When Barack Obama takes office, he will face a sea of troubles, a complex set of difficult security challenges, especially in the middle-east, but he will be armed with less power and resources than any American President since the end of Cold War.
This was the essence of the case argued by Gary Samore, Vice President, Director of Studies and Maurice R Greenberg Chair, Council of Foreign Relations, speaking at the
Leadership Summit on Friday.
Samore along with Karl Inderfurth, professor, practice of international affairs and director, international affairs, George Washington University and Vali Nasr, professor, international politics, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University were in New Delhi to participate in the Summit and speak on "In search of order: America after Bush".
Samore felt that at top of Obama's long foreign policy to do list will be working with the G20 to limit global recession and reform the international financial system, ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on favourable terms, halting nuclear weapon programmes in Iran and North Korea, reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, defeating the jehadi terrorist threat plus dealing with global threats like climate change.
"Obama is likely to face a world of disorder. No matter how popular he is in the streets of Europe, the boardrooms of Europe and America have fundamental differences over how to run and reform the international financial systems. Obama's charm and appeal does not extend to Russia which remains in a sour and bellicose anti-American mood," Samore said.
"Obama's election has brought hopes for dramatic changes in US policy in the Middle East, which may be unrealistic. In Iraq, the unresolved political conflicts and rivalries among the different sectarian and ethnic groups will make it difficult for Obama to withdraw all US combat forces. Similarly, American intervention in Afghanistan is not likely to end soon," he said.
"Iran will present a special challenge and it remains to be seen whether Obama can assemble a strong international coalition to increase pressure on Iran if it refuses a genuine American offer to improve bilateral relations. Obama will inherit good bilateral relations with all major Asian powers," Samore said.
"The feel good factor in the Middle East is coming down because of the meltdown. Indian Muslims have been a big part of this feel good factor. The meltdown could impact Indian Muslims who have been benefited by the "Dubai factor". The impact of meltdown in the Middle East would be tangible – job cuts to could impact them directly as many are employed there -- and psychological – it could impact the way they vote," Nasr said.
"To pursue order in today's world – whether it be in the security realm, the political, the economic, energy or the environment -- we must have partners. And America -- in many respects -- has not been very "partner friendly" during the Bush years. America needs – and must now reach out to international partners," Inderfurth said.
What order should we be in search of after Bush? America should strive for a strengthened international order – return to the international fold on the issues of due process and the rights of defendants and the use of torture, a new economic order, a new energy and environmental order and fourthly, need to envision a new nuclear order, he added.