On Wednesday, 7 November, one of our office boys, J, approached me to say, ‘Congratulations Madam, Obama has won again’ (yes, we have office boys! I am not quite sure what the PC term for this role is. Photocopying and other stationery duties, running errands, serving refreshments to those who think their time too valuable to lift their gluteus maximus from their chairs to walk to the kitchen and serve themselves!).
I tried to explain that although I was happy Obama was re-elected, I am not American. But J had already started to list the reasons why it was not good that Obama had been re-elected: Number 1 reason – He is a bad man. He has caused lots of problems for Pakistan. Very, very bad man. Mitt Romney much better.
Obama, bad????? Romney good????? I am not quite sure which thought was more ridiculous.
I tried to reason with J, explaining that the re-election of Obama is a good thing for the Middle East. Let’s not forget which country would top Israel’s hitlist, and to implement that wish, Israel would require US support, support which is now a lot less likely with President Obama in power. Repeat: this is a good thing, especially for Dubai which is within what looks like swimming distance of Iran…..
J was either not comprehending or just not listening to me.
‘He ordered the assassination of the world’s most dangerous terrorist’, I argued, thinking that would put an immediate end to this silly argument against a balanced, stable world.
This argument was met with a minimal shrug of the shoulders. J continued, in his broken English, to explain how much damage the US had caused in Pakistan. He went on to describe George Bush (both of them) as bad men. Tony Blair escaped the ‘bad’ label (????).
Through various routes, I tried to explain the difference between foreign policies of Republicans v Democrats. Breaking it down into simple terms: Republican = Bad for Middle East stability. Democrats = Middle East Stability. Successive US presidents have proven this point.
J agreed Clinton was a good man. But then he had to go back as far as Nixon to prove his point that Republicans can be good.
‘Good? What about Watergate?’ I splurted.
‘At least no war in Pakistan, Madam’ came the response.
And therein lies the crux. J’s country has seen a huge increase in US drones targeting terrorist activities within its borders. According to a newspaper article I recently read, during Obama’s first term, the number of drone missions over Pakistan increased 6 fold compared to during George Bush Jr’s term! Whilst most of the world breathed a communal sigh of relief at the assassination of Bin Laden, J was thinking of the innocent lives that are lost and forgotten by the rest of the world in these types of missions.
That made me pause. Just like J wishes peace and stability free from world power interference in his homeland, I too want the same in my adopted homeland, Dubai. At least, for me, Obama’s re-election goes some way to ensuring that.