By Bob Harwood

I Too Have a Dream


Fittingly, Barack Obama’s inauguration took place on the very site where Martin Luther King delivered his I Have a Dream speech. I too have a dream. As a volunteer member of Obama’s advisory team it is my hope that America will now begin to move away from the parochial ideologies that have long distorted its foreign policy.
Multilateralism, not Unilateralism. In the global village we are interdependent as never before. Obama’s inaugural undertaking to‘extend an open hand, not a clenched fist’ was echoed in his instruction to George Mitchell, his Mid East Envoy, ‘Start by listening, not dictating.’

One cannot challenge Iran’s right to nuclear development while rejecting any curb on the nuclear arsenals of Americaor Israeland opposing initiatives to ban weapons in outer space. America has obstructed countless initiatives broadly endorsed by the international community to ban land mines with their horrendous aftermath, to empower an International Court of Justice, to address Climate Change, the most pressing issue of our time. Respectful dialogue without unilateral preconditions must replace arrogant confrontation.

Economic Ideology. America’s discredited Unfettered Free Enterprise ideology has wrought havoc world wide. There is a profound irony in a country preaching the spread of democracy when in that country Democracy has degenerated into Plutocracy, ‘the rule of the wealthy,’ and income disparities are now greater than in virtually any other country in the western world. In the urgent need to rebuild domestic economies and employment nations must not succumb to the allure of protectionism emphasizing ‘Buy American’. World leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum sounded the alarm. A Christian Science Monitor put it more succinctly, “Buy American, Buy a Trade War”, a reaction that would only deepen and prolong the global recession.

Religious ideology. In like manner religious ideological extremes have no place in a diverse world. The number of Christians world wide has fallen to 2,100,000,000 as the ranks of the ‘non-religious’ swell. Islam’s adherents now number 1,500,000,000 and continue to grow. The world’s Jewish adherents now total 15,000,000, just 1% of their Muslim brethren. This underscores the top priority of securing an even-handed resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. In the words of Roger Cohen in a recent New York Times column, it is this unresolved conflict that has caused “a global wave of Bush-inspired, Gaza-cemented, anti-Western sentiment.” Jews must be able to live safely in their long awaited homeland without its becoming just another walled ghetto. And Palestinians must be able to live with dignity, not poverty, in theirs. I spent time in Israel and the West Bank, saw at first hand the destitution of Arabs in refugee camp, camps where their descendants still reside. The west’s failure to avert the Holocaust left a guilt complex which has psychologically blurred the distinction between anti-Semitism and legitimate critique of specific Israeli acts. Interfaith harmony begins with engagement of moderates in each camp, not at the ultra conservative ideological extremes of Islam or Judaismor Christianity.

Beyond Nationalism. But for my ultimate dream to come to fruition America, all nations, must start down the long road of progressively subordinating nationalism, concepts of my country’s interests, to the greater goal of achieving harmony and prosperity for all in This World of Ours. As John Donne observed almost 400 years ago: “No man is an island.”

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