Western Reflections

Dave Mathieson
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Watching the red, white and blue

The American presidential election has been whittled down to two contenders: Barrack Obama and John McCain.
Which candidate would be better for America and the world?
On the one hand, Obama as president would prove once and for all the greatness of the American political process.
America would have the first Black President of any modern, industrialized nation.
Also, the people who say you need to be incredibly rich to achieve the office of president will finally have their clichÉ sealed in a coffin.
There is a long list of American Presidents who come from humble beginnings, the most recent being Bill Clinton.
Not to say you have to be poor to be a great president. Just look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Obama as president would also crumble the pillar of anti-Americanism built upon the stereotype of racist, white bread American.
In other words, those who say you have to be a white male to achieve the highest podium from which to exercise power will be proven wrong.
The election of Obama would also be a defeat for the anti-globalization and anti-capitalism crowd.
This crowd turns to Obama for hope but he isn't one of them.
He might talk the talk but he doesn't walk the walk.
During the Democratic primary's Obama said to the electorate in Ohio that he will take another look and maybe do away with the NAFTA agreement, while at the same time ensuring Canadians that he was only talking politics.
In other words, Wal-Mart shoppers need not worry; globalization and capitalism are, thank God, here to stay.
There's no doubt Obama would produce a major shift in American cultural, but how would he change the world?
Many people see Obama's election as a protest against George W. Bush and the war in Iraq but as polls show, a majority of the honest, everyday Iraqi people, who is 99 per cent of the population, sees Obama's election as a major betrayal.
Ironically, Iraqi's have the most at stake in this coming election but they have no vote in determining its outcome.
Obama said he would pull American troops out of Iraq as soon as possible while McCain said American's should do what is necessary to help the Iraqi people, even if it takes 100 years.
Iraq is the main issue that separates McCain and Obama.
Large majorities of people say Iraq is a lost cause and it's time to get out.
On the other hand you have a small minority of people who say things are getting better in Iraq and to leave now is morally reprehensible.
Who' telling the truth?
McCain has asked Obama to join him on a trip to Iraq to see the improvements in Iraq himself but Obama has declined, saying this is simply political posturing on McCain's part.
There is too much at stake for Obama not to rethink his position.
If you look at how America has helped Kurdistan, which makes up about 1/5th of Iraq, move towards democracy you will see Iraq is not a lost cause.
Also, if the U.S leaves and let's a tiny minority of Iraqi's have their way, they will do all they can to foment unrest between Sunni and Shia's that will consume the entire region, including Kurdistan.
Letting Iraq, an oil rich country teetering on the edge of democracy, become Talibanized would be a major step backward.
The West could ignore the problem for only so long before we would have to be back in the region putting out the fires partially caused by our desire to have the problem go away.
It all comes down to timetables and the setting of timetables.
Setting timetable is always the wrong thing to do during a war. The enemy will simply wait you out.
The bottom line is that sooner or later Iraq was doomed to implode in on itself but the West created a worse mess during the first Iraq war in 1991 when they decided not to depose Saddam Hussein and, instead, implement sanctions that starved the Iraqi people.
If the U.S. runs away now, the problem will not just disappear.
The next mess will make today's problems in Iraq look like a walk in the park.
Whoever becomes the next American president should stare the challenge of Iraqi problem square in the face, instead of just giving up.
The world will may not be able to deal with the next betrayal of Iraq.

Organizations: NAFTA, Wal-Mart

Geographic location: Iraq, U.S., Ohio

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