Home Page

carol gould

Join our email list for updates.




We hope that you'll feel our website is worthy enough to contribute a few pounds to the bandwidth bills.



State of the Union: Obama Must Exhort the World to End Civil Wars
Last uploaded : Friday 8th Feb 2013 at 01:38
Contributed by : Carol Gould


[Editor's Note 13 February:
Just as I expected President Obama exhorted Congress to eschew austerity, raise the minimum wage, tax the rich and control guns. It was an inspiring speech even if it did not address with alacrity the tumult in the Muslim world.]

This coming week on February 12 President Obama will be delivering his State of the Union address. It is usually broadcast each year on the 20th of January or in an Inaugural year in late January or early February but the president has selected February 12 this year because his great hero is Abraham Lincoln and that date is ‘Honest Abe's’ birthday. Lincoln oversaw one of the the ugliest and most costly civil wars in history -- a conflict fought by white men to free the black slaves. Obama was sworn in this year on Lincoln's bible and one cannot understimate his worship of the sixteenth president of the United States, assassinated for his deeply held belief in human reconciliation.

As I watch Egypt and Tunisia in turmoil and Syria in a hell of blood-curdling brother-killing brother --- not to mention adult killing child --- I have been thinking a lot about the experience of growing up in the United States. Notwithstanding the appalling image Americans have abroad of gun-toting, violent, obese, bible-pounding maniacs, my enduring memory is of a pleasant childhood and early adulthood brimming with cultural riches. When I watch Scottish football fans victimising one another because some are Catholic and some Protestant I wonder why Americans can attend a football or baseball game in a packed stadium of 100,000 souls and not even need a policeman on duty. When I hear of female journalists being bang-raped in Cairo I wonder why on my last visit to the USA I was able to wander in shorts down tough Broad Street in Philadelphia at 1230AM eating an ice cream cone in a colossal heat wave whilst couples strolled along the same thoroughfare without coming to any harm. (This is true of Tel Aviv too but heaven help anyone who defends Israel in polite British circles. Never mind Syrians and Malians mutilating each other in droves - Israel is the barbarian nation of the world. )

My childhood and early adulthood, like that of my sister, was spent in modest surroundings because my parents were not big earners; my mother was a schoolteacher and my father a civil engineer. My sister and I were, however, steeped in ballet, opera, symphony concerts and theatre not to mention being encouraged to join the choir and orchestra at school. I played baseball with my dad and attended peaceful games at Connie Mack Stadium with him. We had a house full of books and phonograph records and spent every evening eating together and discussing world affairs. School was heaven for me -- Anna Blakiston Day Elementary School, Leeds Junior High School, the world-class Philadelphia High School for Girls and Temple University. (My sister went to Barnard at Columbia University and on to Villa Schifanoia in Firenze. )

Yes, social unrest took hold during the Vietnam War and the anti-segregation movements, of which my parents were fiercely supportive, and our lives were rich in family cohesion and a wealth of cultural life. My girlhood friends and my parents’ circle were a tapestry of the American experience : Jewish, Christian, black, Oriental, Hindu and Middle Eastern. My father’s colleague Norman Dellal was a Jewish refugee from Iraq (Jews were expelled from Muslim countries after the establishment of the State of Israel.) His other close colleague was Naresh Maniar from India; all of these people came to our house and my mother’s Saturday night soirees, multicultural to a tee, resonate in my memory to this day. This brings me to the world tumult to which Barack Obama must include in his State of the Union address next week.

President Obama will be making some important announcements in this speech and will be addressing issues not too far from those Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Osborne have been tackling. The one area in which the present British government and the Obama Administration are diametrically opposed is welfare reform. There is no ‘Daily Mail culture’ of obsessing on benefit cheats but instead Obama --- and even his predecessor George W Bush – have tried to keep welfare and disability payments paid on time and not reduced. In his first term President Obama increased food stamps to $200 a month and wrote personally to each recipient to let them know that his Stimulus Plan was there to help them out.

There will be significant points confronted by the president on foreign affairs, immigration reform and the economy. To me the most important message he must send to the countries consumed by hatred and violence is that they must look to the west to establish stability and they must begin to emulate, not repudiate, western values. The United States rebuilt the two countries responsible for the deaths of fifty million people during the Second World War and the Nazi Holocaust; Japan and Germany could have been plunged into the barbaric, medieval hell into which so many countries in Africa and the Middle East have descended since the Arab Spring but they rose to the occasion and became world-respected economies brimming with culture and liberal regimes. This was the direct result of the tireless work of the United States and Great Britain during the years of occupation of West Germany and Japan.

Over the decades I heard my mother decrying the United States for trying to impose its will on the rest of the world. Like so many liberals of her generation she felt people with a different colour of skin and different religions did not need or want McDonalds or KFC or Coca Cola. My sister and I, and our entire family, are the product of an American upbringing. We do not seek violence against anyone, welcome everyone into our homes and are accomplished in our respective fields despite our parents having had to borrow to provide my child prodigy sister with a piano and to give me violin lessons. I have come to the conclusion in my sixtieth year that encouraging other nations in turmoil to seek reconciliation and to emulate the west is the path to peace and to the end of internecine and tribal bloodletting.

Finally, where the economy and immigration are concerned Obama has already set out his blueprint. We know now that a depression worse than that of 1929 would have come out of the 2008 meltdown. The biggest success of his first term was the revival of the automobile industry and bumper -- no pun intended -- caresales to China. This administration has to show it can bring Americans out of despair in as robust a fashion as that delivered in one hundred days by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. We know that illegal immigrants are being offered an amnesty if they pay back taxes due and have no criminal record. The Republicans lost a mighty percentage of the Latino vote in this election and they will likely support an Obama plan to legitimise those undocumented immigrants deemed eligible for citizenship.

The State of the Union address is delivered to a joint session of Congress and is attended by the Vice President, the Supreme Court and the Cabinet. One person in the line of succession is kept away from the proceedings in the event of a terrorist attack on the gathering. When I watch this I see the United States, created by the brilliant Founding Fathers, at its most benign, trying to send a message to the world that cohesion is better than mass murder and that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is actually no bad thing. Yes, the Founding Fathers had slaves and did nothing to end this heinous practice but here we sit watching a black man who is the leader of the western world. My parents sought ‘the pursuit of happiness’ for my sister and me with limited resources; I hope the president in his State of the Union Address beseeches the world in tumult to bring some happiness to its people and that brother ceases to seek the annihilation of brother.
The New Yorker on 'austerity:'
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2013/02/uk-shows-how-austerity-policies-lead-to-more-borrowing-and-debt.html .
Carol Gould has appeared on BBC Radio Four's 'Any Questions?' and on the Jeremy Vine Show as well as on Sky News, BBC Breakfast and ITV Daybreak.


Read more Editorials    go >>



Web Design - Web Designers
© current viewpoint .com

All Rights reserved.
No copying of any text or images allowed in any form digitally or otherwise,
without the prior written consent of the copyright holders.