After his well-coordinated and executed victory, President Barack Hussein Obama faces many challenges in recognizing and strengthening alliances in both national and foreign policy arenas.
On the domestic front, the president's victory reaffirms the consolidation of power of minority groups including Hispanics and Muslims. American Muslim voters and the 2012 election: A Demographic Profile and Survey of Attitudes, recently commissioned study from the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), found that more than two-thirds of American Muslims would vote for President Obama; and also that more than half of the Muslim population considers the Republican Party unfriendly towards Muslims. Undoubtedly, identifiable minorities such as Hispanics and Muslims contributed to the President's victory in various swing states such as Ohio and Florida.
The electoral results demonstrate the resolve of voters to repudiate the exclusion agendas of so-called ethnic, religious and economic elites. This has been evidenced not only by Mitt Romney's defeat, but also by other electoral outcomes that affirm the rejection of political spokesmen of hate and xenophobia. Some, like the Congress candidate hopeful Joe Kauffman in Florida, were repudiated during the primaries. Another Floridian, Rep. Allen West (R-FL), nationally-recognized as Islamophobic, was defeated by Patrick Murphy in the November 6th electoral event.
A strong message was sent in the polls to former presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann (R - MN), who beat her political contender by a razor-thin margin. Founder of the Tea Party Caucus, she has consistently approached ultra-conservatives with Islamophobic discourses and false accusations of honorable Muslim public servants in the hope of gaining popularity and approval. While she was barely able to hang onto her seat, other candidates with xenophobic records of bashing the American Muslim community were rejected in the polls. These include Adam Hasner (R-FL), Joe Walsh (R - IL), Charlie Fuqua (R- AK), and Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) among others.
With this trend, Rep. Peter King (R - NY) may well be the next one rejected due to his agenda of promoting the stereotyping of American Muslims; and he may as well reserve tickets to the farewell party of more of his departing bigoted cronies.
The truth is that Tea Party's isolationist agenda has sustained a severe blow and is profusely bleeding. The election's turnout and outcome clearly show that there is, in fact, a new national social milieu where Hispanics, Muslims and other minorities do count. This new society expects higher levels of tolerance and quality of life for all citizens regardless of ethnicity, race or religion.
At this election our society proclaimed: ENOUGH! Enough of discrimination based on ethnicity, enough of bias based on place of origin, enough of unfairness and inequity based on sex and enough of bigotry against Muslims and other religious minorities. The Republican Party leadership's divorce from the noble causes and aspirations of women, elders and minorities has cost them the minimum votes needed to get the mandate to lead our nation.
As for Middle East Foreign Policy, President Obama's victory will not bring a significant shift from the current established policies. It is predictable that the President will extend his present foreign policy towards the Near East, but let's cautiously leave a window open for the possibility of Obama implementing change; especially as he approaches the end of his tenure and is not up for re-election.
President Obama now has the historical opportunity to honor his Peace Nobel Prize by swiftly concluding America's longest war ever in Afghanistan - preferably before the projected end of 2014 timeframe. Along the same lines, he should keep the firm policy of not getting snared by Israel's "war bait" to go into another war in the Middle East, this time with Iran. The President should employ his best efforts to re-approach the Muslim world by implementing a sincere and serious agenda committed to justice for the Palestinian nation. This would involve re-examining America's support for Israel's occupation of Palestine; a policy to be revisited as enabling the occupation of Palestinian territory has proven detrimental not only to our nation's image, interests, safety and prosperity; but also to Israel's as well. Going four more years without a realistic commitment to justice would render dialogue, negotiation and peace achievement futile. The present situation is certainly complex, especially after Netanyahu's open approval of Romney's candidacy - a sour event that has left a bitter taste in Obama's mouth.
Obama also faces the challenges of establishing new healthy relations with many countries in the Middle East, especially those that have experienced the Arab Spring democratic movement; or those where this movement is in its nascent stages. The most critical case is that of Syria, where the Al Assad regime is responsible for the death of dozens of thousands of its citizens and the country's exponential deterioration. To date, Al Assad keeps clinging to power almost making fun of the international agencies incapable of dissuading either the regime nor the opposition from halting military engagement.
How is the President planning to respond to other countries in the region such as Kuwait and Bahrain, where liberty and democracy marches and protests are suppressed violently? Will Obama be willing to change the policy of deafening silence to cases like these?
We do not know if Obama will have the conviction and drive to establish policies contrary to the historical practices that benefit and protect tyrannical regimes that oppress, prosecute and even torture their citizens. It is imperative that the President work closely with new emergent governments in the region to dissuade them from establishing corrupt state institutions detrimental to their bilateral relations. Obama should hasten to assist these embryonic democracies, while giving them necessary space to express their historical, political, cultural, and religious differences.
Hopefully, in his last presidential mandate, Obama will come to realize that sticking to detrimental policies of isolationism, drone-bombarding and war-mongering will not produce a good image for the United States or constructive international relations; even less will it gain allies. Only after realizing this, can our newly re-elected President make a difference by truly implementing his first term promise of "Change" and his new campaign proposal to move this nation "Forward".
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