Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Brave New World ?

I said at the time of Obama’s victory that it was more a case of a sigh of relief than a whooping for joy. But watching the incredible scenes of his inauguration yesterday it was impossible, unless you had absolutely no sense of history, to feel unmoved.

As I watched a few random thoughts popped into my head:

Such scenes would be unthinkable in the UK – and I don’t say that as either a positive or negative, simply a reflection on our very different political cultures. Of course under our quasi-feudal constitution there is no equivalent of an inauguration but if there was it would probably involve brass bands and lots of marching about – certainly not Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce.

It’s easy to be cynical about the naivety of the hopes around Obama, and the ultimately emptiness of his rhetoric. But that too misses the point – dashed hopes are a powerful driver of radicalism. I think we’re going to see plenty of both in the coming years.

One point that I an amazed nobody seems to have pounced on though:

The Gaza ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal coinciding with the US presidential handover. Not so much because the Israelis see Obama as a champion of the Palestinian people but because they saw a window of opportunity to stamp their authority before the departure of the Bush administration - their most powerful and most dependable ally.

Given that Obama’s was one Western voice that could have made a difference - you have to ask how many children in Gaza have paid with their lives for his respect for protocol and reluctance to speak out against Israeli aggression ahead of yesterday’s ceremonial.


Leftwing Criminologist said...

in answer to your last question - too many. but i doubt he ever would have spoken out against the slaughter - israel is too important for the US, at keast for the present time

Anonymous said...

Exactly - another case of dashed hopes. Significantly here in Tottenham there have been two massive public meetings in the past days - one a recetion to watch the inauguration - the other to hear Tony Benn speak on Gaza. I suspect it was the same audience at both.