During this year’s campaign season, a lot of time has been spent looking back at past successes and failures of the current party, but what really matters is what challenges Obama will face internationally and how he will deal with them.
One of the main international challenges Obama must deal with is with China, ever encroaching onto America’s position as the world’s foremost economic super power, Obama must be wary of trade practices between the two countries. There are two philosophical paths for him to choose. He could either adhere to the principles of a free market or could begin to set up greater trade barriers to halt the pace of Chinese goods flooding the US market. This is of course not to discount the role the Middle East plays in America’s economic recovery. The stuff that keeps the engine of the American economy in motion is oil. Even though US imports of oil have recently hit a 20-year low, America is still importing nearly 7 million barrels per day from countries in the Middle East and hence, the stability of these countries and the stability of the price of oil is crucial to the economic recovery.
Not only must Obama deal with the economy, he must also deal with current international issues that are occurring around the world. Now whilst it is impossible to predict what events could occur in two or three years time, there are certainly a number of pressing issues that are occurring right now. Most notably is the situation in Syria and whether or not America should commit ground troops, instigate a no fly zone, or simply leave it to other countries to deal with. In the same region, Obama must contend with the Supreme Leader and President of Iran. In recent years there have been mounting fears that Iran has the capacity to create nuclear weapons and has the intention to use them. Whether these claims can be substantiated or not, Obama must have a plan in place should the situation take a negative turn.
Linking back to the economy, Obama must also decide upon whether or not to maintain foreign aid to certain countries. There is a substantial movement in the US that is calling for a cut to all foreign aid (excluding Israel).
With military spending in 2012 expected to reach around $1.4 trillion, argument swirls around Washington as to how this money should be spent and whether or not it should be cut. Whatever happens to the budget, the US will continue to remain a military superpower with the best military technology at its disposal, including its now infamous unmanned drones. What Obama must contemplate is the frequency that he uses signature strikes in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen and the ramifications that come from their use. Afghanistan is another hot topic, with 53% of the US populace supporting an immediate withdrawal. Obama has promised to end military operations by 2014, but US personnel in general look set to stay there well beyond 2016. With large numbers of troops returning from operations around the world, Obama must also give thought to those veterans and what care and assistance they should receive in terms of healthcare, financial support and integration back into society.
It’s not all doom and gloom:
America is still seen as one of the diplomatic powerhouses of the world and this means it can still wield power from its Security Council seat in the UN as well as its position within a number of other international organisations. Obama has the ability to instil sanctions against its foes and give aid to its allies. Obama will no doubt continue his efforts to spread democracy through the Middle East using such means. American values have begun to permeate throughout the world and this has led to an increase in civil rights and Obama will have to capitalise on this wave of culture so as to better the lives of millions around the world.
No one knows exactly what the future will have in store for the rest of the world. All that can be said with certainty is that Obama will have the unenviable task of attempting to navigate America’s position in an ever changing world.