By most media accounts Barack Obama’s tour of Iraq, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Western Europe was a big success. The visits showed his worldwide popularity is very broad and ranges from people in the street, to US military personnel, to heads of state.

Obama’s visit to Iraq – to the regret of Bush and McCain no doubt – revealed that the al-Maliki government supports his timetable for withdrawal. This was a big plus for the Democratic candidate for president.

His speech in Berlin drew an amazing 200,000 people and by almost all accounts was a triumph for the senator.

The tour also showed what everybody knew, namely, that George W. Bush is probably the most disliked US president in history. To embrace Obama is in itself a militant protest against the Bush neo-conservative policies. The war in Iraq destroyed most of the good will and solidarity with the US administration that existed after the September 11th 2001 attack. McCain’s notion of 100 years in Iraq along with his militaristic world outlook to most means perpetual war and aggression. The cast of Bushite characters that surround the Republican nominee and his commitment to continue Bush’s basic anti-working-class economic and social policies makes his presidency a continuation of the Bush nightmare and perhaps worse.

Berlin was perhaps the apex of the trip as measured by the sheer size of the audience that tuned out to hear him. There were many important and positive points made in Obama’s speech. The high points were when he called for peace and social and economic justice – these words drew the most applause.

He called for an end to the war in Iraq to prolonged applause. When he called for an end to torture and discussed the elimination of all nuclear weapons in the context of relations with Iranian the roar from the crowd was deafening. The same response occurred when he called for welcoming immigrants and breaking down the barriers based on regions, race, religions and citizenship. The Democratic presumptive nominee called for bottom up economic growth that wouldn’t just benefit the super rich and emphasized negotiation and building bridges when dealing with adversaries, again to vigorous applause. The same when he called for the peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and for end to the genocide in Darfur.

The speech was in a different league from what McCain has been saying in both form and content. Still, there were also more than a few by now weary and overused strains from the past. Obama echoed Kennedy and an even Reagan in drawing on Cold War language even claiming capitalism had won the “battle of ideas.” This did not fit his image as an agent of change. It is no small matter that these words did not get the same level of applause.

People may have wondered that while he mentioned the Berlin wall coming down in the US there is a wall of economic and racial oppression being built on the Mexico border.

And if negotiations are viable in Iran why not in Afghanistan where the fight to defeat the Taliban and El Quada could cost tens of thousands more lives? It is time for a new era of international relations, and to eliminate all nuclear weapons. It is time for cooperation to eliminate poverty and racism.

These issues will not go away and will sharpen the debate and struggle in the post election period. In the meantime it must not divert the broad anti-ultra-right coalition from defeating McCain in November. That is the first priority.

It goes without saying that George W. Bush has set a very low threshold for world leadership. The world will give a great cry of relief if McCain is defeated. All democratic and progressive people will profoundly welcome the restoration of a level of sanity to US foreign and domestic policy worldwide.

With his trip to the Middle East and Western Europe Barack Obama established his credentials as a world figure. He stepped into a vacuum that the failed presidency of George W. Bush has created. McCain is unable to fill that vacuum.

A recent Gallop poll shows Obama’s lead has grown to nine points in response to his trip.

John McCain’s campaign is pretty much reduced to personal attacks, racism and McCarthyism because he is losing the debate. McCain says he would rather lose an election then lose a war – as I see it looks like he is on his way to losing both.

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