President Obama’s second inauguration address attended by tens of thousands of people could well turn out to be a signpost to a new tomorrow not only for the US but for those parts of the globe where the country is militarily engaged. He talked of building alliances instead of waging ‘perpetual war’, resolving conflicts with other nations peacefully followed up with firm insistence that enemies would be turned into friends. After all who else but a Nobel peace laureate would nurture such longing for peace. At this juncture, where much blood has been spilled across the world, a large part of it by the extremists on both sides of the fray, he has done well to again reflect that the planet could be a much better place if all this turmoil could be avoided in future.

His understanding of the reality that already much harm has been done to the global peace is apparent from his administration’s firm resolve to pull out of Afghanistan according to the stipulated deadline. His aplomb and the firm tone and tenor of his speech made it quite obvious that he is sincerely looking for a new orientation for his country. Surely being at the centre of the violence tearing apart the globe, his intentions could make the difference between gaining or losing an ally’s trust. As he said, the era of war is coming to an end. Let’s hope it does. There has been a terrible decade of war starting from Iraq, Afghanistan and covert warfare in so many other troubled spots where the strife is now spilling over into surrounding areas. It has to be stopped. And it is here that the US has to make a choice whether it would continue with the same prescription that has not paid the expected dividend yet or change the strategy.

In war, there is inevitably a specific enemy but in the present case it appears to be elusive, which calls for a different strategy. No matter what the situation, there must always be a chance of a settlement through reason and persuasion. Definitely, Obama is right in saying that engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. There are, hence a lot of other countries presently hostile who might respond positively towards a friendly gesture, particularly if their perception compels them to think so. In the coming weeks and months, Obama Administration’s response towards some of the simmering crisis with respect to the Middle East would be a real test of his pragmatism.