Image by Renegade98 via Flickr[4/11/09]
The outlines of a new way of connecting to the wider world are beginning to emerge as the President settles back into his domestic routine after his first big foreign trip. President Obama signaled engagement with those with whom we have differences, rather than confrontation. Joint decisions among all those countries with vested interests means bridges and talk with consensus, rather than dictum, sanctions and ignoring. David Sanger, of the New York Times writes that the Obama approach will stand in rather stark contrast to that of his predecessor. In his fine analysis, he said, for example, "Mr. Obama emphasized that treaties and legal norms could help accomplish what sanctions and military pressure had failed to achieve. In doing so, he veered toward a pre-Sept. 11 world order." It is an amazing contrast.
Half a world away -- It is likely that Mr. Obama and his foreign policy advisers will be able to maintain a rational perspective regarding North Korea's actual potential to be a serious threat. Jeff Stein at Spy Talk quoted Joseph Cirincione asserting, "North Korea's thinly disguised missile test violates U.N. resolutions and should be condemned. But it is not a serious threat to the United States, nor does it justify a crash program to deploy an expensive, unproven anti-missile system. . . This small, impoverished nation would need to make three key additional breakthroughs to turn this launch vehicle into a real nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the continental United States."
AlQaeda and the like, however, will still be staunchly confronted, unlike Bush's decision to take a side road into Iraq. The U.S. is quite willing to ask for the help of other nations in fighting terrorism. And there was talk of nuclear disarmament rather than throwing up missiles on Russia's doorstep. Treaties, agreements, revitalizing international organizations -- all hold the promise of greater linkages among the most powerful players around the world.
Traveling across the western hemisphere, President Obama's overtures towards Turkey show that the United States recognizes that nation's influence as a bridge in the world. Turkey can be a bridge to the wider Muslim world. The President was able to finesse the Armenian "genocide" law question, skillfully avoiding letting Congress make it into an impossible barrier to closer ties with this strategically important nation. It is an interdependent world, no doubt, and never more so that this spring as we approach Earth Day.
Climate Change affects all nations -- A revived EPA is ready to take on climate change, according to US News and World Report To quote, "Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency is starting to flex its muscles again." Issues include mountaintop coal mining, cleaner air around schools, and stricter emission standards for ships, regulating CO2 emissions, requiring reporting for large emmiters of greenhouse gases, and reconsideration of letting states have tougher standards for cars and trucks. And for Earth Day on April 22, here is a neat little interactive to help you make good choices for the environment.
See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.
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