It seems that US President Barack Obama believes in the famous adage of former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt which is “speak softly and carry a big stick and you will go far.” This is what Obama has been doing so far.
Those monitoring Obama since he took office in the White House will have noticed that the man has come with a different rhetoric than his predecessor Bush; a calmer rhetoric. However politics is not public relations but rather the language of interests, and ultimately it is up to Obama to serve the interests of his country. It is clear that Obama has been able to calmly and diplomatically achieve most of what Bush wanted to achieve but was unable to, whether this is with regards to terrorism, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or even Syria. Bush utilized commanding, emotional, or threatening rhetoric, while in stark contrast to this and according to Arab officials, the Obama administrations listens more than it talks.
Obama has been able – after Iran rejected the opportunity of Washington’s outstretched hand – to begin building an international position against Tehran with a view to drafting a UN resolution to impose new sanctions on Tehran. And so we see Hillary Clinton undertaking what is almost an election campaign in order to mobilize the international community against Iran, while her under-secretary William Burns travels between capitals in order to reach an agreement on the wording of the sanctions resolution. It is sufficient here to recall Washington’s success in drawing Russia to its side against Iran, and it seems that China will soon join them. Observers will also have also noticed Washington’s generals roaming the region and utilizing radical rhetoric in order to warn against Iran, and the US ambassador to Iraq utilized unyieldingly stated that “Iran has malevolent interests.” All of this escalation against Iran comes at a time that Washington is opening up to Syria, and this is something that is in complete contrast to the previous position of the Bush administration.
With regards to confronting terrorism, Obama’s administration has been able to, according to Roosevelt’s maxim “speak softly, and carry a big stick” and it has achieved a clear success in imposing control with regards to Pakistani cooperation with Washington against the Taliban, and this is not to mention the large-scale Moshtarak operation [in Afghanistan]. The Obama administration has also achieve what it describes as a “serious blow” to the Taliban by arresting its second most senior figure Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader, whose arrest represents a turning point in Washington’s fight against the Taliban which has been taking place for almost 8 years. In addition to this, there have also been a dozen other arrests of Taliban leadership figures, and so the cooperation between the US and Pakistan has become highly effective. This came after threats and US promises to provide Pakistan with military and financial assistance, as well as help in easing Pakistani tensions with India, on the condition that Pakistan not use extremists to achieve its political goals. The same applies to Somalia and Yemen with regards to Al Qaeda, and the Obama administration has also sanctioned more attacks against Al Qaeda than the Bus administration did during its final years.
However there is another challenge facing Obama, from the Arab viewpoint, and that is the peace process. Is Obama showing a different side of himself on this issue? Will we return to the argument that peace will only be achieved through Iran i.e. after Iran has achieved military parity, especially since peace in our region only occurs after large-scale clashes?
This is a question that there is still no answer to!