25 January 2009

Inauguration of a president

The United States has a new president. The world has a new leader. Arguably the single most powerful person on this planet is attempting to change the key in which the superpower, of which he is head of state and commander-in-chief, is humming to itself and singing to the rest of the world.

As I watched the inauguration, I realised that at any other enthronement present would have been presidents, other heads of state and prime ministers from around the world. The government of the US is so significant to the rest of the world that it could be reasonably, if light-heartedly, suggested that everyone in the world should be entitled to vote in the US presidential election.

One part of the world where engagement by the US is of utmost significance is the Middle East. Human rights and justice appear to be under attack from all sides. If ever there were a region crying out for wise, confident, informed, understanding and compassionate leadership, it is the Middle East. I hope that President Obama, Hilary Clinton, George Mitchell and their team are able and willing. Conflict de-escalation and depolarisation would seem to first steps. One group pleading for these is Jewish Voice for Peace:

Were Obama, Clinton and Mitchell to achieve nothing else but to restore hope, justice and human rights to all people in the Middle East, their legacy would be of historic proportions.