TODAY -
US to get its first black President Obama today
Source: The Sangai Express / Lalit K Jha (PTI)

Washington, January 19 2009: Barack Hussein Obama will make history when he is inaugurated as the first black-American President tomorrow, riding a wave of popularity but facing daunting challenges and huge expectations� both at home and abroad � that he will herald a change in the United States.

The charismatic 47-year-old former community organiser who has risen to the world's most powerful post will have his task cut out � to bail out America from the worst financial crisis in decades and to carve a new path on the foreign policy front ensuring a clean break from the disastrous Bush regime policies of the past eight years.

As far as India is concerned, the new Administration will have two of its best-known friends� Secretary of Statedesignate Hillary Clinton and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

But even as Obama talks about India as a "natural ally" of the US, recent attempts from his side to link Kashmir issue with Afghanistan are causing some concerns in the South Block.

The very moment at noon tomorrow as Obama puts his hand on the Bible once used by Abraham Lincoln, in front of an estimated two million people� a record in itself for a presidential inauguration �a new phase would start in the history of US as he would enter the White House as the first African-American President of the country.

Obama, in fact, has already created history as he defeated well-established political figures like Hillary Clinton to become the first black Democratic presidential nominee and won a landslide victory in the November 4 presidential elections.But that history has been made in America will soon fade away from memory as Obama enters the Oval office facing daunting issues � both domestic and foreign.Even Obama himself acknowledges the challenges in his speeches post-presidential elections.

"There is no doubt that our road will be long, that our climb will be steep," he told thousands of people at an inaugural celebration yesterday.

Irrespective of what may be dished out by scholars and specialists on the priorities of the new President, it goes without much saying that the first challenge is in addressing the economic mess that has been inherited from the outgoing Bush Administration.

No one else better than Obama understands that setting the financial house in order is going to be his top priority.

The declining American economy, rising unemployment, the general expectations of the common people that solutions are going to be round the corner, which is perhaps the farthest from the truth, are something that would be confronting Obama from the day one of his Administration.

Obama has already started gearing up for the challenges ahead on the domestic front.

He has forewarned the people of the tough days ahead and urged them to get ready for sacrifices.

Experts believe the goodwill that Obama carries with the people of the US right now, will help him in riding through the crisis and motivate Americans to face the hurdles with a smile.

After the domestic economic crisis, the challenges confronting on the foreign policy front are not less either.

The biggest task for Obama is repairing the image and credibility of the United States that has taken a beating in much of the world over the last eight years especially as the Bush Administration miserably failed to cash in on the fund of goodwill that was there internationally in the aftermath of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 .

The two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially the latter, have not only brought fresh challenges to US's global leadership, but also had a great dent in its image.

How does the Obama Administration plans to handle it remains to be seen as the President-elect has not been forthcoming in his views on foreign policy.

There is only one President at a time, has been Obama's mantra after winning the election.

However, he has brought in the former First Lady Hillary Clinton, his rival in primaries, as the Secretary of State.

The Administration believes the goodwill Clinton carries world over would help in shaping a new US foreign policy.

He also has the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, another well-known foreign policy expert.

All the three� Obama, Biden and Hillary� are expected to drive the US diplomacy on the international platform for the next four years.

Other than the immediate challenge of Gaza situation and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, terrorism would be on the top of the Obama Administration's foreign policy agenda.

There is a lot of unfinished business to be accomplished on the terrorism front� especially in South Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular.

Biden was recently in the two countries apparently laying the groundwork for the Administration's policy in the region.

Both during the campaign days and after winning the election, Obama has made it clear that Afghanistan is going to be his top priority as far as the war on terror is concerned.

Obama is expected to come out with a new policy on Afghanistan.


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