Obama Counsels Americans Against Disengagement

American president Barack Obama waits backstage before participating in a panel discussion in Atlanta, Georgia, March 29
American president Barack Obama waits backstage before participating in a panel discussion in Atlanta, Georgia, March 29 (White House/Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama has counseled Americans against disengagement from the world, arguing that the importance of such things as foreign aid, trade negotiations and electrifying the African continent must not be underestimated.

Obama, who is due to step down in January, told Charlie Rose in an interview on the eve of his trip to Europe and the Middle East that “the choice is not between us going around and invading everybody and being the world’s policeman or just pulling back.”

We will be doing ourselves a great disservice if we define our leadership too narrowly, as just military, or if we abdicate that leadership and discount the role that we play.

“We built this international order,” the president said. “It has to be nurtured.”

That may occasionally require military action, he added, but more often involves American leadership on combating climate change or an international health crisis and promoting trade. Read more “Obama Counsels Americans Against Disengagement”

Leaders Seek to Uphold Rules-Based Order in Asia

American president Barack Obama talks with advisors at the White House in Washington DC, December 5, 2015
American president Barack Obama talks with advisors at the White House in Washington DC, December 5, 2015 (White House/Pete Souza)

Leaders from Southeast Asia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to a rules-based order in the region on the day it was revealed that China had moved missile systems to one of its contested islands in the South China Sea.

America’s Fox News reports that the Chinese military has stationed two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Island chain.

The island is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. Read more “Leaders Seek to Uphold Rules-Based Order in Asia”

In State of the Union, Obama Defends Foreign Policy

Barack Obama Xi Jinping
Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Xi Jinping of China toast during a banquet at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, November 12, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama rebuked Republican fearmongering in this annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night and argued that America should stay the course in its foreign policy.

Dismissing as “hot air” both claims that the United States economy is in decline and its position in the world weakening, the Democrat, who is due to leave office next year, reminded congressmen and senators that their nation remains by far the most powerful on Earth. “It’s not even close,” he said.

Obama admitted that “this is a dangerous time.” But he disputed opposition claims that upheaval in the world is the result of a “diminished American strength.”

“In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states,” the president said. Read more “In State of the Union, Obama Defends Foreign Policy”

While Others Panic, Obama Keeps Calm and Carries On

Angela Merkel Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 2, 2014 (Bundesregierung)

The dramatic terrorist attacks in France earlier this month and the ongoing upheaval in Iraq and Syria have America’s Republicans up in arms about the state of the world.

Islamists “declared war on Western civilization” when they killed more than 130 people in Paris, said Jeb Bush, the brother of Barack Obama’s predecessor and now a presidential candidate himself. He alleges that the Democrat has let America’s military might “decay.”

Marco Rubio, another presidential candidate, agrees. “The world has never been more dangerous,” he says. As for the terrorists: “Either they win, or we do.”

Their doom and gloom is echoed by conservative commentators and columnists who are having a hard time letting go of the Middle East.

Yet that is exactly what Obama is trying to do. Read more “While Others Panic, Obama Keeps Calm and Carries On”

Obama Brings China In from the Cold

Barack Obama Xi Jinping
Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Xi Jinping of China toast during a banquet at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, November 12 (White House/Pete Souza)

China and the United States announced a landmark agreement on curbing climate change on Wednesday. While significant in its own right, the biggest takeaway from the deal might be that the world’s two biggest economies are still able to get thing done in spite of the American “pivot” to Asia and Russia’s own burgeoning relationship with China.

The climate deal, which includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions and a commitment from China to stop pollution from rising after 2030, was announced by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in Beijing where the leaders had gathered for the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

The mere fact that China was willing to enter into the agreement is significant, argues the Council on Foreign Relations’ Michael Levi. Read more “Obama Brings China In from the Cold”

Obama’s “International Order”

Speaking at West Point’s famed military academy on Saturday, President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to reinvigorate an “international order” led by the United States. The president promised that America would be “steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well,” while working to build “new partnerships and shape stronger international standards and institutions” at the same time.

“This engagement is not an end in itself,” he noted. “The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times.” Read more “Obama’s “International Order””

The New Atlantic Order

The financial collapse of 2008 and the subsequent global economic downturn have left American prestige badly damaged. For years its free-trade rhetoric dominated debate within fora like the World Trade Organization and urged second-rate powers to privatize and reduce tariffs. Whatever its political course, American economic leadership seemed unchallenged. It was the era of the Washington Consensus.

Today, the American economy lies in shambles and eight years of George W. Bush have obliterated a great amount of the international leverage and respect that the country could previously count on. American management of globalization is contested as is American predominance on the world stage. Rising powers as Brazil, China and India and old world players as Europe and Russia all demand a place in the Obama Administration’s “multilateral” game.

Serious attempts are made in that direction. The G20 is a fine example of what Henry Kissinger called for last January in “The chance for a new world order“: “creating an international political regulatory system with the same reach as that of the economic world.” A promise that the United Nations has never been able to fulfill, the G20 now revives by shaping the political and financial framework of the future. Read more “The New Atlantic Order”