Glen Ford, the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, gives a critical analysis of the promise of Obama in Aljazeera.
He makes a number of interesting points, in particular about Obama's plans to boost the American military presence in Afghanistan (even while planning to withdraw from Iraq and promising in his inaugural speech to have a less aggressive foreign policy). The Taliban is warning Obama to learn the lessons of Bush, and before him the Soviets (they might have added the British before that).
As Dr Martin Luther King recognised, military escapades are generally incompatible with progressive social programmes because of the huge resources they suck up. (A reminder of the old poster about looking forward to the day when the airforce has to run a cake stall to buy a new bomber seems inevitable at this point).
Of course Ford presents some of the reasons why even those of us very happy to see Obama's election, and inspired by his oratory, have nagging worries. He seems to be surrounding himself with conservative advisors and staff, in general. This raises concerns not just about how they may argue against, and place obstacles in the way of, progressive change, but also about who will run things if anything does happen to him. Popping him off would seem less tempting to the CIA / Mafia types if they thought his VP would be even more dangerous to their interestsl.
In addition, his position on Palestine is not promising for Palestinians. It seems to me a positive step would be to start talking to the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people, Hamas, rather than just Abbas. Otherwise it looks like America wants the world to have democracy, but only if they vote for approved candidates.
Having said all that, his immediate agenda, set out on the first day, has a number of positive elements. I think that what he will do is create more space for activists to organise and for people to live their lives. I'm still hopeful.