The general election has a first positive impact: Europeans are for the first time in many years applauding America. I haven’t spoken to a single person here, who is not happy with Barack Obama as President elect. You voters have made a huge step in mending the abysmal reputation of America.
I am personally delighted with the result, but that won’t surprise anybody, I guess. So, what am I expecting from an Obama Administration? A lot.
Sign the Rome statute for the International Criminal Court. Signing the treaty would be a giant step in showing the world that America is willing to join forces with the rest of the world in bringing war criminals to justice. Even if it means some Americans will have to defend their own actions in court. And it would send a strong signal to the leaders of rogue states that crimes against humanity, war crimes and illegal wars will not be tolerated by the international community.
Stop this “war on terror”. In the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush Administration has not only infringed your constitutional rights, it has tried to coerce other countries to do the same and succeeded in doing so, more than I feel comfortable with. Given the fact, that governments hardly need much incentive to make their people more manageable by spying on them, locking them up and denying them basic protection from the government itself, the Bush Administration was quite successful in curbing our civil rights, too. In the UK you can be locked up without charges for 42 days now and in Germany the constitutional court had to step in to protect citizens from wiretapping and online spying. This has to stop. The Guantanamo prison camp has to be closed immediately. Inmates have to be either tried in a court of law or released to their countries of origin. No more extraordinary renditions. The use of torture is inexcusable wherever, whenever and for whatever reasons. Stop bombing civilians in the name of fighting terrorists. Finding terrorists and bringing them to justice is not a military goal but a task for intelligence and international police agencies.
In foreign relations, there is only one viable way to go. Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy. Work hand in hand with the UN. Scrap the “Bush Doctrine”. Preemptive wars are not legal and no administration should adhere to a policy that makes such wars a centerpiece of their security policies.
In the Middle East, get Israel to reduce the disproportionate influence of the radical settler movement. Get Palestinians to reduce the influence of foreign militias. Both Israelis and Palestinians are blackmailed by radical movements into following failing strategies in peace talks. Peace in the Middle East is one of the most pressing problems to be solved. The success of radicals from both sides in stalling the peace process is one of the main recruiting tools for terrorist organizations.
Our environment – the globe we all live on is hurting – so please re-sign and ratify the Kyoto protocol and then use all the influence necessary to get developing nations to join. It may not be a perfect treaty, but joining it and using the influence of the biggest economy on earth within it, would help a lot in putting pressure on China, India and other developing countries on the threshold to success, to accept higher environmental standards.
The failing economy is maybe the greatest threat to world peace there is right now. If we are, as many claim, indeed in one of the most dire straits economically since the great depression, remember what happened in the 1930s. Europe slid into her darkest decade with fascism rearing its ugly head all over the continent. And the rise and success of Nazism in Germany (the result of widely spread disappointment with democracy itself, which was seen as a failure in securing the well being of the people) led the world into a catastrophic war and caused the slaying of millions of innocents. An economic policy which puts fairness for all above profits for the few will help to keep the concept of democracy the most accepted form of government there is.
The success of Obama is by no means guaranteed. It depends very much on the willingness and ability of all, Republicans and Democrats and the international community, to overcome their own egotistical and self-serving insticts and work together to tackle the daunting challenges the world faces. You have done the first step, by electing a President, who has the skills and intelligence to bring this about. But that is only the beginning.