Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What is the new role for the American President?

I am delighted Barack Obama was relected. He is a great man, and a game changing politician. But questions remain for the role of the most powerful man on earth. His is by far the most difficult role I can think of  for a modern politician. He faces a country that is increasingly polarised, an economy that is no longer the powerhouse of yesteryear, and a foreign policy decision of huge importance. As America and the UK thankfully gradually step back from Afghanistan the question still remains: is America the world's policeman?
And to a lesser extent - are we in the UK?

The context could not be more apposite.
Osama Bin Laden is dead, yet Al Qaeda continues in force in Pakistan, and increasingly in Africa, as we have recently seen in Mali and Algeria. The Arab Spring is not just all about democracy and apple pie. It is also about a series of tribal struggles, and increasingly bitter civil wars, best exemplified by the turmoil in Syria. And all the while the nuclear threat of Iran looms. This is not a promising in tray for the new President.
Some have said that whilst David Cameron speaks the right language, and has the best global intent, it is Obama who has the weapons, men and muscle; and yet how does he see his role? His speech primarily talked of the problems of injustice at home, not injustice abroad. 
Yet we need to face up to a disturbing reality. Proclaiming our values, our right to justice, a fair trial and a belief in democracy, and so much more, is not in an way in the short term going to stop terrorists bent on extinguishing us by any means necessary. Sadly what we are now engaged in on multiple fronts is an exercise in our human safety. How we best deal with that is the serious question. The issue of whether we are in such a fight is not, in my view, in doubt. To that end the American President is absolutely vital to this country, and all the western world countries.