Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama's Nobel

The World Is Persuaded

Juan Lopez, the chair of the Communist Party in California wrote a nice piece about Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize in the Oct. 17 issue of People's World. In "Obama's peace prize is a wise and timely decision," Lopez says that the rest of the world perceives Obama as having already accomplished a great deal that goes well beyond the rhetorical.

"To be sure," Lopez writes, "[Obama's actions] understood in the context of the last 30 years and the dangers humanity faces in the near future ... represent a qualitative break with the past..." Several of Obama's initiatives, regarded as "just talk" by critics are perceived by much of the rest of the world as different from all U.S. foreign policy since Reagan and already fruitful. These include "... steps to stem proliferation of nuclear weapons leading to their eventual elimination; a commitment to policies to protect the environment and develop sustainable energy resources; diffusing hotbeds of international conflict more often than not provoked by the previous administration[s]; sitting down for talks with leaders of Iran and other nations previously listed as 'terrorist'; serious efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution; pledging to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and relaxing travel to the island nation."

Though Lopez is positive about Obama's accomplishments to date, he remains a critical observer who expects more, including a wish that the U.S. pull out of the war in Afghanistan. I would add, as well, that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not enough, though it might serve as a transition to a just solution, which must include the end of the Jewish theocratic state in Israel and the establishment of a truly democratic state that fully enfranchises Palestinians.

There are a whole host of progressive domestic policies that Obama should be pursuing, also, but Lopez is clear that the political climate makes many changes difficult to achieve. Maintaining "the left-center core of the multiclass coalition that elected Obama" is absolutely essential, he argues.

"Our strategic goal must be to consolidate the November 2008 victory against the far right in the 2010 and 2012 election cycle ... if the extreme right manages to significantly get its footing back in any significant way during the next election cycles, it will rebound on the nation and the world with a vengeance."

I agree. The bizarre coalition of corporate and fundamentalist religious interests that elected Bush and Cheney is still viable. Obama is not a progressive, but he is a thoughtful and well-intentioned moderate. He can be pushed to the left, but not if progressives who want more stand aside while the Republican right pursues its own restoration.

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