Saturday, November 22, 2008

How Obama is to be Viewed by the Islamic World

How Obama is likely to be viewed by the Islamic world both in the Middle East and Asia.
• With some exception (some radical Muslims), most people in some 56 Muslim-majority countries apparently favor Obama in the elections because of the perceived and actual failure of the current administration’s foreign policies and international relations.
o Obama’s victory represents change in direction of the U.S. relationship with the world; the rest of the world have been watching the whole process of the elections from the start and people congratulated and many celebrated Obama’s victory. No “anti-Americanism” has existed if it means anti-American people and values. The target of world’s criticisms has been politics and foreign policy. Few radicals are skeptical: the U.S. will not change: they still don’t like political Islam/Islamism. “great global expectations”
• Obama’s victory has demonstrated to the world that it is one’s capability, rather than racial identity, that most matters, and American elections show democracy both in procedure and substance. “the global impact of the desirability and workability U.S. democracy”
• Obama is also seen as a truly global president: African, Asian (Indonesian), American. Facilitating his sensitiveness to cross-cultural problems. His speech in Berlin also attests his global appeal: “the walls between countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian, and Muslim, and Jew cannot stand. There now are the walls we must tear down”..
What can Obama do to repair the damage done by the current administration to the reputation of the U.S. in the Islamic World?
• Prioritize” “Soft power” (public diplomacy, talks, dialogue) over Hard power (military intervention): not “politics of fear”, but “politics of reconciliation and hope”,
o STABILISATION of IRAQ and its unity. Two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (reduce violence, civilian casualties, support the Iraqis in rebuild their lives): troops careful withdrawal-
o Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis (resume talks, amidst uncertainty of Israeli leadership on Feb 20, two state solutions: a secure and lasting peace): the challenge is the political division among HAMAS, PLO, the rejectionists and the conformists
o Rapprochement with Iran: send a clear message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions, but the challenge: “nuclear for weaponry or peaceful purposes”
o Independence from Middle East oil
o India, China, and Southeast Asia (Indonesia: the largest Muslim majority country in the world, working with moderates)
• “Understanding the roots of violence and terrorism” (sense of injustice, “colonialism”, ideological conflict), the step is “reaching out” not just to opponents at home but also enemies abroad”, remaking alliances with the Muslim moderates everywhere, but making sure that the world have enough information about the U.S. history, culture, and society.
• “Reconciliatory, and communicative leadership”: listening, willing to be criticized, empathetic, acknowledging complexity of every problem, differences between faiths, cultures, political interests, but seeking commonalities in resolving common problems as human, as citizen of the world
• “A new and global partnership”: “partnership with Muslims at home and abroad”, interfaith dialogue and cooperations, dialogue of civilizations, alliances of civilizations, American Peace Corp, American Library/Corners, international exchange (journalists, educators, students, etc), humanitarian works for social justice and peace.
• The responsibility should also be taken by civil society (national and international) and the Islamic world themselves to engage with the West, to learn about American cultures and religions.

No comments: