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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Obama’s Second Term: Time For More Ambitious Foreign Policy

Obama’s Second Term: Time For More Ambitious Foreign Policy

The first term was spent playing defense. Now it’s time to get on the offensive with an ambitious foreign policy agenda.

Last Tuesday’s election results were a powerful endorsement of President Obama’s leadership. Though exit polls seem to indicate that foreign affairs played only a minor role in the decisions of most voters, the president has a remarkable opportunity to reassert American leadership in his second term by outlining and executing an ambitious global agenda.

The last four years have been characterized by a largely safe and conservative foreign policy that was focused on cleaning up two wars that his administration inherited and addressing a global terrorism threat in need of containment. For the most part, the president has done an admirable job on both fronts and has exercised deft, competent, and thoughtful leadership across a range of foreign policy decisions. However, when given opportunities to make big, ambitious plays, he has consistently chosen to play it safe. The response to the Arab Awakenings could be much more powerful, with policy leadership and a political push equal to the historic opportunities in the region. The European monetary union remains in perpetual near-crisis, but the president has elected to play a supporting role. The U.S. trade agenda, most notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has made slow and steady progress, but has remained largely absent from the president’s broad narrative of promoting American values and strategic vision.

In order to accomplish this, the administration will need to fully come to terms with the “rise of the rest” and ascension of middle-income countries on the world’s stage. Strong American leadership in this new world will require reimagining the architecture of global governance. Some of this is underway with the increased reliance on the G20 rather than the G8. But more will have to be done to incorporate other nations substantively into the fabric of the IMF, World Bank, and Security Council. Additionally, we will need to craft new institutions that can coordinate collective action and truly make the United States an indispensable super partner in addition to being a superpower. The U.S. is well positioned to lead this movement, but it must choose to seize that mantle and responsibility.

In President Obama’s second term, he should also double down on expanding the benefits of trade, openness, and economic growth in the developing world. There is perhaps nothing that can do more to solidify and secure long-term U.S. interests abroad than to help usher in a new world of opportunities for everyday people living in volatile and tumultuous regions. Families in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East want what everyone wants: decent jobs, safe communities, educational opportunities, and a real path for their children to realize their full potential. Simon Rosenberg has observed, “FDR and his fellow progressives took on the challenges of their day and built the domestic programs and international institutions that ushered in an era of unrivaled prosperity and stability.” The challenge facing today’s progressives is no less important.

This administration has talked up many foreign policy accomplishments over the last four years, but the president has a real opportunity over the next four to leave a lasting legacy by reasserting a 21st century liberal internationalism. With the partisan congressional dynamics largely unchanged after the election, it is certainly possible that gridlock over domestic policy will create incentives for the president to focus more attention on a more ambitious foreign policy. I hope that he does.

Bradley Bosserman is a member of the DC chapter of the Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline and a Foreign Policy Analyst at NDN and the New Policy Institute, where he directs the Middle East and North Africa Initiative.

Cross-posted from The Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog

The Roosevelt Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Photo credit: AP/Luke Sharrett

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • nobsartist

    First he better fix America. The people demand it.

    • This is part of fixing America.. By forming economic ties and partnerships with other countries, he gives the Gordon Gecko wannabes heart attacks.

  • nobsartist

    First thing though, he needs to throw the secretary of state and the governor of florida in prison for voter fraud.

    • 13observer

      yes, and the illegal aliens there as well. no crime should go unpunished…right?

      • ptg0

        Were we talking about immigration?

        • 13observer

          I think that was alot of the focus in Florida……………. or did you just want to talk about crimes commited by certain people? I’m sure we all want to ensure our elections are legal, and one of the ways is to have proper I.D. to present! I don’t give a fu*k about what the illegal aliens think or anyone who supports their criminal activity!……so………. if aren’t smart or resourcefull enough to secure I.D. to help combat voter fraud wheather or not it exists (just to make sure)… i need to draw you a fu*king picture PROFESSOR?????? Blame it on the illegal aliens….it is their fault! They are not going to hold our democracy hostage for AMNESTY!

      • Sock puppet go home.

        • 13observer

          you know you could never win a debate with me and it frustrates you PROFESSOR!

    • im with you

  • tobewan

    Also, he needs to FIX all the voting machines and/or methods in every state, especially Florida. The system in OREGON of mailing in or drop-boxes is easy, convenient, and the ballots are mailed to each registered voter two weeks ahead. No booths or standing in line, and its secret.

    • 13observer

      yes because he lost the election….. right???

      • No! So you dumb neocons can’t stop people from voting.

        • 13observer

          blame it on the illegal aliens, they caused it!

          • Can you explain that statement. You like to make these wild and unproven statements but never back them up with facts. If you have an issue present with facts to prove your case not some simlisitic statement that has no relevance to the topic in question.

          • 13observer

            yes I can, illegal aliens have stolen identities, social security numbers, fu*ked up people’s credit voted in national elections by absentee ballot and the list goes on and on and on. We will soon be forced to have biometric identities to show proof of who we are….voting or otherwise because of this out of control illegal immigration!

  • He is one person with only one soul and people expect that he has to fix problems of all billions people in the world? That is quite impossible.

  • Jim Lou

    I remember that Obama telling Russians that he would have more negotiating room after the elections.

    He needs to get tough with Russia, which is in no way our friend. Look at Iran. Look at Syria. There are others.

    • 13observer

      are you kidding? this lame duck becomes the President of COMPROMISE!!!!

  • You People must realize this is a one figure man as any human being. If your wannabe President have won the white house as he was already pack and waiting to hop in there you all would not be pushing him this hard and demanding him as you are doing now with President Obama… (-“< stueps man..

    • 13observer

      yes, but Obama has had four years to get the feel of the job! are you saying he is well behing the learning curve?

  • The President is no Indian Goddess with a Dozen hand. He is a normal human. Start putting your hands into your pocket and handing him your share of tax so he can begin his work to fix the country and the economy.

  • The President have started working and cleaning the country. He has block a train load of hook worms from moving into the white house. and there will be clean natural gas for our nation…c’mon folks.

  • TITUSI_London

    I read with amazement some people’s condemnation of President Obama and his administrations handling of the Arab spring. I will tell why i am amazed.
    1. America is not the world ‘s police man. While the USA is policing the world with the consequential cost in money, resources, time and human cost, the other nations are getting richer by investing in their economy to the detriment of the USA.
    2. Yes USA is the leader of the free world and the only super power with leadership responsibilities. They need to show national leardership first to their peoples and issues that affect the country.

    Coming to Obama’s reaction to the Arab spring. Obama created or inspired Arab spring. How? When Obama ran his election in 2008 on Hope and and Yes We Can, it gave the world oppressed hope and voice to say Yes we can.

    When Obama articulated Hope and Yes we can, it gave courage to the oppressed, the distressed, the depressed and the desperate hope that they have a champion in the leader of the free world to articulate and inspire their cause.

    When Obama won the 2008 election it gave hope to the oppressed peoples the world over that minority people can achieve any height if they try.

    when Obama went to Egypt (the influencial Arab nation) to speak directly to the Arab people, he was going over the heads of the Arab leaders to speak to the people about hope and Yes they can.

    When Obama when that great speak and took questions directly from Arab students, he was speaking directly to the youths of the region. He was saing to them, your matter, you are important and yes you can.

    When he addressed the youths of the world in Germany, he was articulating change from the bottom up and not top down.

    Obama was not articulating go to war and America will take over the war. Obama was articulating do it yourself because you have the power to make the change, utilise the power you have, no government no matter how dictectorial it is can exist without the consent of the people.

    People expect from Obama what he could not deliver nor is he willing to deliver and that is the shedding of USA blood in foreign lands on matters that other people could achieve themselves with logistical and moral support from the world.

    We expect of Obama what the Jews of the bible expected of Christ to be a warrior king. Christianity achieved more in creating modern civilisation and the current norms and values that we share and enjoy today than a warrior king world have achieved. Please I am not equating Obama with Christ but I am simply saying that Obama best articulated American values than many US leaders of the past. He has inpired and encouraged the hopeless, the distressed, the oppressed, the deppressed and the marginalised to rise up and demand for their right as has happaned in Algeria, Egypt and other Arab nations.

    Posterity will judge Obama differently. Watch this space.

    Titus Ife
    London, UK

    • 13observer

      how can you really bitch about other nations inverting in their economies without bringing great attention to the illegal aliens in this country living off taxpayers while sending their earnings back home. Really? are you kidding? this administration is supporting illegal immigration while the home country looks at us like we are fools!

  • 13observer

    while the whole world breeds like flies, we are supposed to support them? Bullshit!

  • 13observer

    this is a give away the farm, communist agenda!

  • DirkVanden

    Here’s my prediction for what it’s worth: In four more years, Barack Obama will go into the history books as one of our nation’s Best Presidents, right up there beside Clinton and FDR, maybe even better. Congress knows the nation regards it as “obstructionist” and will go out of its way to be nice, hoping to win back everything in 2016 and take the country back to 1800. But they will face Hillary Clinton, and nobody on the Political Right could come even close to beating her. So pray she stays healthy in her temporary retirement.

  • I think the president should dig in his heels and tell the republicans you go along and vote with me or i will do what you did say no and fight every thing you do so you had better listen up no more mr nice guy i will act just like you ok!!!!!!

  • onedonewong

    His current policy in Iraq and Afghanistan have worked wonders…record casualties every year since he’s been CIC. He’s more interested in saving mooslim lives rather than our troops.
    So far Hilary and Barak have accomplished the following successes in foreign policy….now that I think about it he doesn’t have any