Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Middle East strategy often complain that Obama lacks a strategic vision. This is almost exactly wrong. Obama came to office with a conviction that reducing the United States’ massive military and political investment in the Middle East was a vital national security interest in its own right.
China’s rise poses two broad challenges for U.S. foreign policy: how to deter the People’s Republic from destabilizing East Asia and how to encourage it to contribute to multilateral global governance. Although China is not yet a military peer competitor of the United States, it has become powerful enough to challenge U.S. friends and allies in East Asia and to pose serious problems for U.S. forces operating there.
Even now, gazing back through the jaundiced lens of subsequent experience, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign speech in Berlin still seems an extraordinary occasion. Tens of thousands of mostly young Germans gathered in the center of the city to listen to the American presidential candidate, in an atmosphere The Guardian described as “a pop festival, a summer gathering of peace, love—and loathing of George Bush.”
In April 2009, just three months after he took office, U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. There, he told Latin America’s leaders that he wanted to begin “a new chapter of engagement” and an “equal partnership . . . based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values.”
When Barack Obama was elected U.S. president in 2008, the news was greeted with enormous hope in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as among the small coterie of Americans who follow the region closely. This son of a Kenyan father would not only understand the continent better than his predecessors in the White House, the thinking went, but he would also treat it as a strategic priority and direct more resources its way.
The latest UN development initiative calls for achieving universal health coverage by 2030, a goal widely supported in the global health community but one that is possibly too ambitious, writes CFR’s Laurie Garrett.
The way the world trades has changed since the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established. Fewer goods and services originate from any one supplier or country. Components and intermediate services are increasingly sourced and assembled from specialist suppliers around the world. Regulation also plays a more significant role in this era of international trade. The adequacy of regulatory oversight has become more important as complex, unbundled global supply chains have become harder for businesses and customers to monitor.
Overall, the landscape of Iran suggests few reasons for optimism: The Islamic Republic has negotiated an advantageous arms-control agreement, and the accord looks likely to survive opposition in the U.S. Congress. Tehran’s regime represses its citizens and has embarked on an expansion of its influence from the Persian Gulf to the banks of the Mediterranean.
On August 5, President Obama took to the podium at American University to justify his controversial nuclear pact with Iran. The location was chosen with seeming care, as over five decades earlier, John F. Kennedy delivered a key speech at the same Washington school calling for arms control agreements with another adversary, the Soviet Union.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye spoke on August 15, 2015, marking the anniversary of Japan's surrender during World World II. President Park discussed the development of the South Korean economy and relations with North Korea and with Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a speech on the end of World War II the previous day. See CFR.org's timeline, "Last Days of Imperial Japan" for background information.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is unlikely to evolve into a post-revolutionary pragmatic state like China, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. As it is difficult to give up the theocratic orthodoxy of the regime, Iran will continue to resist the legitimacy of the international order.
President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met on August 4, 2015, to discuss several international initiatives that the United States is addressing with the UN, including climate change, humanitarian crises, political violence, and economic development.
A major concern of the Iran nuclear deal is that it only imposes constraints for 10 years. After that, the “breakout time” needed for Iran to build a bomb may shrink again. President Obama should say that if Iran expands its program to the full extent allowed by the agreement, the United States will consider it a threat to our security and that of our allies. The president should also add that if the threat begins to grow again, Washington is prepared to renounce the agreement—reimposing sanctions, reviewing military options, and urging other states to do the same.
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