Well that’s it then: President Barack Obama.
There is no doubt that this is an enormous victory – it signifies the end of an era for the Republican party, the beginning a new one for the Democrats, but more importantly, a change in the zeitgeist of the American people. The cynicism that was once felt about American politics during the Bush administration seems to be quickly dissipating whilst the public talks of new hope and real change.
A month ago, if I’d asked if you thought that the American government was a force for good in the world whilst showing you a picture of George W. Bush, I’m certain your enthusiasm would have been limited. But Obama has managed something incredible: America is beginning to be seen as a force for good once more. No more need Americans be apologetic for their government. They have something to be proud of now.
It’s not just that the increasingly senile McCain and the consistently cretinous Palin were defeated, it’s that there has been a fundamental shift in the minds of the majority of Americans. Fifty years ago, the idea of a black president was ridiculous, as was the idea of a female vice-president, but the forces of liberty and liberalism have meant that both of these things are possible. This is a real change in the American people, and it’s been a long time coming. With it, America’s place in the world will undoubtedly change.
Now Obama made a lot of promises during his campaigns and it remains to be seen whether these promises will be kept. Tellingly, Obama is already playing down expectations. In his victory speech he said: “We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.” May not get there in one year or one term…? What does that mean? All bases covered, I suppose.
It remains to be seen how much difference a personality change will make for America. Realistically, the US is still going to have to apply pressure against Iran and their nuclear program, is still going to have to move into the mountains of Pakistan to chase al Qaeda and is still going to have to get increasingly aggressive against Russian movements. The idea that America under Obama will become a beautiful and harmonious entity is more than a little idealistic.
‘I am troubled by this idea of opposing the war in Iraq just because it is a war.’
What has struck me most, however, is this change in attitudes towards liberalism. Whilst I am liberal on most issues, I support the war in Iraq. I usually encounter gasps and cries of disbelief when I make this known, as if they wonder how I could possibly support such a thing. My position, however, is open to criticism. I support the war because I know of no possible alternative. The repercussions of Saddam’s regime had it been left in power could have easily been more damaging than the invasion. But I am open to debate – I am willing to change my mind.
I discuss this fairly often and I am troubled by this idea of opposing the war in Iraq because it is a war. It’s as if the view is that war can never be justified. The most unnerving argument I have heard on this topic is that there is always an alternative to war, no matter what. I’m told that Saddam could have received further sanctions, regardless of the many he had already ignored. I wonder if the liberal public of today would have argued that Hitler’s invasion of Poland was not a good cause for war – he could always have received further sanctions.
There is such a thing as a justified war, and sometimes it must be carried out, not because war is good, but because the alternatives would be more severe.
Now if Iran continues to develop nuclear facilities despite the UN’s continual requests for discussion then Hezbollah is very likely to acquire nuclear weaponry, which they would not hesitate to use against Israeli targets. That cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances. If things continue the way they are, something must stop it. I’m terrified that the liberal mindset of non-intervention would mean freedom of movement and activity for terrorist organisations. I can’t see an alternative to military action, but with all this talk of change and new beginnings, I only hope Obama can.