What Foreign Policy Objectives Should the Obama Administration Establish as its Top Priorities?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
January 20, 2009
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton

On January 20, 2009, President Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. What foreign policy objectives should the Obama Administration establish as its top priorities?

What foreign policy objectives should the Obama Administration establish as its top priorities?

Comments

Comments

Klint
|
District Of Columbia, USA
January 20, 2009

Klint in Washington writes:

Top 3 things, in no particular order, that come to mind.

1. Helping our fellow U.S. citizens inside the US, be more aware of the world and how we interact with it. Also help educate them on traveling and actually visiting other countries and cultures.

2. Strengthening democracies around the world by helping them find/fight against corruption and help them deal with internal emergencies without going through their military forces. Perhaps we could re activate the U.S. State Departments "Office of Public Safety" program. (um perhaps this time around avoid having them share physical offices with CIA ops to avoid confusion, despite proven clarities)

and

3. Continue humanity efforts, such as the activities we're doing in the Africa continent.

Jude
|
Colorado, USA
January 20, 2009

Jude in Colorado writes:

For me the priorities are to 1) encourage communication among countries instead of war 2) uphold international law (e.g., close Guantanamo Bay as a start) 3) redefine our place in the world, getting away from being the world's policeman and thereby (one hopes) reducing some of the hatred towards us and 4) hold ourselves to high standards so we don't end up in situations where we later shamefully slink away from our actions.

Korina K.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
January 20, 2009

Korina in Washington writes:

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEW ADMINISTRATION, CARPE DIEM!

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 20, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

Stop killing innocent Iraqi and Afghani civilians and ask the bosses in Tel Aviv to stop committing genocide against innocent Palestinian Civilians. All the rest can be resolved when the bankers realize it is hopeless, time to bailout before the million minutemen march on Washington...

Alexander
|
Germany
January 20, 2009

Alexander in Germany writes:

The Obama Administration with Hillary Clinton as Sectretary of State should make the conflict between Israel and Palestine a top priority. It is absolutely crucial to end the violence in Gaza and to find a new way to a peace process in this region.

Axel
|
France
January 20, 2009

Axel in France writes:

The security of Israel.

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
January 20, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

The economy of the country should be the highest concern for all people. The situation in Gaza and Isreal but also catching the most wanted terrorists who want to do harm against the United States and our people.

"I said it once, I will say it again. I personally would be more than willing to hunt down Usama Bin Laden and his terrorist thugs. All I need is the United States backing."

I believe he will be a threat against our country or other countries until he is captured. We as Americans need to have resolve on Usama Bin Laden once and for all.

If President Obama is serious about this and to finally get closure on Usama bin laden, I believe we all need to work together and get this resolved.

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
January 20, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

I would like to welcome the new Administration and say we are all Americans. The ghost that has haunted President Bill Clinton and plagued President George W. Bush is Usama Bin Laden and needs to be captured for humanity. I'm the guy for the job.

James W.
|
New Jersey, USA
January 20, 2009

James in New Jersey writes:

Do more to bring home abducted children such as Sean Goldman. Hold responsible the nations that fail to keep their promises.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
January 20, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

President Obama's Foreign Policy Objectives:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/foreign_policy/

The objectives won't be different from the last President's, but the tactics and focus must always adapt to changing circumstance.

On the flyleaf of my grandmother's book about Los Alamos, that I gave to Bill Clinton the day he was first elected President, I wrote, " This is a slice of times past, to give perspective on the present, so that in the future we can eliminate the threat of nuclear war. The greatest threat we face today is that terrorists will obtain nuclear weapons."

Having been in the construction industry much of my life, I can assure you all that we are in fact a nation of "nation builders" on many levels.

Politically speaking, since WW2, it has been through "on the job training". The mistakes made in the past, and the correctness of present, or future policy must share one thing, a willingness to look at truth over viewpoint (or party affiliation).

Well now, to the extent that it would appear to have been quoted in context in bi-parisan fashion for over eight years, gives me hope we're not too late to prevent that nightmare scenario from occuring.

In appreciation of MLK's invitation to think:

"Today there is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. I feel that we've got to look at this total thing anew and recognize that we must live together. That the whole world now it is one--not only geographically but it has to become one in terms of brotherly concern. Whether we live in America or Asia or Africa we are all tied in a single garment of destiny and whatever effects one directly, effects one in-directly.

"I'm concerned about living with my conscience and searching for that which is right and that which is true, and I cannot live with the idea of being just a conformist following a path that everybody else follows. And this has happened to us. As I've said in one of my books, so often we live by the philosophy 'Everybody's doing it, it must be alright.' We tend to determine what is right and wrong by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion, and I don't think this is the way to get at what is right.

"Arnold Toynbee talks about the creative minority and I think more and more we must have in our world that creative minority that will take a stand for that which conscience tells them is right, even though it brings about criticism and misunderstanding and even abuse."
(Excerpted from a 1967 interview of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Arnold Michaelis.)

Inherently, change is viewed with suspicion, as a threat to culture and ways of tradition and ethical belief systems. As it applies to developing countries in this nuclear age, the post-cold war aftermath presents a vast paradox that present no easy solutions, and has culminated in the reality of the war on terrorism as it exists today.

One cannot simultaneously plan for the American dream, and prepare for Armageddon. But somehow managed to without an accident in defiance of probability and Murphy's Law.

But I stress here the biggest "what if?" is what we might have accomplished as the Human species had we chosen to live in peace, instead of fear after WW2.

I thank the Presidents, past and present for taking up the mantle of "Instigator in Chief" to create a saner, more hospitable world to raise kids in.

I hope we can find the answers to that question made manifest among the comunity of nations.

Camilla
|
California, USA
January 20, 2009

Camilla in California writes:

Free trade for our friends in Colombia who've stood by us through thick and thin. We don't have many allies like that, allies who give rather than take.

Antoine
|
North Carolina, USA
January 20, 2009

Antoine in North Carolina writes:

I would like to see the Obama administration take immediate and significant action concerning the Middle East. I would like to see a high level U.S. Special Envoy dedicated to the Middle East peace process. And perhaps a somewhat radical approach such as appealing directly to the people of Palestine, Gaza and Israel and bypassing the the self-serving relics who claim to be leaders while allowing decades of carnage to have occurred. Picture: Bill Clinton appealing directly to the people of Gaza, Palestine and Israel to create a grass-roots movement to find the peace for themselves, with U.S. help, that their leaders can't seem to formulate.

David K.
|
Indiana, USA
January 20, 2009

David in Indiana writes:

In his Inaugural Address, the President spoke about reducing the nuclear threat. I hope the new administration moves swiftly on nuclear arms talks with Russia. It should press Congress finally to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban. I hope Secretary Clinton will reaffirm the declaration of Secretaries Vance and Christopher that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, unless they are acting in alliance with a nuclear weapons power.
On talks with Iran, I hope we focus on the goal of preventing a nuclear weapon, while showing flexibility on where uranium enrichment for nuclear power is done. I hope our negotiators will explore former Undersecretary Pickering's proposal for an international consortium to enrich uranium in Iran, under strict inspection.

Andy C.
|
New York, USA
January 20, 2009

Andy in New York writes:

Assistance to the middle class and poor of countries where we are active.

This might mean providing monetary assistance to hard scrabble farmers inn Afghanistan; provide them with seed and other farming requirements to grow food, then buy the food from him once he's grown it and provide it to grocery stores in Afghanistan's cities and villages. In this way we might convince farmers to grow food instead of opium while garnering good will at the same time.

We could also help out farmers in Iraq and other places.

In South America we could buy up property in the rain forest and promote a sustainable business that collects fruit, nuts etc from the rain forest.

Find out if there are similar things we could take advantage of to develop good will in other places like Gaza etc. In each place find a trustworthy local to work with and get ideas. There are usually many involved with aid who would do.

SG
|
Massachusetts, USA
January 20, 2009

SG in Massachusetts writes:

Stop being an imperialist - accept that U.S. is not God, U.S. does not have any God-given right to meddle, U.S. is just another nation, and accept that it is only because of a quirk of events that U.S. is a leading power (which can just as quickly go away - as is being evidenced now).

Stop unconditional aid to Israel - force them to sit on the table (Israel has simply no incentive for negotiation).

Build better image in Middle East.

Invade Pakistan. Don't withdraw from Iraq at this stage.

And... start teaching Mandarin in all the schools - it will be an essential skill for the coming century when U.S. bows to its communist masters in China. And f**k Fukuyama - history is still being written as we know it.

Jay T.
|
California, USA
January 20, 2009

Jay in California writes:

Restoring the rule of law might be refreshing. Observing international law, treaties and conventions, rather than undermining them might be novel. Closing foreign military bases before cutting Social Security and Medicare as budget solutions might be more fair.

Kim
|
Connecticut, USA
January 20, 2009

Kim in Connecticut writes:

Close all foreign military bases and bring home all the Troops Now. End the criminal blockade of Cuba. Release the Cuban Five so they may return home to their loved ones in Cuba. End all military aid and military equipment sales to the Isreal government now. These measures are just some of what the first Socialist government in America would do. Obama will be unable to take these mesures because he is in the pocket of U.S. Business.

Matt
|
California, USA
January 21, 2009

Matt in California writes:

In general terms, the first priority should be to undo the damage done to American reputation overseas by the previous administration.

Yet at the same time, there are pressing international problems we must address immediately, we cannot wait for our restored reputation before addressing them. So we should use our actions to address the latter as part of our program to restor our reputation.

One such high priority problem is the pirates in the Horn of Africa. Putting these pirates out of business will be gratefully received all around the world.

Another high priority is to show leadership in the international financial community to put an end to the irresponsibility alluded to in the inagaural address: that irresponsibility that lead to the crash.

This is important because the international press is referring to the financial/economic crisis as "the most grave crisis that Captialism has ever lived through". And despite all the bad precedents we set, we still have the momentum to undo much of the damage with the good precedents we can (but so rarely do) set. The precedents we now need to set are not only for international initiatives (such as cooperation of central banks), but for smart regulation, regulation with a light but deft hand, which protects the free market from the dishonesty and irresponsibility that created the current financial/economic crisis.

sam
|
Illinois, USA
January 21, 2009

Sam writes:

What must have been going thru the minds of the fellows at the American Enterprise Institute and there PNAC refugees today? Is this really how they thought the second Bush administration would end? Two wars, two million unemployed, a shattered economy, no oil flowing out of Iraq, Israeli troops back in Gaza and Fiat?s 35% stake in Chrysler! Was this the plan for the new American Century? Everyone seems to be doing their part to form this kinder gentler world power. Where the outgoing administration was too aggressive the incoming administration will be too passive. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is just one example. If you don?t test a few nukes every now and then, how do you know if they are going to work when you need them. PMI tells you to do a little batch testing for product verification and quality assurance! Last week I went eyes on a project a contractor had been billing to for about 18 months. The servers were in the rack but nothing was powered up. This was nothing more than an expensive static display. Taxpayers spend allot of money on the Triad/nuclear deterrent. According to the Discovery Channel $75 trillion dollars have been spent on nuclear weapons in the last 35 years. The concept of MAD has been and should continue to be a cornerstone for US strategic security. Do we need all the elements (submarines, bombers and land based assets); in the quantity we have now, probably not. But nuclear deterrence is needed for the safety of our citizens. The new Secretary?s policies should be as IT intensive as the outgoings. The America House with its internet cafe and the CTBT/International Monitoring System should keep technicians busy for the next 4 years. Mobile Diplomacy is a beautiful thing. A satellite phone, a BGAN terminal and a smile is all you need to make friends and influence people in faraway lands. I was an election observer a few years back. Pretty cool experience, I was using the Iridium phone one night (reporting) when I looked up and saw a LEO satellite flying by overhead. I watched the bird until it flew out of sight. To be honest with you I am looking forward to the next 4 years. It should be a great time.

http://www.france24.com/en/20090120-auto-industry-fiat-chrsyler-discuss-...

pada
|
Thailand
January 21, 2009

Pada in Thailand writes:

congratulations obama love you and your family.

maksimova m.
|
Russia
January 21, 2009

Maria in Russia writes:

I miss on Condoleeza Rice.

Simon
|
District Of Columbia, USA
January 21, 2009

Simon in Washington, DC writes:

1. Stop being a global bully and instigator. The blow-back from such policies is evident and has damaged the U.S. politically as well as physically.

2. Stop leaning too much on Israel. Right or wrong, such policy hurts U.S. policy and influence, especially in the Muslim world which spans from the Middle East to Indonesia.

3. Stop propping and supporting administrations and governments that are dictatorships and police states, especially those like Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia etc. U.S. support of undemocratic institutions and administrations only helps fan anti-U.S. sentiment.

4. Clean up the mess in Afghanistan. The U.S. has hurt itself by taking sides with the Northern Alliance and as a result bet the bank on Karzai. The Northern Alliance was non-Pashtun and very pro-India, which automatically pitched Pakistan in the other camp. The other camp was and is the Taliban, and Pakistan feels it has been pushed into a corner vis-a-vis Afghanistan and thus I dont blame it for watching out for its interests.

5. Stop India from playing the local bully in South Asia. China will only allow so much, and the U.S. is hurting its influence in the area by cosying up to India.

6. Sign the NPT. Allow the transfer and use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, especially energy generation. Accept and admit the unofficial nuclear club members (Israel, India, and Pakistan) into the elite club. By keeping them out and implementing sanctions only increases their efforts to seek nuclear options. The U.S. should act as the big brother, and seek a policy of watchful, yet controlled support. It is better for U.S. interests to have better insight into the nuclear capabilities of these countries, rather than promote (unwillingly) their covert nuclear programs.

7. Remove agricultural and trade subsidies. A level playing field for all will not only help U.S. interests and trade, but will also allow foreign agricultural economies to grow and evolve.

8. Peace with the Muslim world. The U.S. administration was/is hated in the Muslim world. Interestingly, the U.S. as a nation and her people are loved. Understand why the Muslim world hates the U.S. policies and government? I believe the answer lies in the blind support of Israeli policies and interests, the invasion and occupation of Iraq (which seeps of imperialism), and the botched up efforts in Afghanistan. Muslims globally think of the U.S. as a great nation, but one that will turn a blind eye to Israeli atrocities, make no qualms about killing and invading Muslim states, and will do its best to prop up token regimes.

9. Develop a track record of foreign invasions or operations, but follow that with nation building and "real" development aid. Too often token efforts to development by USAID are made, but often it is mere lip service. A perfect example is Afghanistan. The U.S. helped the Mujahideen win the war against the Russians, and then walked away without looking back -- that left a nation without any oversight or funds, and thus became a banana republic where anything went. The result = birth of fanatical groups like the Taliban!

10. Don't ditch your friends when the job is done. Pakistan has been a friend of the U.S. for many years, yet feels prostituted by the U.S. -- this has been repeated over the years, and now doesn't trust the US. Trust takes decades to build, but days to lose.

I wish the U.S. well -- it is a great nation and has some very smart and intelligent people in the foreign service. If the U.S. stuck to its founding principles and morals, it will reclaim its role as an esteemed leader. God Bless.

Mahdad
|
Iran
January 21, 2009

Mahdad in Iran writes:

I wish President Obama and his Foreign Policy team Happiness , Good Health and Prosperity in their Foreign Policy endeavours and Undertakings including but not limited to:

1-End the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
2-Increase Counter-Terrosism Measures against Extremist and Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban and Eradicate the Roots of Terrorism.
3-According to American Tradition Defend Human Rights Activists and Freedom lovers around the world.
4-Send strong signals to Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes in the Middle-East , Africa and Asia.
5-Strengthen Counterproliferation Efforts.

Heidi
|
Illinois, USA
January 21, 2009

Heidi in Illinois writes:

It is crucial that President Obama take swift action against Israel's bombing of the Gaza Strip for several key reasons: first, it is the only way to show the international community that the United States will abide by international law and collective engagement in its fight against terrorism. Second, this action is the only way to even have a chance at reversing the negative image that the international community has of the United States. In particular it is fundamental in order to seek possible middle eastern allies; the administration should remember that increasing the support of the population in these countries is just as important as influencing their governments in order to reduce terrorist influences. The second element to this action however, is how the United States should take action against Israel. It should be accomplished in such a way that emphasizes peace in the region, but also emphasizes that the United States will not tolerate the killing of civilians by state governments.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
January 21, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

21 January 09

FASCINATING READING THIS BLOG

I totally agree that the end of the Nuclear Arms race is coming. On many occasions I have written about Peace and ending the Nuclear race. In my most humble opinion we can operate power plants with a new type of energy that will accomplish the goals of the world. We have been dependent on oil and nuclear power for too long and paid the price for it over the years.

We cannot ever put ourselves in a situation where other Nations have them and we don't. There should be a strategic outline of all Nations withdrawing from the use of making such weapons in the world.

Opening a communication door with the country of Iran might just help our State Department get the details on missing Mr. Bob Levinson. It's about time the country of Iran be honest and forthcoming about the wherabouts of Mr. Bob Levinson for his family sake. A new administration means a real good positive step towards building new bridges to the future and ending the bad blood between our Nations.

My question for the country of Iran is simple:

Is Mr. Bob Levinson located in your Nation? We in the United States have an interest to know the status of one of our Americans? There is a saying, "Let the truth set you free" It would behove the country of Iran to deport him back to the United States to his family who cares about him. This would be a first good step by the Iran Leader to show some good face and gain respect to our Nation.

Jay
|
Florida, USA
January 21, 2009

Jay in Florida writes:

Well, I think getting back to where people and governments in other countries *care* what we think is probably a pretty good idea...

David C.
|
Illinois, USA
January 21, 2009

David C. in Illinois writes:

I think President Obama understands the power of public diplomacy and the importance of international education exchanges and international service. While not necessarily a top priority but one that is embedded within a "smart power" approach to foreign policy; increasing international educational exchange opportunities as well as international service opportunities (ie. President Obama's pledge to double the number of Peace Corps volunteers) is an important component of our foreign policy. These international opportunities do more than provide our citizens, and those from across the globe, with cross-cultural and mutual understanding which are important components of peace. International education and service opportunities play an important role in our international commerce activities as we want a globally competent workforce if we are to compete in the global arena. Additionally, international education and service opportunities for our citizens have a critical role in our defense and intelligence operations as we need to have people who understand the cultures and speak the languages of the many countries that we consider foes and of our allies for that matter.

Jonathan
|
Texas, USA
January 21, 2009

Jonathan in Texas writes:

I was watching Obama get sworn in and watched the address while sitting next to an African American man. He was choked up and he was talking to me a little bit. He said something that will stick with me forever, he said "my grandma told me that I could be anything in the world but the President of the United States, now this changes that."

I have never been so inspired in my life. I have never felt that any president could lead us to repairing foreign relations, rebuilding the economy through the middle-class, bettering education and investing in alternative fuel until now. I am so proud of man who would have been oppressed in the 1960s, a son of a Kenyan and now our President. He fought through people making fun of his name, people saying he went to a Muslim elementary school and even saying he had no birth certificate. I knew we had something different by the way he ran his campaign and inspired not only minorities but white Americans as well. I look forward to him repairing the last 8 years of mistakes and putting faith back into this country.

President Obama is the American Dream!

Scott M.
|
California, USA
January 21, 2009

Scott in California writes:

Rebuilding existing alliances should be priority number one because all other objectives are unattainable without it. So-called "soft power", almost universally acknowledged by serious policymakers as the basis for America's strength, relies on economic, political and cultural cooperation. Right now these relationships are at their nadir. However, America and Europe can build new bridges in the context of working through the current financial turmoil. With increased confidence in our democratic partners -- and them in us -- we can present a united front in addressing critical foreign policy concerns like the Middle East, Russia and the (hopefully) peaceful rise of China.

Sean
|
District Of Columbia, USA
January 21, 2009

Sean in Washington, DC writes:

Congratulations President Obama!!!! Regarding Foreign Policy and Iran in particular, one very simple but powerful thing you could do is the Obama's and Clinton's could go to one of the amazing Persian restauruants in DC (like the message that was sent by visiting Ben's Chilli Bowl). This will send a very powerful message to the people of Iran -- that their ancient culture and delicious food is loved and appreciated, and that they too can also have change they can believe in ... and one day restore their country to the values and ideals that once made them, many generations ago, a shining example of human rights, civilization and noble values.

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