Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. The swearing-in went as planned, even though the oath taking was without precedent. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, appointed to his present post by the outgoing president's father when he was president, and to the Supreme Court itself by Richard Nixon, had sworn in a Democrat before, but this was the first time that he was swearing in a man of colour. This Inauguration was not a purely an American event, as it was watched on TV screens the world over. Previous Inaugurations were of a person equally powerful, and influential outside the borders of the United States, but it seems that the world has finally woken up to this. The expectations placed on Barack Obama were probably unrealistic, but it was a sign of the times, as well as the USA's position in the world, that many of the concerns that President Obama was supposed to address were global. It would be useful to remember that Obama was elected president by the votes of white people, and further that he will, in four years, be going back to them for re-election. Therefore, he has to address their concerns first. There are two global concerns which are also American concerns. The first is the global financial crisis. The second is the War On Terror, currently being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two end-of-Bush-term crises have wound down before the 'inauguration', but they reflect crises that have festered for many years, and which Obama, like presidents before him, thinks he has the answers to: Palestine, where Israel has exploited its special relationship with the USA to commit yet more war crimes against the Palestinian people, and the subcontinent, where India has once again blamed its own vulnerabilities and insecurities on Pakistan. Obama has identified the economic crisis as the prime concern of the Americans who elected him. His Inaugural address did not contain a blueprint for its solution, but Obama is known to favour a new protectionism, which is the normal capitalist reaction to any economic crisis. This will be reflected in less free markets for the USA's trading partners, and any little hopes that Pakistan had of help in this direction from the USA will be dashed. The crisis will probably be over despite Obama, and was probably not as bad as some of the crises to have hit world capitalism since the Depression, with which it is often compared. More relevant will be the War On Terror. It has led the USA to putting its forces in two different countries, and to suffering 4228 deaths in Iraq and 635 in Afghanistan, apart from 30,960 and 2648 wounded respectively. Iraq has definitely been tougher, but Obama has during his campaign committed himself to moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. So far, there is not even a hint of that bugbear of Middle America, conscription, which was the real reason behind the last defeat faced by the USA, in Vietnam. One result has been that Hispanics and blacks form a disproportionately high number of those going into combat, and as a consequence being killed or wounded. Obama apparently has not decided to tackle that problem. Or rather, he has seen the obvious strain that has been placed on the armed forces, and decided in favour of one occupation rather than two. There are two issues that have faced every US president since the middle of the 20th century, and which suffered a revival in the beginning of the 21st, Palestine and the subcontinent. The former is a problem that owes as much to American domestic politics, as to the Palestinian-Zionist dynamic. The Obama Administration would like the issue settled, in the Israelis' favour, not a just solution, or even one which would allow the Israelis to remain, though not necessarily as the representatives of the Western world that the USA has now made them. The USA has supported Israel blindly over the whole of its existence, and that support is more than likely to continue, what with a Jew for the first time as White House chief of staff. Not just a Jew, but a Zionist. As the chief of staff has input in all presidential policies, as well as the decisions that flow from them, Obama cannot expect neutral or even factual advice on the Palestinian question from this source. Though the appointment is not nearly as crucial as that of chief of staff, India, and the BJP's parent organisation, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has got a nominee aboard in the shape of an Indian lady. It is likely that Obama will try to solve the Indo-Pak problem by imposing a solution on Kashmir, but it is also unlikely that any US-proposed solution will meet the aspirations of the Kashmiri people as determined in a plebiscite to ascertain those aspirations. The Pakistan government is so dedicated to winning American favour that it will probably give such a half-baked solution, which will meet Indian requirements without bringing neither Pakistan or the Kashmiri people into reckoning, its approval, even if it has been drafted by an Indian working for the Obama Administration. An indication of the type of foreign policy that Obama intends to run is to be seen in his appointment of Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. It appears that the appointment is cosmetic, but it is not. It is not just one Senator appointing another, though it is indeed the first appointment to State from the Senate since Ed Muskie was named in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter after Cyrus Vance resigned. Nor has a white woman been named to serve a black president just as a black woman (Condi Rice) served a white president (Bush). Ms Clinton is also the wife of the last president the Democrats had. She is also a guarantee that the Obama foreign policy will be in responsible hands. In other words, out of his. Apparently, Joe Biden as vice-president was not guarantee enough. But it has to be seen clearly that American foreign policy will remain in white hands, not in Obama's. There must not be much joy worldwide in Obama's win. Contrary to the hopes built on his blackness, Obama is a white, at least as far as being elected is concerned. And as the presidency is all about being elected, to the extent that some would say it is only about being elected, Obama is white as far as his policies will go, and as far as the people of the world are concerned. E-mail: maniazi@nation.com.pk