The first two links above are to opinion pieces that I agree with, wish I had written them myself. The last one is a propaganda piece written by the Russian President, trying to hype up the upcoming meeting of the BRIC coalition, or Brazil, Russia, India, and China. If this alliance flourishes, it will rival the EU in terms of world economic influence, and is intentionally not including any US interests.
on Obama's foreign policy, which I still disagree with and think that he has too many people reacting to events instead of planning ahead effectively. Of course, with Israel and Palestine, nothing ever works as long as we keep giving Israel over $3 billion a year in foreign aid. Egypt will keep it's status quo as long as we give them over $2 billion, one of our dirty little secrets. In fact, you might notice that our most successful strategies during the Iraqi war was when we paid monthly bribes to Sunni insurgents. It gave the Iraqi government time to stop paying them later on and try to kill off the leaders one by one in the true spirit of Middle Eastern loyalty and cooperation.
“His legacy in domestic policy is likely to be health care. But his legacy in foreign policy is likely to be this nonproliferation agenda.” - Nancy E. SoderbergIf it holds, the success of the recent nuclear summit, with its goal of securing nuclear materials and emphasizing non-proliferation, may well be his greater legacy. "If there is an Obama doctrine emerging, it is one much more realpolitik than his predecessor’s, focused on relations with traditional great powers and relegating issues like human rights and democracy to second-tier concerns. He has generated much more good will around the world after years of tension with Mr. Bush, and yet he does not seem to have strong personal friendships with many world leaders." On our military responsibilities, he is echoing the thoughts of General David Petraeus:
“It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower. And when conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”
“For a president coming out of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, it’s remarkable how much he has pursued a great power strategy. It’s almost Kissingerian. It’s not very sentimental. Issues of human rights do not loom large in his foreign policy, and issues of democracy promotion, he’s been almost dismissive of.” - Stephen G. Rademaker, a former official in the George W. Bush administrationThis is why he can sit down with people we consider our enemies and talk to them, and why he enjoys debating a roomful of Republicans.
As for Iran, I would be sitting down with every other Shia cleric and asking them for their opinions on how to handle them. I would ask countries like Syria, Pakistan, India, China, and Russia on how they might use their influence beyond the idea of sanctions. The idea is to try for an approach that is the consensus of the countries and clerics who deal with Iran already, and may have ideas that we have overlooked. It's how Obama treats the Republicans, getting a better idea of their psychology and current ideals before engaging them. I would also publicly announce an ambassador to Tehran and ask that they set up an ambassadorship in Washington on a trial basis, better yet if we could get them to pronounce the idea so that they gain face instead of following the Great Satan's orders... When dealing with a paranoid nation, you need to use the same tactics that work with a paranoid individual, instead of being called the Great Satan, we would be known as the Great Therapist...
The only way I can see to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority to sit down is to hit them in their pocketbook. No more foreign aid to either group until they sit down and make substantial progress in negotiations. We are the largest contributor to the PA, and I previously mentioned that we give over $3 billion per year to Israel, and it would make the boldest statement that we mean business and want the stalemate to end. As it is right now, Obama has just admitted how limited his influence really is. So, time to drop the money bomb...
"The truth is in some of these conflicts the United States can't impose solutions unless the participants in these conflicts are willing to break out of old patterns of antagonism," - Barack Obama
The next task that the Senate is taking on, is financial reform. The Republican strategy, again led by Mitch McConnell, is to come out blasting with both barrels, saying that it smacks of government takeover, and that regulation will cause another meltdown instead of preventing one.
“We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts,” Mr. McConnell said in a floor speech. “That’s why we must not pass the financial reform bill that’s about to hit the floor. The fact is this bill wouldn’t solve the problems that led to the financial crisis. It would make them worse.” - Mitch McConnellAhh, Mitch. Try making specific criticisms of the proposed bill instead of general negativities and you might get some sympathy. Instead, you are looking just as pathetic as you were blasting the health care bill. But, he is being consistent, supposing that it is the best way to gain some more seats in Congress this year.
The bill, created in the Senate Finance Committee, would: "... give the Federal Reserve oversight of the largest financial institutions, those with at least $50 billion in assets. And it would let the Treasury secretary — with support from regulators and the approval of a special panel of three bankruptcy judges — take over any giant company that posed systemic risk to financial stability, and essentially force it out of business." The weakness of the bill rests in how good the current regulators are in doing their jobs. The ones under the Bush administration sucked badly, worse that the mining regulators, and their irresponsibility put us in this mess we are in today.
Again, more important than how large the government is, and just like pruning your backyard trees and bushes, cutting down the bureaucracy every few years makes us healthier, but a more responsible government is even more important. Make sure that every department is actually doing their jobs in a responsive, efficient manner should be the next domestic agenda. Our negative reaction to an inefficient government brings on candidates who think running our government like a business would be better, but the model doesn't matter. Making sure you have the right people and keeping them motivated might stop the next economic meltdown or the next mining disaster, get a quicker response time to the next humanitarian disaster, or not allow the next rogue state to develop. Quite a task, but it's what really is needed to make our country one to be proud of...