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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2554

US Elections: Finally, Face to Face with a Post-Bush Era

By Philip Fernando in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, 16 February, (Asiantribune.com): The dialogue has changed and the electorate in the US is now bracing for a series of debates between John McCain and the Democratic challenger, either Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton. How best to rid the country of Bush’s legacy seems to be one of the main points of the debate. The need to promote a more humane and flexible approach to foreign policy and end the war in Iraq are the other aspects of the debate. McCain who supported more troops in Iraq-the so called “surge” is sticking to it during the campaign in order to win over the traditional conservative block vote, now not very happy with McCain’s stance on immigration and finance reform. Post Bush era has already arrived.

The crux of the mater is that Obama’s continuous plea for “unity” embodies a savvy strategy to unify the center of American politics and build a coalition by reaching out to independents. There are some Republican voters disgruntled and disgusted with what the Bush era has wrought and they may become party to forge a new progressive majority.

The democrats also need to win a substantial majority in Congress for them to do anything worthwhile. Major legislation is needed to bring about the changes now talked of as urgently needed by Republicans and Democrats. This is a pragmatic approach. It will define the outcome of the electoral process.

The vast majority of the American people, the working class, had constantly wanted change. The need to unify everyone however, has proved to be illusive. There is a political vacuum of historic dimensions; that the deepening social and economic crisis requires immediate action. Obama has been able to define this as the need for change. Clinton has also been very articulate on this and her program on domestic issues has been very close to that of Obama , though sometimes, notably on healthcare, more progressive.

Domestic policy in America will ultimately be determined through a complicated and fraught interplay with legislators. If the president and the Congress were to be from the same party, things will be easier. Foreign policy is where the President’s agenda is implemented more or less unfettered. Attitudes and definition of worldview will matter most here. Clinton is far steadier on this than Obama.

US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were simply the product of the mind of George W. Bush, prompted by Richard Cheney. Democrats also became a party to that by funding the war over and over again. The need to have a control of the most strategically critical region on the planet, the oil-rich territories of the Middle East and Central Asia had to be debated and acted upon in a serious manner. Bush-Cheney doctrine failed to do that.

The next president whether it is Obama, Clinton or McCain, would be confronted by the same strategic imperatives that faced President Bush: the inability to withdraw hurriedly from that region without making a serious assessment of the consequences. Other major powers—Russia, China, Japan, the European Union—will also have a stake in the whole thing.

The principal difference between Bush and the new comers-Clinton, Obama or McCain is that they have a better understanding of what is at stake. Bush to all intense and purposes is of a tactical, not a principled, character. Both Clinton and Obama advocate a greater emphasis on diplomacy and economic penetration rather than military action. The reason for failure so far has been the inability to have the public squarely on our side and never having the votes on the Hill.

In reality, the dominance of the ultra-right Bush and Cheney click in official American politics is largely due to the threat of radicalism coming from the Middle East as explained by Bush and Cheney. The specter of such a threat looming large was large enough to sway the unsuspecting electorate to vote against the Democratic Party that was considered weak on defense.

That explained how George W. Bush of 2000, an amiable ‘centrist’ with little foreign policy experience and basically with a mind towards isolationism, would go on to become a self-justifying delusional and messianic instrument of global war sending troops in thousands where they were not needed. Policing the world became his banner even though he castigated Al Gore for just trying to be that. How best to erase that era of one-sided policy making has already taken center stage.

- Asian Tribune -

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