Voices from Lebanon: Reactions to President-Elect Barack Obama

As the excitement of November 4 wears off and reality sets in, Voices without Votes will continue to follow reactions from around the globe. Today, however, Lebanese bloggers are still buzzing over the election of new President-Elect Barack Obama. While some are excited to see Obama take office, others are apprehensive.

Land and People, in a post entitled “Yes, he can!” expresses his trepidation over Obama's election:

Liberals all over the world are celebrating the election of Barak Obama. I will not add to all that has been said or published, but my take on this is that he is the President of the United States, and not Barak Obama. That said, I would really like to hope for change. After all, Obama showed that change was possible: he himself changed from a supporter of Palestinian rights into a man who believes that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel. He also changed during his campaign from: “no Iraq war for me please, I’m trying to quit” into: “all right I’ll have some, but a tiny piece please”.

People in the Middle East are expecting to see Obama act differently from previous US president because he is darker skinned. Time will show again that the color of the skin has little to do with politics, democracy and equity. Just look at the Arab World with its home grown dictatorships.

The blogger received a number of reactions to his post. One commenter suggests we give Obama the benefit of the doubt:

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. It was a tough road to get him elected, and the biggest chunk of his campaign money came from people like me and every one else who donated in the $25 and $50. This is a lot of people and they will hold him as accountable as the corporations. This is a man who believes in and respects the US constitution. He believe in grassroots organizing and the power of the people. I did have tears. How could I not? I know more BO than I ever knew who and what our Lebanese president stands for! I cried because I got to experience real democracy and citizenship more than I ever could in Lebanon. I cried because every American child can dream of “if I were a president”, but not so for every Lebanese child. What do you say to you children? that you can have a dream because you don't belong to the correct religion?

Change and justice for the ME is not going to happen overnight, and not within few decades. It takes baby steps.

Farfahinne, a self-declared “socialist from Lebanon,” believes it's up to Americans to seize the opportunity for change. The blogger writes:

There will be many battles ahead as the expectations on Obama run into the limitations of the Democratic Party. The central question for the left in the US will be whether they can relate to the enormous hope that Obama’s election has generated among ordinary people.
The left has be part of building grassroots campaigns that can force Obama to deliver, but also build up forces in opposition to the pro-capitalist policies of both major US parties.
Obama’s election has opened up a space for the left, the working class, the anti-war movement, black people and others to push their own agendas. They have to seize this opportunity.

Lebanese Chess is happy about the election results, but also apprehensive about Obama's foreign policy:

Obama has vowed to reform the health system, vowed to be strict on Wall Street behaviour, vowed to tackle climate change.

However, what should we expect on foreign policy? Obama will no doubt return to the multi-lateral stage, consulting European allies on major decisions, and re-invest into the United Nations process.

Obama wants to talk to Russia, instead of chide it. Obama wants to talk to Syria and Iran, instead of waving a stick. Obama wants to invest in Afghanistan's economy, and he wants to commence an exit strategy from Iraq.

But will he be able to fulfil his desires?

The blogger also tackles the elephant in the room, questioning what Obama will do about AIPAC:

It is certain that in order to pursue a moderate foreign policy that mirrors US national interests, Barack Obama will have to do the unthinkable for an American president … take on AIPAC.

Jeha's Nail congratulates Obama and the American people, then leaves us with this message of caution:

In the United States, Provided he applies to the white house the same shrewd determination that he used to rise to the top, the United States will fare rather well. However, will he succumb to hubris and believe his own rhetoric, the outlook will not be so rosy; messiahs and prophets do not always fare well, and quite a few are already shopping for a cross and nails.

And, for (n+m)th time, do not sell us out

In the rest of the world, the outlook depends on their current alliance or opposition to the power of the American Imperium. They all expect either a saviour or a douche, but they will all get a shrewd president, intent on increasing his power and therefore that of his country.

So, as reality sets in, expect most election promises to be broken, and if the style changes, do not expect the actions to be dramatically altered.

They voted for a messiah, and got a mere 44th president.


  • I wrote my post (Lebanese Chess) as soon as he was elected. Since then, as I read more news, more Arab blogs, my cynicism has grown.

    He has chosen Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff, and Tzipi Livni has shot off a warning to Obama that Israel won’t be happy with any dialogue with Iran.

    Naturally, AIPAC and Israel would be hot on their heels to ensure the Star of David is wrapped around Obama’s neck before he sits on the throne. They’re not wasting anytime. It is day 1 and they have already began their campaign.

    It will take great courage for an American president to thwart such enormous pressure. I don’t see Obama as that kind of president.

    I’m not totally cynical, I do allow a small window for the wait and see approach, but it’s not a good start.

  • Antoun,

    Thanks for your comment; I’m going to leave my personal comment on your blog instead of here, hope you don’t mind!


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