With the world quickly falling into recession, Barack Obama, the man whose slogan is “change,” becomes the new American president on Jan. 20.
The first priority is revitalizing the U.S. economy. Then, lying in wait are the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, and peace in the Middle East, among other challenges.
Will the coming Obama administration make any effort to restore an American-led international order? The administration’s policies will affect the course of world events in 2009.
In the eight years of the Bush administration, America’s prestige suffered greatly from the chaos of Iraq and the financial crisis. The American world order that emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union was shaken.
There is Russia, which aims to restore itself as a major power, and China, which is making its surge in economic and military power felt. Meanwhile, with regional powers like India and Brazil carrying great potential, new powers have emerged.
The G8 (Group of Eight), with China, India, South Africa, South Korea and other members of the G20, in an assembly of the sixteen main producers of CO2 emissions, established a new framework as a response to the financial crisis and global warming.
However, with each nation having its own troubles due to the previous year’s financial crisis and recession, it has become more difficult finding a consensus between the increasingly diverging interests of developed and emerging nations.
The Obama administration, in order to restore American leadership, proclaims that it will rouse its unmatched military, economic, diplomatic power to tackle serious and pressing issues.
In actuality, of all the major countries, it is only America that has the responsibility to use its capability in leading the world to stability and prosperity.
It is Obama’s duty to put his plans and promises into actions, and resolutely pursue them to accomplishment, just as he proclaims.
Now, the state of world affairs is fluid and undergoing rapid change.
CHINA AND RUSSIA ALSO IN DIFFICULT STRAITS
China, continually expanding militarily, dispatched a warship off the coast of Somalia as a countermeasure against piracy, making clear its intention to fulfill its international responsibilities.
Perhaps it was also a sign that China wants to flaunt its ability to expand to foreign waters.
However, domestic discontent has continued to grow. While this year is the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the nation, it is also the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibet rebellion, and the twentieth anniversary of the suppression of the democratic movement in the Tiananmen Square Incident.
With the financial crisis spreading from the U.S. immediately following the success of the Beijing Olympics, the accompanying economic slowdown has exacerbated the people’s dissatisfaction with their daily existence. This shows that a popular movement demanding the correction of class disparity is spreading.
Russia as well had a favorable economy, until the oil-price collapse when it took a turn for the worse. The unavoidable collapse of foreign currency exposed the frailties of an economic framework that overly depended on resources.
However, Russia’s intense opposition to the eastward expansion of the Western Sphere will not change.
It is necessary for China and Russia, as members of the UN Security Council, to form a cooperative framework with the Obama administration, and take action for the sake of world stability
THE WAR ON TERROR CONTINUES
The war on terror is also a serious concern for the international community.
To Obama, the foremost line in the fight against terror is not Iraq, but Afghanistan, and it is his plan to redeploy troops from Iraq as reinforcements for Afghanistan.
Can the U.S. military speedily disengage from Iraq, while ensuring its stability?
It will be necessary to increase reconstruction support to prevent sectarian civil war.
In Afghanistan, how well will Britain, Germany, France and other NATO member nations respond to U.S. requests for reinforcements?
There is also the difficult problem as to whether the terrorist camps within the territory of Pakistan can be eliminated with the help of the Pakistani government.
The deep antagonism between the nuclear nations Pakistan and India that has been reignited as a result of successive indiscriminate terror attacks in both countries last year is also a cause for concern.
Dealing with North Korea’s nuclear disarmament and Iran’s nuclear program are also urgent matters.
Obama proclaims his goal of the total abolition of nuclear weapons, and his diplomatic strategy concentrates on dialogue without preconditions, even with total dictatorships. However, without the leverage of economic and military power, it is doubtful whether nuclear negotiations can bear results
With General Secretary Kim Jong Il’s reported failing health, the problem of succession, and other issues, the state of affairs in North Korea grows more uncertain.
Japan must expediently plan a resolution to nuclear disarmament and the abduction issue, continuing to coordinate with America to actively deal with North Korea in its negotiations.
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