By Brent Budowsky - 01/20/09 06:04 PM EST
The coming move by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to send former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to the Middle East as special envoy is a stroke of inspired brilliance.
Any move in the Middle East is a hard slog against great odds, but there is no official more able to achieve a transforming result than the statesman and über-negotiator Mitchell, who achieved breakthrough success against the intractable carnage in Ireland.
George Mitchell has the chance to begin a new thinking in the Middle East, where people now live in endless fear of bombs and rockets and endure endless horrors of poverty and despair that plague people of every religion. President Obama carries the mantle of JFK, who inspired people around the world and was the voice of his generation. In a global BBC poll, almost 70 percent of people hold high hopes for Obama. This brings major power for change on the global stage.
Great American leaders have understood since Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson that the appeal of our ideas is a potent source of our security. Military leaders believe strongly that the force of our weapons can never exceed the force of our aspirations and must be balanced with the courage to negotiate.
Obama will be supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, by leaders of allied nations, by huge majorities throughout the democratic world, by a majority of people in many conflicting nations, by a secretary of State with worldwide clout, by a national security adviser of enormous military and diplomatic knowledge, by the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and by that panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), who are presidential-caliber leaders with strong bipartisan credentials.
With President Obama’s outreach to prominent Republicans such as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and their efforts to reach back, there is the possibility of a new bipartisanship in security policy and a shared partnership between the president and Congress.
Beneath the radar of the pundits, Obama is putting together the chessboard pieces for transcendent moves with transforming bipartisanship.
Global trouble spots involve hard, tough, brutal, seemingly intractable problems. The challenges did not start overnight and will not end overnight, but there is no substitute for an American president ready to act, and a world community that yearns for a new American statesmanship.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Russia — these nations are only the beginning of long and winding roads that must be traveled to make the world a safer and more stable place. Later, on The Hill’s Pundits Blog, I will address some of these complicated challenges.
On Tuesday a new president gave an Inaugural Address that was heard around the world and inspired people young and old across the continents. We forget: It is a young world, where populations of young people are multiplying in numbers and expanding their hopes and horizons in the same way that our young at home have been moved by our new president.
It is a golden moment that will not be lost. It is a great aspiration will not be denied. It is an opportunity to begin again, to change the world by rallying the generation that will inherit the world.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog.