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January 19, 2010
Worldfocus looks back at first year of Obama foreign policy

The president and first lady pose with the Turkish prime minister and his wife. Courtesy: Flickr user StatePhotos

For the next two weeks, we present “Obama and the World,” an in-depth interview series that examines the first year of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

This week’s four extended interviews address Iran, Africa, Israel-Palestine and Latin America.

And next week we’ll look at Afghanistan-Pakistan, China, Russia and the global economy.

What is the biggest foreign policy challenge facing President Obama?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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Comments

33 comments

#33

As long as #28 Chas you do not put Palestine and Haiti on the same level as Israel. Israel is not country of cowards and killers.

#32

no # 28] Yes, they are both a very poor country & the people do suffer greatly .Haitian’s & Palestinian’s people in affect is in their dilemma by their own govt’s who is not serveing
them very well .But in Haiti there is ..NO Hamas !
…..Who offers no hand towards Peace..only a hammer & and to provoke ISRAEL & incite anger
and keep the Palestinian People in a perpetual decay …only to keep their.. POWER &CONTROL !!!

#31

#30 TomVa that may have changed last PM would you not agree?

#30

Obama is too hung up on health care to focus on anything else

#29

His biggest Foreign Policy Challenge is that he does not know how to handle Foreign Policy.
I know it sounds strange but look.
(Diplomacy with Iran,Taking 3 months to decide on troop amounts to Afganistan,No free trade with Columbia and I can go on and on.But there is not enough room for all.

Alistair

#28

Our nation needs to help alleviate the long suffering of the Palestinian people by ending Israel’s deadly grip. How can we be readily charitable to Haitians and then be so uncharitable to Palestinians who have suffered mercilessly under oppressive occupation for decades. Also, Iran should not be attacked by the U.S. and the U.S. must condemn and abandon Israel if they bomb Iran. The Iranian threat to the U.S. has been manufactured by the Israeli lobby to keep us aligned with Israeli foreign policy- a policy not in the U.S.’s best interest since such actions would necessarily make the U.S. a sworn enemy, even to moderate Iranians. Lastly, U.S. presidents should hereafter foreswear against making any war except for the immediate defense of Americas soil and shores.

#27

I would like to an end of all foreign lobbying in Washington – it’s like a given foreign country that receives aid from the US – then those countries with some of that foreign aid – take that aid money and use it as lobby money to buy further aid. In fact I would like to see an end to lobbying in Washington altogether – it’s shameful to say – but it looks more and more like we have a government up for sale to the highest bidder. Jim

#26

Creating an independent Palestinian state, freeing the people of Gaza from the death grip of the Israeli government, and stopping the expansion of Israel into Arab territories.
If Israel really wanted peace with the Arabs, it would have happened fifty years ago. Israel does not want peace, but rather the opportunity to control and steal Arab water and land in it’s eastward expansion.
The problem is that Israel has an extremely strong lobby in the U.S Congress and Egyptian policy is directly aligned with Israeli policy to strangle the Palestinians both politically and economically.
No president has tried to oppose Israel, but if no resolution is met, peace through out the world will only be wishful thinking.

#25

Response to HistoryBuff (#17): One reason the U.S. might not get much thanks for helping people in Iraq and Afghanistan is because we have killed so many civilians there. Until President Obama appointed Gen. McChrystal to head Afghanistan, for example, it was reported that we had killed over 800 civilians in that country. If another nation had come over to America to “help” us and had bombed over 800 of our civilians in our homes in the process (in addition to the militants), would we be falling over ourselves in ebullient gratitude, or would we rather that they were out?

#24

Concerning posts 20-22, the U.S. should “butt out” of continuing uninvited involvement in the domestic affairs of other nations. And, that includes Iran. As a signatory to the (treaty of) UN Charter, the U.S. is legally bound not to do what its been doing for 60 years — illegally involving itself in other countries internal matters. Doing so contributes to our getting ourselves into so much trouble.

#23

Help Haiti with immediate aid;

Help countries like Kenya, and Ghana;

Get rid of dependence on oil from the Middle East. (Alternative energy sources would also reduce the money available to regimes in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, …, and perhaps lessen their ability to fund militant movements.)

#22

Do:
Build US economic relations with East Asia, India, etc.

Don’t:
Get sidetracked on Arab-Israeli peace. President Clinton spent his last years as president on this, only to have Arafat chuck it all in his face. Peace there will come only when the Arab world wants peace.

Do: Undermine the nuclear program in Iran, by covert means, NOT by bombing. Help the anti-government forces as the US helped Eastern Europe free itself from the Soviet shackles.

#21

The US is trapped in pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter what the US does there, it will get no thanks. The Muslim and Arab world is not a grateful world, especially to infidels whom it feels should be subservient.

The US needs to show strength to them, without getting too involved. Support the opposition inside Iran.

#20

The most immediate challenge is Iran. Support the pro-democracy movement there.

#19

President Obama should try to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and avoid new wars in Somalia, etc.

He should try stay clear of the regimes in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, …

He should build relations with China, India, Australia, Korea, Israel, the EU.

#18

I meant post 15, not 16. Some of the posts seem obsessed with attacking Israel and the “Jewish lobby”.

Look at a map of the Middle East and you will see this is a distraction.

Learn from Chamberlain – appeasing the militants/extremists/terrorists (whatever you call them) will only make things worse.

#17

I agree with the previous post.

End US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US will get no thanks for helping people there.

In the same way, it is a waste of effort to spend too much effort on the Arab-Israeli track. One-sided pressure on Israel hasn’t, and can’t bring peace, because at core the Arab world refuses peace.

Attend to core US interests outside the Middle East.

#16

The biggest foreign policy challenge for Pres. Obama is from Congress, whose members long have been, and remain, so completely intimidated by the Zionist lobby in this country that none dares ever to say “No!” to Israel concerning its quest for “Lebensraum” – in Syria’s Golan Heights, in southern Lebanon, and with its illegal settlements on the very land where the rest of the world has intended for decades to establish the State of Palestine. The ramifications of a continuing American foreign policy of “Israel – right or wrong!” have been, and will continue to be, ruinous for America in its relations with much of the rest of the world.

#15

The biggest foreign policy challenges are China, Russia, and Iran. Try get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Don’t get sidetracked on the Holy Grail of the Middle East, its’ a hopeless cause. The Arabs will never allow peace with Israel, and have numerous conflicts amongst themselves.

The

#14

President Obama’s biggest foreign policy challenges are in order:
(1) dealing with the growing economic power of China;
(2) counteracting the actions of rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea (and to a lesser extent) Venezuela;
(3) dealing with terrorism/ “extremists” (whatever you call it)
(4) Encouraging reform and democracy in the Arab and Muslim world

#13

Pres. Obama’s biggest challenge is restoring respect for the US after his mea culp speeches. His Nobel prize speech was a start. He needs to stop apologizing to the Muslim world. He needs to start supporting genuine friends like the UK, Japan, Israel, Australia.

#12

I think that the most important foreign policy challenge that Obama faces is directing our (the U.S.) military to do their reasonable best to avoid hitting innocent civilians as much as possible. When you wipe out an entire village of 18 men, women and children for example just to get a couple of “militants” who, as it turned out, weren’t even there at the time of the strike, then that suggests, along with many other examples, that our military is willing to carelessly kill civilians out of tactical CONVENIENCE. In my opinion, unless we get our ethics at least basically straight and do as good as we can in that regard, we may wind up creating more terrorists than we destroy (which may have been the motivation for some of the militants that we have been willing to destroy villages to get anyway).

#11

The biggest foreign policy facing Pre. Obama is dealing with Iran. Unless Iran is dealt with very soon, we won’t be safe.

#10

The most important foreign policy challenge of the twenty first century is our relations with our neighbors in the western hemispher, both for national security and economic reasons.

#9

Obama’s foreign policy did not change even after his speach in Cairo June 4th.Israel continue build
setelments,demolishing Palistinian homes,killing
Palestinans and treat them unhuman.Peace between
the Palestinians & Israel will be Obama’s failure.

#8

Foreign policy challenge most important: End American participation in war and corruption in Afghanistan before another year goes by.

#7

The President’s biggest foreign policy issue is global warming, because that is something all the world faces now. American wealth needs to be spent on this matter, not on militaristic endeavors.

#6

Saying no to Israel and the undeclared wars in Iraq,Afghanistan,Pakistan and Yemen.

#5

The most difficult and most necessary policy issue facing the American govt. is the settlement of the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict including Hamas and Gaza

#4

stopping the growth of settlements, difficult because of the financial support from the US, America Jews seem to look the other way rather than support their president!!

#3

He was elected for change-but nothing has changed,Iraq and the Afghans should be dumped because theirs is in reality a tribal conflict in both cases.Embrace Iran,and cut both of them off..

#2

Handling Irans nuclear capability. They have already threatened Israel and their leader is an uneducated dolt. If something concrete is not done there could be a problem that makes Iraq look like childs play.

#1

The biggest foreign policy issue facing the American govt. is how to get out of Afghanistan ASAP.

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