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Back Obama for peace in Mideast.

Byline: NOOR TOORANI

BAHRAINIS should be rooting for Barack Obama to win the race to become the next US president if they want peace in the region, according an American political expert. Bahrain University American Studies Centre assistant professor of political science, Dr Colin Cavell, said the Democratic candidate is the most likely to pull troops out of Iraq and bring a peaceful end to the US standoff with Iran.

He said a win for fellow Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee John McCain could herald an outbreak of fighting between Iran and the US.

Dr Cavell bases his views on public comments made by Senator Clinton, as well as expectation that Senator McCain will continue with similar policies of the current administration.

"Most of my students are supporting Obama because they believe that he will pull the troops out of Iraq and will lead a very non-belligerent government," Dr Cavell said.

"Clinton has openly threatened massive retaliation against Iran."

He predicts the fate of Bahrain could hinge on who wins the US presidency because of its close ties with the superpower, adding Bahrain would play a major role in broader relations between the US and the rest of the Middle East.

The academic, who specialises in American foreign policy, international relations, law and political economy, has written several books about US democracy.

"There is a tendency to say it does not matter who becomes president because the policies will stay the same," he said.

"But there are consequential differences between the candidates and the way policies are implemented.

"Who becomes president does make a difference.

"If I am going to say 'let's go and obliterate a country', that is different from saying 'we should talk about our problems'.

"It makes a difference to people on the ground, people without power."

Dr Cavell has delivered a lecture on the US elections and their impact on Bahrain at the Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research (BCSR), Awali.

He focused on the mechanisms the Democratic and Republican parties used to select their presidential nominees and analysed the legal requirements and party rules that provide structure to a presidential election.

He predicts the new president will continue pursuing policies of integration of the world markets, saying Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with more countries are likely.

"Each president may follow the same tendencies as the predecessor, but the emphasis they place on one thing or another makes a difference," he said.

Dr Cavell said one of the major roles of the new president will be to repair the damage to America's reputation in the Middle East following its military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We definitely need a makeover," he added.

"I don't think US interests have ever been any lower."

However, he said the position is recoverable if the next president pursues peaceful policies.

He pointed to the dollar-dinar peg, saying the new incumbent's policies would also affect Bahrain's economy.

"I think it affects the whole world," he said.

"It affects Bahrain in particular because it is an ally of the US and located in the Gulf region, where the US has deployed hundreds of thousands of troops and has a permanent long-term interest in the resources.

"I do feel it makes a major difference in the future prospects of the average Bahraini citizen as well as those non-citizens who stay here.

"You see a lot of foreign direct investment coming into Bahrain right now and most of it is in US dollars. Even though the value of dollar has diminished it has an affect.

"The Bahraini dinar is pegged to the dollar, which affects the common man's daily life."

noor@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jun 11, 2008
Words:626
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