2014 Man of the Year: Barack Obama

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, has so far, kept the promises he made during his first campaign for the US Presidency in 2008. Some of you may disagree. While it is not a feature of the events of 2014, Obama will be remembered in history as the man who took down Osama bin-Laden. During these uncertain times, filled with danger and daily struggles, Obama still offers hope and inspiration to his electorate, or rather to those who choose to listen, read and learn.

It will surprise some why I have chosen President Obama. Those that know me, know that I have been fairly critical of him since he began his second tumultuous term of office. I will explain why.

The people of America should know this. Their country has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the world today. For its size and population, I think that this is remarkable. This is not due to their country being the so-called richest nation on earth. The American people should know too that their nation remains the world’s most indebted nation.

Soldiers, previously loyal to the causes of unjust wars, are slowly but surely returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan and other troubled areas of the world. The infamous CIA reports are out and the oil price has plummeted. The doors to peace and prosperity have finally been opened between democratic America and communist Cuba. A young president is finally standing up to the belligerence of a president who once served his country as a spy.

Undoubtedly, Barack Hussein Obama made one of the most moving speeches which will surely be recorded in the history books when he gave a stirring eulogy in honour of our late State President, Nelson R Mandela. I was moved. He humbly proclaimed that Mr Mandela “makes me want to be a better man.” Truth be told, Madiba had inspired Obama for years already. The road to peace and prosperity with Cuba had been laid many years before, even before the slain John F Kennedy came to power. But, over the years, there had been many stumbling blocks not of Obama’s making. The journey along that road became a little easier when Mr Obama took Mr Castro’s hand at Mr Mandela’s memorial service.

And, let us not forget that not only do they lead by example, but true leaders will say sorry when mistakes have been made and offer wise counsel when it is required. Obama apologised to German Chancellor Angela Merkel when it was discovered that the CIA had spied on the Germans. As the race riots escalated across America after the tragedy of Ferguson, Obama made a point of saying that overcoming the problems of racism in America would take time, but made the point of reminding the oppressed that it will be overcome. And then Obama relaxed immigration laws, paving the way for foreigners to seek a new, peaceful and prosperous life in a challenging, but democratic society.

I remain disappointed at Obama’s continued use of drones to track down terrorists in Pakistan and other areas of the Middle East and I remain disappointed at Obama’s insistence on maintaining a strong alliance with Zionist Israel. In light of the ongoing strategy to withdraw troops from foreign lands and the conciliatory detente initiated by the president, could he yet initiate another peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian authorities, much like his predecessor, Bill Clinton had done previously? Call me naive, but in lieu of the lack of leadership around other parts of the world, Obama has still got two years left of his presidency to pull this off. Perhaps Netanyahu will lose his election in March?

There is the perception that Obama is losing his grip in the White House after the GOP reclaimed majorities in the Congress and Senate. But, think carefully for a moment, after eight, destructive years of George W Bush, it should have been 8 productive, prosperous years under Al Gore, but never mind that, which democrat, lawyer, humanist and thought leader could have done a better job?

After becoming the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, Barack Obama wrote his Dreams from My Father, an autobiographical account of “race and inheritance”. It was published by Times Books in 1995. After Obama became a Senator in Washington DC, this book was re-published by Crown Publishers and Canongate.

The thoughtful president to be was not finished writing yet. Launching his first presidential campaign he penned “thoughts on reclaiming the American dream” in The Audacity of Hope. It was published by Vintage Books in 2008.

 

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