Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

OBAMA AFTER G-8 / G-20 CANADIAN RENDEZVOUS

July 5, 2010
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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.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

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OBAMA AFTER A YEAR IN OFFICE: THE HONEYMOON IS OVER

January 20, 2010
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On the day of President Obama’s first anniversary in Office, the Democratic Party’s defeat in the senatorial elections in Massachusetts has been the final bitter drop to a rather complicated year.

Obama has had a rather full year with a rather favourable start due to his popularity as candidate, President-elect and during the first half of 2009. Three main issues have weighed heavily on White House decisions in this twelve months sin taking oath as America’s 44th President and first Afro-American to preside the world’s most powerful nation.

A change in Bush’s Iraq policy was probably the issue that best met with citizenry approval. This included the closure of the Guantanamo installations, a promise that has yet to be fulfilled. However, the international warfront did not end with the announcement of an orderly troop from Iraq. The anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan was likewise inherited from the Bush Administration. If new Iraq policy seemed acceptable, new troops for Afghanistan have met both with political and citizen objections.

Obama’s decision to reinforce American troops in Afghanistan clash with its effects on the U.S. budget precisely at a time when not only Republican politicians question such expenditure but also meet criticism from some Democrats.  True to say, the Obama Administration has had to dump public funds to save the American car industry and salvage the country’s largest banks. Such financial effort has further strained U.S. reserves and added to the overburdened public expenditures.

To top it all, Obama’s promised health reform is another burden to the already overloaded public deficit. Resistance to said bill has already provoked tensions within the Democratic Party and has been the Republicans’ main issue brought up against the White House in 2009. The degraded version passed by Congress is up for the Senate vote just when the bitter defeat for the Massachusetts senatorial post has grabbed the Democrat’s majority in the Upper House.

What awaits President Obama in his second year in Office? With the honeymoon over, the White House advisors must drain their minds to come up with creative solutions to the dark clouds up ahead.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


OBAMA AFTER COPENHAGEN

December 20, 2009
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Almost a year after taking oath of office and with the unexpected Nobel Peace Award to his brief presidential CV, President Obama must be evaluated as to his effective achievements in his first year in the White House.

Surely, media all over the world but more so the U.S. press will undertake a point by point fulfilment analysis of the President’s electoral promises. From a global point of view, one must get down to brass tacks to properly evaluate Obama’s first year in office.

At this point and time, the closing of the U.N. Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen could be the best indicator of the pressures the U.S. President must have been subjected to in the last twelve months since his historic election.

The U.S. stand on curtailing CO2 emissions showed signs of a shift away from the irresponsible disregard of the Bush Administrations (2000-2008) of the Kyoto Protocol; a new will to participate was expressed upon Obama’s takeover. However, after the Asian Presidential tour in November that ended with a China-US meet, thunder clouds again appeared in the December Copenhagen summit skies.

Obama’s charms lost force and the Chinese Government did not succumb to his persuasive speeches. Moreover, China has a firm grip on U.S. Government Bonds which are the funding source for the Obama’s anti-crisis strategy.

The Asian posture, mainly China and India, have remained unchanged in spite of the President’s efforts during his Beijing summit and at the first dignitary banquet at the White House in honour of India’s Prime Minister Singh. Without the United States and China accepting the European Union’s CO2 cutback proposal and financial scheme, any alternative agreement would be a whitewash that would fall short of all minimum expectations.

And this is exactly what has happened.

Obama’s four-hour negotiations resulted in a lame pronouncement initially only back by India and South Africa, to later add in China and Brazil. President Obama has sought a way out that has put his goodwill relations with the European bloc in jeopardy.

Obama has likewise had his hands pretty tied up at the home front to make any spectacular promises on the principle issues at stake at the Copenhagen meet.  How much of Obama’s climate change posture is due to a need to face up to global challenges for approval of vital bills into laws?

At the outset of the New Millennium’s second decade, the world’s most powerful man Barack Obama, as Head-of-State of a nation whose international supremacy is put to test, must set up a visionary list of priorities in his quest of long-term objectives. A clash of interests among main issues vital before the eyes of the average American such as healthcare, Afghanistan troops, Guantanamo, Iraq withdrawal, unemployment, climate change, sustainability, etc. have been cleverly manipulated to cast the shadow of a doubt as to Obama’s capacity to live up to his campaign promises.

Has Obama’s lukewarm speech before the Copenhagen climate change assembly anything to do with the upcoming voting of indispensible funding and bill approvals on the mentioned issues in the U.S. Senate?

Have potent lobbies influenced the Obama Administration to prevent signing a new protocol that could prejudice vested interests profits and multinational expansion strategies?

There are relevant lessons to learn from Copenhagen. One that cannot be missed is Obama’s failure to live up to expectations in Oslo earlier this month. He now has to double his efforts not only to turn his words into acts but also to end his so-called just wars.

Obama must admit he cannot walk alone towards a better world in peace. We, the people of the world, are watching.


Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


OBAMA’S WATERLOO – MIDDLE EAST, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, IRAN OR GUANTANAMO ?

May 23, 2009
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In the first trench of his mandate, not only has President Obama inherited all of the Bush Administration follies from warfronts to the economic crisis but now has started to create his own.

From some of the inherited woes not properly handled once in the seat of power, the Obama Administration may find itself in the limelight precisely of present-day decisions taken in the wake of election promises that may never be fulfilled.

Obama may09In a previous blog (Middle East: Obama’s Simmering Volcano) last month, I pointed out the risks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Much has occurred since then, unfortunately in an unfavourable direction.

That simmering volcano has spout out lava towards the East, farther into Central Asia, sending its tremors way beyond the radius of the Middle East conflict zone. Another inherited conflict emanating from the 9-11 terrorist attack has now exceeded the Afghanistan borders and clearly infected neighbouring northern Pakistan.

Iran now has launched its trial missiles in an arrogant stance of its potential nuclear military power. Sitting amid the principal conflict zones affecting the U.S. military involvements in Iraq & Afghanistan with the added need to aid Taliban-invaded Pakistan, a U.S.-Iran confrontation is in the offing. Indeed, the Muslim-dominated part of Asia seems to be a firm candidate to be one of President Obama’s principal woes on short term. This may be the main reason for his June 4th. message to be delivered from Cairo, Egypt to the Muslim world.

guantanamo1Nevertheless, the turn of events on the home front may have put another of Obama’s woes unexpectedly in the limelight – GUANTANAMO.

In spite of being a long-term inheritance in U.S. foreign policy not only attributable to the Bush Administration, then candidate Obama’s election promises obliges the present U.S. Administration to a definite Guantanamo closure at the earliest. Now in this second 100-day trench at the White House, the Obama team has come up with numerous inconveniences to carry out said election compromise. The legal aspects so lightly considered then are building up a steep climb to fulfilment. Beyond the torture practices during the Bush era, definite closure of the dreaded jail on foreign soil seems unattainable.

Cheney may09The possible mess-up is serving Republicans to fuel up debate and no less than former Vice-President Cheney has picked up the issue to criticize the new Administration’s frivolity at rejecting the Bush hard-line anti-terrorist policy. It must be remembered that Cheney is believed to be the principal strategist behind former President Bush’s most questioned decisions during the two-term White House occupancy.

guantanamo2President Obama’s latest speech to counter the disastrous 90 to 6 Senate vote rejection to fund Guantanamo closure was not at all convincing and obviously even further weakened with the timely Cheney address a few minutes after. Something seems to be moving the wrong way for the new Democrat Administration that occupies the White House scarcely 120 days from the swearing in.

US Seal & FlagThe power machinery of the Texas Clan may have just started its bulldoze tactic on the trouble-ridden Obama Administration. Atop its inherited woes, Obama may finally have commenced to face a self-merited Waterloo – GUANTANAMO.

 

Madrid, May 23, 2009


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