We live in impatient times – not least in the media.
In a couple of months, it will have been a year since Barack Obama became president – and neither the financial crisis, the climate crisis nor peace in the world have yet been resolved.
And here was a man who said he could deliver change... How dare he?
The many critical analyses of Obama’s situation are unrelenting – the United States and the world face a long list of unsolved problems. On the other hand, they seem reluctant to name all the solid progress that he has made, or to find concrete mistakes.
At the beginning of December, the United States and Russia will enter into an major nuclear disarmament pact. Next year the agreement is expected to result in even more extensive decommissioning of nuclear weapons on both sides, as well as American acceptance of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
At the same time, and for the first time in 30 years, the United States and Iran have begun direct negotiations and drafted the outline of an agreement that for the first time gives positive hope that the brakes can be applied to Iran’s nuclear programme before it results in a nuclear arms race in the Muslim world.
Disagreements within Iran’s leadership have meant that Iran is hesitant in signing off on the agreement, but the progress achieved is one that neither the American sabre-rattling of the Bush era, nor years of European diplomacy, have ever even come close to achieving.
In the Israel-Palestine issue, the United States has maintained the minimum requirement that can get the Palestinians to negotiate peace – that Israel must stop stealing their land while negotiations are under way.
The fact that the President has not yet resorted to threats of violence or sanctions to get Israel to understand what is in its own interest – something that Congress would never allow anyway – cannot meaningfully be blamed on Obama.
Competent president showing initiative
This week, Obama got the Health Reform that the United States has been waiting for since World war II through the House of Representatives.
And yes, the Senate must also agree – but Obama has already got further on this issue than any of his predecessors.
In Afghanistan, Obama has chosen a period of deep reflection on the way forward. How disappointing given that the way forward is so obvious to everyone else…..
The fact remains that the United States has an unusually competent president, who is full of initiative and who is battling with the gigantic problems that he has inherited – so far with much more success than could reasonably be expected.