Monday, June 06, 2011

The Osama-ish trend...

Hi friends

There was a clerihew that I had penned before the 2008 US Presidential Election, which went as follows:

Soon President Bush will vacate the seat
He's gonna let someone else take on the heat
The media still whines “Who'll it be - McCain or Obama?”
But the bigger question is – “Where on earth is Osama?”

I guess the latest hot-news is that Osama is no more on planet Earth, having been shot to death by a helicopter-borne assault by US special forces on a closely guarded compound in Abbottabad, 30 miles north-east of Islamabad, If this news is indeed true (I am not a non-believer, just that I am miffed by the secrecy involved), Osama must be in Paradise right now, in the company of 72 virgins, having a good laugh at everyone on Earth. After all, it took the entire might of the American Army more than 12 years (since 1998) to capture the one man who was responsible for dividing the world into two fronts, something that has not happened since the Cold War, with the world being “either with the United States of America, or with the terrorists”, as so famously proclaimed by Dubya in his address to the Joint Session of Congress and the American People shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

When my friend told me of this latest development in the decade-long “War on Terror”, I was not surprised or shocked even one bit. In fact, I was expecting an announcement of this magnitude to be made sometime before the end of 2011. After all, times are tough for the Democrat-President in the White House, with a Republican Majority in both Senate and the Congress. The incumbent needed to show that he’s making strides in the “War on Terror”, and the end of combat operations in Iraq was a significant step in fulfilling his promises in an area that the Republicans always consider Obama to be a bit soft on (Military operations / Wars / Terrorism). They needed a PR Coup, and they got one in the death of Osama. Beautiful Timing indeed J

"My mission of getting elected will surely be
accomplished,  you suckers!" (Courtesy: AP)
The previous President Dubya had made a similar coup exactly 8 years before Osama’s death. On May 1st, 2003, Bush announced the end of all major US combat operations in Iraq. Although this so-called “Mission Accomplished” speech was a PR failure in one way (as the Iraqi insurgent operations intensified later on, and that the image of Bush making the speech under the “Mission Accomplished” banner was criticized by many), it was one of the few turning points that Bush had in his bid to have another 4 years in the White House. It worked well, and we all know the results.

I think it’s not uncommon for Presidents to do something unusual in the middle of their first terms in office. After all, the Presidential race starts early, and the President wants to remain in the good books of the Public. I happened to look at the last four presidencies, and found the following “anomalies” (if I may call them so) in the middle of their first-terms as President. (Source: Wikipedia)

1. Bill Clinton: In a rare move, Clinton convened Congress to ratify the trade agreement in the winter of 1994, during which the treaty was approved. As part of the GATT agreement, a new international trade body, the World Trade Organization (WTO), replaced GATT in 1995.

Why: International Relations – perhaps he wanted to show himself as a strong leader of the Free World, who can be a unifying force too. Image building I guess. After al, he was one of the youngest Presidents to take over the office, and he might have wanted to prove a point or two to some of his detractors.

2. George Bush Sr.: As the unemployment rate edged upward in 1991, Bush signed a bill providing additional benefits for unemployed workers. By his second year in office, Bush was told by his economic advisors to stop dealing with the economy, as they believed that he had done everything necessary to ensure his reelection.

Why: First-term President, unpopular Iraq-Kuwait war, economic crisis.

3. Ronald Reagan: Two radical decisions taken:

(a) In 1982, Reagan signed legislation reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another 25 years, even though he had opposed such an extension during the 1980 campaign. This extension added protections for blind, disabled, and illiterate voters.

(b) The invasion of the Caribbean island Grenada in 1983, ordered by President Reagan, was the first major foreign event of the administration, as well as the first major operation conducted by the military since the Vietnam War. President Reagan justified the invasion by stating that the cooperation of the island with communist Cuba posed a threat to the United States, and stated the invasion was a response to the illegal overthrow and execution of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop by communist rebels.

Why: Actor-turned politician. Wanted to prove himself to his tremendous support-base. Support for minorities shown through the bill. Wanted to have a dramatic invasion, even if it meant invading a small country like Grenada – using Cuba / Communism as the reason.

4. Jimmy Carter: His administration was short-lived, however he did make some major dents as the President.

(a) On March 26, 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in Washington, D.C. Carter's role in getting the treaty was so essential that the mantra for all parties involved was “no Carter, no peace treaty”.

(b) In the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations dated January 1, 1979, the United States transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The U.S. reiterated the Shanghai Communiqué's acknowledgment of the Chinese position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. Yet, the U.S. unofficially recognized Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act.

(c) On July 15, 1979, Carter gave a nationally-televised address in which he identified what he believed to be a “crisis of confidence” among the American people. This came to be known as his “malaise” speech, although the word never appeared in it. Though it is often said to have been ill-received, The New York Times ran the headline “Speech Lifts Carter Rating to 37%; Public Agrees on Confidence Crisis; Responsive Chord Struck” later that week.

Why: Israel has always been a factor in every US Presidential election. China (PRC) was a growing threat, but US recognized the need top go with the winning side. Speeches have always been used to stir public confidence and Carter gave more and more of the same. I agree Carter did not make as many radical decisions as the others did, but it does show that US Presidents tend to act more politically in their first term than they would have in their second term.

Hope this was informative. Till next time.


BRAT said...

Ah! u back to what u r best at?

IIM ka Sarkari Babu said...

Well, American Politics never ceases to amaze me :)