November 5, 2008
The 44th President of the United States is largely an unknown quantity. Thousands of words have been and will continue to be devoted to an analysis of his thinking and likely actions.
Obama’s first priorities will necessarily be domestic, and it will take some considerable time to see a coherent foreign policy emerge. Despite, or perhaps because of, the dozens of foreign policy advisers, we must await the key cabinet appointments, before expressing any more definite views.
Our starting point is necessarily his ‘national security strategy’ laid out in Washington on 15 July (see my post of 21July), ahead of his foreign policy trip. His inspiration for the renewal of the global order is George Marshall.
The Obama strategy is based on five goals essential to making America safer:
- ending the war in Iraq responsibly
- finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban
- securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states
- achieving true energy security, and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
This immediate danger is eclipsed only by the long-term threat from climate change, which will lead to devastating weather patterns, terrible storms, drought, and famine. This is not just an economic issue or an environmental concern – this is a national security crisis and this dependence on foreign oil must be ended.
“And as President…I’ll invest $150 billion over the next ten years to put America on the path to true energy security.” Investment will be in research and development of every form of alternative energy. The US is ready to lead again.
“This must be the moment when we answer the call of history. We cannot afford four more years of a strategy that is out of balance and out of step with this defining moment.” “None of this will be easy, but we have faced great odds before. When General Marshall first spoke about the plan that would bear his name, the rubble of Berlin had not yet been built into a wall.” “We know what is needed. We know what can best be done. We know what must done. Now it falls to us to act with the same sense of purpose and pragmatism as an earlier.
George Marshall’s inspiration is significant as it finds clear echoes in Jean Monnet and also Rheinhold Niebuhr, an important influence on Obama’s social and political thinking.
The major omission from his strategy is no more than a passing reference “to deepen the engagement to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict”. More about this later.Author : Stanley Crossick