USA — Obama Is in Free Fall at the Moment
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES
LEE JAY WALKER
THE SEOUL TIMES
|US President Barack Obama|
The newly elected leader of the United States of America promised a fresh start and he talked about a new approach. However, President Barack Obama appears to be in free fall and clearly he needs a major boost in order to provide substance to his lofty ideals. So can President Obama break the current inertia or will he continue to stumble from one crisis to another?
Of course these are still early days and it must be stated that all new administrations have teething problems. So it is too early to say that he will be a shambles or a non-entity. Yet the current signs do not look good because he appears to lack clarity, dynamism, and a vision. He did provide a vision when not in power but since obtaining “real power” he appears to be at a loss.
Only last week Judd Gregg, a Republican Senator, turned down the job of Commerce Secretary. Therefore, in such a short time the Obama administration has already lost four nominees. Not only this, the current American Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who was also hand-picked by Obama, is also under a cloud because of tax evasion issues. So it appears that Obama lacks real political judgment.
In the field of international relations, it does not get much better because we have a mainly deadly silence over the Israeli-Palestine issue. Even more alarming, Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, rebuked the current leadership in Washington. Karzai stated he expected “better judgment” from the current Obama administration and he continued by stating that “Perhaps it’s because the administration has not yet put itself together.” Karzai issued his comments after Obama had stated that the government of Afghanistan was “very detached.”
Meanwhile, all major nations are alarmed by Obama’s “Buy American” provision, which is contained in the economic stimulus package. Is this really needed given the current global meltdown? Surely Obama can not be so vague on issues like this because the market is too fragile and it needs clarity and not economic nationalism. Yet sadly Obama is being very vague because he states that any Buy American provision must not “….trigger a trade war.” So why introduce this clause in the first place?
Obama also talked about “being on the right-side of history” and this was related to democracy. However, the same Obama then gives a speech via Saudi Arabia in order to appeal to the “so-called” Muslim world. So rather than picking a more democratic mainly Muslim nation, like Senegal, he instead decides to reach out via the most despotic nation on this earth. Therefore, once more the charming rhetoric of Obama fell at the first hurdle and this is the problem, he appears to be in a flux about a true and firm policy.
Overall, the first four weeks have been mainly negative and it appears that you have little substance within the Obama administration. Of course the economic crisis is severe and nobody is expecting a miracle. However, it is fair to question is judgment because the demise of four nominees is a shambles. Added to this, is it really wise to clash with the only person of real substance in Afghanistan? Yes Karzai appears to have little influence outside the corridors of Kabul. Yet in truth, given the nature of Afghanistan then clearly Karzai faces an uphill struggle.
Also, the added clause of “Buy American” is really unwarranted and it goes against the grain of past administrations which focused on free trade. If Obama continues in this vein then the omens do not look good. So let us hope that this is just a temporary blip and that several months down the line we will see a new leader emerging.