Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No You Can't

I had a few Australian friends express delight at today's US election result, and a string of celebratory status updates from all my friends on Facebook, but I just can't get that enthusiastic. Sure Obama will be an improvement on Bush and a better choice than McCain, but I'm not convinced that election results have much of an impact.

In this case I'm particularly cynical, because even before it begins there are so many obvious ways for Obama's presidency to fail:
  • He'll have to deal with a nasty recession and the US' relative decline. These tough times will be a particular problem for Obama, as his supporters have high expectations that everything will improve and won't be prepared for a year or two of deterioration.
  • Obama didn't adjust any of his programs or give any hint that things would have to be different when US finances took a remarkable turn for the worse 6 weeks ago. Now he'll have to break a whole host of election promises and lose all credibility and influence in his first few months.
  • Obama promises to step up the war in Afghanistan, which has disaster written all over it. What's the strategic objective there? Transforming the society to be more pro-Western looks even less likely than in Iraq. Maybe the US wants to prop up the friendly Tajik/Uzbek/Hazara government against the Pushtuns, but that government will never control the country if it still needs American assistance after 7 years. The US would be better off withdrawing now before sinking deeper into another hopeless quagmire.

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