I am writing on a topic that will probably generate intense heat, stir immense dust and provide fuel to certain readers to vociferously disagree with me. Nevertheless, I am expressing my views and feelings, rather than flinching or chickening out.
USA is blessed with immense resources. Though this country has been inhabited by Red Indian tribes from the time immemorial, nevertheless its history is relatively recent, compared to many ancient civilizations dating back to thousands of years. As per certain historians, the first people who came to USA were from Siberia about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. In spite of this, USA’s history is only hundreds of years old when exodus from Ireland, UK, Scotland and other European countries sailed to this landmass to avoid persecutions, etc. and when 13 of its States rebelled against the British in 1775 and declared independence on 04th July 1776. Considering USA’s relatively short history, its progress is remarkable and amazing, more so when compared with countries that were once the cradles of ancient civilizations, but continue to be underdeveloped today.
Present day Americans are reaping and enjoying the fruits of their ancestors’ pioneering spirit, industriousness and sacrifices, who after having landed on the coasts of this land of immense proportions, ventured into the unexplored, perilous and hazardous hinterlands to set up settlements, agricultural farms, orchards, towns, etc. Their sacrifices ensured that the present day USA is a highly developed and advanced economy, a leading military, industrial, agricultural power, besides being in the forefront in sports, arts & culture, etc.
Immediately after the successful strikes by the Japanese Imperial Navy’s carrier-based aircrafts on Pearl Harbour during the World War II, when Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto having enquired and learnt that not a single US aircraft-carrier was destroyed in the strikes, said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
Admiral Yamamoto had graduated from Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, studied at U.S. Naval War College and Harvard University and during his stay in USA had hitchhiked from coast-to-coast of that sprawling land. Years later, he served as the Military Attach? in Japanese Embassy in Washington on two occasions. Therefore, having seen the immense resources of USA, its awesome economy, agricultural and industrial base at first hand, he was totally against Japan ganging up with Germany to enter into World War II, as he felt the consequences could be disastrous for Japanese ? a country which lacks resources and virtually dependent on imports, though their people are one of the world’s most industrious.
When Sir Winston Churchill declared war on Germany, one had to admire the guts of this great statesman, because his Army and Air Force were not numerically larger and superior enough to face a massed invasion of his homeland by the German forces, though the Royal Navy was the world’s largest and strongest at that time to take care of its colonial commitments. However, wars are not won only through naval campaigns, but through involvement of all the wings of services, i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force and including paramilitary and reservist forces, based on sound strategy, planning, logistics, supplies, tactics, etc.
Sir Churchill declared war on Germany, being totally confident that he could tap the immense manpower resources of Great Britain’s premier Colony of India to raise a formidable force and also to beef up her Homeland Forces. Once having succeeded in his initial plans, Great Britain engaged the enemy in a holding action, stalling for time, till he could convince, urge or force USA to join his country for the long and prolonged fight with Germany (and other countries siding her). During World War II, 2,500,000 Indians joined the Armed Forces to help Great Britain fight her enemies, i.e. Germans, Japanese, Italians and others in different campaigns and theatres of war. However, Sir Churchill did not have to wait for long. USA, which was not interested in taking part in the war, was compelled to join Great Britain, when the Japanese attacked its Pacific Fleet based in the Hawaiian islands and destroyed virtually its entire fleet.
Once USA entered into the War, things began to change for the better for the other Allied partners, because USA started sending its men, armaments, materials, supplies, etc. to them, (including USSR, to fight the Germans who had advanced up to the outskirts of Moscow and Stalingrad), though the Russians do not admit receiving American help, even to this day. It is a fact that in terms of number of people killed, wounded or maimed, USSR suffered a lot, but Poland lost virtually 25% of its population in this war.
Today, the USA’s and international economic scenario is very, very bad, but USA’s economy will continue to be the dominant for ages. One has to realize that even though Chinese, Indian and Brazilian economies will make immense progress, however they will never enjoy the per capita incomes and standard of living of USA and other advanced economies, simply because Chinese and Indian are the world’s most populated countries with unchecked population growths and high levels of corruption. Especially, in India there are many people who have wealth beyond their known sources of income, earned through corrupt and devious means and they go about scot-free, due to inefficient law enforcement and vigilance authorities, who are prone to corruption themselves. Such is the level of corruption, which corrodes the entrails of a country.
Irrespective of the scandals and controversies that Bill Clinton was entangled in during his Presidency, nevertheless he was the best President USA ever had during the last fifty years (and not Ronald Reagan as highlighted by media, during his and after his Presidency and especially after his death). Ronald Reagan spent billions on research and development of highly advanced technological weapons, armaments, etc. and was not overly concerned about welfare projects. Clinton has to be credited for developing US economy, trimming her debts and wasteful expenditure, introducing welfare schemes for the underprivileged and poor, including medical care. Finally, he was the one who assiduously developed relations with India and took it to further heights and was the one to tell Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani Prime Minister during the Kargil crisis, that his country was the aggressor and had to withdraw from Kargil or face the consequences. Good that the Pakistanis withdrew, otherwise they would have been pummelled and pulverized by the Indian forces, who from the initial shock and surprise achieved victories in capturing peaks surreptitiously occupied by the Pakistanis. I would rate Clinton as one of the best Presidents USA ever had, though it would be preposterous to put him on the same league as Abraham Lincoln. Further, Clinton is the only President who immensely liked Blacks and Blacks too liked him and his affinity to Blacks exists right from childhood.
Sadly, all the good that Clinton did during his term, have been recklessly squandered away by President George Bush, Jr. by his ill-thought and ill-planned adventurisms in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush, Jr. could be rated amongst the worst Presidents USA has ever had.
Very soon, in matter of days, USA will go to the polls to elect their next Presidents from the two incumbents, namely Republican candidate, John McCain and Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.
John McCain is a nice person, probably a bit maverick and served his country as a naval pilot during the Vietnam War. However, it is wrong to say that he is a hero, because there are no concrete reports of his heroism in shooting down the aircrafts of the erstwhile fledgling North Vietnamese Air Force or any other surface or shore targets, other than the fact that he spent many years as a prisoner-of-war. I do not think that if McCain is elected as a President, he will be able to rectify the wrongs done by Bush, Jr., because he lacks vision, ideas, capacity, ability, personality and charisma. Secondly, he has taken a wrong decision in deciding to have Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, as his running mate, because very few Americans had heard of her prior to her name was announcement for the No. 2 position. She is the Governor of a State which in territorial terms is half the size of India, but has a population of just under 700,000 people with a density of population of one person per square mile. This entire population of Alaska can be found in any moderately sized town in India.
If one were to go by the Opinion Polls, the other contender, namely Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, will be the next President of USA, who has charisma, a mass public appeal and a dynamic personality. Further, he is an articulate speaker, capable of convincing his audience and has visions for USA. Frankly speaking, Obama is quite young and, therefore, not fully knowledgeable in various aspects of governance or politics, but he appears to be a good manager and administrator who will choose the right people in his Administration or Government and ensure that things are done. I am quite confident that once he becomes the President, he will induct Gen. Colin Powell (Retd.) and Hillary Clinton in his Government, because they are highly popular, brimming with ideas and have had exposure to a lesser or greater extent in the turbulent world of politics.
As a soldier, Gen. Powell’s credentials are impeccable, because this son of humble Jamaican immigrants grew up in Bronx, New York, came up the hard way and enlisted for R.O.T.C. to finance his University education. Thereafter, in the Army he was posted in various parts of USA and other countries and took advantage of the Army’s educational system to get a sound education to arm him for his future and to ensure promotions. This man is a veteran of various campaigns, including two tours of duties in Vietnam and retired as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first black man to hold this post.
Hillary Clinton was the First Lady of USA, during her husband, Bill Clinton’s terms. She did a lot of honorary service for various charitable causes involving women and other unfortunates. She is very popular with woman and Hispanics.
I am quite confident that Obama, if he is elected the President of USA, will take his country’s relations with India to still greater heights and open the doors for qualified Indians to go, settle there to pursue business, seek self employment or employment. There are initial indications of his fondness for India by the fact that he likes Indian food, knows to cook Dal and keeps a statue of God Hanuman in his office. Obama has shown that he pays attention to nitty-gritty issues by speaking glowingly on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and his achievements, after he heard about the death of this great soldier a few months ago, when none of the seniors in India, namely the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Leaders of the Ruling Party and the Opposition, Service Chiefs, Chief Minister of Karnataka, did not attend his funeral. Further, in the Indian print media, we learn that he has offered Divali greetings to Indians.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain
Author: Nelson Lewis- Bahrain