World Peace is Possible with Obama in the Whte House

By treating people of all nations and faiths with respect, the Obama administration will create an opportunity for world peace. As an American of African heritage, Barack Obama steadfastly ascended on a journey to the White House offering hope and change for a better world in every promise and deed along the way. The eyes of the world were on Washington, D.C. January 20, 2009 as he took the podium on that bitter cold day and told us, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America." In less than two months, he is making good on his promises. Reactions from within and outside of the U.S. are already taking place.
On his second day in office, President Obama set the wheels in motion to close Guantanamo Bay prison camp, where suspected terrorists have been held for over five years without trial and tortured. He proved through his actions that he would not want that for American soldiers captured in hostile territories. He broke with the former administration’s anti-terror policies by immediately retracting policies that supported torture and holding people without due process whether in Guantanamo or any secret CIA prison in the world. He pledged to fight and win against terrorism “in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals.” By valuing basic human rights for everyone no matter what the circumstance, our President represents an America that espouses respect for humanity.
The willingness to negotiate with adversaries like Iran, the new “love-to-hate” enemy, and other Middle Eastern or Muslim countries labeled “the enemy,” proves the Obama administration recognizes the importance of talking with our “enemies.” He broke with the traditions of previous administrations, which refused to talk and sometimes even acknowledge leaders from countries with grievances against the U.S. Obama’s approach is simple. If we are not to talk to the enemy, then how will we resolve issues? He spoke to the world on inauguration day, “… we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” President Obama has already assigned top level cabinet members and envoys who are meeting with leaders in the so-called enemy territories.

He appeared on Al Arabiyah television broadcast throughout the Middle East in his first week giving America a more tolerant and respectful reflection. “I have Muslim members of my family,” Obama told the interviewer. “I have lived in Muslim countries.” There will be no shoes flying or ducking after those words. He has definitely won hearts and minds already.
Ending the huge mess in Iraq is another promise he has already begun. "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010 our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama said firmly at a military base in North Carolina on February 27, 2009. Ending the occupation and military combat in that country will help the U.S. economy and America’s image abroad.
Peace in the Holy Land might be in reach as well. Obama’s willingness to treat all people as equal will no doubt change the paradigm of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. His pledge to send funds to Gaza in the aftermath of Israel’s retaliation for rockets that killed 1,200 Palestinian people in less than one month, of which 450 were children and 100 women, is proof that all parties matter. That wasn’t ever the case in past administrations. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham-Clinton’s recent visit set a different tone by holding Israel accountable for mistreatment of Palestinian civilians. “We want humanitarian aid to get into Gaza in sufficient amounts to alleviate the suffering of the people," she asserted. Former Senator, George Mitchell, Obama’s duly appointed special envoy to the Middle East, complained on his recent visit that Israel’s policy of limiting food sent to Gaza is "unacceptable to the U.S." Mitchell’s appointment alone demonstrates Obama’s serious commitment and desire to see to peace. Mitchell won the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 17, 1999 for establishing lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
World peace may not be too far off as President Obama puts his promises into action. The goals he has set for peace through respect will no doubt create cooperation from world leaders. The status of America is changing already. Hope and change are what he offered when he asked people to vote for him and, thus far, he has delivered in word and deed. Peace has really become possible.

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About Saffiya Shillo

Saffiya Shillo is a long time community activist serving on the boards of several agencies focused on bringing social awareness and advocacy to the Arab community in Chicago and nationally. She is immediate past-president of Arab American Family Services, a social service agency serving the Chicago area's American Arab and Muslim community. She has served as president of the Palestinian American Congress in Chicago and executive board member of the Palestinian American Women's Society of Chicago and American Task for on Palestine. She also devotes much of her time to working with her own community and the Jewish American community towards ending the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. She previously worked as Director of Ethnic Affairs for the State of Illinois' Office of Lieutenant Governor and prior to that was Director of the Arab American Institute's Chicago office. She is a featured writer for the Arab American View Newspaper in Chicago and is very involved in Chicago's Arab community. She currently works as a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate and crisis counselor in the Chicago area for a mainstream social service agency. In addition to advocacy, she also does outreach to local government and social service providers that work with the Arab American community.

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