New President, New Approach

Getting down to work
Getting down to work

A week on from Obama’s inauguration, and he sure is quick getting to work on the unenviable task of cleaning up the biggest mess America has found itself in since the ’30s.

Closing Guantanamo Bay on Day One was obviously a key symbolic victory for liberty and the concept of a fair trial, and his early diplomatic phone calls show his commitment to pursuing peace in the Middle East.

But today we hear the news which, for me at least, is the biggest step forward for this new administration. Obama and his team are ready to take on a global villain called Robert who has been wreaking havoc in Africa.

I watched intently last March as the spectre of Mugabe seemed to wane, before he heartlessly overthrew the election result and drove his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai out of the country. Now it seems the UN is finally readying itself to step in, taking the lead from Obama’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice.

This policy decision is all the more admirable considering the aforementioned American mess – you would have thought Obama would be content with juggling a collapsing economy, motor industry and two contentious foreign conflicts. I guess he just likes a challenge.

This move for me marks the biggest difference between the Bush years and the fledgling Obama era. Instead of simply consulting the UN just in case they agreed before firing gung-ho into Iraq, it looks like though Obama is keen to get everyone (or at least the majority) onside before getting serious about Zimbabwe. Seems international diplomacy isn’t dead after all…

p.s. For those who prefer their commentary on international politics to be more well-read and erudite, please have a look at this blog by my good friend Charlotte.

[Wordpress spellcheck – Obama, not found. Suggestions: ABBA?]

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One thought on “New President, New Approach

  1. We will definitely be watching Obama’s foreign policy with even greater interest than Bush’s. This is an article he wrote during his campaign, which indicates what his FP outlook is. http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20070701faessay86401-p0/barack-obama/renewing-american-leadership.html

    He is definitely a ‘uni-multi’ polarist (S. Huntington: “one superpower, with several major powers”, a sort of diluted hegemon, which the world cannot live without, but cannot go about doing what it wishes on its own. http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19990301faessay966/samuel-p-huntington/the-lonely-superpower.html). This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially in the Middle East and Asia, but it essentially means that he’s an American multilateralist, which is the best you can expect, considering you can’t really expect a US president who doesn’t believe in the great power and responsibility of the US on the world stage.

    What’s similar to Bush is that he feels that the US is responsible for global security, and what’s different is that he should be a bit more conscientious about keeping the world’s good books. As well as being a sort of ideological thing, it’s also a political reality. The US can’t invade any more countries, because it can’t afford it, in any sense of the word. Bush pushed US power to its furthest extent, and to push it further would be clinically insane.

    I apologise for the slightly cold structural content of this post. Annoyingly, for a leftie, I’m more of a structural than a normative thinker. But I also believe that structures change because we change. Our values matter, and I don’t forget that we were marching against the Iraq war even without knowing what we know now.

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