Obama’s Challenge As He Nears A Year In Office

President Obama enters the month of December with two challenges that seem overwhelming: to prod the Senate to pass a health care bill after weeks of debate starting Monday; and convincing the nation that deeper involvement in Afghanistan is for the national interest, and will not be a disastrous cause that will bankrupt us over many years and cause thousands of lost American lives.

These challenges, along with the climate summit he will be attending; the jobs summit he is hosting this Thursday at the White House; and the new challenge of Iran developing more uranium enriching facilities and refusing to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency are enough to drive any normal human being bonkers.

How in the world is he to accomplish all of his goals, with united GOP opposition to his domestic initiatives and expected fury by his liberal supporters at his move to increase troop involvement in Afghanistan and face the challenge of Iran where diplomacy is not working?

All Americans need to step back and take a deep breath and wish that, somehow, Barack Obama has the wisdom and the courage to meet the challenges ahead because they will affect all of us for many years to come!

2 comments on “Obama’s Challenge As He Nears A Year In Office

  1. CutnPaste November 30, 2009 7:49 pm

    Excellent summary of the challenges ahead, Ronald. The part that concerns me most is sending additional troops to Afghanistan. It seems inconsistent with the rest of Obama’s foreign policy, which “The American Prospect” once dubbed the Obama Doctrine: a foreign policy of human dignity. It originated with his foreign policy advisors during the campaign and promotes human dignity (and the essentials of life that go with it) instead of capitalism and democracy. Unlike the Bush Doctrine of unilateral, pre-emptive action against our perceived enemies, the Obama Doctrine promises to get to the root of terrorism before it erupts into violence. Once people have human dignity (and the food, water, electricity, housing, education, and employment upon which it is based), amazing things can happen. A free enterprise situation that serves the local population, not foreign investors, and a democratic form of government based on popular sovereignty, not power elites, might even grow out of it. If this sounds like a costly endeavor, think about the alternatives. War is so much more costly in terms of dollars and human lives. The article that describes the Obama Doctrine (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_obama_doctrine) is pretty long but I plan to read it again before tomorrow night so I can put what the President says then into better perspective. I suspect, although he is now surrounded by military advisors and more hawkish foreign policy advisors, that he has not abandoned the foreign policy of human dignity and we’ll see strong traces of it in what he says tomorrow.

  2. CutnPaste December 1, 2009 1:03 am

    More thoughts on the Obama Doctrine:

    I got good vibes tonight when I heard Dan Rather talk about his recent visit to Afghanistan. He was on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and said there have been many changes there during the past year. The strategy changed this summer, “it is a re-purposed war.” The focus is now on large population centers and the military feels this “realignment” is what requires additional troops.

    According to Rather, “this is not going to make a major difference in Afghanistan except perhaps in the very short term and to buy a little time.” His analysis is that “corruption, cronyism, mismanagement in terms of the government…, plus the tremendous production of opium (some of the finances of which go to support the Taliban and US forces), and the resistance of the majority of mullahs… to foreigners (the infidels) in the country are obstacles.”

    The reality of the situation is that Afghanistan is “tribal…, predominantly rural…, and it is basically illiterate.” The official literacy rate is about ten percent. Although they’re “quick on the uptake, they’re smart, and they’re hard-working,” rebuilding the Afghan army, the police, and the border patrol will be a tremendous undertaking considering the literacy rate.

    The difference between this effort and previous efforts is that they are coupling it now with so-called “soft power” (people from the state department, those who work with AID, various civilian workers). They are working with the population to build governance from the ground up while the embassy and Washington are trying to build governance from the top down. At the local level, they meet with the elders and discuss potential projects (e.g., they will ask “do you want to build a retaining wall or a catfish farm?)” This is a change from a year ago but, in Rather’s estimation, the surge on the civilian side is still not enough.

    I think what Rather described is evidence of the Obama Doctrine. If this is true, the policy is worth supporting by advocates of peace – especially because the Republicans are likely to want to cut the “soft power” in favor of military power and pressure needs to be exerted against that.

    We’ll learn more about all this tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.