Having reached his first 100 days with an excellent rate of approval, President Obama has now to face issues both in at home and in the international scenario. No doubt that his firmness in applying economic measures in the bankrupt-threatened automobile industry and the cash-thirsty banking sector has alerted executives the nation over that he means business. However, the international scene is far from being under control and U.S. blunders in the years of the Bush Administration have mined Washington’s credibility as the world’s foremost leader.
As I already observed in previous blogs, Europe has still to see proof of Obama’s goodwill in the global international scenario and Latin America applauded at the Port-of-Spain summit without really giving the new U.S. Administration al approval of what is to come. From a rather broad and objective perspective, the start-off earned a merited approval but also showed that The White House with its new tenant has a lot of legal obstacles to overcome before he can push through relevant promises of his election campaign. Moreover, in trying to move away from his predecessor’s pathetic decisions, President Obama and his team are encountering numerous insurmountable legal of loopholes which will slow down key changes towards a more humane and accepted U.S. government.
If George Bush had his Waterloo in the invasion of Iraq, President Obama’s may well be the Afghanistan – Pakistan terrorist issue. True to say, the Afghanistan Taliban conflict is an inheritance of wrong U.S. strategic policies in trying to circumvent the Russian occupation in the 80’s of this arid central Asian territory. As in many other occasions, the U.S. Administration has supported rebel groups that afterwards have turned to bite their sponsor’s hand, as was the case of the Taliban entrenched in the mountains fighting off the Russian invasion. For almost a decade, Washington entrusted Pakistan’s rule to a military leader only to find that this trust did not resolve the free flow of Al Qaida terrorists through Pakistan to other countries. Today, both Pakistan and Afghanistan have turned into a tough international with the U.S. Administration scarcely supported by other western allies. The European Union flatly turned down President Obama’s request for more troops in Afghanistan and the fleeing Pakistani civilians will briefly have caused a new refugee issue similar to that of the Middle East. Where does Washington expect to turn to when none of the bordering Asian neighbours – India, Iran, and China – wish to support U.S. military plans in the region.
Further complications will have to arise in the interconnection between Taliban & Palestinian Muslims, should Israel’s hard-line foreign policy towards the Palestinian Territory prevail. The negotiators’ bloc – U.S.A, European Union, United Nations & Russia – presently attempting to bring postures closer has found the recent appointment of a hawkish right-wing Israeli government a serious drawback in their efforts. Not even the recent visit of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, seems to have softened Israel’s new position. Perhaps, this is the very reason why President Obama has scheduled to address a speech on June 4th. from El Cairo to the entire Muslim world. The brief presidential stay in Turkey scarcely a month ago may have not had the desired effects as per White House strategy. The contents of said message are surely relevant enough for the U.S. President to travel twice in such a short period to practically the same region.
But woes always come in a bunch and Obama’s aren’t any exception. His apparent success in winning over some Latin American leaders at the V Summit of the Americas three weeks ago has now been clouded by Chavez’s latest seizures which may in some way have been provoked by a recent OAS report about Venezuela’s democratic rating. The divided Latin American leaders have shown their lack of united criteria in recent meetings between Brazil’s Lula and his Argentinean & Paraguayan counterparts, as well as harsh disqualifications made by Bolivia’s Morales o Venezuela’s Chavez against Peru’s García. Obama may have hoped to find in Lula a spokesman for all South America, a situation that is far from reality.
Relations with Russia are newly turning icy-cold after two Canadian NATO diplomats faced spying accusations and were expelled from the Russian territory. Russian influence in the Central Asian & Middle East scenarios is quite well-known, with its pronounced pro-Iranian defence of this state’s nuclear programme. More is coming Obama’s way, not only due to tense situations to arise in Asia and Africa in the forthcoming weeks in U.S. relations with China and the Two Koreas in the offing and complications menacing in focal points of Africa.
Finally, the Obama Administration seems to be playing hide-n-seek in its future stand at the Doha Round. Protectionist statements at times and liberal free-markets speeches make U.S. partners wonder exactly if Obama speaks up from the heart or off the cuff, as he joked during the recent newspapermen’s dinner in Washington D.C.. The White House will sooner or later have to let the cat out of the bag and face up to global market reactions either way it may go on world trade and the future of WTO-sponsored talks.
It is interesting to observe that the new U.S. Administration may be undergoing lack of coordination between Treasury boss, Tim Geithner and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, just to cite one example. Recently, Geithner singlehandedly signed a protocol agreement with Gibraltar’s Colonial Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, in an inappropriate state status scenario which is insulting to Spain’s decades-long claim over The Rock, a U.K. Colony retained on the basis of the 18th. century Treaty of Utrecht.
Precisely, Spain is certainly a key partner in any attempt by the Obama Administration to open talks both in the Middle East and the Latin American scenarios. The White House team should check out its coordinates and communicate better to avoid further woes in the international scene. The U.S. Government will need all help possible from its solvent partners in Europe if it wants to resolve ticklish issues in several conflictive regions.
Madrid, May 11, 2009