“Barack, Be Bold!”: What Hillary’s Parting Advice Should Be

Hillary Clinton + Barack ObamaAn American president’s first term in the office is viewed as a practice round of sorts, while the second term is crucial one, the one that counts toward his historic legacy. You had barely been elected to the White House in 2008, and had just defined few basic tenets of your policy, when you were forced to make compromises with your political rivals and your own party to prepare for the next election. Now you no longer have this burden. As far as your career is concerned, you don’t have to make allowances for anything or anyone, the lobbying groups and donors of all stripes included. In our system, a president hasn’t had more than two shots in a long time, that’s a good thing. There are enormous risks and opportunities ahead, but they are mainly your risks and opportunities, even if Republican-controlled House of Representatives will try to thwart you here and there. Many presidents, after initial difficulties, have used their second term in optimal ways, becoming historic figures in the process. Take Woodrow Wilson, for example, who established the League of Nations in 1919, his penultimate year in office. If we ignore Franklin D. Roosevelt for a moment, a special case because of World War II, which enabled him to remain in office from 1933 until his death in 1945, there were 12 presidents before you who served for two terms. You could become one of the best second-term presidents ever. One for the history books. The first black president, a conciliator, peacemaker. And I don’t mean that in Messianic, promising-the-impossible sense. By now, everyone has figured out that you can’t walk on water, even you. You know me: I don’t tell you what you want to hear. We’ve had our differences. In fact, there were even some bitter and personal attacks in the fight for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2008. But then we treated each other with great respect in the administration. We are both progressive pragmatists. We’ve achieved quite a bit in the last four years, and we’ve also missed some opportunities. Strategic depth wasn’t exactly our strength. My reasons for leaving State Department are purely personal. Distance I’m gaining at the moment helps me see things more clearly, hence the advice, some of which will probably puzzle you. Many are advising you now to focus on the domestic issues. You could enhance that with few relatively unproblematic foreign policy initiatives. Could lift the pointless embargo on Cuba, thereby weakening the Castro regime. And you could upgrade China’s Asian neighbors with military alliances, depriving our bankers in Beijing of some of their aggressiveness, essentially leading from behind. Effective management of a comprehensive withdrawal from Afghanistan would also help, be careful not to let our military leaders convince you to leave thousands of our troops behind. On domestic front, do everything to promote economic recovery at home, tighten gun laws, close disgraceful Guantanamo Bay detention camp and improve our miserable infrastructure, which makes America look like a third-world country. In short, do some nation-building at home. But don’t be deceived. Foreign policy will catch up to you in your second term. Like some 800-pound guerilla, it’ll turn up in the Oval Office and force its way into the spotlight. You can leave the Europeans to their permanent hibernation when it comes to global policy, to their obsession with themselves. But we don’t have that luxury, and nor should we. Isolationism would be just as devastating a concept as opposite policy was under your predecessor: striking out mindlessly without regard for international agreements (…..)

Link: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/the-foreign-policy-opportunities-of-us-president-barack-obama-a-878878.html


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

3 Responses to “Barack, Be Bold!”: What Hillary’s Parting Advice Should Be

  1. If Mali is any example, “leading from behind” is the right policy choice for the United States to follow in most of today’s international confrontations with what is now termed “terrorism.” The Obama administration’s actions in the past months reflect it has learned some hard lessons from the United States’ 11 years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The wars have cost the nation 6,300 U.S. lives, 50,300 casualties among American service personnel and about $1.3 trillion. What’s one lesson? “The best-intentioned foreign intervention is bound to bog its armies down in endless wars fighting invisible enemies to help ungrateful locals,” as the Economist magazine frankly wrote in its Jan. 26 issue. Sound familiar?

    How about what then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told West Point cadets almost two years ago: “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.” On Tuesday night, former secretary of state George P. Shultz, in an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations here in Washington, put it this way: “Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be the template for how we go about” dealing with threats of terrorism.

    The Obama refinement to such intervention may be to provide intelligence and logistic support to those deserving such help and capable of receiving it. But the lead for using combat troops, “boots on the ground,” should be taken by those whose vital interests are directly involved — starting with the host government. Next should be neighboring countries. In the best of circumstances, they would be banded together in regional organizations, and, if possible, with authorization from the United Nations. If the situation requires U.S. diplomacy to facilitate such collaboration and authority, fine. That is where the world’s greatest power should take the lead. If more hawkish Americans want to call this “leading from behind,” then that’s all right, too. Finally, when outside ground forces from a major power are required, it should come from a nation with historic roots in the host country. France is a good example. It stepped up and took the lead by going into Mali, a former colony, in response to the Bamako government’s call for help. Another example is the international cooperation on the oceans off Somalia that has successfully been dealing with the piracy problem (…..)


  2. A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. The invasion has almost nothing to do with “Islamism” and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence, as demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. As in the cold war, a division of labour requires that western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a “menacing arc” of Islamic extremism, which is no different from the bogus “red menace” of a worldwide communist conspiracy. Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US Africa Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for US bribes and armaments. In 2011, Africom staged Operation African Endeavour, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom’s “soldier-to-soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only the pith helmets are missing. It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, has been consigned to oblivion by a new master’s black colonial elite, whose “historic mission”, Frantz Fanon warned half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”. A striking example is the eastern Congo, a treasure trove of strategic minerals, controlled by an atrocious rebel group known as the M23, which in turn is run by Uganda and Rwanda, the proxies of Washington. Long planned as a “mission” for Nato (not to mention the ever-zealous French, whose colonial lost causes remain on permanent standby), the war on Africa became urgent in 2011 when the Arab world appeared to be liberating itself from the Mubaraks and other clients of Washington and Europe. The hysteria this caused in imperial capitals cannot be exaggerated. Nato bombers were des patched not to Tunis or Cairo but to Libya, where Muammar al-Gaddafi ruled over Africa’s largest oil reserves. With the Libyan city of Sirte reduced to rubble, the British SAS directed the “rebel” militias in what has since been exposed as a racist bloodbath (…..)


  3. Break out your pith helmet, wax your mustache and raise a toast at the club: The French have liberated Timbuktu. It seems like the headline from the age of imperialism. In fact, it is one in a series of very modern conflicts and interventions across Africa (…..) And Americans, being Americans, are drawn toward technological solutions to political problems. Drones strike targets in Somalia and Yemen. This imposes one narrow form of order — the removal of specific threats — but it does not encourage political stability or improve local conditions. All of these policy options can be appropriate and are being applied, in various forms, by the Obama administration. The most important goal, however, is not to provide temporary substitutes for sovereignty but to strengthen that attribute itself. This is the opposite of colonialism — the building of local military and civil capacity and improving public health and economic growth. These are the most difficult tasks in development, and the easiest to cut in a budget retrenchment. They are also cheaper, in the long run, than constantly fighting to contain the chaos.



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