Standard – Barack Obama’s Triple HeritagePage 2 of 4
But although his Afro-oriented gestures in his first one hundred days were modest, Obama’s moves towards theMuslim world were more substantial. His first major television interview for foreign audiences was with Arabiyatelevision network addressed to the Arab world. He also addressed the people of Iran on their national day,extending America’s hand of goodwill if Iran would "unclench its own fist" towards America.
For the Arab-Israeli conflict President Obama appointed as his Envoy the former majority leader in the USSenate, George Mitchell, an experienced mediator and negotiator who had successfully mediated the GoodFriday Agreement for Northern Ireland in 1998.
Unlike President Bill Clinton who disproportionately entrusted the Arab-Israeli dispute to American Jews tohandle, Senator George Mitchell has Lebanese, as well as Irish ancestry.
Obama also appointed Richard Holbrook, another very experienced and distinguished mediator, as specialenvoy for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Obama also invited the Presidents of both Afghanistan and Pakistanto join him at the White House early in May 2009 for more fundamental evaluation of their joint policies towardsthe Taliban insurgents in both countries and towards general struggle against Muslim extremists at large.
Although the Government of Israel which came to power early this year was at best lukewarm about a two-statesolution to the Israel-Palestinian problem, the Obama Administration has emphasised to both the Israelis andthe Arabs that a two-state solution is still the policy of the United States. Vice-President Joseph Biden has alsoemphasised that two-state approach to Jewish audiences within the United States.Obama’s policy towards Africa has been less noteworthy than his moves towards the Muslim world. ThePresident may feel inhibited precisely because his father was not only an African but also a citizen of an Africancountry. Obama may be cautious not to betray either racial nepotism or a manifest bias towards Africa. Whenfaced with a dilemma between helping Kenya and helping Bangladesh, Obama may feel compelled to helpBangladesh as a poorer and more deserving supplicant for American aid.
The point has been raised whether Africa on its own would have been better off if Hillary Clinton had beenelected President of the United States instead of Barack Obama.
Global Africa and Global Ummah
Obama’s Africa policy may become more active in a positive sense in the months and years ahead. But on theevidence so far it does seem credible that the African continent itself would have been better off if Hillary Clintonhad become President of the United States.
On the other hand, if we examine the Black world as a whole instead of just the African continent, Obama’selection to the Presidency of the United States has set a remarkable precedent in upward political mobility. TheUnited States is only the first white majority country to have elected a man of colour to its highest office in theland. This American precedent may lead on to the election of a Black Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, aBlack President of France, and even a Black Chancellor of Germany before the end of this twenty-first century.A Somali Prime Minister of Italy in another 50 years is no longer inconceivable. After all, the United States hashad a Luo President sooner than has Kenya, which has a population of several million Luo.
It is also not often realised that Obama is not only the most powerful Black man in world politics today, but themost powerful man of colour in the history of civilization. As we have mentioned before, Obama is morepowerful than the Pharaoh who forced Moses out of Egypt, more powerful than the Ethiopian Emperor whodefeated the Italians in 1896, more powerful than Shaka Zulu who ‘stands out as the greatest of them all and hislegend has captured the imagination of both European and African writers, inspiring novels, biographies, andhistorical studies in several tongues.
When we say Obama is more powerful than Shaka Zulu, Ramses II of Egypt, and Menelik II of Ethiopia, we donot mean Obama is greater than any of them. We do not know yet how great Barack Obama is likely to be.