Barrack Hussein Obama is on fire. I may disagree with his ideas on policy, but I cannot deny that he is receiving enormous amounts of attention. One of the most fascinating aspects about his campaign is his rock star status not just in the United States, but overseas. A friend of mine was in Amsterdam on Thursday and said that many of her colleagues were enthralled with Obama. They asked her endless questions about the new candidate (most of them struggled to pronounce his name). On a side note, when my friend was in Amsterdam no one had heard of Rudi Giuliani and only knew of John McCain. In addition, Australian Prime Minister John Howard blasted Obama’s Iraq plan to withdrawal American soldiers. It is stunning for an American candidate with no executive experience to receive international attention on this scale, especially almost two years before the election.
John Howard’s words did help give the American people an insight into Obama. Obama responded to Howard in a diplomatic and polite fashion and even prompted the Australian prime minister to increase the strength of his nations force in Iraq if he viewed the “good fight” to be so important.
Obama is a great speaker, there is no doubt about that, but many say that his weakness may come in his inexperience in governing. What most American’s forget is that neither John Edwards or Hillary Clinton have had any real executive experience; besides Hillary Clinton’s experience as first lady none of the democratic nominees have any foreign policy experience. Where Obama may prove to have an advantage in international diplomacy is in his race and ethnicity. The Europeans all already love Obama (mainly because they hate Bush) and he may find that his background can be used as leverage when conducting diplomacy in Europe and also the Middle east, and Africa.
The Europeans closet racism (or as they call it “multiculturalism”) would be a major advantage for any American president of African descent. He also has an additional advantage over his democratic counter-parts in Europe; he is the only one of them who could tell the Europeans that he has always been against the war in Iraq. Obama would have two major advantages over Hillary Clinton in the Middle East. Anyone who ignores the impact of Hillary’s gender on foreign policy is naive. While most Americans view women as equal, most of the world does not. In the Middle East using a woman to conduct foreign policy can be a mistake (see Condoleezza Rice and prior Madeleine Albright. Her Jewish heritage helped to show the Muslim world that we were objective with our Israel-Palestine policy). Muslim men, even moderate or progressive ones will look down upon a female American president and will view her to be weak. By contrast a charismatic, articulate, male of Muslim descent will be able to sit eye to eye with his Middle-Eastern counterparts. In Africa, Obama would be seen as an idol, he could initiate a fundamental and positive shift in the current African socio-economic decline.
Obama may not have the money that Hillary has, but his charisma, anti-war stance, his non-elitist image, and the characteristics he was born with may be enough to steer the nomination his way. In the past few days I have had to re-evaluate my position on Obama and have decided that he could be more than a vice presidential candidate, he has a good shot at the presidency.
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