Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

Obama’s Biggest Challenge of All: China

November 29, 2008

The single most important challenge for the new administration—one with the potential to shape the 21st century—is China. As goes China, so go 1.3 billion men, women and children—one out of every five people on the planet.

China’s economy is now roughly half the size of America’s; in three decades, the two are likely to be about equal. What the Chinese eat, how much (or whether) they drive, where and how they choose to live, work and play: all will have an enormous impact on the availability and price of energy, the temperature of the planet and the prosperity of mankind.

By Richard Haass
Newsweek

Beijing’s foreign policy is no less important. A cooperative China could help stem the spread of nuclear materials and weapons, maintain an open global trading and financial system, secure energy supplies, frustrate terrorists, prevent pandemics and slow climate change. A hostile or simply noncooperative China, on the other hand, would make it that much more difficult for the United States and its allies to tame the most dangerous facets of globalization. But the emergence of a cooperative China is anything but inevitable. That is why Washington needs a new approach to Beijing. Think of it as “integration.”

In this March 31, 2008 file photo, a worker on a boat clears ... 
A  worker on a boat clears garbage from the Yellow River in Lanzhou in northwest China’s Gansu province. Newly released survey results show water quality along one third of China’s famed Yellow River has fallen below the lowest levels measured due to massive pollution. China’s second-longest river has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop due to diversion for booming cities.(AP Photo/File)

Integration should be for this era what containment was for the previous one. Our goal should be to make China a pillar of a globalized world, too deeply invested to disrupt its smooth functioning. The aim is ambitious, even optimistic, but not unrealistic. The United States and China need each other. Neither wants to go to war over Taiwan, to see another conflict on the Korean Peninsula or to see world oil prices quadruple as a result of a military strike on Iran. Even more than that, China needs access to the U.S. market for its exports in order to maintain economic growth and domestic political stability. Americans, in addition to benefiting from low-cost Chinese imports, need Beijing to manage its large dollar reserves responsibly.

Americans must accept China’s rise. There’s no guarantee we could prevent it anyway, and the attempt would only worsen the rivalry. We should not exaggerate China’s strength or the threat it poses. China’s military, for all its improvements, is still a generation behind America’s. And we should resist any calls to block China’s access to the U.S. market. Trade and investment aren’t just beneficial on their own terms; they also contribute to the web of ties that would bind China into an orderly world order.

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/171259

Chinese People's Liberation Army troops stand in their formation ... 
Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops stand in their formation at a parade ground during the annual rotation of military personnel in Hong Kong November 25, 2008.REUTERS/Alex Hoffard/Pool (CHINA)
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Candidate Obama Made Fun of Hillary’s Foreign Policy Experience; President-Elect Plans To Hire Her

November 29, 2008

It wasn’t too long ago that Barack Obama and his advisers were tripping over one another to tear down Hillary Rodham Clinton’s foreign policy credentials. She was dismissed as a commander in chief wanna-be who did little more than sip tea and make small talk with foreign leaders during her days as first lady.

“What exactly is this foreign policy experience?” Obama said mockingly of the New York senator. “Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no.”
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By Nancy Benac, Associated Press
In this Feb. 26, 2008 file photo, then Democratic presidential ...

In this Feb. 26, 2008 file photo, then Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., respond to a question during a Democratic presidential debate in Cleveland. It wasn’t too long ago that Obama and his advisers were tripping over one another to tear down Clinton’s foreign policy credentials. She was dismissed as a commander-in-chief wanna-be who did little more than sip tea and make small talk with foreign leaders during her days as first lady. Now, Clinton is on track to become Obama’s secretary of state.(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
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That was in March, when Clinton was Obama’s sole remaining rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
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Now, Clinton is on track to become Obama’s secretary of state.
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And, unsurprisingly, the sniping at her foreign policy credentials is a thing of the past.
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Obama adviser William Daley over the weekend said Clinton would be “a tremendous addition to this administration. Tremendous.”
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Senior adviser David Axelrod called Clinton a “demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person.”

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http://news.aol.com/main/obama-presidency/article/obama-team-
reinvents-clinton-after-digs/262862

Obama Finds Its Lonely At The Top

November 20, 2008

He has been running toward it for years, maybe his whole adult life, and suddenly he has arrived. And what he discovers is that inside his new cocoon of Secret Service protection, the presidency of the United States is a very lonely job.

By David Ignatius
The Washington Post
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That’s what Barack Obama confided in a revealing interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Steve Kroft asked him if he had received any good advice from former presidents, and his answer was poignant.

“You know, they were all incredibly gracious,” Obama said. “But I think all of them recognized that there’s a certain loneliness to the job. That, you know, you’ll get advice, and you’ll get counsel. Ultimately, you’re the person who’s going to be making decisions. And I think that even now, you know, I — you can already feel that fact.”

What did it feel like when Obama realized he would be president of the United States? “Well, I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet,” he answered. His wife, Michelle, tried to put it into words, and he agreed in wonderment, “How about that?”

The man who has spent his life “becoming” must now “be.” Obama has been the sojourner, as David Brooks of the New York Times has written, passing through places and institutions, alighting but never putting down deep roots. He has always been on his way elsewhere, in a journey of discovery and self-actualization that may be unmatched in American political history. And now he is at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/19
/AR2008111903532.html?hpid=
opinionsbox1

Japan Slides Into Recession; Obama Presidency Seen as No Help

November 17, 2008

Japan’s economy slid into a recession for the first time since 2001, the government said Monday, as companies sharply cut back on spending in the third quarter amid the unfolding global financial crisis.

The world’s second-largest economy contracted at an annual pace of 0.4 percent in the July-September period after a declining an annualized 3.7 percent in the second quarter. That means Japan, along with the 15-nation euro-zone, is now technically in a recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction.

The result was worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Kyodo News agency had predicted gross domestic product would gain an annualized 0.1 percent.

Japan’s Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said following the data’s release that “the economy is in a recessionary phase.”

But the worst may be yet to come, especially with dramatic declines in demand from consumers overseas for Japan’s autos and electronics gadgets. Hurt also by a strengthening yen, a growing number of exporters big and small are slashing their profit, sales and spending projections for the full fiscal year through March.

Toyota Motor Corp., for example, has cut net profit full-year profit forecast to 550 billion yen ($5.5 billion) — about a third of last year’s earnings. And Sony Corp., whose July-September profit plunged 72 percent, expects to make 59 percent less this fiscal year than last year.

“What we’re starting to see is the extent of deterioration in external demand start to weigh more heavily on the Japanese economy,” said Glen Maguire, chief Asia economist at Societe Generale. “And I think looking forward, there’s every indication that dynamic is going to continue.”

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_bi_ge/as_jap
an_economy;_ylt=ApHIyzOiyEFeB_wFtelfrris0NUE

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For Japan, Obama Signals A Shift Closer to China, Away From “Traditional” Asian Allies
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The Japanese do not share the jubilation seen almost everywhere following the election of Barack Obama. 

Economically, Japan sees an Obama White House funding the American Big Three Automakers: GM, Chrysler and Ford.  And that’s bad for Japan’s automakers.

Japan, for one nation, prefers to allow the “system” to work without more government intervention.

On the foreign policy level, Japan fears North Korea’s erratic behavior and nuclear capability.  It also fears China as a tradition enemy of immense wealth, population and size which can easily overwhelm the economy of Japan.

Japan fears the presidency of Barack Obama.  “So far, no good,” one senior diplomat told Peace and Freedom.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapal, Virginia

Related:
Obama Not Such A Hero In Japan

Condoleezza Rice On What Obama Faces

November 16, 2008

On Jan. 20, Barack Obama will inherit a world very different from the one his predecessor found in January 2001. Over the past eight years, the Bush administration has faced great challenges and nurtured grand ambitions; it has tried hard to remake the world. Condoleezza Rice has been a central player in that effort since becoming the candidate Bush’s chief foreign-policy adviser in 2000, so we arranged to interview her at the State Department late last month. The interview turned into a wide-ranging discussion of where this government has taken the United States and what sort of world it will leave for the next president. The editors have culled the highlights of her remarks in the text that follows. We also spoke with other administration foreign-policy makers — Christopher Hill and Daniel Fried of the State Department and Gen. James L. Jones, former supreme allied commander, Europe — whose remarks supplement and illuminate those of Rice.

By HELENE COOPER and SCOTT L. MALCOMSON
The New York Times (Sunday Magazine)

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/magazine/16rice-
t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin

Obama Not Such A Hero In Japan

November 16, 2008

Like millions of Americans, I watched the scene in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night, as President-elect Barack Obama delivered his victory speech, with a real sense of hope that something fundamental was changing. A few hours later, I began receiving e-mail messages from friends in Europe who were overjoyed by the choice American voters had made.

By Ayako Doi
The Washington Post
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And the next day, the world’s excitement was visible in news stories, photos and television images broadcast from around the globe — with one striking exception.

Surfing Japanese news Web sites for commentaries on the Obama victory from a key U.S. ally, I was taken aback by the skeptical, even negative, tone that prevailed. “Obama Likely to Stress Importance of China,” read one headline in the mass-circulation daily Yomiuri Shimbun, implying that the new administration will relegate Japan to the foreign policy back seat. The economic daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun fretted about the likelihood that the Democratic president and Congress may concoct a massive rescue package for troubled U.S. automakers and about the potential fallout for the Japanese car industry. Everyone seemed to agree that Obama, who has talked about withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan, may well put pressure on Japan to send ground troops to the latter country — something the nation’s postwar pacifist leaders don’t feel prepared to do.

President George W. Bush (L) sits alongside Japan's Prime Minister ... 
President George W. Bush (L) sits alongside Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso at the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy at the National Building Museum in Washington November 15, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13
/AR2008111302975.html

In Russia’s Putin-Medvedev shuffle, Putin is the lead dancer

November 15, 2008
Although Vladimir Putin has left the presidency and become prime minister, there’s no longer any question that he’s more powerful than his handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.
By Megan K. Stack
The Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2008
Reporting from Moscow — The question has all but disappeared from Russian discourse after months of feverish debate: Who is in charge, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev?

It’s been nearly a year since Putin, faced with the end of his presidency, endorsed his long-loyal underling to succeed him in the Kremlin. The speculation that once rattled around the capital after Putin restyled himself as prime minister — whether the two men would clash, whether Medvedev would try to eclipse his onetime mentor — has fallen away.

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in parliament May 8, 2008.  Sergei Chirikov AFP/Getty Images

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-f
g-russpower14-2008nov14,0,447484.story

Experts urge Obama to rethink Iran policy

November 15, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama must rethink U.S. policy toward Iran, eschewing confrontation and failed attempts to isolate Tehran through sanctions, according to a group of experts and former diplomats.

Reuters

Tackling Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be one of Obama’s main foreign policy challenges after he takes office on January 20. He has said he would harden sanctions but has also held out the possibility of direct talks.

The panel of 20 experts, who include academics and former U.S. ambassadors, warned against a military attack on Iran and called for unconditional negotiations, saying it was the only viable option to break “a cycle of threats and defiance”.

“An attack would almost certainly backfire … and long experience has shown that prospects for successfully coercing Iran through achievable economic sanctions are remote at best,” they said in a joint statement to be presented to a conference on the future of U.S.-Iran relations next week.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles during a meeting ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles during a meeting with Iraqi former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari in Tehran in October 2008. Barack Obama may have pledged during his campaign to talk to Iran’s leaders, but he could fall into a trap by replying to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s congratulatory letter, analysts warn.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081114/
pl_nm/us_usa_obama_iran_1

The Obama Transition: What Will Change Look Like

November 13, 2008

It is one of the ironies of politics and history that when the candidate of change was pondering what he would do if he actually got elected President, he turned to the man who eight years before handed over the White House keys to George W. Bush. Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta had met Barack Obama only a few times before the Democratic nominee summoned him to Chicago in August to ask him to begin planning a transition. Podesta supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and had little in common with Obama beyond the fact that they are both skinny guys from Chicago. Yet it is hard to think of a Democrat in Washington who can match Podesta’s organizational abilities or his knowledge of the inner workings of government. And Obama was already giving plenty of thought to the crucial 76 days between the election and the Inauguration. “He understood that in order to be successful, he had to be ready,” says Podesta, who is now a co-chairman of the transition team. “And he had to be ready fast.”

By KAREN TUMULTY
Time Magazine
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Even in the calmest of times, the transfer of presidential power is a tricky maneuver, especially when it involves one party ceding the office to another. But not since Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in the midst of the Depression has a new President faced a set of challenges quite as formidable as those that await Obama. That’s why Obama has been quicker off the blocks in setting up his government than any of his recent predecessors were, particularly Bill Clinton, who did not announce a single major appointment until mid-December. As the President-elect put it in his first radio address, “We don’t have a moment to lose.”

 

Not only did Obama name a White House chief of staff two days after the election, but he also began to fill 120,000 sq. ft. (11,000 sq m) of office space in downtown Washington with a transition operation that is ultimately expected to have a staff of 450 and a budget of $12 million, more than half of which must be raised from private funds. Obama’s goal, says his old friend Valerie Jarrett, another co-chair of the transition operation, “is to be able to be organized, efficient, disciplined and transparent to the American people.” More disciplined than transparent: Washington’s quadrennial parlor game is in full swing, with scores of names being circulated as contenders for top jobs in the Obama Administration. But the number of people who actually know anything is small, and they are not prone to leaking.

 

The transition provides an early glimpse of how the Obama team will conduct itself in power – and a test of how much change it really will bring to Washington. As the cascade of crises grows – the collapse of General Motors being the latest – the President-elect won’t have time to settle in before making big decisions. In a real sense, the moves Obama makes in the next six weeks may help define what kind of President he will be. The appointments he makes, the way he engineers his government, how fast he gets everything in place – each of those things will determine whether he stumbles or bursts out of the starting gate and whether he sets forth a clear or an incoherent agenda for governing.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20081113/us_time/theobamatransiti
onwhatwillchangelooklike;_ylt=AkGFuqiMA1gZXY3Uq5Dj_tKs0NUE

Conservatives: We Didn’t Just Lose a Race. We Lost Our Bearings.

November 9, 2008

It is not exactly a blinding insight to note that the Republican Party has lost its way. The election of Barack Obama was simply the result of an intellectual decline that began with the start of President Bush‘s reelection campaign in the summer of 2003 and continued unabated, culminating in Gov. Sarah Palin‘s unabashed appeals this year to resentful, blue-collar Republican culture warriors.

By Dov S. Zakheim
The Washington Post
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Palin’s error, John McCain‘s error and the GOP‘s error was to assume that a shrinking slice of the U.S. population could constitute an increasingly large and influential faction of the party. There are simply too few culturally conservative whites to sustain a national political party. At most, that community can contribute to a larger coalition; it cannot constitute that coalition on its own.

How did we lose our bearings so badly? In late 1998, when I joined then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s foreign policy team (famously dubbed the “Vulcans”), I was going to work for a man who stood for five key principles that many of us thought would underpin a national Republican majority for decades to come. Last week’s failure stemmed from my party’s failure to hew to these values.

The first and best-known of these was “compassionate conservatism,” exemplified by the insistence that no child be left behind in poverty and despair — a reflection of President Bush’s determination to improve the lot of underprivileged Americans, especially minorities.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/0
6/AR2008110603000.html