Seventeen months after taking oath of office and three G-20 summits held since then, President Obama must review his track record on international achievements thus far.
Whilst Obama’s first year was loaded with international engagements that culminated in a Peace Nobel Award, 2010 has been mainly centred on a domestic agenda laden with Republican rebuffs and unsavoury surprises on the home front. This may have been initially essential to curtail far too rapid popularity erosion and possible Democratic defeats in the forthcoming congressional elections in November but became even more demanding after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with incalculable impact on the US coastline.
A week after the latest international G-8 & G-20 summits in Canada and coinciding with the traditional 4th of July celebrations, Gulf Coast beaches were solitary scenes on an otherwise jam-packed day. The fireworks on such a relevant day for the United States were not limited to the evening sky glitters nationwide but to a series of worrying issues both on the home front as well as abroad.
In the local scene, unemployment hit a 10% record figure which if properly considered would stand for as much as 16.5% seeking a job in the 50-star nation. Temporary jobs created by the Administration over the last months to undertake the census were not enough as private entrepreneurs languished with a lack of steady job offers. Consumption isn’t at its best, not even with the 4th of July festivities on the going. America is immersed in a serious economic crisis that may not go away so easily and end, as Krugman predicts, in another Great Depression.
What really is worrying is that Obama has stood alone in the last G-20 meet and one of its staunch allies in the G-8 & G-20, Great Britain, is now in the limelight due to the British Petroleum fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico and Cameron’s insistence in totally withdrawing U.K. troops from Afghanistan by 2015. Tension was added by Britons’ demand for stronger actions by the U.K. cabinet in defence of BP, to avoid its shares plummeting further due to the Gulf of Mexico rig spill. Will Obama finally kick someone’s ass or is he going to take a beating himself?
G-20 silence on Israel’s undaunted policy of striking first as a defence measure, mainly backed by U.S. permissiveness while condemning Iran and North Korea leaves an unsavoury taste for freedom-lovers around the world. No matter what are a nation’s alliances, any world leader must have the stamina to demand its ally to fulfil international agreements towards peaceful coexistence. The United States has thus far consented Israel too many whims to honestly stand out as a firm defender of human rights and democracy. This situation is further aggravated if one considers that Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Award in 2009.
Has the concern for domestic issues blurred Obama’s vision of the international front loaded with unresolved conflicts or is he being forced by American issues and K-Street lobbies to give leeway in such matters as the closure of Guantanamo, the unstable Iraq regime, the war in Afghanistan or the Israeli-Palestinian endless confrontation?
On the other hand, Obama may have decided to make a strategic halt to assess where he stands today after his solitary stand at the G-20 summit. If he decides for a G-2 push, his best bet as a partner would be the European Union with a carefully planned diplomatic action amongst the less conceited and more reliable members instead of the usual partners. It’s Obama’s turn to move a piece on the international chessboard. The world is watching.