Just by looking at Barack Obama we can see a presidency that was, so far, only possible in American series, like “24”. In fact, the film industry in the USA is a strong vehical to prepare the local culture for significant changes. In TV series or action movies the police captain, US President, military leader, is almost always black while the action heros share white and black equally. Watching TV on a regular basis one gets accustomed to the fact that the world is run by black people. It is then not at all strange to see that the US is capable of voting for Obama when everyone shouts for change. What better change than changing 200 years of history by having a charismatic, black president?!
From such point of view the lobby through Hollywood for correct human balance, is historic and has reached its glorious peak when Obama is installed tomorrow. Obama is the living image of a paradigma shift just by standing there. No where else in the world such powerful visual effect of change can be achieved as in America. And this moment in world economic history is also unique and powerful. But all this is marketing cosmetics with a temporary effect. The rise of the “Obama era” has been followed by the entire world but all attach a different significance to the image. America is in deep trouble internally and the rest of the world has followed the American crisis. The US leadership has been the de facto world leadership for the last century, for the better and the worst.
Obama takes the leadership seat while the world is cracked on the verge of breaking up. Obama’s image and charisma suggests a powerful change but Obama is surrounded by people who are recognized by their value and wisdom, achieved in the old paradigma. They do not at all reflect the in depth change that is needed to be carried out in the USA, let alone in the rest of the world. The recently announced economic injection of billiones of dollars into the American economy is not at all transformative, nor do we hear a paradigm change in the words in the speeches of the new president. Too much is expected at this stage from Obama. He has to build in the beginning on a team that does not immediatly equal the in depth change radiated by the image of the new presidency. What we have seen sofar is a face to change the world but a national executive team that represents “more of the same”. I expect in 2009 still little from the USA on world scale or even locally in the US itself. Even though the country has been in crisis a lot longer than Europe the energy of change has been focused only at the change of the absolute top. This will materialize tomorrow, but is a first step only. They still need time now to become aware of the depth of the paradigma change that will truely challenge the American beliefs sofar. That leadership will not depend on Obama only but also on his executive team, while focused on the US primarily with all the unrest and risks that such changes imply.
The rest of the world will be forced to take signficant decisions by themselves which is an interesting prospect on its own. During the development of the credit crisis (october 2008) we could see the USA struggle with their decision making process around the options available to them. Europe, in particular Holland, took the lead by deciding on capital injections into the financial systems in an attempt to keep the money going around. The US followed this decision rapidly accepting the European/Dutch leadership for once. In December 2008 the US assumed its leadership role again, against the advice of European intellectuals, by injecting large sums of money into the car industry. That decision shows the extreme lack of transformative vision in US government to date and the decisive economic leadership potential available right now in Europe. Which is why Europe should take the stand now in the paradigma shift and lead America the way the coming 4 years with example. Obama has all the potential to make the shift happen in his country only, but now needs to rely on European example and wisdom to make his first term a success.
Obama does represent the face to world change, not by taking the lead in the world but by stimulating other leaders to stand up and make the shift happen, for the sake of America and the rest of the world. We owe it to Obama, we owe it to America and America owes it to the world.