As the world order long upheld by the US disintegrates all around him, Obama is coming under attack for being indecisive and lacking a coherent strategy. It might just be that times have changed and we long for an impossible past.
High-minded ideals and the day-to-day business of maintaining the world’s superpower may seem antithetical. Yet this is the balancing act at the heart of Obama’s mandate.
Obama’s balking at strategy is worrisome enough. But even more dangerous might be a tendency to build a strategy that merely reacts to a wave of moral outrage – a wave that may pass much more quickly than the difficulties on the ground.
Obama’s original plan was to end the wars, focus on strengthening America’s economy, and rebuild broken consensus abroad. Those plans, however, have been overturned by a whorl of dramatic events.
The US is bombing not only in Iraq, but also in Syria, where they hope to lead a coalition that will destroy the Islamic States. How the US labels the enemy may indicate the strategy America intends to follow.
Draghing Europe out of recession
The current ECB president, Mario Draghi, has been credited with pulling the eurozone away from the brink of disaster. Many, however, still wonder if his office has the wherewithal to drag Europe back to economic vigor.
The ECB has been slow in responding to the financial crisis that has persisted for years. Its most recent policy package is an important step in accommodating the eventual economic recovery in the eurozone.
It would be mistaken to view the rise of the Islamic State as simply a barbaric aberration. The sophistication and efficacy of their recent conquests will require the West to examine the political spectrum with new prisms.
Long beset by internal divisions, Ukraine is now struggling against a military invasion by Russia that has forced a frozen conflict and caught the West unprepared. What happens there will inevitably dictate Europe’s course in the 21st century.
As the recent slowdown shows, Europe’s economy is very much contingent on how Germany decides to deal with its specific economic issues. Expansionary policies are still mistrusted and a trade surplus might become cause for concern.
Does doing things differently mean doing them better? Not always, but in Germany’s case, what sets them apart is an important factor in keeping ahead of the competition.
Is it worth knocking on Europe’s migration door? Funds have been set up, but they are not working as well as they should. A new, more efficient approach to processing immigrants is required.
When international trade rationale exceeds our comprehension of local produce and domestic consumption, it can lead to a bitter flavored morsel that’s at best hard to digest.
Hong Kong is stirring again, its citizens calling for freer elections. As the Occupy Central movement draws attention to their wishes in as peaceful a manner as possible, they recall decades of tension with the mainland.
A strategic partnership is unfolding between Myanmar and Japan. As a counterweight to overdependence on its massive neighbor, Yangon has looked to Japan for much-needed investment in its impoverished economy.
With Sunni Arab nations now helping the US to bomb Islamic State forces in Syria, the Middle East is bracing for a protracted war. Given their widespread support among jihadis, the IS will not be easy to destroy.
If we are to combat global warming, shifting energy systems towards carbon neutral technologies will be essential. Carbon capture and storage can help reach international goals.