What a fantastic day for America.

What a fantastic day for America.

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Soon enough, the day-to-day grind of politics and the dual problems of dealing with the mess of Iraq and the economy will take their toll, but for today, it’s a fantasy story of hope and optimism. Obama has done something remarkable and it’s a pleasure to see.

I’ve visited the US many times, during both Clinton’s and Bush’s administrations, and I’ve met dyed-in-the wool republicans and gun toting military types, and I’ve come to respect them and their opinions, even where I disagree with them. A lot of the time, the attitudes of the right in the US that so shocks the rest of the world (and Europe in particular) are merely routed in self interest and are understandable from that perspective.

It seems to me that Europeans, if it’s possible to generalise so widely, have a problem understanding how the US hasn’t felt more of a global responsibility to use its massive power base for the common international good. The US under President Bush on the other hand, seems to have largely used it’s power and influence to look after US interests as ruthlesslesly as possible. It’s understandable, if a little unpalatable.

In the long term, I think history will deal very unkindly with George W Bush. In particular, his administration allowed its security forces to use a semantical argument to dis-apply the terms of the Geneva Convention to political prisoners. It’s representatives unilaterally kidnapped suspects — not convicted criminals but suspects — and renditioned them out of their own countries to be held illegally in detention centres such as those in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. It then allowed torture to be used to extract information from them.

This is not how a civilised people act, and US citizens need to question the fact that this was done in their name. I believe Obama’s election is partly a response to this one-dimensional style of government and hopefully, a more caring inclusive face of America will emerge from the events of the last 24 hours.

Today, Obama has done a special thing, and not just America, but rather the whole world is a shinier and more inspiring place this morning. One citizen interviewed at random on the streets of New York this morning loudly proclaimed “Today, the civil war is truly over, and Dr Martin Luther King can rest easily in his grave.”

An inspiring thought. Well done America – my faith in you has been restored.

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