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Will President Obama Admit Shortcomings In Farewell Speech? – OpEd

United States President Barack Obama. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/ReleasedFile photo of United States President Barack Obama. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/Released

When President Barack Obama celebrated his election as US President eight years ago by making a speech of high promise in front of a huge crowd in Chicago, the US and the world was led to believe that he would emerge as a President who will be remembered just like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.

When President Obama deliver his farewell speech on January 10 before almost the same crowd that he addressed eight years back in Chicago, people will inevitably introspect on what he promised eight years back in Chicago and what he has achieved now. It appears that a feeling of disappointment would be inevitable.

Premature Nobel peace prize

When President Obama assumed office in the first term, he was awarded a Nobel Prize for world peace even before he could show any initiative of far reaching significance towards world harmony. Many were surprised when President Obama was conferred with the Nobel prize and they were even more surprised when President Obama readily accepted the Nobel Prize, with no tangible achievements to claim towards the cause of world peace. Certainly, President Obama lost a bit of shine while receiving the Nobel peace prize.

Not different from other Presidents in foreign relations

In shaping the relations with other countries, just like other past US presidents, President Obama was more concerned about the US interests than the fairness of the policy.

This approach may not be wrong for a US President, but Mr. Obama’s claim as an advocate of world peace fell flat, considering his approach to several issues, the most recent being in the case of Syria, where the US has almost openly aided and supported the rebels in a variety of ways including by providing arms and ammunition. Thousands of lives have been lost in Syria due to the conflict in recent period.

President Obama has not been able to handle the Islamic State terrorists or bring peace and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan where the USA intervened earlier to protect its interests, rather than the interests of Iraq and Afghanistan. As far as the US involvement in these two countries are concerned, the situation today is almost similar to the one that prevailed when President Obama assumed office eight years back.

At the end of the term, particularly during the recent presidential election, President Obama accused Russia of playing a role in hacking and attempting to influence the presidential poll. Some people think that President Obama’s recent sanctions against Russia were ill-conceived and a case of over-reaction. It appears that President-elect Trump will take a second look at President Obama’s handling of Russia.

Racial conflicts

The unfortunate development during President Obama’s term is the increased racial attacks in US and the suspicions and misgivings that have developed between the blacks and the whites.

President Obama could not contribute effectively to create a feeling of harmony and amity in this context. On the other hand, during the recent Presidential election, he even asked Blacks Americans to be conscious of their problems and race and appealed to them not to vote for Mr. Trump. This certainly harmed President Obama’s image as a person with statesman-like attributes.

Unfair treatment to the Dalai Lama

When President Obama received the venerable the Dalai Lama through the back door in his White House recently, to ensure that China would not be displeased, many started doubting President Obama’s courage of conviction.


About the Author

N. S. Venkataraman
N. S. Venkataraman
N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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