Saturday, August 04, 2007

The fall of Barack Obama

Till a week back, my favorites for the US presidential nominations were John McCain and Barack Obama, on the Republican and Democratic tickets respectively. There were many reasons for my preferring these gentlemen, not least being a strong desire to not see Hillary Clinton as the president (to me, Clinton represents everything that is reprehensible about American society and politics; more on that later).

However, Obama has made made my position easier by crowing himself out of favor and reckoning. On Tuesday, he announced that he is open to the idea of using military force unilaterally on Pakistani soil to strike al-Qaeda targets, if Pakistan does not cooperate. It has been argued that he did it to stiffen his reputation as an able foreign policy player after Clinton's recent comments indicating otherwise. While I have little love for Pakistan or al-Qaeda, and do not understand much about the complexities involved in the said affair, what made me balk was Obama's choice of rationale and words.
"There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again . . ."
This statement, which would not have raised my eyebrows had it been said in 2002, comes across as unbearably moronic when said today, with crystal-clear hindsight of the disaster that followed the disaster of 9/11. As America stands amidst the ruins of Iraq and the bones of at least 50,000 Iraqi civilians, Obama's statement reeks of a lack of moral remorse and personal culpability, as an American if not as an individual, for the pain of Iraqis and for the colossal outrage that the Iraq invasion was. As ludicrous as it may sound, the truth is that over the past 6 years America has, through her own actions, wiped out the debt of sympathy, sorrow, and understanding that was due to her for the incidents of 9/11. America, and Obama, have expended the moral right to be outraged over 9/11. Obama's position against the Iraq war does little to rid him of the baggage, and less so if he is elected to the presidency.

There is an Indian lore about a woman who goes out to fetch a pail of water from the well while her baby plays with their pet mongoose in the house. While she is gone, a snake approaches the baby but is halted by the mongoose. A fierce fight between the two ends with the snake being killed and the mongoose getting bloodied. When the mother returns, the mongoose gleefully greets her at the doorstep....however, when she sees the mongoose with blood on its face, she fears that it harmed her child and instantly kills it by dropping her pail of water on its head. She realizes her mistake when she enters the house and finds the baby safe and sound, with a dead snake besides it. The affair ends on a rather sad note, with the mother weeping remorsefully for the needlessly killed mongoose. The moral of the story, as told to us kids, was to never be hasty with your judgment.

The story and its moral is lost on America (and Obama).

Pakistan protested Obama's comments, the White House distanced itself from them, and the left (part of Obama's constituency) didnt like them either. None of this was unexpected, but it was remarkable that all these arguments were based on strategic or political grounds, and not on conscientious grounds.

I call this Obama's "fall" to reflect a personal sense of betrayal. Of course, it would sound absurd that I desert Obama for a rare pulse of belligerence while continuing to support McCain who is more hawkish by orders of magnitude. But thats how it is - a wolf is just a wolf, but a wolf in sheep's clothing is a mean, treacherous creature.

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