Change in America: Milan Vesely reports from the United States.

Author:Vesely, Milan


ON THE NIGHT of his greatest triumph, US President-elect, Barack Hussein Obama told the 500,000 crowd in Chicago's Grant Park: "Change has come to America, and change has come to the world." Gone was the Bush Republican dogma of pre-emptive strike, the "with us or against us" foreign policies and the unrestricted greed of Wall Street. Incoming are consensus-based military objectives, disciplined foreign relationships based on mutual respect and more government regulated banks resulting in a more subdued US stock market.

Stability and measured policy statements were the hallmark of the Obama presidential campaign, the same expected of his incoming administration. As if acknowledging its failure, the free-wheeling elitism of the Republican Party retreated before the Democratic Obama juggernaut without a whimper, rejected by an American public in no uncertain terms; the 364 to 173 verdict on Republican John McCain's "four more years of the same" a measure of the public's disgust with the eight years of George W. Bush.

For the Middle East, an Obama presidency heralds a different way of doing business, with the United States likely to retrench both its political and military objectives. Gone will be the idealistic pressure to bring western-style democracy to the Arab world, this no longer a front-line pillar of US foreign policy. Also gone are military decisions based on the whim of a Bush/ Cheney duo, an Obama presidency being likely to value broad-ranging consensus above presidential unilateralism.

Of greatest importance to OPEC is Obama's stated intent of weaning America off foreign oil imports, his alternative energy programme to develop new sources of renewable energy is sure to be one of his first priorities. "In ten years we can cut our oil imports in half," he said on the campaign trail, "and we can do this while increasing employment through the development of new technologies that wean us off foreign oil imports."

While this had been the mouthed mantra of the outgoing Bush administration, the sway of oil company lobbyists in the last eight years proved far too influential, the record profits still being announced by US and foreign oil companies now so extravagant that the American public openly voted for increased capital gains taxes on such exorbitant excesses.

For oil-producing countries of the Middle East, the reality of an Obama presidency means the onset of decreasing US crude oil demand within his first...

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