Obama offers US a real chance to enhance its image

The nomination of Barack Obama as presidential candidate for the Democrats has definitely changed the face of American politics.

The nomination of Barack Obama as presidential candidate for the Democrats has definitely changed the face of American politics.

Obama's message is that America needs change. Part of that change includes withdrawing American troops from Iraq; development and research into alternative sources of energy; extending health insurance to all Americans and looking at solutions to the high cost of education.

The average American student owes about R300000 by the time he or she completes university and many default on repayment.

He says it's better to charge low interest rates that students can afford once they start working. This means the student loan fund gets a 100percent repayment and can fund needy students.

Obama also wants all Americans to have health care - starting with children immediately he gets into office. Health costs now mean that only the rich and state employees can afford a doctor because they have health insurance.

Most of the American youth I spoke to during my recent visit to America said Obama was addressing the most important costs in their lives: healthcare and education.

Obama also believes that money saved from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq could be used for infrastructural development.

Unlike President George Bush's bi-polar foreign policy that says if you are not with us you are with the our enemies, Obama believes in multi-lateralism.

Commenting on American foreign policy In his book The Audacity of Hope Obama says: "We know that the battle against international terrorism is at once an armed struggle and contest of ideas, that our long-term security depends on both a judicious projection of military power and increased cooperation with other nations, and addressing the problems of global poverty and failed states is vital to our nation's interests rather than just a matter of charity. But follow most of our foreign policy debates, and you might believe that we have only two choices - belligerence or isolationism."

Eminent US political commentator and professor at the Centre for Congressional and presidential Studies School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington DC, James Thurber, agrees with Obama's foreign policy.

"A shrewd leader is the one who understands that in such a contested terrain you do not talk to your friends but your enemies," says Thurber.

But Thurber concedes that Obama faces a formidable opponent in Republican John McCain. McCain is known to be a maverick who sometimes went against the Bush administration to drive his point home.

He is known to have stood up against the Republican's most important power base - big business. McCain has also dismissed Obama's policies as idealistic and very costly.

There are vital factors that will affect how America responds to Obama's wooing. There is the issue of race. Some parts of the US are not ready for a black president and, will the Americans put their lives in the hands of the relatively inexperienced Obama?

I think by not electing Obama the US voters will have missed an opportunity to chart a new political path that can only enhance their position as a key agent for change in the new world order.