needed to win the race. Obama won the key battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. He not only secured his home state of Illinois, but also swept away Romney’ s home state of Massachusetts from under his feet, where the Republican had previously served as governor, as well as Romney’s birth state of Michigan.
After the victory Obama thanked his supporters and promised them with “the best is yet to come”. In his courteous five-minute concession speech, Romney gracefully accepted defeat, congratulated President Obama and urged his supporters to set aside partisan differences and “pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation”. This element of good sportsmanship is a lesson for other nations, to see the loser being gracious in defeat, wishing the winner luck and extending support by unifying the nation rather than creating differences between them.
John Cassidy, from The New Yorker magazine, describes Obama’s win as a “triumph of moderation over extremism, tolerance over intolerance, and the polyglot future over the monochrome past”.
President Obama’s re-election victory may be credited to excellent economic policies which boosted job growth and were aimed at the advancement of lower and middle classes by proposing to raise taxes on the rich to help close the budget deficit. This along with the auto industry bailout, his health care reform and his excellent leadership amidst severe American economic crisis were all instrumental to his success.
Obama’s introduction of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which aimed at improving transparency and accountability in the financial system is laudable.
Under his tenure, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 67 per cent since his inauguration as President in January 2009, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 went up by 76 per cent and 128 per cent respectively. Renowned Financial Analyst Jon Markman at Marketwatch describes this staggering advance of the market as “probably one of Obama’s greatest accomplishments.”
In assessing Obama’s accomplishments on foreign policy, Journalist Nicholas D. Kristof gives him B+ rating. This, he says, is because Obama proved true to his promise of bringing troops back from Iraq as well as countering and eliminating Osama Bin Laden. His leadership has not only proven bold when he went against popular opinion and intervened in Libya, but also kaleidoscopic in its nature resulting in agendas that cater towards women’s education as well as arms control. Although his administration have committed some lapses such as a failed peace effort in the Middle East or the hypocritical response in the case of Bahrain’s repression, he has been successful in preventing war with Iran and instead dealing with it in a more diplomatic manner.
In addition, Obama deserves praise for repealing “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” and allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in United States Armed Forces and in May 2012, he became the first sitting US president to publicly support legalising same-sex marriage.
However in Pakistan, the response to Obama’s win remains muted thanks to the strong Anti-American sentiment that has only increased over the past few years and which has no signs of going down as religious parties and popular leaders like Imran Khan continue to fuel and exploit it for their political and strategic motives.
Under President Obama, there have been about 300 drone strikes targeting Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban and especially TTP who lost top strategists, operational commanders, ideological mentors and recruiters such as Ilyas Kashmiri, Baithullah Mehsud, Qari Hussian and Qari Zafar. This has greatly benefited Pakistan as it resulted in leadership and strategic crisis among terrorists, depriving them of strategists, plotters, and fighters which eventually resulted in massive overall reduction of suicide attacks in Pakistan. However, critics fail to highlight the strategic advantage of drones and continue mass propaganda campaigns by spreading sham and bogus pictures of drone victims and highlighting biased reports like the one from Stanford/NYU clinics.
President Obama did a favour to Pakistan when he took out Osama Bin Laden whose organisation al Qaeda was responsible for killing thousands of Pakistanis in recent years through proxies such as TTP and LeJ. On May 2, 2011, US’ unilateral action against the worlds most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden hiding in Pakistan’s military town of Abbottabad became a national embarrassment for the latter. Nevertheless, Obama’s handling of this operation was fantastic as he rejected a plan to bomb the residence, and instead authorised a “surgical raid” to be conducted by United States Navy SEALs.
The aggressive drone campaign, the Osama Bin Laden raid along with the Raymond Davis affair and the Salala incident were critical towards the unprecedented deterioration in relations between America and Pakistan and its rising anti-American sentiment. Actively working towards a better relationship between the two countries remains one of the key challenges for the Obama administration for its next term.
Assistant professor Christine Fair offers some crucial recommendations to the administration where she emphasises that America should stop taking the easy way out of buying Pakistani support with financial aid and providing military support and should in lieu invest in facilitation of trade, increase scholarships to students and encourage the country to clear up its economic mess. Merely providing aid does not benefit Pakistan in the long run given the large-scale corruption which does nothing to put out the fire in the anti-American sentiment. Instead she suggests engaging and communicating directly with Pakistanis in English as well as local languages which will promote a clearer understanding to the public thereby removing any misunderstanding created by the Pakistani officials who represent a acutely altered version.
Apart from this key foreign policy challenge, there are other primary and substantial issues which await his resolution including fixing the US economy amidst the European debt crisis and the mammoth budget deficit, possible Iran-Israel confrontation, resolving the Syrian crisis et al.
It is undeniably appreciable that a country in which blacks were once not even allowed to ride in front of a bus, a black person has been elected for his second presidential term says something about this great nation. I wish Mr. President the best for the next term and hope he overcomes the tough challenges facing him and in doing so make the world safer, more economically viable and peaceful.
The writer is an accountant and an investigative Counter Terrorism Analyst. He blogs at aacounterterror.wordpress.com and tweets at @Anas_Abbas1.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.