Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Barack Hussein Obama: Who is he?..............by Dinesh Iriyagolle Weerakkody

This article was written a few days before the US Presidential Election. It is widely expected that the US will see its first black president in the White House after the elections. The president and vice president-elect are scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20, 2009 and take control of the White House.

Parents and birth

Barack Hussein Obama (Jnr), was born on 4 August 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a Black Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas. His parents met while attending the University of Hawaii, where his father was a foreign student. They separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982 when Obama (Jnr), was 21-years-old.

After her divorce, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, when the younger Obama was six years old, and the family moved to Soetoro’s home country of Indonesia in 1967, where Obama attended local schools in Jakarta until he was 10-years-old. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama’s mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for several years and then back to Indonesia to complete fieldwork for her Doctoral Dissertation. She died of ovarian cancer in 1995.

School and religion

His religion was an issue in the election campaign. His stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was a Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was six-years-old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a Muslim school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school. Although the elder Obama (father), was raised as a Muslim, no evidence supports the claim that he was ever a "radical Muslim," and Senator Obama’s family histories note that his father was an atheist or agnostic (i.e., no longer a practicing Muslim), by the time he married the young Obama’s mother.

Of his mother’s religious views, Senator Obama wrote: For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness.

This isn’t to say that she provided me with no religious instruction. In her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology.

On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. But I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part. Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways - and not necessarily the best way - that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.

In summary, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist she would become; it was a phenomenon to be treated with suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.

The religious debate - a Muslim or a Christian

In his 2006 book, ‘The Audacity of Hope’, Obama elaborated on his early schooling, explaining that he attended both Catholic and Muslim schools in Indonesia - not out of any particular religious affiliation, but because his mother wanted him to obtain the best education possible under the circumstances.

During the five years that we would live with my stepfather in Indonesia, I was sent first to a neighbourhood Catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school; in both cases, my mother was less concerned with me learning the catechism or puzzling out the meaning of the muezzin’s call to evening prayer, than she was with whether I was properly learning my multiplication tables.

Barack Obama describes himself as "a Christian," says that he is "rooted in the Christian tradition," and his association with the United Church of Christ began over 20 years ago, long before he contemplated a political career. (Obama was first elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, but he has been involved with the United Church of Christ since the mid-1980s.)

Obama, marijuana and cocaine

As an adult Obama admitted that during high school he used marijuana, cocaine and alcohol, which he described at the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency, as his greatest moral failure.

Harvard Law School
and an Attorney

Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. At the end of his first year, he was selected, based on his grades and a writing competition, as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. In February 1990, in his second year, he was elected president of the Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the Law Review’s staff of 80 editors. Obama’s election as the first black president of the Law Review was widely reported and followed by several long, detailed profiles. During his summers, he returned to Chicago, where he worked as a summer associate at a law firm. Obama graduated with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude, from Harvard, in 1991.

Family and personal life

Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989, when he was employed as a summer associate at a Chicago law firm. Assigned for three months as Obama’s adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple’s first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha (‘Sasha’), in 2001.

2008 presidential

On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. The choice of the announcement site was symbolic, because it was also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic ‘House Divided’ speech in 1858. Throughout the campaign, Obama has emphasized the issues of rapidly ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care, at one point identifying these as his top three priorities.

Obama, LTTE and Tamil Eelam

Characterizing the conflict in Sri Lanka as a "vicious civil war," Senator Barack Obama, said during an interview that, "the problem of the 21st century is the problem of the other." He described this phenomenon as the inability of people to accommodate others "who are not like us," and mentioned Sri Lanka as an example, pointing out that war rages even when "everybody there looks exactly the same." This clip can be seen on YouTube:http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=-u2B2XfXezI

Characterization of conflicts in the 21st century this way, Obama said, is an extension to the American Civil Rights era activist W. E. Dubois’ quote "The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line."

This problem of "the other" afflicted places like Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and the issue of race within the United States, he said.

Obama also criticized the Bush administration’s "war on terror" as the cause for suppressing civil liberties, saying: "Part of my job as next president is to break the fever of fear that has been exploited by this administration. We are told to be afraid of terrorists, immigrants, and each other. This becomes the means, by which our civil liberties are subverted, [and] our values are distorted," implying policy changes are in order.

He promised a break from the Bush-Cheney diplomacy: "a willingness to speak to our adversaries," and cited President Kennedy, saying "we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate."

"The notion that not talking with leaders we don’t like makes us look tough is fundamentally flawed. It makes us look arrogant and sends a message to the world that we are not listening."

He said that if he becomes president, he would lead diplomacy with Iran, even though Tehran was a "grave threat," because the acquisition of nuclear weapons could spark another arms race and Iran had assisted terrorist activities by Hezbollah and Hamas.

This does not mean conceding any positions to Iran, but listening to Iran to see where the US could "find common ground," he added. He criticized the Bush administration, saying it had "repeatedly rebuffed gestures [from Iran] that might allow for some resolution of these conflicts in a non-military way."

He said the detention facility in Guantanamo should be "closed down," rendition should be ended; Habeas Corpus restored and end warrantless wiretaps.

Senator Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic Presidential Primaries, had earlier urged a more nuanced approach to armed non-state actors and identified Tamil Tigers as one of the groups deserving such consideration.

Early this year, in a campaign "celebrating a century," the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), said of the Liberation Tigers: "Needless to say, the Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. For more than three decades, the group has launched a campaign of violence and bloodshed in Sri Lanka."

The U.S. government has designated the Tigers a foreign terrorist organization, so their activities in the US are illegal. We’re determined to stop them, using the full range of our investigative and intelligence capabilities," the FBI said.

Considering the status of the LTTE in the US and the research material available, it is believed and hoped that once in office, Obama will be not in a position to deviate radically from the current US policy in relation to the LTTE.

(The writer is a resident of Australia and is practicing as an Australian Solicitor and Barrister. He can be contacted on dweerakkody@hotmail.com)

www island.lk
Note from WTRF:
LTTE was created by Sinhala racism,oppression,brutality,pogroms,massacres, discrimination and marginalisation of Tamil people!If you remove these, then all the problems solved!Why don't you all understand this basic fact!!!

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