Barack Speaks to the United Nations
Pondering the Future
Barack Obama Imagines A New World
In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly President Obama unveiled his hopes and dreams for a new world order. It was a dream firmly rooted in both the ethical imperatives commanded by the world’s greatest religions – that we are our brothers keeper and do unto others as we would do unto ourselves – and the finest ideals of the American creed: All men are endowed by God with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was a wow!
This was no mean feat, for the President’s audience was divided by ideology, religion, race, ethnicity, and vast disparities of wealth and military power. Hence at times Mr. Obama resembled a man on an intellectual tight rope, as he tried to present a balanced message that spoke to the disparate interests of his audience. To meet this challenge he attempted to be even handed in his criticism and addressed issues of universal concern, the grand themes that define our times and will decide the fate of future generations; indeed whether there will even be human life on this planet in the future. Hence the question of environmental pollution and nuclear proliferation was prominent in his concerns, as well as poverty, economic development, infectious diseases, war, and international terrorism.
However, Like all American Presidents, Barack is expected to embrace certain American myths about the world; he has no choice if he wishes to survive politically. And what goes for a white President is doubly true of a black one. This means he cannot admit to the crimes and aggressions that have characterized the relationship of the western nations against the people of the Third World – Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the islands of the seas. And he surely cannot admit that America’s invasion of Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Iraq were tragic and perhaps criminal mistakes that cost the lives of millions of innocent people. Yet Mr. Obama seeks to present a different face to the world, an America that prefers diplomacy to war, an America that seeks an honest dialogue and fraternal relations rather than domination of other nation’s.
In a world where the majority of the people are colored and have suffered the humiliation of colonialism, racism and the terror of neo-colonial interventions – often on the side of murderous tyrants – Barack Obama, by virtue of his African American cultural heritage, bi-racial ancestry, Indonesian seasoning and early tutoring by an enlightened mother who was a PhD in anthropology, is uniquely qualified to lead the world in this critical period due to his exceptional insights into the human condition, and a rare understanding of our common humanity.
All of these virtues were on display in the President’s speechto the leaders of the world today. But as the President soberly reminded the assembly: Speeches alone will not bring the changes we seek, and the world desperately needs, only hard work and international cooperation will make things happen.
A cautionary Note
When the United Nations was founded at Dumbarton Oaks in 1944, another African American with a Harvard degree – a PhD in fact – attended as an observer in the peanut gallery. Back then even a man as ostentatiously brilliant as WEB Dubois would not be permitted at this august gathering because his skin was brown…about the same complexion as Barack’s.
When DuBois looked around at the countries that would form the membership of the United Nations he noted that they were all white, and they were standing on the necks of hundreds of millions of colored peoples in their colonies who greatly outnumbered them – using fascistic police state tactics to impose their will – while pillaging their natural wealth and super-exploiting their labor, and he predicted it was a world order that could not long endure. Dr. Dubois was right!
Nearly three quarters of a century later I will venture the speculation that unless the rights of the poor nation’s are given the same respect as the rights of the great nations, the present world order will become increasingly instable, because international terrorists have found a way to strike a powerful enemy country without a massive army. Only a victory in the battle for the hearts and minds of the disillusioned youths of the Third World will afford us any security.
President Obama understands this, and his speech offered a hopeful vision of how mankind can build a better world…a world where we can survive and even thrive. It was a welcome vision from an American President, especially after the eight year reign of the pugnacious American Exceptionalists in the Bush Administration! A bungling gang of third rate actors who won’t leave the stage, they are crawling out of the wood work even as I write to offer their self-serving advice. But I shall chastise them in another commentary.
Commentaries On Times
Harlem New York
September 22, 2009