All eyes are on Barack Obama as he has traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq and now elsewhere in the middle east. This is not a campaign tour; Senator Obama is traveling with Senators Hagel and Reed on a fact finding mission, as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Their job is to meet with US officials overseas and also with representatives of the nations they are visiting, to gather information for the Committee to use in its deliberations as part of the process of establishing and executing America's foreign policy.
But the attention of everyone is clearly focused on Senator Obama, who has a good chance of becoming the next American President. His opponent for the office, Senator John McSame is rightly viewed as the Bush third term candidate, especially in matters of foreign policy. The Obama hope for change is most strongly felt in how the United States views the rest of the world, and in how they view us.
If Obama is the next American President, two immediate facts will be striking. First, he will be the only American President other than George Washington with a father born outside America. Second, he will be the first American President who shares with the majority of the people on earth the fact that he is not entirely Caucasian. If little else is known about him by people in foreign nations, these two facts will be known and will give President Obama an unprecedented opportunity to change the fundamental dynamics of America's role in the world.
The international potential of an Obama Presidency is hard to over estimate. Just getting rid of Bush will send a refreshing breeze around the world, a sigh of relief that can only be stifled if McSame is the successor. Obama feels the world view. It is his birthright, given by an International student father and an international worker mother. The McSame birthright is War, given by a paternal line of Admirals.
Obama is reputedly an excellent listener, an apropos skill on display during this current mission. What a contrast to George W., a man who changed religions to get shorter sermons to suffer through. Obama writes books; Bush doesn't even read. Bush gets his facts from two places, his imagination and his direct line to God. McSame distorts facts to fit his current tactics, as when he toured the Iraqi market in a flak vest under heavy ground and air guard and said it was perfectly safe. Obama knows from his legal background that the only facts that should count are the ones that can be proven by substantial evidence.
The differences between Democrats and Republicans are most apparent on domestic issues. Foreign relations matters sometimes blur the party lines, though the Bush/Cheney regime has been so blatantly imperialistic that the historical nuances between the Parties on foreign relations became a great divide. Partisan politics is supposed to stop at our borders, and on the great issues of War and Diplomacy it should. The Secretary of State will be a key player in the Obama administration. Maybe Colin Powell would like another run at it.