Par Marcel Duret
Submitted to AlterPresse
Why should I write? Well! It has been more than three months since the subject matter has been tormenting me yet every day I postpone it for tomorrow. Why confess to the general public this extraordinary and painful disappointment that I feel for someone whom I still cultivate much esteem, respect and admiration? I do not want to strengthen the arguments of his detractors who too often criticize him and want him to fail simply because the color of his skin. Do I have enough arguments in support of the reasons for this deception? Was I expecting too much of the first black President of the United States? Would the American establishment, controlled by whites, have allowed him to succeed?
First of all, why in 2007 was I so elated by the possibility that a black man could become President of the United States while I’m not a U.S. citizen? But I’m not the only one. The world gave “thumbs up” to the idea that this handsome, charismatic, intelligent black man would become the president not only of the United States but the whole world. Never in the history of world politics had a man become so popular in such a short time while he is neither an artist, neither an athlete, nor the Pope. “OBAMANIA” has touched the farthest corners of the world. To think of it, this is the biggest waste of branding in the history of global marketing. The United States of America has not capitalized on this unique phenomenon for the promotion of a different image of their country in the world. What a mess! The globalization of the American doctrine is missed. It was the perfect opportunity to promote democracy, capitalism and the free market - American culture in all its facets including those of different ethnic groups that make it a "melting pot". Imagine the effect it would make in that community around the world, although adulterated in some cases, what can be found in the heart of the United States! Marketers must be rubbing their hands. Why didn’t the biggest worldwide marketing firms that abound in the United States seize the opportunity? I am sure that like me, readers of this article have their own hypothesis.
I must admit that I thought of benefiting financially from the situation. Indeed, I imagined a ’global multilingual Blog’ where all the bloggers of the world could post texts about Obama in different languages and which would be translated simultaneously. That was before Obama had won the election and very few people around me thought he would succeed. Some even believed that I had lost my mind.
To answer the question why, as a Haitian, I was so happy that a black man could become the most powerful man in the world and the leader of the world’s superpower, The United States of America:
To have lived in the United States in the South, I suffered from racism, which was and is still rampant. Any individual who comes to the United States whatever their origin will develop, after 3 to 6 months, the habit of identifying everyone by race: white, Hispanic, black, Asian etc. with an attitude depending on this racial identification. An anecdote that I remember strongly after more than 40 years since I went to a university exclusively for blacks: A black university student was in my car and I was listening to the radio. I was listening to a station with the call letters "KYND”. It is a station that plays sweet music, "musac" as it is called. She was surprised and told me with an almost threatening tone, "Don’t listen to this station; it is a station for whites”. I was really shocked.
Then I told myself that the advent of President Obama becoming the President of the United States would be a source of inspiration for blacks in the United States whose self-esteem would be strengthened because President Obama would be their model:
I thought it would be a good thing for the African continent as a whole;
All countries in the world where racism still persists would benefit;
I must admit that I was not expecting that Obama could cause drastic changes in the internal system of the United States. It is a well-honed system and jealously protected by a conservative establishment;
On a more selfish note, I was certain that the first black President of the United States would give special attention to the first black Republic of the new world. With his help, I was dreaming that Haiti would finally be put on track of economic and social development;
But, as a former Ambassador and given the discretion enjoyed by a President of the United States foreign policy, I was convinced that American foreign policy would undergo revolutionary make-up under the government of President Obama.
His statements during the election campaign in 2007 were very reassuring:
Question to then Presidential Candidate Obama: Would you be willing, during your first year of administration, meeting separately, in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere and without preconditions, the leaders of the Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, with the aim of strengthening links between the United States and these countries?
Answer from Presidential Candidate Obama: “I would do it. The reason is, that not talking to countries is to punish them and that this refers to a ridiculous principle that has guided this [Bush] administration. "(CNN/YouTube Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Charleston, SC, 7/23/07).
President Obama also said: "of course, nothing has changed in respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents should talk to their enemies and must speak to their opponents. I find many odious statements of President Ahmadinejad and I said it repeatedly. And I think that we recognize that there are many rogue States in the world who do not have American interests at heart. But what I also believe, as John F. Kennedy, said ’we should never negotiate in fear, but we should never be afraid to negotiate’."
This was a statement that was strongly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats. It was probably the most important statement made by a prominent figure in American politics. Therefore, I expected a total overall of American foreign policy.
During the first term of President Obama, most diplomats thought that only after he was re-elected would we discover the real Hussein Barack Obama. Almost all diplomats and intellectuals of the world would have bet anything that in the wake of the Obama inauguration for his second term he would have resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba. Indeed it would have been a symbolic gesture in the world indicating a new era of American foreign policy.
What finally prompted me to write this article is the shocking news of the renewal for one year of the embargo on Cuba by President Obama on September 5th. Unthinkable! It was a shock for me while I was going to write another article on Cuban relations that I wanted to title: "The Cuban connection to world peace”. Although I don’t have all the data, I think this is the biggest mistake that Obama has made. Indeed, I am convinced that diplomatic relations with Cuba are the gateway to a new era of peace in the world.
For a long time I imagined a caravan composed of Secretary of State Kerry and other officers of the Department of State, in what capacity I don’t know, but I would be a member of this delegation that would go to Cuba to prepare for the arrival of President Obama for the signing of a Treaty of Peace and non-aggression with the Cuban authorities. All former or current diplomats dream to participate in diplomatic missions that could result in changes for the better on the international political scene, changes towards a lasting peace for all the inhabitants of the planet Earth.
I also imagined that President Obama would meet with the icon of the icons of world politics: Mr. Fidel Castro before his death. The photo of the century could be Obama and Fidel, but I could be wrong. If Latin America and the Caribbean youth have lived the Cuban revolution as their own and have dreamed that a similar can take place in their respective countries; if Fidel and Che were and remain idols for a whole generation of Latin America and the Caribbean, one cannot say the same for the North American youth who have received a systematic and anti-Communism brainwash. Fidel is not of the same generation as Obama and is not among those Obama would consider as idols. Evidence of a gap between two generations as well as a difference in culture can obstruct peace in the world.
Still I dream that the first station of the caravan of peace must stop in Cuba and then accompanied by Fidel and/or Raul, this caravan will stop in Caracas, Venezuela. After this ‘Advance Team’, President Obama would follow.
After Venezuela it would be Iran’s turn. Raul/Fidel would serve as introducer and facilitator. This step is perhaps the most important of all. Indeed, peace in the Middle East involves first of all a peace or Treaty of non-aggression between Iran and the United States of America. Whether it’s Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israeli-Palestinian relations, no peace is possible without the participation of Iran at all levels of the negotiations. Respect the culture of the various countries of the area would be a ‘sine qua non’ condition of this peace treaty. The leaders of Israel, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon would be co-signatories.
Finally, the caravan of peace would land in North Korea. It would be joined by representatives of Japan, South Korea and mainland China. What an event to see the leaders of Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Mainland China and the United States of America in the same photograph together!
Mr. President Obama,
You have only one year and three months remaining as the head of the greatest power in the world. You are able to reverse the course of things in the world. Please concentrate your effort to declare war against war, to announce firmly that a third world war will not take place on your watch.
Forward! Time is of the essence, but there is still time for you to lead the charge for world peace. It is still within your reach. The whole world will be grateful.
Thank you President Obama.
* Former Ambassador of Haiti in Tokyo, Japan