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Contentions

That Famous Soft Power

In the Post of Pakistan, Shabbir Ahmad Wahgra offers a helpful peek into how Barack Obama’s ever-touted soft-power gift is actually being received in the Muslim world:

In subsequent weeks and months during his campaign Obama showed hostility towards Muslim world and it seems clear that there would not be any major foreign policy shift towards Muslim countries if Obama elected president of United States but his statements give a contrary picture for Muslim world. As on number of occasion from his nomination till latest presidential debates Obama continues to stress his willingness to send troops into sovereign Pakistani territory in pursuit of the enemy, despite much evidence that such imperious tactics are undermining the US anti-terror alliance with Islamabad and despite warnings from Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and General David McKiernan, the US in-country commander, among others, that negotiation, not escalation, will ultimately halt the violence. It’s when Obama strays into sensitive areas such as these that the charge that he is dangerously inexperienced gains traction. On the other hand, McCain is clearly prepared to take similar action inside Pakistan. He just does not talk about it. So there is no much difference in both candidates policies which shows who ever will win Muslim world will suffer with same intensity at the hands of the US.

But John Kerry, Camille Paglia, Andrew Sullivan, and Nicholas Kristof told us that if Obama becomes president, his blackness will magically be broadcast as pro-Muslim sentiment the world-over.

Wahgra points out that “[a]cross the six Muslim countries surveyed, the percentage of respondents who say the outcome of the election makes a difference to their country ranges from a high of 42 percent in Lebanon to a low of 10 percent in Pakistan,” which testifies to the absurdity of expecting some uniform Muslim reaction to a president Obama.

Most interesting are the things about Obama that Wahgra finds hopeful:

Many Muslims see new reason for hope in the political approach of Obama and his advisers. His apparent eagerness to rally more international support for US policy, and even talk to America’s “enemies”, is cause for optimism. Obama once himself stated in an interview that “There has been a shift in Islam that I believe is connected to the failures of governments and the failures of the West to work with many of these countries”. By embracing dialogue with Muslim populated countries such as Syria and Iran, and jump-starting US diplomatic efforts, Obama will open doors that have been shut – and bolted – in recent years.

So “many Muslims” are excited about suicidal policies from which Obama has been trying do distance most of the campaign. It’s not the soft power of Obama, but the softened power of the U.S., that’s got people in the region keeping their fingers crossed.


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