Attention Middle East: Barack’s back


Late Tuesday night, the world learned that President Barack Obama would remain as the President of the United States for the next four years. Obama’s reelection means that he can pick up where he left off in the Middle East. His administration had swept some critical foreign policy issues under the rug before the election in order to minimize the impact difficult foreign policy decisions would have on his chances for reelection. One example of this delay tactic was when President Obama met with then-President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia last March and promised more “flexibility” to Russia after the election regarding a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Now that he has been reelected to office, Obama will fully be able to address some of the most pressing issues in the foreign policy realm.

One of these issues that had been swept under the rug, but one that Obama will most assuredly address, is the conflict between Israel and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. Prior to the election, Netanyahu demanded the support from the United States to draw a “red line” against Iran. However, Netanyahu was unable to gain as a strong of a backing from the United States as he had hoped for. Netanyahu knew that his strong rhetoric would place Obama in a tough position prior to the election. Also, because Netanyahu supported Governor Romney’s bid for the presidency, he may have been trying to pin the President as weak and soft towards Iran’s nuclear program. However, Obama is back and has renewed energy and support from the American people to tackle foreign policy issues as he sees fit.

The question that remains to be answered is what course of action the United States will take towards the Iranian problem. One avenue to address the issue is diplomatic talks with Tehran. This option is the most attractive one to the Obama administration that does, at all cost, not want to enter into another war in the Middle East. During Obama’s victory speech in Chicago early Wednesday morning, he declared that “a decade of war is ending.” This line solicited a roaring applause from the crowd, a clear sign that the American people are also opposed to sending more American troops to the region. However, Netanyahu and his government are concerned that this approach is too soft towards the Iranians. As previously mentioned, Israel would like the United States to follow suit in the “red line” approach. But, Obama has even less incentive to succumb to pressure from Jerusalem and powerful pro-Israel lobbying groups in Washington because he has recently been freed from stressful electoral concerns.

(Skip to 15:00 to hear Obama’s comment, “a decade of war is ending.”)

Another topic of concern for the Israelis is how Obama will approach the Israel-Palestine conflict. Next month, the Palestinian Authority is likely to petition for non-state status in the United Nations. The last time that this petition was attempted, the United States supported Israel in opposition to this request and they succeeded in defeating it. If this status is granted, then the United States Congress will be forced to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations. This outcome is not a desirable one for the President because the United States is one of the main supporters and funders of the United Nations. Hopefully, it will motivate him to reestablish peace talks between Palestine and Israel to prevent this vote from coming to the floor of the United Nations. How this conflict will be settled is another issue that remains to be addressed in the coming months and years.

The presidential election has given the world as many new questions as answers. Like many presidents who are elected for a second term, Obama will try to impact the rest of the world as much as he has done so with domestic policy in the United States such as health care reform. Many presidents seek to create a prestigious statesman’s legacy. Obama has plenty of opportunities to leave his mark in this world whether in solving the Israel-Palestine conflict, nullifying the Iranian nuclear threat, fostering a strong relation with the new world super power of China, or cooperating with Russia to stamp out terrorism and stop nuclear proliferation. What do you think will be the principal focus of Obama’s foreign policy agenda? Do you think he will have greater success internationally in his second term than he did in his first term? What recommendations would you give Obama as he refocuses his goals?

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8 thoughts on “Attention Middle East: Barack’s back

  1. Jackson your admiration and faith in our president is inspiring. As you have brought attention to, the Obama administration has many difficult tasks to face now that election season has finally ended. While I hope that Obama will be able to facilitate and show support for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, the scope of his reach and influence cannot be exaggerated. First, the role of the U.S. has already been very one-sided and if we have learned anything about this conflict, it is that past grievances are not easily forgiven. Second, considering the current state of our nation and the improving, but still high unemployment rate I would think that foreign policy will receive less attention from the Obama administration than the international community is expecting.

    One question, why would the U.S. be forced to withdrawn aid to the U.N. if the Palestinian Authority achieves non-state status?

  2. It seems as if as soon as the election was over every country was looking at Obama to see what decisions he would make with issues towards the Middle East. He has a lot of pressure on himself to make the best decisions for the U.S in regards to dealing with Middle Eastern conflicts. I had also written my blog about Obama’s re-election in regards to foreign policy and found it interesting how much of an impact the U.S has on so many different countries. I have to agree with what Linsey had said in her statement above that considering the current economic status the U.S is in Obama should focus first on domestic issues and foreign issues second.

  3. As the election came to a conclusion, I initially was relieved that we finally got an answer to the long awaited question of who are next president would be. Once that question was answered, I was disappointed to find myself asking ten more to every one question that was answered. My thought process has come back to, “So now what?” many times. Jackson, you addressed many questions that I know many citizens will be anxious to see play out. I think the next big mile marker in our foreign affairs will be in January, when the Israeli election takes place. The outcome of this will be a great influence as to whether or not Obama and Netanyahu will be forced to make compromises as they continue on to their next terms, or if a new Prime Minister will implement a new agenda. I am intrigued as to what our President’s focus will be on. These upcoming years will be a true test as to how well he can balance foreign affairs and those at home. Both will be demanding his attention and requiring much work throughout the next four years of his time. My personal opinion, I think the primary attention has to be given to our own demands, and then use that stability and progress to transfer it to our foreign relations.

  4. Jackson stated the question of whether or not President Obama will have greater success with foreign policy during his second term, and I believe that he will. The past four years of his presidency and relations with foreign affairs have been dominated by the war and our ongoing conflict along with President Obama’s efforts to end the war. Change does not happen quickly, and if it does occur quickly historically it will not last long. With four more years of President Obama in the White House I believe that we will see the results of his plans to withdrawal our troops and end the war. As for relations with Israel and the Palestinian conflict and the Iran nuclear crisis, my only hope and advice is that President Obama will go about facilitating intervention using non violent methods.

  5. Very interesting discussion . I agree that President Obama faces major foreign policy challenges in his next four years when dealing with Russia, China, Iran and other Middle East/Arab Spring nations. Other yet-to-be-known international threats will also undoubtedly arise that may totally refocus the attention of this administration. And, of course, North Korea continues to lurk in the shadows…read article at link below:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49795981/ns/technology_and_science-space/

  6. Sorry about my prior post. Not sure what happened; please ignore it! It seems I will have to post in two blocks. My apologies -Cal
    =====
    Well written, Jackson; good job. However, allow me to address a few of your points.

    [Obama’s reelection means that he can pick up where he left off in the Middle East. ]

    Let’s hope he doesn’t simply do that. As you noted indirectly, he’s not giving the Israelis the warm fuzzies. Most notably, his non-stop apologizing for the USA, including his and Hillary’s videos apologizing for that crazy anti-Muslim video that was aired across the Middle East soon after our Ambassador to Libya was murdered, needs to stop. Actions speak louder than words, and as the old saying goes, even a fish wouldn’t get caught if he kept his mouth shut.

    [His administration had swept some critical foreign policy issues under the rug… One example of this delay tactic was when President Obama met with then-President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia last March and promised more “flexibility” to Russia after the election regarding a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.]

    Yes, “flexibility” nudge, nudge, wink, wink. I saw and heard his little sidebar with the Russian President. The idea there was that once he got re-elected he could do what he wanted without fear of retribution since he would not have to fight again for re-election. This approach is iillustrated in the recent placation of the UN in regards to the Arms Trade Treaty the USA has opposed (as recently as this past July) since it could lead to the left-handed stripping of our Second Amendment rights. Within hours of his re-election, he cleared the way for US participation in another vote on this issue next March.

    [Now that he has been reelected to office, Obama will fully be able to address some of the most pressing issues in the foreign policy realm.]

    I think Mr. O needs to figure out how to employ the unemployed first. While he’s played to his constiuency by helping the UAW, it’s time to notice the rest of us. Note that he took our money out of the US Treasury to bail out GM, Chrysler, AIG, Goldman Sachs… And we still own about $25B in GM stock that we’ll never make money on until it trades at $53 (it closed at $24.82 today). Furthermore, the US Treasury has plainly stated that we will not get the rest of what Chrysler owes us. (None of this is opinion. This is all information that is available on the US Treasury’s web site.) (To be continued…)

  7. (Continued from above…)
    As for unemployment, the real (U6) unemployment rate is about double the “advertised” U1 rate everyone likes to talk about. There are about 24M people who are either unemployed and collecting unemployment, unemployed and not collecting, and unemployed and who have given up looking. And to add to the inequity of the auto bailouts, the non-union employees of both GM and 2-time loser Chrysler got their salaries and pensions hacked to pieces.

    [Obama is back and has renewed energy and support from the American people to tackle foreign policy issues as he sees fit.]

    Don’t forget that almost 50% of the electorate didn’t vote for Obama. While “most” did, that’s not saying much. His background is socialist, and his social programs and demonizing of the wealthy are evidence of this. I feel our existing social programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) could use serious revamping; but let us not forget that under our Constitution and Bill of Rights, everyone is afforded the same treatment. …not to mention our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness given to us by the Declaration of Independence. I’d like to be wealthy; why is that wrong? And who’s going to decide what my share should be?

    The fact that there is such disparity among social classes is not a failure of our doctrines; it’s a failure of (among other things) the political system, as well as society itself. The fact that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. reclaimed his seat in Illinois by over a 60% majority when he had “disappeared” for a number of months and is now facing federal corruption charges and jail time speaks to another of our myriad problems. No, it’s not what you think: it’s mass ignorance and gross incompetence on the part of too many in our electorate.

    After 4 years in office, I’m not even close to admitting Obama is part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Time will tell.

  8. I agree Jackson his second term should signal the opening of a new page for the Middle East since in the last four years US diplomacy was completely absent from the scene especially in relation to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. l sincerely hope that the next four years would be different!

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