A young black African-American community organizer is inspiring the world and giving hope that change can happen. The image of the US can never be the same when the American people have chosen Barack Obama as the president of the most powerful country in the world. But is it plastic surgery or a real opportunity for change?
After eight years of the Bush administration, the American people succeeded in proving to the world that in addition to their local issues, they are aware of the world's problems and concerned about its issues.
Barack Obama succeeded in making the American people believe that change is possible. And as a foreign observer, I am amazed by the level of political engagement and the turnout of the American citizens to the voting ballots - these things reflect their commitment to a better world.
This is an opportunity for the US to redefine its posture in the world as an "exceptional" country in two senses: superior to all others, and not respectful of international treaties and obligations. The United States can now shift towards an example of a liberal democracy engaged in the world and willing to offer a model of peace and prosperity.
This opportunity will be lost if the new president fails to capitalize on global and domestic support to change major policies that concern the world. The world will be watching this administration with a lot of hope and trepidation at the same time.
Many people in the Middle East would like to see the new administration:
choose public diplomacy and dialogue as the primary strategy for solving world conflicts; return troops from Iraq; respect Iraqi sovereignty and supporting the right of the Iraqi people to choose their own system and destiny; close Guantanamo Bay and condemn the practice of torture; actively engage in United Nations' reforms and its initiatives; commit to a global climate change agreement and invest in alternative clean energy; and finally, play an impartial role as a mediator in supporting peace and justice in the Middle East.
The American presidency has direct influence on my country, Lebanon. Every decision the American president makes regarding the Middle East influences people's daily lives; from the declaration of war, to economic isolation, to providing development funding. US policy should not favor non-democratic and corrupt governments for short term gains. It should not interfere in another country's democratic choices; instead, it should support democratic development even if doing so does not serve immediate American interests.
The first step for the new administration is to listen to different authentic voices from the world and create new partnerships that serve all peoples' interest.
The new face of America has arrived. But to convince the world that this image is not merely cosmetic, it must be translated into policies that will reflect the hopes of the American people and the hopes of the world.