By Jane West
The re-election of Obama as US President rather than a right-wing creationist Republican in hock to the Tea Party movement has naturally pleased progressive opinion in the West.
But the truth is, whichever candidate had won there would be little change, and the indifference to the result reported on the streets of Islamabad, and the coolness of response in China, are a far more accurate response.
‘With or without an Obama presidency, US policies in our region will remain the same. The US will continue using drones to target our innocent people’, Sameer Khan, a school teacher in Islamabad told the FT.
The drone attacks on Western Pakistan – which have taken a fierce toll in civilian lives – will continue.
The failure to pressure Israel to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians and its other neighbours will continue. Provocations from Netanyahu to call Obama’s bluff on the issue of settlements will likely persist.
The sabre-rattling on Iran will go on, with tighter sanctions and even military action more likely now the election is over.
The ‘pivot to the Pacific’ with its aim of encircling China and whipping up regional discord was invented by Obama and will be stepped up. As will the regular threats of trade wars and economic boycotts of China’s producers, as well as actions like the ban on contracts with Huawei and ZTE (two major Chinese telecoms companies) on the alleged ground of ‘security risks’.
In Latin America the hostility to the leftward advance across the continent will be maintained and as in Honduras, if a right-wing, pro-Western coup can be engineered, then the US will be behind it.
Guantanamo Bay military prison camp for America’s victims and enemies world-wide will remain open. So-called ‘terrorist’ suspects alongside computer hackers, and whistleblowers – like Bradley Manning, Talha Ahsan, and Babar Ahmed – will be held in conditions of semi-torture in ‘supermax’ prisons. The US state agencies will both openly and covertly continue their pursuit of Julian Assange to demonstrate that you can’t expose their secrets and get away with it.
Internally, the deal on the economy that will be done between a Democrat Senate and Republican House will be virtually the same as that Romney would have done – continuation of some tax breaks and of some government spending programmes. Not enough to make a difference to the dire state of the US economy, no new relief for the poorest, and no new steps against dramatically rising inequality.
Obama’s lacklustre campaign precisely reflected how little he actually has to offer the American people – or the people of the world.
Of course, on many social issues Obama is more progressive. On gay marriage, abortion rights, equal rights and racism, Christian fundamentalism and creationism, Koran burning and insulting the Prophet, a clearer and better view will come from this President rather than the alternative. This is why exit polls show Obama won 55 per cent of women voters, 93 per cent of African American voters, 71 per cent of Latino voters and 73 per cent of Asian voters.
But with the world economy in crisis and working people being forced to pay the price, while billions are wasted on wars and bombings, a better choice than that was needed.