Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Once in office, will Obama prove that his bellicose threats against Iran and Pakistan were just words spoken to lure in a certain category of voter during the election? Let’s hope so. And let’s hope he isn’t for a moment tempted to repeat the exploits of George W. Bush. After all, Obama had the dignity to oppose the war in Iraq while the Republican and Democratic parties cheered the announcement of this bloodbath.
During his campaign, “leadership” was the most frequently used word in Obama’s speeches.
As President, will he continue to believe that his country was chosen to save the world, a toxic idea that he shares with almost all of his colleagues? Will he continue to assert that the U.S. is the leader of the world and believe in its messianic mission to command?
Let’s hope that the current crisis, which is shaking the imperial foundations, will at least serve to provide the incoming government with a healthy dose of realism and humility.
Will Obama accept that racism is permissible when practiced against countries that his country invades? Is it not racism to meticulously tally the deaths of the invaders of Iraq while ignoring with Olympian arrogance the far larger number of Iraqi dead? Isn’t it racist that the world has first, second, and third class citizens and first, second, and third class dead?
Obama’s victory was universally celebrated as a victory in the battle against racism. Let us hope that from his first acts as President he accepts and lives up to this beautiful responsibility.
Will the Obama Administration confirm yet again that Democrat and Republican are two names for the same party?
Let us hope that the will for change that these elections have consecrated is more than just a promise and a hope. May the new Administration have the courage to break with the tradition of the single party disguised as two that at the hour of truth behave almost identically while they pretend to be fighting one another.
Will Obama make good on his promise to close the sinister prison at Guantánamo?
Let us hope so, and that he will end the sinister blockade of Cuba.
Will Obama continue to believe that it is a good idea to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep Mexicans from crossing into the US., while vast sums of money move across without ever showing a passport?
During the campaign Obama never candidly discussed the subject of immigration. Let us hope that from today on, no longer having to worry about losing votes, he will be able and willing to abandon this idea of the wall—which would be far longer and more shameful than the Berlin Wall—and indeed all walls that violate people’s freedom of movement.
Once President, will Obama, who supported the recent gift of $700 billion to the banking industry, continue the usual practice of privatizing profits while socializing losses?
I fear that he will, though I hope that he won’t.
Will Obama sign and abide by the Kyoto agreement, or will he continue to allow the biggest polluter on the planet to pollute with impunity? Will he govern for people, or for automobiles? Will he shift the devastating course of a way of life in which the few steal the destiny of the many?
I fear he won’t, though I hope he will.
Will Obama, the first black President of the United States, realize the dream of Martin Luther King, or the nightmare of Condoleezza Rice?
This White House, which is now his house, was built with the labor of black slaves. Let’s hope he never forgets that.
Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan writer and journalist, is author of ‘‘The Open Veins of Latin America’’ and ‘‘Memories of Fire.”