It's Been a Year... Some Thoughts on the Obama Administration

April 7, 2010

"Presidential Seal" by Sharon Mollerus (CC)

This collection presents perspectives on some of the many challenges facing the new administration. A little over a year is a short time, but is Obama fulfilling his promises?

It seems that so far the verdict  is mixed—yet just this month significant progress has been made on nuclear arms control. 

There's a while to go yet until the end of Obama's presidency, and until then, the jury is still out.  


Obama and God
Joel H. Rosenthal, Carnegie Council President
As President Obama completes his first year in office, little attention has been given to a question that sparked raucous argument during the campaign. How would Barack Obama's religious beliefs affect his performance as president? (Article, January 19, 2010)


Obama and Democracy Assistance: Challenges and Responses
Richard Lappin, University of Leuven, Belgium
Although Obama has largely avoided the term democracy assistance, in fact he has delivered a considered and astute response to overcoming Bush's tarnished legacy. (Carnegie Ethics Online, February 1, 2010)

Obama's Foreign Policy: What Matters and What Doesn't for America's Future?
George Friedman, Strategic Forecasting, Inc.
Elections and campaigns are about options. Governing is about constraints. For Obama—and every president—what happens when foreign policy options meet foreign policy constraints?
(Public Affairs Program, January 26, 2010)

What's Wrong with Diplomacy in Damascus
Seth Kaplan, Business Consultant, Foreign Policy Analyst
The Obama administration has reversed former President George W. Bush's isolationist policies toward Syria, but has little to show for it. The government will need a more comprehensive approach to loosen Syria's ties to Iran and terrorist networks. (Policy Innovations Online Magazine, May 27, 2009)

The Global War on Terror: A Narrative in Need of a Rewrite
Amy Zalman, Senior Research Strategist; Jonathan Clarke, Washington Analysis and Assessment Service
A principal reason for the durability of the global war on terror is that it represents an extraordinarily powerful narrative, which Obama will need to rewrite if he is to change the policy dynamics in this area. But is Obama still adhering to Bush-era policies? (Ethics & International Affairs, Summer, 2009)

A View from the United Kingdom on Transatlantic Relations
Shirley Williams, British Politician and Academic; David C. Speedie, Carnegie Council
In a wide-ranging conversation, Baroness Williams discusses the Obama administration's foreign policy; the situation in Afghanistan and in Iran; U.S. and British politics, including voter representation and corruption; and her work on nuclear disarmament. (U.S. Global Engagement Program, October 9, 2009)


Prospects for Arms Control in the Obama Administration
John Isaacs, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; David C. Speedie, Carnegie Council
There are an estimated 23,000 nuclear weapons on the planet. Although they have faded from the public consciousness somewhat, they remain one of the greatest dangers we face. Obama has provided an opportunity for unprecedented progress on this issue. Will he succeed? (U.S. Global Engagement Program, December 1, 2009)

Hunting the Hare
David C. Speedie, Carnegie Council
"He that hunts two hares will catch neither," runs an old proverb. In the current unruly security environment, with challenges aplenty for the Obama administration, the hare to be pursued remains the reduction of the global nuclear threat, writes David Speedie. (U.S. Global Engagement Program, October 26, 2009)


The Ethics of Exit from Afghanistan
A panel of Truman Project Fellows with first-hand military, diplomatic, and NGO experience in Afghanistan discuss the war in Afghanistan as it stands today, and how the United States will eventually be able to exit its now nine-year battle in that country. (Carnegie New Leaders, March 16, 2010)

Obama's War
Jeffrey D. McCausland, Carnegie Council
As President Obama and his administration lead the nation and their coalition partners in a renewed effort in the war in Afghanistan, what can be learned from the past and what are the challenges that must be overcome if his new strategy and team are to be successful? (U.S. Global Engagement Program, August 17, 2009)


Obama's "New" Trade Policy: What Happened to Multilateralism?
Kevin P. Gallagher, Boston University
The Obama administration's new trade agenda shows little consideration for developing countries, and its excessive focus on exports and bilateral agreements may hurt the United States in the long run. (Policy Innovations, Online Syndicate, March 22, 2010)

Obama's Grade on Trade: B
Mark Engler, Senior Analyst, Foreign Policy in Focus, Institute for Policy Studies
Beyond the uncertain fate of trade agreements left over from the Bush years, President Obama has yet to implement the promises for trade reform he made on the campaign trail. (Policy Innovations, February 9, 2010)


Obama's Jet Plane Diplomacy
Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia University
Blame for the failure of Copenhagen falls on a lot of shoulders, yet Obama took a swipe at international law by abandoning the UN framework in favor of U.S. power and domestic politics.
(Policy Innovations, Project Syndicate, December 2009)

Obama Could Miss the Bus on Raising Gas Tax
Evan O'Neil, Carnegie Council
Fighting the climate crisis will be as much about new incentives as about new technologies, and there are few incentives as reliable as price. Will Obama miss a crucial opportunity? (Carnegie Ethics Online, December 18, 2008)


Obama's Internet Initiative & Social Reform in the U.S. & Japan
Japan Society Panel Discussion
What is the evolving role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in reforming politics, business and society in U.S. and Japan? (Japan Society and Global Policy Innovations, March 19, 2010)