Friday, November 7, 2008

With change come the challenges

America's unilateral approach in past 8 years has cost the world heavily. For better geopolitical environment Obama will have to listen to the international voices.

The CHANGE is here. And now the cleaning/tough job – interesting times for president-elect Barack Obama starts.

The historic victory marks the end of the Bush legacy/Republican era. But with this comes a bundle of challenges of unfinished business of the Bush administration. Change has been the motto of Obama campaign that raised millions of hopes across the United States but now has translated into global expectation.

Perhaps the opportunity to reintroduce the United States to the world is here. President George Bush after two full terms in the White House leaves a mountain of trouble for his Democrat successor. America's image has tainted. The worst ever financial crisis, unfinished wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, fragile Pakistan, nuclear programmes of North Korea and Iran and global warming awaits fresh approach.

There are huge expectations across the globe particularly in Asia. In Afghanistan the cost in blood and money is escalating. It demands a winning strategy. Obama wants American forces quickly out of Iraq and deploy them in Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari has said that, "There won't be quick disengagement, here a great deal is at stake." If done, this could have a direct impact on Pakistan. The country is already in a critical condition and US surely do not want Pakistan to fail. Another major task is to revive latter's economy, which could be a potential hindrance in its efforts against terror.

On nuclear issue much depends on what Iran and North Korea does. Obama has not ruled out military option against Iran. Tehran's efforts to produce nuclear bomb could lead to Israel move its armed forces into the Mediterranean resulting into unilateral strike, jeopardising Obama's intention of engaging Iranian leadership in a dialogue. Managing US-China relation is the most challenging task. The six-party process on North remains a strategic front with China a key player.

Though America remains the predominant power, the relative influence has declined with the rising economies and military powers from Asia. The shifting financial base from the Atlantic to Pacific requires immediate attention. Asian economies produce 30% of the global export and two-way commerce with the US of more than $1 trillion. Asia is home to some of America's strong alliances like Japan and South Korea. The recent civil nuclear agreement with India is a keystone of improved Indo-US ties.George Bush and his policies stand rejected but his deeds are carried forward. This could shape Obama's presidency and next fours might be too less to rectify the wrongs of past eight years. The campaign slogan 'change we can believe in' generated hopes is now expectation, challenge and an opportunity. To deliver and meet expectations, Obama will have to listen to the international voices and work in tandem with the world and not unilaterally.

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