Wednesday, 21 January 2009

more than words

i didn't get up to watch the inauguration live this morning. felt a bit naughty in missing a most historical moment. but it was mostly due to the fact that i couldn't get to sleep til about 1.30am, and there was no way i'd be able to get a full day's work done if i was up again by 6. besides, i had the comfort of knowing it would all be up on youtube, so i'd catch up on everything later.

which i've duly done, and duly had tears in my eyes.

as readers will know, i haven't been a huge fan of mr obama. which is not to say that i'd prefer the alternative, not in a million years. but i don't forget that it was under a democrat administration that iraqi children were dying because of sanctions, that southern iraq was being bombed constantly, that the massacres and gang rapes were happening in bosnia while an arms embargo prevented bosnians from getting the weapons to defend themselves, that... well, i could go on, but i think you get the point.

so i think of this new administration and wonder whether anything significant will change. and the answer is yes, of course some things will be better. guantanamo will close. it's likely that some serious action will happen on climate change. there will definitely be a huge reduction in the dog-whistling bigoted rhetoric that we had become accustomed to from the previous administration. some things will definitely change, and some things won't. but that's the point of hope over fear, isn't it. he's asking us to give him a chance, and that i'm prepared to do.

the best bit of the speech for me was:

...that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

yup, it's the sense of community, of caring for those who are least fortunate and being active about it rather than expecting the market to provide (when we very well know that it doesn't); that's the bit that resonates with me most. even more than peace, because peace is much more likely when everyone has a fair share of the pie.

and sweeter still was the fact that mr obama didn't show concern only for the prosperity of his own nation:

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

how desperately i hope that these are more than just words. that they will lead to actions around international trade and fair prices, around greater international co-operation for the regulation of global capital and pressure for fair labour laws, and also around commitment to the international court of justice. i hope that that he'll have the courage to see it through, and that his people support him while he makes those most difficult decisions in a time of economic hardship.

yes, today is a day to hope and dream of a better world. who knows, at least some of it might really come true.


Anonymous said...

So you would have supported the USA selling guns to the Bosnians?

stargazer said...

the US wouldn't have had to - countries like iran and others in the middle were standing by with weapons that they would have shipped across. alot of those would have been made in the US anyway, so they would still have gotten their share of the profits.

but no, that's not what i would have preferred. what i would have preferred is decent funding for the UN peacekeeping force so that there could have been the number of troops required to stop the massacres. instead, they had about one quarter of the troops necessary, and even these were pulled back which allowed the slaughter of sribeniza to occur.

i never understood the reason for the combination: the arms ban as well the underfunding of the UN. they knew what the result of that combination would be, so why did they deliberately allow these people to be slaughtered and gang-raped? it makes no sense to me.