The months of October and November, 2008 were most memorable for me personally as I was in the USA in this period when history was not only being made in that country but change was openly discussed in all corridors of power especially amongst the young and bright and dis-inherited all over the world, courtesy, the electronic media and Obama’s reverberating speeches. The climate of change in the suffocating American Bush-Cheney environment was felt more while I was in Chicago (Obamaland) in October and less pronounced in Houston (Bushland) in the month of November, just prior to the last presidential elections there.
And the dye was finally cast to have the first African-American President elected in the USA. The dream which Dr. Martin Luther King had proclaimed to the dis-possessed teaming millions in a dreary winter in Washington D.C. almost 50 years back was coming alive. In my life-time, at least, I never thought of this day, where I would see an African-American President in the White House. Not that our generation was pessimistic to start with, but some of us who were lucky enough to travel to the USA in the 1960’s/ 1970’s had seen and read with our own eyes hoardings written  ‘Blacks and Dogs not allowed’ outside posh restaurants in some of the neo-conservative belts in the USA. The generation who had made those sign boards possible and acceptable at that time may still be alive and kicking their butts off.
‘Yes we can’ was the outcry of millions of supporters, most of whom were first time voters in their 20’s and 30’s. True democracy was in full display in the USA and the whole world was watching with awe, this silent revolution taking place in USA. The inspiring speeches which Obama was making all over USA were heart warming and full of passion. A breath of fresh air was blowing all over the USA and through the electronic media to the whole world. This was American democracy’s finest hour after the gloom and doom of Bush’s eight years in the White House of for that matter the eagle eyed Vice President Dick Cheney’s.
The euphoria of 2008 and the presidential inauguration of Jan. 2009 is now all behind us. Mr. Obama is completing his first year in office this month. He has already addressed the Muslim Parliaments of Turkey and Egypt, lived for sometime in Indonesia and Pakistan and wants to talk to Iran to sort their matters of friction diplomatically instead of arm twisting. He has also received his Noble Peace Prize for 2009 for his International De-nuclearization policy. How are we, sitting in the front line State of the ‘ War on Terror’ policy of the USA to look back at his first year in office? What difference has it made for us after the ill-fated 8 years of Bush-Dick Cheney misrule? For that matter, has the international Muslim voice been given a patient hearing in the White House in this first Obama year?
We in Pakistan, time and again, lament our Establishment, a queer animal, or whatever it stands for. But what about the American Establishment? The two main pillars of the American Establishment are the Pentagon (Defense Ministry) and the State Department (Foreign Ministry). The Bush-Cheney combine had made the State Department redundant and transferred most of its role to the Pentagon. Mr. Collin Powel, one of the most respected of the Bush team who headed the State department for the first Bush term was so embarrassed to be side-lined that he opted out in his second term and re-emerged from oblivion again in 2008 election year in support of Obama’s candidature. The Pentagon could not be tamed by Mr. Obama in his first year in office. Bringing Mrs. Hillary Clinton hpw in the State Department may have given some respite to Mr. Obama but the Military-Industrial nexus of the Pentagon was too hot to be handled by the incumbent White House and State Department. With the result that Pentagon has re-asserted itself and has got its annual budget raised to an obnoxious level of more than 1000 billion dollars during the current financial year, whereas the State Department’s budget remains only one-tenth of it. Mr. Obama ought to put his money where his mouth is. Some of us who grew up while looking at the largesse of Uncle Sam’s Posters in the developing world wearing a big black hat doling out help for the poor (State Department’s Campaign) would now see postures of strange looking American Generals (Pentagon’s programme) dishing out weapons and money to fight their Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. etc.
The Obama we saw during the election campaign of 2008 should not be lost to the USA and the world. ‘Yes we can change the world’, the cliché on which the young American voters regardless of their colour or creed, religion or caste, came out for the first time to cast their votes should not be disappointed. I can still feel the passion of joy in their eyes and faces when they realized that their votes had won them their desired President of the USA. They had all come in droves to make the difference for re-invigorating a good image of America world wide rather than the existing controversial one.
The first year may have been difficult for Mr. Obama to put the queer animal (Establishment) at its right place but unless he catches the bull (one of the most queer animals of all) by its horns in the year 2010, he may have lost his case forever and would join the ranks of Mr. Jimmy Carter as a very able one term Democratic President. Mr. Carter took on the challenge of the Military- Industrial Complex during his first term in office and could not win his second. Mr. Obama may like to take a lesson or two from Mr. Carter for his survival. Carter’s four years in office would always be revered in American history as an even handed world leader. Mr. Barak Obama may be fortunate to have both Mr. Carter and Mr. Clinton at his side as both had tried to tame this animal (Establishment).
The success or failure of Mr. Obama may not be as important as the psychological impact it would have to the teaming millions of first time young American voters, brimming with confidence to bring ‘Change to America’ and the world by reposing their faith and all time support in the candidature of Mr. Barak Obama. Were they to be disappointed and their dreams shattered, it would tantamount to psychosis of a whole young, bright, dynamic American generation. I for one, shudder to think of its long term consequences, apart from unleashing the queer American animal (Establishment) to devour the rest of the world in the short term. My prayers would always be with Mr. Obama to let that not happen. May God make him successful for eight long years to wash away the sins of the previous ones. He may need more than our prayers.
Mansoor Malik has been Founding Director General of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) with over 33 year of experience in planning, establishing and managing national level, strategic, high-tech organizations. Versatile with proven skills in promoting technology innovation and commercialization. Through team participation he enjoys challenging the status quo.
Besides being Commandant College of Aeronautical Engineering, he has also been associated with Aeronautical Complex Kamra at senior management level for induction of different weapon systems including F16.