There can be no denying the fact that President Obama is leading America away from war and cowboy combative stance to a more pacifist and diplomatic conduct of global affairs. President Obama rode on the back of battle-weary Americans to the White House. His predecessor had pursued Alqueda to Afghanistan and got embroiled in a physical combat they could never win, depending of course on the definition of victory in this matter. Is it when Alqueda surrenders or when their key leaders are killed or when the rebels are driven out of the critical Afghanistan territory. Looking for whom to hit as immediate retaliation of the humiliation of America by Alqueda terrorists who invaded the 'all powerful' America' on the 11th of September,2001,President Bush went after Saddam Hussein and Iraq. America visited its fury on Iraq as a 'wounded' lion.
May be it would have been wise for America to have departed after the fall of Sadam. But they stayed behind possibly to recoup their investment in the liberation of Iraq from Sadam or to stabilise and secure Iraq as a new democratic Nation.
Perhaps they made initial progress on both scores but thereafter, Iraq became virtually ungovernable, the way Libya is turning to or should I say has turned to. I guess that America feared that what is happening in Libya today would happen to Iraq if they did not stabilise the Nation and set up a democratic government. But it cost America so much in human lives and in other resources. No body today knows what Libya will be, but it is in a really terrible shape. To have liberated Libya from Qhadafi and then walked away as America and their Allies did, ostensibly to prevent the Iraqi experience and pander to domestic public opinion has exposed Libya to greater danger and soon, the ordinary Libyan to whom Life has become brutish and short under the reign of unregulated militia groups, may begin to question the rationale for the liberation and perhaps begin to wish for life under Muamar Ghadafi. This is a paradox and a dilemma .
President Obama promised to bring the troops home from Iraq and he has done so and has reduced the forces in Afghanistan and threatens to take all home in 2014 if Kezai does not sign soon the Security treaty that will keep some American and other NATO forces back to support Afghanistan security forces for a few more years. Recently he had been tempted from home and Abroad to undertake a military salvage operation in Syria. The Pressure and temptation were so fierce but he mustered every effort to resist. To force his hand, some people conspired to use chemical weapon against Civilians so as to cross the red line which Obama had set as what will force his hand to undertake a military expedition. But he was helped first by Great Britain who voted against military intervention. With tact and wisdom, He sought approval from the Congress to undertake limited air strike, and while, the Congress was being persuaded by Americans and the rest of the World to give a nod, John Kerry, President Obama's highly itinerant second term secretary of State organised a 'coup' against everybody ( except Obama) to fizzle out the military option and embarked on a new diplomatic blitz and all of a sudden or so it seems, American diplomats are criss-crossing the seas signing or midwiving agreements, that seem to be lowering the global warfare temperature.
Rather than send troops( with or without boots on the ground )to Syria to oust Assad or even undertake a limited air strike to weaken Assad's capability to harm his own people with dangerous weapons( chemical, nuclear or mortar) or to cling to power after nearly 3 years of civil war, Obama has succeeded in getting Syria to voluntarily destroy or give up its chemical warfare arsenal. In addition to this coup de grace, it has been announced by the United Nations that an International Peace Conference on Syria will open in January 2014 in Geneva and this may bring the Civil war to a much orderly end and perhaps avert a repeat of what has happened in Libya and Egypt. This is a wise move and should be supported by all men of goodwill.
For nearly two decades, Iran has become an 'infant terrible' to the World, but particularly to the US. Since the revolution that drove away the Shah and installed the Ayotullahs , Iran seemed to have become an antithesis of the United States of America. No wonder, George Bush Jnr.had included Iran, Iraq and North Korea in the ' axis of evil ' and had the Republicans retained power after him, America would have intervened militarily in Iran, not with the taunting and challenge posed by the 'short man devil' who governed Iran in the last 8 years or so. Of course, Iran gave the World and America an excuse to attack them with their brazen development of Nuclear Power and the enrichment of Uranium. Indeed, Israel had been ready to strike Iran but had been strongly restrained by the US. Again by deft diplomatic moves of the man Obama including a historic phone call to president Rhouhani of Iran ( the first in nearly 20 years between leaders of the Countries), Iran has been persuaded to halt further development of their nuclear programme except for peaceful purposes and to open up to UN verification. It is believed that these will be the first steps to returning Iran into the global mainstream that will help keep them in good behaviour.
With these two almost concurrent developments, at least two potential wars have been halted if not totally eliminated. Yes the hawks in the US Congress are barking at these diplomatic successes of Obama, egged on by the Powerful gun lobby who mourn loss of business opportunities to sell their hardware to both sides of the Syrian conflict and the potential war against Iran, possibly with Israel as proxy. What are the global realities of this current diplomatic forays and successes of President Obama and the new pacifist America that seems to be emerging?
First and most importantly, is the prospect for Global peace. It had been thought that the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold-war was going to make the World a peaceful place. But the USA and Russia came close to squaring up recently over Syria. Both Countries deployed their warships in the seas near Syria and only God knows what will have happened. For many months, Russia and China stood up against any action against Assad and his Syria, not even a strong worded resolution by the UN. Russia seemed to prop up all the rogue regimes. They are ( or were ?) supporting Iran's nuclear efforts and their defiance of World opinion. They were behind Syria and also Behind North korea's apparent megalomania. But it has been a refreshing and comforting sight to see Russia's Foreign Minister back slap with John Kerry and other Western diplomats as they cut Assad and Iran to some size. All that bitter rhetoric that tended to raise global warfare temperature seems to be abating. And Global peace is the beneficiary.
It may not be too optimistic, to expect that soon North Korea will tow the line. Indeed the 'baby face' leader of North Korea seems to have been calmed in the last couple of months. His reopening of an industrial zone, they share with their brothers in the South recently and a few other moves indicate to me that he does not want to be isolated as the only standing global rebel. Iam also optimistic that if Iran and Syria are finally reigned in,the middle East crisis might take a new twist for the better. Yes Israel seems to oppose the Nuclear peace deal and the lifting of some economic sanctions against Iran, but I feel that this is a decoy aimed at putting pressure on Iran to honour the agreement and on the USA to force aggressive compliance by Iran. They want to maintain this level of scepticism, so that Iran will be compelled to prove that they are a Nation to be trusted. There is so much potential for trouble in the Middle East and the current moves to get Syria and Iran on the side of the World will help speedier resolution in my view and actually will help the Kerry-induced restart of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations yield the much sought outcomes.
So I see 2014 as a year with the best potential for increased Global peace since we arrived the 21st Century. It is well known that Peace promotes global trade and development. Not only will Iran, Syria, Israel and other countries engaged in the arms race find opportunity to focus more on the development of their economies, international trade will increase as relationships between Nations improve. Increased global trade will promote development and better standard of living globally. Iran's oil may come back to the global market and an improved spectre of peace in the Middle East will generally put more crude into the market. So oil prices may moderate in 2014. And that is why Countries like Nigeria that 'pray' for high oil prices may have to change their 'prayer point'. The Nigerian National Assembly that wants to raise the oil price benchmark must try to understand the potential dynamics of the trade, with a high possibility of over supply in 2014, leading to significant drop in prices.
I am of the view that President Barak Obama is working to leave a Legacy of America that is a Peace maker, instead of a bully or the World Policeman. Historians may not only credit him with ending two wars ( Iraq and Afghanistan) but they may also credit him with averting two others( Syria and Iran).This may not go down with the cowboys and the Gun lobby, who did everything doable to prevent him returning for a second term. While I believe that America must maintain its restraining capabilities, it is right policy to respect other Nations and Culture and reduce the perception ( wrong or right) that America is arrogant and wants to dictate to every Nation how to live their lives. It is clear that America has lost some global competitiveness in certain critical areas because of too much focus on the world's policeman role. Some of the deficit America is currently grabbing with can be traced to military spending and the prosecution of too many wars- some direct, some by proxy. I truly believe that this new pacifist role rather than undermine will improve America's National Security. Or what do you think?

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, OFR
President, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce( NACC)


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