On November 4, 2008 Senator Barack Obama was elected by a `landslide’ to the Presidency of the United States of America.  The election has taken place in the midst of a world wide economic crisis and

financial meltdown, and in the midst of two highly unpopular wars in which the USA finds itself. 

The electoral college landslide victory of Sen. Obama appears to be due mainly to the anti-incumbency factor: his opponent John McCain was directly identified as one who could continue the policies of the outgoing President George W. Bush in domestic as well as in international affairs.  It is not entirely likely that Sen. Obama procured massive endorsements of his candidature following his nomination, and indeed the nomination of the Democratic Party as he was a relative newcomer and is not identifiably a member of hated ruling circles and the establishment (in contrast to his main rival for the Democratic Party nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton). 

Sen. Obama’s appearance is expected to lend a `human face’ to his administration, something that the previous administration could not muster. Even in this regard, it is worth noting that despite national and world wide media extravaganza and efforts to whip up record voter turnout, the figure stood at a little more than 60% of the electorate — not significantly different from the 2004 election. 

In his first comments after the election, Sen. Obama has been quick to say that there would be no quick-fixes to problems and has appealed to the American people to show courage and conviction to deal with their problems.  In other words, Sen. Obama admits that his Presidency has the primary task of ensuring that the rule of the financial oligarchs and private moneyed interests receives a new lease of life.

As regards international affairs, during his campaign Sen. Obama repeatedly demonstrated his dexterity at sabre-rattling, by singling out Iran and Pakistan, that consist of fraternal peoples of India, as potential targets of his future Presidency. Such being the case, the peoples of South Asia can only be profoundly concerned at the election of Sen. Obama.

What Sen. Obama inherits is a world profoundly out of equilibrium, with the all round collapse of the arrangements that were in place at the time of the bipolar division of the world.  The outright launch of wars of aggression by the Bush administration in Iraq and in Afghanistan which sought to bring in a new equilibrium, have not led to this state of affairs.  One of the Obama Presidency’s main project would be to try and stabilize the putative hegemony of the USA in world affairs, elimination of regimes unfavourable to US interests, and imposition of market driven economies and western style democracy, and try to meet success in a manner that the Bush administration could not. Despite repeated references to `change’ it is likely that his administration will only continue brinkmanship in matters of engagement with Iran and with, e.g., Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

The perils for the people of India and the region are immense in this era. Recalling that having received the recognition of a responsible nuclear power through their various activities including negotiations towards the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, through their dealings in the IAEA, Indian ruling circles are waiting to flex their muscles. Indian military spending stays anomalously high, missile tests take place on a routine basis, provocative remarks are made on sensitive border issues, and so on, which do little to convince India’s neighbours that her aims remain peaceable.  At this time the ruling circles in India have been waiting with bated breath for the election process to conclude, and to figure out how to carry out their aims at this time.  Their main aim would be to be in collusion with US activities and to emerge as a full-fledged world power, and to continue the arrangements that have already been made with the Bush administration. For instance, Sen. Obama’s sabre rattling towards Pakistan brings a warm glow to the hearts of India’s ruling circles.  It is not unforeseeable that India would provide facilities for launching of attacks by the US from its territories in the imperialist wars that may be part of the Obama Presidency.

What then are the people of India to do?  The first thing to do is to repudiate all sabre-rattling, and to demand the end of militarization of India, and of the region.  They must demand that issues and problems must be settled by negotiation where all parties are treated with dignity.  They must demand that India not be part of any strategic alliance with the US.  They must demand that India should stop aspiring to be a military power, and instead be a factor for peace and development in the region.  Such a demand must be combined with the militarization of the inner-life of the country.  Name calling and demonization of sections of the Indian people, whipping up of chauvinism must be repudiated. Conditions must be created for the progress of society — this cannot possibly be achieved by any alliance with war mongering nations with or without a human face.  An engagement with the USA must be one which is based on mutual respect for all countries and the peoples, not one of suppression by brute military power of India or of any of its neighbours. By articulating this in a principled and uncompromising way, the people of India can contribute to staving off the danger of war in the region.

by B. Ananthanarayan

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