By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
January 20, 2009
Updated: January 21, 2009
For the past five hundred years, the world has been under the sway of what Dr. Ivan Van Sertima has called the “five hundred year curtain.”
This European foreign policy curtain has manifested itself in the 1655 Britain’s global master-plan/code-word under the rubric of the “Great Western Design” as enunciated by Oliver Cromwell.
In the 1850s, the French championed “La mission civilisatrice” and “Liberty, Justice and Fraternity” as an integral part of their global strategy.
In the 1920s, American President Woodrow Wilson pursued a foreign policy master-plan that sought “to make the world safe for democracy” a la Pax Americana.
On 14 August 1940, the “Atlantic Charter” was signed between American President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by which they both agreed to “respect the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live … the restoration of the sovereignty (and) self-government of the States and nations of Europe now under Nazi yoke.”
Between 1945 and 1989, there was a global ideological war between Eastern Europe (Soviet Union) and Western Europe (United States) or communism versus capitalism under the banner of the Cold War.
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan brandished his global anti-communist sword with the Soviet Union viewed as the “evil empire.”
In August 1990, US President George Bush, Sr. announced his global foreign policy master-plan titled the “New World Order.” President Bush not only asserted that “America is a European nation” but also declared that “our doctrine need no longer be containing a military aggressive Soviet Union. It means a united Europe. It means a Europe without as many artificial boundaries.”
And for the past eight years, former President George Bush, Jr. has pursued foreign policy strategies termed “Globalization” and “War on Terrorism.”
What is being suggested here is that while the past 20th century marked the era of global foreign policy initiatives which resulted in Isfet, that is, imbalance, chaos, disorder, disharmony, wars and “rumors of wars”, today’s 21st century initiatives must, by definition, be different.
Indeed, one must be cognizant of the stark reality that the United States has not only replaced all those major 15th-20th century European global powers, but also, the United States, as of this writing, is the last and solely standing European global power.
Ergo, at the dawn of the 21st century and with a new American leadership taking office in January 2009, then, the seeds of a new age are now being sewn. This 21st century represents the “Age of Aquarius”—the Age of Change. Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that Barack Obama ran and won the US presidency on the theme of “Change”—“Yes, we can.”
As such, in the “Age of Aquarius” one has to speak in terms of 21st century geo-politics, rather than global foreign policy of the 20th century.
On 20th January 2009, Barack Obama not only became the 44th President of the United States of America, but, most importantly, he automatically became the geo-political leader of the world. Now is the time for him to set the geo-political tone/agenda for the next century. This new geo-political agenda should be such that America will not be judged by the extent/fear/might of its military but rather by the depth/range/hope of its humanity—“Yes, we can.”
Furthermore, this new geo-political agenda should fall under the rubric of: Changing the world for a better humanity. The DNA of such a strategy should be the achievement of human perfectibility around the world. This new geo-political agenda should be guided by the seven principles of Ma’at, namely, Truth, Justice, Balance, Order, Compassion, Harmony and Reciprocity.
Thus, the obvious geo-political question becomes: Ask not what the world can do for you, but, rather, what we all can and must do to make this world a better place in the name of our humanity?…”Yes, we can.”
As the geo-political leader of the world, President Barack Obama must posit the United States of America as a functioning, integral part of the international community and not continue to position America apart from international reality.
This new agenda of geo-politics must be all-inclusive and not all-exclusive, albeit unilateral. Its global embrace must include all of the world’s governments— friends or foes.
In addition, as the anointed geo-political leader of the world, President Barack Obama must use this power position not to control or re-colonize people but to change people’s lives; he must use this power to empower people, to give them a new lease on life, to imbue in them the “Audacity of Hope”; he must use this new God-given geo-political power not only to lift people up from their bootstraps but also to equip them with the vital human tools and necessities of life to tie their own shoes and the shoes of others; President Obama must use this power to cultivate in people the desire to serve humanity and thereby change the world—“Yes, we can.”
It is at this crucial and specific 21st century geo-political juncture that President Barack Obama needs to be cognizant of and be guided by the apocalyptic admonitions of slain Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” and “Now that the judgement of God is upon us, we must learn to live as brothers or we are going to perish together as fools.”
In the final analysis, there is an adage that says: “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” However, in this specific 21st century geo-political era, the United States as the last European global power will, indeed, be the first European global power to bring humanity to the world under the geo-political leadership of President Barack Obama.
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is Professor Emeritus, Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University.
8 thoughts on “Geo-political aspects of Obama’s presidency”
Thanks for your insight and forecast. I have been reading your columns for the past month or so. How do I get to dialogue directly with the Dr.? I share citizenship with him but has been living in the eastern United States of America for the past two decades. I have been a student of Pan African ism and other researchers / writers on the issues pertaining to us Akebulanders. The period of preparation is complete. I need your input as We move forward. Scientific socialization combined with corporate democracy seems to be the wave of the future. Looking with great anticipation to response / dialogue. Keep up the great work. We appreciate you.
Excellent article Dr. Nantambu. The US has certainly squandered the opportunities for prudent global leadership beginning at ” The end of history,” as described by Professor Francis Fukuyama. http://www.wesjones.com/eoh.htm
No where was this void most noticeable than within the confines of global power that constitute the Security Council /United Nations. One can only be optimistic in believing that a new era has dawned where its ideals of ‘global peace, security and economic prosperity for all’ , will be more than mere empty words.
The wonderful inauguration ceremony to swear in the 44th President , and performed at a location that was chiefly built freely on the backs of African slaves, certainly set the tone. Let’s get moving T&T and make your presence felt.
No more can our PM feign outrage at big brother USA for not stepping up to the plate to help true , supportive, English speaking allies such as T&T on matters of pressing security and economic development.
FULL TRANSCRIPT: President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
President Barack Obama Delivers Inaugural Address at US Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Jan. 20, 2009
Full transcript as prepared for delivery of President Barack Obama’s inaugural remarks on Jan. 20, 2009, at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.
They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
President Obama has four years to tackle some very serious issues concerning the United States alone. The citizens of the United States will not reelect him if at the end of these four years the economy is bad and they are still facing job loss and foreclosure coupled with an even larger supersized deficit. The United States has been Nation building for far too long while big business benefitted. Now The United States has to rebuild its nation. If U.S. citizens feel that too much is being done to help others and not they there could be resurgences of divisive Patriotism throughout the U.S. that would be bad for all. We will see.
Dont be so glum chum!!!
“Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet…Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many…They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”
For the most part the now U.S. President is fully aware of his position and the tasks ahead of him. Going on faith, I think he’ll do well even if conditions may very well be against him. We will see.
many of us are still on a political high since the election.however,my main concern is the violence among the world’s youth.the caribbean central & south america,and africa are all plauged by youth violence.
The vision illustrated by the good doctor for Obama is sound, and under perfect conditions would change this world for the better. But the conditions of this world and of the US is not conducive to programs and solutions aimed for the greaest good for the greatest many. The world is in its current state because of orchestrated economic and social strategies. Strategies that allowed a few nations to grow exponentially while the vast remainder stagnated or regressed steadily.
When one examines the bahaviour of the emerging economic power houses, it is difficult to see any change in the order of operations. It is the same global economic order in which the largest and fastest growing nations plunder the resources of smaller nations. China and India are no different in their strategies and priorities than the USA and the UK, except that they did not have colonies to begin with. But wait, there is still a possibility that variance will be straightened out.
As the global order is today, those regions like Africa and South America with endless deposits of untapped resources need to use what they have as levers to enhance the growth of their peoples rather than becoming reservoirs of raw products for the new and emerging powers. For example, Nations like the Congo with the raw product that fuels information technology, and Niger with its French Owned Uranium mines without which the French economy would probably be like Afghanistan, need to ensure that their people benefit as much as those of the expatriate nations from the resources that are being dug up from under their feet. India did not allow Bill Gates to bring in American engineers to write his programs. Within that same stream of concern, those nations should not allow more foreigners to be employed in all the higher aspects of production while their people live in famine like environments. The problem with the third world, particular Africa, is that they do not transistion to the logical conclusion that since you are living in hell any way, you might as well sit on what you have rather than allowing it to elevate others to heaven.
Sorry I am sure those who are in the know KNOW that there has been a monumental fraud on the election of Obama.All his policies are not “HIS”! They are from the same forces which have been and are usurping all things into a centralisation of power and a global dictatorship.nWO
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