In his annual State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama missed an opportunity to underscore the value of strengthened trade relations with Asia, says Curtis Chin, Managing Director of RiverPeak Group.
Curtis believes that whilst it’s understandable that Obama mostly focused on issues at home while spending relatively less time speaking about foreign affairs, he did little to convince skeptics of his commitment to the work it will take to move forward a comprehensive trade agreement with 11 Asian-Pacific nations.
Armed with stats -28% of U.S. goods and 27% of U.S. services exports go to Asia; 8.5 million visitors from Asia contribute $41 billion to the US economy – Curtis explains that “America’s security and prosperity are closely and increasingly linked to Asia and the Pacific.” He goes on to say that Obama has another chance to communicate this message during an upcoming three-day visit to and summit in India; Curtis suggests he addresses this critical point.
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Justin Webb, an expert on US politics, recently discussed in the Times that the daily White House briefing could end as President Obama keeps a tight grip on his image.
Justin argues that the White House briefing exists because “openness and transparency should be the hallmark of a modern democracy and that folks should be able to ask straight questions and have them answered in public.” However, Justin explains that trouble exists in the fact that people get replies, rather than answers, to the briefing. He goes on to say that “Americans know the president through social media and the man you know is the man they want you to know.”
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In an article for Politico Magazine, Dennis Ross, one of America’s foremost foreign policy experts, analyses how President “Obama the pragmatist” will approach his toughest foreign policy test yet. Dennis describes Obama as a pragmatic foreign policy thinker, but what does this means for the days ahead in Ukraine?
Although Obama is now acting to mobilise a set of diplomatic and economic consequences, Dennis states that he can’t be sure whether this is done out of realism or idealism, or indeed if any President’s foreign policy can be categorised so neatly.
This becomes particularly apparent when looking at how Obama reacted to earlier foreign policy crises: his hesitancy to intervene in Syria leads many to conclude that he is a traditional realist, whereas his call for Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to leave office, and the intervention in Libya were driven very heavily by humanitarian instincts.
Dennis explains that regardless of which stance drives his foreign policy, undisguised military aggression should warrant a cost for such behaviour. He points out that “what guides Obama in his decision-making on interventions as much as anything is feasibility…he has to evaluate those costs against what we have at stake.”
He added that “[having] stated that there will be consequences for Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine, the president understands that the costs of doing nothing would be high, and we must now demonstrate the meaning of those words—even if that does not translate into military action.”
Will his actions be driven by idealism or realism – or both? Click here for the full story.
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