Sad legacy


US President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, having reached close to the end of his last term in the White House.

Obama seemed to blame everybody for the growing malaise in world and regional affairs except himself, as if he had nothing to do with the situation in many countries, either unaware of intentionally choosing to ignore the fact that things do happen due to neglect or omission.

Obama, an intelligent president who mislead the world, at least our part of the world, into believing that he will set things straight — in Iraq, in Afghanistan and, more importantly, between Palestinians and Israelis — shares the blame for international and regional woes, not only for not doing enough to end them, but for worsening some by doing the opposite of what he had promised or, in the case of Israel, awarding it for its illegal and uncivil acts as occupier of the land of another people and for scorning the patron that is its declared staunchest ally, Obama’s very country.

Obama said there is now a compelling reason to adopt a “course correction” in world affairs to stem the cycle of conflicts and suffering, failing to acknowledge that he had eight years to at least initiate such change of course, yet did little if anything at all.

If he registered some progress on the nuclear front by signing the deal the West reached with Iran on its nuclear programme or in fighting climate change by signing the Paris climate accord, when it comes to tackling the world’s growing economic inequality and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he failed critically short.

He did not contribute meaningfully to solving the raging conflict in Syria — actually the US erred seriously, squandering money and effort on a miserably failing side — alluded mildly at Russia’s imperial expansionist policy and hinted at both presidential contender Donald Trump and at some European countries by talking about the futility of nations’ building walls, when he could have taken forceful decisions on all these issues with clearly different results.

Rhetoric, even when intelligent and appealing, and wishful thinking do not solve problems. Nor does friendly persuasion in a world that only seems to understand authority.

Power must stand behind rhetoric for nations to take heed and mend their ways.

To the regret of many, Obama leaves the world in more chaos and shambles, a sad legacy from a president much of the world put great faith in.

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