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US foreign policy muddled


rhondathompson, [email protected]

US foreign policy muddled

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AS PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA prepares to embark on his 2012 re-election campaign, contradictions are appearing in his foreign policies, which are providing fodder for his disparate Republican opponents. However, his success will depend on the economy.
For example, it is well known that during his campaign Mr Obama promised a phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. It is now necessary to have the Taliban part of the government in order to maintain some stability there.
Except that, now with the American withdrawal a reality, the assault will not be unrelenting and the Taliban could well bide their time and wait. Not that the withdrawal is a bad idea: Afghanistan’s current violence is a response to foreign occupation.
What is troubling is the lack of clarity about America’s goals. Many commentators are saying that there is lack of unity in Obama’s strategy and he seems to want to please all sides. This will bring few friends in Washington.
In Afghanistan, it is being said that fewer troops are remaining than are needed for a counterinsurgency strategy, according to Admiral Mike Mullen, while President Obama believes there are more troops than are needed for a counterterrorism strategy, which seems to be his overarching goal.
The difficulty is that Mr Obama seems to want both strategies at the same time. In other words, the work is done but troops still need to be there. The work isn’t done but the troops can leave even though Afghanistan is still unstable. This confusion in strategy will only encourage regional players to look out for themselves.
Obama’s speech on troop withdrawals offered little specificity about what Afghanistan should look like in the years ahead.
New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd in a satirical piece wrote last Sunday that President Obama “wants to stay in Afghanistan but also wants to go. He is surging and withdrawing simultaneously”.
Even on Libya, there is much equivocation. President Obama wants to lead, but from behind. He’s engaging in hostilities against Colonel Gaddafi while telling Congress his administration is merely assisting in the NATO campaign.
On the budget, Obama wants to cut spending while increasing spending. On the environment, he wants to increase energy production but is reluctant to drill. On health care, he wants to get everybody covered but will not press for a universal system.
Even though Obama was elected on the idea of bold change, except for the recent capture of Osama bin Laden and the drone campaign in Pakistan and Yemen, he is playing it safe with re-election in mind.

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