2009: A turning point after hitting the bottom?


The dire global economical situation is not a mystery to anybody: every day’s news shows the bleak landscape of what we can expect for the next months.

Moreover, we are facing gigantic political problems around the world, with conflicts and hot and cold wars spread almost all over.

But there is hope. Barack Obama’s election as president of United States has been greeted almost universally with joy and hope.

Now it is more evident than ever that all the achievements and also all the problems –especially in the economy -- in the United States are universally contagious; a more positive image of this great country is more important than we can imagine.

The influence of the United States in world politics is fundamental, and we know that very well; the problems and hurdles Mr. Obama will face, both economically and politically, will be tremendous.

That’s why the widespread perception that he will adopt a more pragmatic stance is greeted with optimism by most. That is extremely important -- a good starting point, I would say.

What can we expect for next year then?

According to all the forecasts, the world economy will be in very bad shape in early 2009 and the new American government will need to take all necessary steps to revive the American economy first.

Regarding international politics, Mr. Obama will need to make a very important decision regarding the proposed missile shield slated to be built in Poland.

That will affect tremendously the relationship between Russia and the whole west: in a few words, it could keep Russia away from the west for many more years, or it could bring it closer, as it was in late ‘90s.

The United States and Russia could collaborate to finally solve the long dragged out problem of Nagorno Karabakh, a territory disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

For Iraq, a  timetable for a withdrawal of troops has been almost agreed upon, and everything will be in the hands of the US and coalition forces, which will need to help the fledging Iraqi military build a strong and united national army.

In Iran, there will be presidential elections in which incumbent president Ahamanedinejad is expected to lose, despite certain electoral intimidations and possible fraud.

It would be extremely advantageous to develop a profitable relationship with a more moderate president in order to end the financing of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

The more complex problem concerns Afghanistan and Pakistan: Mr. Obama will need to make another important decision on whether he should insert troops inside Pakistani tribal zones -- with or without Pakistani approval -- in order to capture Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

In North Korea, there could also be a critical situation in case Kim Jong II’s health should deteriorate further.

Here the relationship with China will also be tested again.

In Africa, the commitment to peace and democracy should be kept alive and Mr. Obama should strengthen his stance in favour of possibly smooth regime changes to create democratic systems in various countries. There are complex situations in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo mainly.

What about the Americas?

The Bush administration has neglected Latin America, and this has helped strengthen  dangerous authoritarian governments like those in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

While eyes should always be kept open for the sudden death of Fidel Castro – which could trigger some turbulence in the Cuban government -- the main problem is now centered in the aggressive Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who is seeking conflicts everywhere in the continent.

Mr. Chavez will try to stay in power despite losing a referendum and it will trigger a reaction of Venezuelan society in the coming years.

In Nicaragua, we have also seen a return of the authoritarian methods of  Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, who has cheated in the recent local elections.

Ecuadorian president Correa has also shown on many occasions his disgust for democracy and the opposition in his country, and he is pushing for a new Constitution which would amass most of the power in his hands.

Mr. Obama’s administration should be firm and committed to the democratic process of the Americas.


In Europe, the European Union, the United States, the UN and NATO should work together to solve the Bosnia and Kosovo problems.

Bosnia’s status should be changed in order to build a fully functional country, with the prospect of joining the western world in the future. As for Kosovo, there should be a new round of negotiation in order to solve the problem of the Serb minority in the fledging country.


Finally, we are there again: Israel and Palestine.

Mr. Obama has a tremendous opportunity to work out some solution on this problem  during his administration, and to help Israel and Palestine seek a definitive peace deal, with the last being a new independent country.

The hurdles are obviously many and complex, but they can be overcome with the willingness of all parts.


So, there is hope. We are aware of the difficult times we are facing, but our hope is that after reaching the bottom early in the year, 2009 will close with some achievements in politics and some glimmers of hope for the economy.


We humans will be challenged in 2009. We need to show our best part and come out stronger and more united. Let’s start to work it out together.