Peacemaker or superpower on the retreat?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-10-15

Last Friday’s announcement that US President Barack Obama had won the coveted Nobel Peace Prize drew mixed reactions all over the world. Obama critics argued that Obama has not even accomplished anything yet so how could he deserve to win such a reward.

Even Barack Obama seems to agree with those who felt that he did not possess the achievement track record to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. In his reaction, Obama said: “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

Obama described his reaction as “surprised and humbled” upon learning that he won the award. He regarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a “call to action” to meet the global challenges of this era. The uncertainty is evident in Obama’s reaction. After all, he has not succeeded in convincing Iran and North Korea to abandon their respective nuclear programs. He also has yet to forge a final and lasting peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee explained that the Nobel Peace Prize award was in recognition of President Obama’s efforts towards nuclear disarmament and for reaching out to the Muslim world. They hailed Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Indeed, Obama had managed in less than a year to reverse much of the bad image that George W. Bush created for the United States all over the world. The Iraq War misadventure and unilateral policies of the Bush administration caused severe irritation even among US allies. That infamous and arrogant Bush line of “you are either with us or against us” best characterized that unpopular doctrine.

Obama’s earlier speeches in Cairo and Moscow characterized the reversal of the Bush doctrine. Where Bush sounded as if Muslims were potential US enemies, Obama was conciliatory in his Cairo speech and promoted an era of confidence building between Muslims and Christian nations. Where Bush acted as if the US was engaged in another Cold War with Russia, Obama offered the olive branch in Moscow to a Russia that has been alarmed by US plans to install missiles near the Russian Eastern Europe border.

The Iraq War was received by potential US rivals Russia and China (potential because officially they are all working together these days) as the start of a dangerous US move to corner the big oil supplies of Iraq. They also sensed that the US has plans to take over the big oil fields of Iran.

Russia and China saw through the “fighting terror” US smokescreen. They knew that Saddam Hussein was not linked to Al Qaeda and that the Iraq invasion was all about oil. To be more specific, the Iraq War was all about the US concern over the dwindling supply of oil.

The Russians and the Chinese also read the charges being leveled by the US against Iran as a US ploy to justify an Iran invasion similar to that of Iraq in order to corner the oil of Iran. Iraq and Iran are known to have the second and third biggest oil reserves in the world. The Bush Iraq invasion actually backfired on the US as it succeeded to forge a renewed alliance between Russia and China which Iran joined.

The top CIA Middle East expert Robert Baer described Iran as a dominant regional superpower. In a July 21, 2008 BBC Hardtalk interview, Baer expressed reservations about a US-Iran War. He said that Iran will not be a pushover like Iraq and that he is not sure if the US can absorb the potential troop and war materiel losses.

With just 4,000 casualties, the US wanted to leave Iraq. Now, Obama is sending signals that he is rethinking the war in Afghanistan. If the US invaded Iran, they can expect losses in the tens of thousands. Are you surprised that the US is now suddenly reverting to a soft approach with regards the Iran nuclear program?

When the US invaded Iraq, they did not have this recession plaguing their economy. The economic factor cannot be belittled if an Iran War is to be contemplated. Already, China is moving towards shifting to another currency for its trade transactions — something which can be considered a coup de grace for the US dollar and the US economy.

With Russia and China supporting Iran, US oil shipments from the Middle East can be prevented if the Iranians decide to blockade the Strait of Hormuz. All Middle East oil shipments have to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. The US economy will grind to a halt.

In like manner, in the event of a US-China War, the US is thinking of curtailing China’s oil shipments through their planned military operations in Southern Palawan. Why do you think Palawan, which the MNLF or the MILF had never claimed, was made part of the aborted BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity)?

Thus, we pose the question — is Obama truly a peacemaker or the leader of a superpower nation that is now forced by hard realities to be on the retreat?

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