It has been exactly a year since the election of the 44th US President on November 4, 2008. What did the number “4” mean for the world, Russia, the USA, and Barack Obama himself?
Perhaps, Obama has done more for the world than the US. The current President is more popular in many other countries rather than in the USA.
It can be said that Obama has chosen a role of a pop-idol in politics. It is not easy to throw stones at him. He has not made any foreign policy issues more rigorous, has not gotten into a fight with anyone, smiled a lot, and let everyone meet his wife Michele.
He even managed to please Cuba and Russia. He delegated all tasks that require unpopular measures to his assistants, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
This makes the resemblance of Barack Obama and Mikhail Gorbachev almost mystical. Now, let’s consider the details.
Moscow is charmed and disarmed
What is your most painful issue? As if Obama asked Russia before his visit to Moscow in July, 2009. The answer was: of course, your disgusting, horrible missile defense system that you are planning to build in Poland and Czech Republic.
No problem, Obama said, and put away the main scarecrow, the missile defense system, away from Russia’s eyes. He did not ask anything in return. It usually happens when someone wants to fully convert a potential enemy, not just receive a concession. Why not?
The Russian government understands very well that competition with the USA is no longer realistic. Russia is not the USSR. The current Russian economy is only 1/25th the size of the American economy. However, Russia still wants to maintain the image of a great power.
Therefore, it is much more beneficial for Moscow to be the USA’s ally without showing it directly. De jure, Russia is a new potential center of the multi-polar world opposing Washington. De facto, Russia is an ally of the US, apart from small painful splinters like Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and such. Obama easily endowed Moscow with this status.
In July 2009, Obama came to Moscow for a visit.
After Obama’s visit, Russia stands ready for many things. This includes support of Iran sanctions, suspension of locating the ballistic missile system Iskander near Kaliningrad, and letting American planes fly to Afghanistan over Russia (along the same route where Gary Powers, an American spy, was hit by Soviet missiles in 1960). Of course, the United States did not back off from their interests one bit, as Vice President Biden traveled to Georgia to calm down Saakashvili.
Hillary Clinton is responsible for Kosovo. She is hard-nosed in her intentions to convince other countries that they would regret their decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whereas it would be wonderful if they recognized Kosovo.
Her husband Bill is the one who traveled to Kosovo, and whose monument was erected by Kosovans in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, to honor him for launching NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia. Obama, however, remains a peacemaker.
He is a smart cookie compared to his predecessor, unpolished political redneck George Bush.
Obama practically demolished a virtual Berlin Wall between Russia and the USA, like Gorbachev did in his times. We, however, are well aware of what has happened to Gorbachev and the Soviet Union along with its social camp.
America is sad and confused
Surprisingly, Obama’s approval ratings in the US keep dropping. Americans cannot forgive Obama for not keeping his promises. He failed to withdraw troops from Iraq, and is getting increasingly involved in the Afghan war. He loosened Cuba boycott, but has not cancelled it altogether and failed to make Fidel Castro leave the political arena.
American Magazine Time named Obama the Person of the Year 2008
Obama criticized Bush for giving money away to bankers who were getting fat during the crisis. When in power, he started solving economic issues with even greater money inflows given to the same “fat cats” of the financial and industrial sectors. The end of the crisis in the US is not on the horizon. Of course, the situation is not nearly as bad as what happened in Russia in the last years of Gorbachev’s government. However, Americans, who are used to living large, do not understand why they have to refuse this lifestyle now. Unemployment rate is not going down, mortgage crisis is still there, and the health reform has not been yet implemented.
Fine words are abundant, actions are scarce. Obama’s election campaign slogan “Yes, We Can!” that charmed the Americans earlier is now ridiculed by many.
It goes without saying that the talks about Obama’s lack of actions are exaggerated by the Republicans, Obama’s internal political competitors. This is only natural under the US democratic system.
At least, this system will save America from a collapse similar to the one that happened in the USSR, where there was no political alternative to the Communist Party.
Fortunately, America will not collapse. We say fortunately, because if it happened, the entire global structure would collapse. The planet, left without the “world gendarme” and “dollar emitter,” would plunge into redistribution, local wars, and economic chaos. The current financial crises would seem an innocent joke.
However, Barack Obama has enough time to take some decisive steps, firstly, in his own country. It would not hurt to be more careful outside of the United States.
The 44th American President has three years of presidency ahead of him. Although, it is more realistically 18 to 24 months, since the last year of the presidency is traditionally spent on the next election campaign.
If Obama continues to do what he has done in the past year, he will be awarded with the same honors as Mikhail Gorbachev who is respected in the world, but perceived with controversy in his own country. The only difference is that Gorbachev received his Nobel Prize for what he has done, and Obama – for what he will do. This Prize could serve as a certain mark cautioning against repetitions.