Saturday, November 14, 2009

Obama: Between Idealism and Realism

Obama: Between Idealism and Realism
Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 2009
Less than a year in the White House, Obama is caught in a perplex situation: the Wilsonian ideals of peace, democracy, self-determination etc on the one hand; and American prestige, power and hegemony in the world on the other. There is no doubt that Obama is personally and by nature a decent man with many good human traits. But, as president of the United States, he is supposed to follow the Machiavellian advices in order to preserve “Prince’s” power and interests.
Perhaps, it is normal that when one begins to exercise in some fresh field, at initial steps the element of wish and purpose is overwhelming strong and the inclination to ponder upon facts and means are weak or non-existent. Realism is based on the assumption that the key concept in politics is interest defined as power; and everything else in the realm of ethics and morality is at the service of those interests.
Obama’s idealistic stand during his presidential campaign with respect to foreign policy and defense strategy was a natural position of a democrat candidate vis-a-vis a republican president who became the most detested leader in US history. But, he was enough conscious not to let him-self mired by illusion. Thus, in his initial speech after the election he touched to concrete facts on the way of the United States when he said: “the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime, two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.” In fact, the troubles that Obama inherited from his predecessors were so profound and beyond reach that nobody could deny their existence and complexities.


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