Capping the Incapable

•February 9, 2009 • 2 Comments

_45415552_obama_ap226bThe era of unbelievable wall street bonuses and golden parachutes is coming to an end. At least this is the message President Obama is trying to spread to the morally bereft businesses in the United States.

On Wednesday last week the new president announced an executive pay cap as a criteria to gain access to the stimulus package. the cap is supposed to limit the basic pay of CEOs and the like to $500, 000 while also restricting any future bonuses to take “the form of stock that can’t be paid up until taxpayers are paid back for their assistance”.

The infamous bonuses which have been handed out to executives during the current financial crisis are not only ludicrous and foolish but morally wrong and yet more proof of the ignorance and disconnection the people who pull the strings are suffering from. The notion in America that earning a lot of money (and recieving bonuses on top of that) is justifiable is not all stupidity. I do not dispute the fact that a person deserves to harvest the fruit of his own hard work. However, due to the structure of todays pay scheme the “oridnary joe” is working over time so his boss can reap the benefits.

The American is being burnt twice over, first by the executives receiving great pay and bonuses for achievements mostly made by their employees and second by the executives financing their new golden offices with the taxpayers money when millions of jobs are being lost. Thus I find it puzzling  that Americans still put faith in the right to earn your money (or rather thy neighbours money) this way.

While the Obama administration’s measure is certainly welcome, it is an obvious incentive and one that would have hurt the president’s credibility had he not put it forward (even worse alongside the recent tax embarrassments). Some might even claim that the president’s initiative is generous. Despite the fact that $500, 000 is “a fraction of the salaries that have been reported recently” it is still well above the amount that seems necessary during a crisis like this one. 

Frankly I believe the decision on a pay cap should be stretched further and include buisnesses which have not asked for a share of the stimulus. If Obama truly want to get ridd of the crooked bonus systems of todays buisnesses, he will have to do a lot more than restrict the newly involved companies. Certainly, reward should still be given for hard work. But when your company is laying off thousands of people, giving yourself and other executives multi million dollar bonuses does not make sense.

Of course, having said that, there is a certain group of people (no names mentioned) that oppose Obama’s recent move and the path on which the U.S. is embarking. Reportedly, there is a growing fear amongst analysts that the pay cap will see CEOs fleeing from the big firms to the smaller investment banks, taking their talent with them. Aknowledging how keen most top people are on getting their luxury offices (including thousand dollar dustbins – not kidding!), this might well happen.

However, having grown up with the belief that change is eternal (and thus invitable), this might not be a bad thing. While the pay cap may result in some talent loss within the big companies it will subsequently give the smaller ones a greater pool of talent, perhaps create a tear in the shrewed monopoly of banking today and allow all parties to compete in the upper classes (with time small streams do develop into great floods). 

Furthermore, who said that loosing greedy executives is a negative loss? Certainly, most (if not all) developments contain a degree of positive consequences. As it is, fleeing executives might actually provide opportunities for ambitious, young and hard working people who would not otherwise get to take part (rather they would be put backstage, working their asses off only to have the credit for their achievements stolen by pennypinching executives). The knowledge and experience of the current CEOs are still needed, however in this debate their importance have clearly been exaggerated.

 

– Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com

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Legacy of 2008: A Challenge for Humanity

•January 20, 2009 • 2 Comments

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Today we are standing on the doorsteps of a new era. People across the globe are waiting for the historical moment, the final step of a prolonged struggle. Finally, after two years of chanting “Change We Can Believe In” will we see Barack Obama take the oath of office and begin what might be the toughest and most important presidency of our time.  

Indeed, being the U.S. President today means so much more than just being President of the United States. Added to the threats and challenges the world is facing is the hope and aspiration of not millions, but billions of people around the world. The expectations of citizens in places as far away as Kenya, China and Sweden, are certainly high and Barack Obama will find his first 100 days (and the rest of his time in office) to be closely watched.

duality-of-humanityYet, as we are stepping into this new era we should once more look back and reflect upon the year which has passed. What legacy has 2008 left us, what can we learn and most importantly, what should we (and the soon to be President) bring with us to make the best of 2009? 

While my last post focused on the environment, the wake up call of natural disasters and the changing climate, I will now focus on another area which has been of great importance during the previous year and most definitely will continue to scream for our attention in 2009.

Little did we know, as we embarked on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) a year ago, that it would bring us so many challenges (Kenya, Beijing Olympics, Darfur, Burma disaster, Zimbabwe, Mumbai, Gaza, the list goes on and on). Even less did we expect the opportunities these challenges would give us. Indeed, the Olympic Games of 2008, which negligence of the UDHR was absolutely intolerable, may also have been one of the most important developments in the effort for global realization of human rights during the year.

While the Beijing Olympics was an unacceptable insult to the Games’ true spirit (“to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man […] to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”) it actually pushed activism and global awareness to a whole other level. 

beijing-olympic-games-will-rebound-from-anti-china-protestsBy hosting the Olympic Games the Chinese government (along with the countries which supported the event) did not only aggravate hoards of people, but brought their long list of human rights violations to the focus of ordinary citizens in nations in all corners of the world. Faced with the reality that their governments would not act to stop the oppression (some even supporting the event), these citizens objected and stood up against the immorality of their leaders. United as one force the movement grew global, got more strength and started to act on the injustice being made.

The year of 2008 has certainly brought the human rights debate to another level. Indeed, the famous journey of the Olympic torch, which was shadowed by protesters demanding freedom for Tibet and human rights to be respected, was as clear a sign as any that humanity is moving forward. No longer are we blind to the double standards and lack of morals in our leaders. The number of people that are standing up for equality is sky-rocketing, and as the Olympic Games proved, the scale of the protests are becoming ever harder to ignore.

Thus it is evident that the human race is developing, seeking a better future for humanity with empathy towards each other and a greater respect for life. Yet, there are still hurdles ahead (some bigger than others) and we cannot afford to stop the vital promotion of human rights. 

The Importance of Neutrality

Peace in the Middle East, further complicated by the events in Gaza, is one of the bigger problems which are being handed over to 2009. It is also one of the most complicated issues on the foreign policy agenda of Barack Obama and has been passed on between U.S. Presidents for all too many years. Since I am not intending on making this post the length of a marathon, I will not dive into a deep analysis of the conflict in the Middle East. Rather I will focus on what I believe to be vital changes that Obama will have to make (preferably during his first 100 days) in the U.S. foreign policy.

gaza3The Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which started on 27 December, as well as the ground offensive which followed on January 3rd, are only the latest events in a conflict which has caused havoc and brought misery to the region and its people for all too long. During 22 days more than 1 300 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives have been lost (many of these are women and children). The human rights violations which have been made on both sides during recent as well as previous fighting are unacceptable and the international community’s poor response is an embarrassment.

At the time of my writing Hamas and Israel have declared two (separate) cease fires. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the cease fires, Hamas’s reluctancy to stop its missile attacks, Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza as well as the depth of the conflict, it seems unlikely that this will be more than a brief moment of regaining strength (while the civilians mourn their dead family members and friends) before this long out-drawn conflict continues.

However, Obama is aware of the steep mountain he has to climb and has thus been preparing for the day when he steps into office. One of the more noteworthy of these preparations came two weeks ago, as he embarked on a historical lunch. Dining with the president elect were no other than the current and the three former (and still living) Presidents of the United States, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

handshake1Obama could learn a lot  from these men when it comes to the policy on Middle East. During the Clinton years efforts towards peace in the region were certainly looking better than they ever have. Yet, despite staging the most favorable conditions (so far) for peace, the agreement failed at Camp David in 2000. 

One of the reasons for this, I believe, is the U.S.’s great support for Israel. As the first nation to recognize the state in 1948, the United States has remained strong relations with the country. In some cases this can work as an advantage. The U.S. has, for example, much greater influence on Israel than any other country and is thus able to sway Ehud Olmert in a way that would not otherwise be possible.

But the loyalty and the strong support can also have negative consequences in their mediation efforts. Given their support to Israel the U.S. is more likely to see things from just one perspective which I believe has and will continue to thwart any peace efforts made by the nation. For how can Clinton, Carter or any of the “Bushes” claim to be a mediator when their loyalty in reality lies with one of the two sides?

This seems contradictory to me when the purpose of a mediator is to be neutral – a person who does not take one anyone’s side, but listens to both party’s to make peace efforts work. I do recognize the complexity of the situation, but with the current lack of neutrality I believe any peace efforts made by the United States will fail. 

Having said that I am not suggesting that Barack Obama should turn to the opposite and pressure Israel with all his might. Seeing as George W Bush’s “hard” Israeli policy did not bring the region closer to peace this would not be the better way forward. As I see it, only neutral diplomacy will put an end to this eternal conflict. If the 44th President is going to change anything in the policy towards the Middle East the first thing would be the lack of neutrality.

 

“Let us seek together, a world better in our time”

Barack Obama, January 2009

 

– Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com

(For older posts on human rights, visit Twende Twende)

Legacy of 2008: The Wake Up Call of Yesterday

•January 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

the-planet-earthAs we have embarked on a new year (with all its promises and opportunities) it is certainly worth to reflect upon what the previous year has meant to us and what legacy it is leaving behind. Filled with both hope and despair 2008 brought us a long list of new discoveries and developments at home and abroad. In this vast pool of events most people will have their own summary of what the year has given to us, I have chosen two areas which I believe are in critical need of our attention. The first of these will be the topic of this post. 

Perhaps the most alarming developments during the year have been occurring in the environment. Most of you (if not all) will definitely have heard a fair deal about climate change and the warming of our planet by now. However, as we continue this murderous pollution the changing climate is causing an unprecedented amount of natural disasters (disasters which are wreaking havoc around the world) and it is clear that climate change has not been discussed enough.

droughtIncluded in the 2008 calculation are not only the tropical storms and floods in the U.S., the earthquakes in China, the cyclone in Burma and the volcanic eruptions in the Americas. No, the effects of our treatment of the planet stretches further, to the droughts and famines claiming thousands of lives in Africa, to the toxic air threatening the Chinese population and to the decreasing amount of fish that swim in the mighty oceans.

Many are those who say man can survive these threats. Improved infrastructure can be made resistant to earthquakes, hold off storms and floods. This is true. Man is always developing and creating better means for himself. But what happens when the earth is too dry to plant seeds? What happens when the air pollution gets so grave that a breath of fresh air is no more than a memory? What happens when the last fish dies and the ecosystem under the surface (a world we know extremely little about) ceases to exist?

These questions, as well as the scale of the climate crisis, might seem exaggerated. But unless we change the current pattern of global destruction (pollution, deforestation, scavenging and all other forms) we will know the answers and the Native Americans (Cree) will be right;

“Only when the last tree is cut; only when the last river is polluted; only when the last fish is caught; only then will they realize that you cannot eat money.”

No Time for Despair

early_morning_wake-up_callThe anguish that follows the changing climate of 2008 may very well be the most important wake up call any year has ever brought us. Instead of provoking a global feeling of helplessness and doom, these developments have drawn people together and inspired thousands to put their minds, energy and time to work out solutions for the problems and develop greener alternatives to our dirty methods (this includes the aviation industry, one of the biggest offenders, which is developing and currently testing biofuels – such as extract from algae – in commercial planes).

Even the environmental criminal, George W. Bush, has decided to do something for the environment (perhaps more to boost his appalling legacy) and vowed to establish the world’s largest marine protection area. Sheltered from mining and commercial fishing, the area covers about 505, 000 square km (195, 000 sq miles) in the Pacific Ocean and includes the Mariana Trench (the deepest trench on the planet), coral reefs as well as underwater volcanoes. As these places provides the habitat of hundreds of species of birds and fish which are not found elsewhere, the Bush Administration’s recent incentive  is certainly looked upon favorably. Yet, without curbing climate change the coral reefs Bush is aiming to protect will suffer from the warming oceans (by bleaching, for example) and the project will be meaningless, no more than a failed attempt to amend 8 years of disastrous environmental policies.  

However, great initiatives to slow down and ultimately stop global warming are also being made in the U.S. As 2008 brought us the final phase of the Bush era, these initiatives have come from a fairly new face in the political arena. President elect Barack Obama, who is facing the towering task of creating more than 3 million jobs in the midst of a financial crisis, has seen opportunities (rather than anguish) in this challenge and vowed to invest a substantial amount of money to double alternative energy production in the next three years (now he needs to realize that there is no such thing as “clean coal”).

greenenergyIn spite of the financial crisis making this seemingly costly initiative harder to implement (or get through Congress) this is an investment crucial for our future and we cannot afford to leave it behind. The creation of a larger sector of alternative energy would not only contribute to lower emissions but would create much needed jobs and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. This would in turn bring even more jobs back to the nation and lead to more U.S. dollars being invested inside the U.S. borders. To put extra credit to the initiative it might also prevent U.S. dollars (well, at least some of it) from being sent into the hands of gross human rights violators (however, many of these receive money from several U.S. sources, one being “development aid”).

Having said that, the changing climate and the natural disasters which characterized 2008 should definitely be seen as nature’s last wake up call for humanity. Now is the time for all of us to act (and act quickly) if we want to stop current developments from escalating into chaos. Luckily it seems like many of us have learnt our lesson from the previous year as we are investing more money and time in environmental research than ever before, developing new ways for a greener future. To make sure that these developments continue throughout 2009 (and for a long time after that) the president elect, as well as members of Congress, have to stand true on their promises. Indeed being the top man in the U.S. will prove to be even harder than we could have imagined – let’s hope that we got the right man for the job this time.

– Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com

Looking Beyond U.S. Borders

•December 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

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With little more than a week left until Christmas the financial crisis is pulling all our strings tight. Incredible strains on the global economy and huge layoffs in most of the U.S.’s (and other countries’) industries have severely hurt our Christmas spirit. Thus looking past these problems and beyond the country’s borders might not be the first thing that comes to mind.

Yet, while the media is mesmerized by shoes flying past President Bush, the corruption scandal in Illinois and further financial problems, the decision makers in the U.S. (as well as in other nations across the globe) have to turn their attention further south. As we ascend on a new year we need to focus on the people whose suffering is greater than ours and whose country, once known as “the fruit basket of Africa”, is on the brink of collapse.

The cholera epidemic sweeping across Zimbabwe is only the most recent disaster striking the country. In the middle of the worst harvest in the nation’s history, the epidemic is causing further suffering to millions of people already struggling to survive among rising food prices, food shortages and hyperinflation. A very unpleasant disease, cholera causes acute diarrhea, which leads to severe dehydration and death if not treated promptly.

With the healthcare system in total chaos the death toll is rising and (at the time of my writing) at least 1 000 people have been killed by the disease. Furthermore these are only the worst cases, typically representing 20 % of all ill persons. Thus the spreading of the disease is believed to be much worse, with an increasing risk that the number of infections will rise to 60, 000 (according to the UN) if efforts to stop it are not soon implemented.

malnourished_childHowever, as disastrous as this disease certainly is, cholera serves only as a symptom of a much more threatening illness which has been causing havoc and brought misery to the people in Zimbabwe for all too long (and has only recently been given attention by the international community). Calling him by name, President Robert Mugabe, has truly stretched this country to its limits, tearing its riches apart and making it the only African nation which population has seen a decrease during the last decade (while the average population growth rate is 5 % per year in other African countries, estimates say Zimbabwe’s population has fallen by at least 3 million due to deaths and emigration during the Mugabe regime).

Furthermore the hyperinflation plaguing Zimbabwe has reached over 80 sextillion(1021)%, (suddenly our financial crisis looks pretty harmless) and comes as a direct result of the governments naiveté and ignorance, (printing more money in an effortzimbab-dollors-785067 to reverse the inflation only increase it, making the currency seemingly worthless). Seeking another solution to the problem the government has enforced a daily withdrawal limit of Z$ 50, 000 (less than $2). However, as a loaf of bread costs Z$ 30, 000, this seems ridiculous and only causes further distress among the people who are already enduring the worst (tens of thousands of children drop out of school every month, reportedly to look for food, while more than five million Zimbabweans are expected to need food aid in 2009).

As if this was not enough, Mugabe’s paranoia (especially towards the British) has blocked western aid, causing a tremendous amount of suffering and unnecessary deaths. Accusing western countries, as well as Botswana (who recently criticized Mugabe), for spreading diseases and planning to invade the country Mugabe has clearly taken this blame game too far, making me wonder if he has turned so blind as to believe these statements himself (Cholera is apparently a chemical weapon Britain is using to wage war against Zimbabwe and AIDS is a disease the white man has developed to wipe out the African peoples).

The fact that a president, in the 21st century, is able to ruin a country bit by bit as Mugabe is ruining Zimbabwe is truly unacceptable. The fact that he has pushed the country to the brink of collapse is a catastrophe and the long record of the human rights violations his administration has made is an embarrassment to the global society.

_45295927_mugabedecap226iIt is about time that we (developed and developing countries alike) show compassion with the people of Zimbabwe and stand up against dictators. Seeing as the power sharing talks are failing (or at least moving all too slowly) we need to dismantle Mugabe from his throne and give the Zimbabweans a chance to create a brighter future for themselves and their country. What would be a better Christmas gift than to give the people who are the worst off the means to create a brighter future, a future of their own choice?

Having said that, there are of course limits as to what we can do. I am by no means suggesting that we should use military force (as Bush was eager to propose), this would most certainly make matters worse for the people, not to mention that a military intervention would give Mugabe actual facts to strengthen his lunatic accusations. No, the change must come from within Africa, through peer pressure and a united effort to remove the wicked and form a better foundation on which a prosperous state can develop.

This proposal leaves a great amount of responsibility on African countries. Yet, it does not diminish the importance of western countries such as the U.S. and European Union member states. While the African countries certainly need to put more force into their efforts to remove Mugabe, the U.S and other countries have to continue their attempts to bring humanitarian assistance into the country and give all of their support to mediation efforts between African nations.

With expanded foreign policy initiatives, a greater amount of diplomats and renewed priorities, president-elect Barack Obama is certain to give Zimbabwe more attention than the country has received during the Bush years. Yet, Obama’s contributions to the removal of Mugabe remain to be seen and in the meantime the people of Zimbabwe continue to struggle. However, as we move closer to a new year and hopefully two new leaderships, a better and brighter, future is beginning to take shape.

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— Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com

Sixty Years Ago Today

•December 10, 2008 • 1 Comment

scale2aA beacon of hope and aspiration shines throughout the world today, casting a shadow (at least for a moment) on the financial crisis that has engulfed our lives. 

The reason for this joyous day is to be found sixty years ago, when the United Nations’ General Assembly gathered in Paris to sign a declaration that came to lay the grounds for a morally just global society. Commonly referred to as the Magna Carta for all humanity, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is (as Pope John Paul II described it) “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time”.

Chaired by the former U.S. First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, the commission to promote human rights was formed in the aftermath of World War II (with the words “never again”) and for 60 years, today, its preamble and 30 articles have set forth the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which all people, everywhere, are entitled.

During these years the Declaration has become an incredibly powerful tool for those of us seeking to deter governments (and individuals) from violating the rights and freedoms of their people. Respected among many countries as part of customary international law, it has, along with the UN Charter, provided the UN with the moral and the (crucial) legal basis for actions against violators of human rights. As a result the vision that all people are equal, that all people are entitled to the same rights and that no one has the authority to deny any person these rights, has been spread to all corners of the world (with the help of hoards of activists, “ordinary Joes” and diplomats) and influenced individuals to stand up for humanity and fight the unjust. 

slaveryOne remarkable example of the Declaration’s impressive influence is the abolishment of child marriages and female genital mutilation in more than three thousand Senegalese villages following a two-year course in human rights and democracy. The purpose of the course was to give the population the tools and knowledge they need to create the change they seek, the abolition of the two customs was not a part of the program. Rather the decision came as a result of the villagers’ own reasoning and their realization of the human rights. (I myself believe there are few people who, if they truly understand these rights, would disagree with them)

Two other significant achievements are the ban on torture, which was adopted as an international convention in 1972, and the European Convention on Human Rights, which made articles from the Declaration part of national law in several European countries.

However, despite these great achievements (and great they are!) human rights violations are all too common, even in countries as prominent as the U.S. (abduction and torture to name two). Furthermore three billion people (almost half of humanity) are denied the basic human rights (such as the right to food and clean water). In the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,”The challenges we face today are as daunting as those confronting the Declaration’s drafters”. 

This day should serve as a reminder of the difficulties we still face and keep us, who are spared (at least for now) from the most devastating effects of disaster, poverty and instability, from turning a blind eye to human rights abuses.

“On this Human Rights Day, it is my hope that we will all act on our collective responsibility to uphold the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. We can only honour the towering vision of that inspiring document when its principles are fully applied everywhere, for everyone.” – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 

On the 60th anniversary of this declaration we should be grateful for the accomplishments we have made and that  the hard work of so many people has pushed the global society towards a more just and equal future. I am confident that the world will continue along the path toward global justice and equality (for one thing president-elect Barack Obama has taken on the task to end U.S. torture and close Guantanamo Bay). These years have proven that humanity, when willing, is capable of remarkable deeds and has the tools to spread equality even further. 

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— Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com 

Economy Done, Now What About Foreign Policy?

•December 1, 2008 • 3 Comments

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Last week president-elect Barack Obama sent clear signals (yet again) that he is more than ready to take on the role as commander in chief. Seizing the reins on the economy Obama held three press conferences (in as many days), announced his economic team and new advisory board, held talks with President Bush and declared that, once in office, he will swiftly push Congress to carry through a large-scale economic stimulus package, with the goal of creating 2.5 million jobs over a two year period. 

These are certainly exciting times! Obama continues to break records, unwrapping his administration quicker than any president-elect before him, in an effort not only to assure investors and calm volatile markets, but to alter America’s perilous course and fill the leadership vacuum even before he takes office. 

However, last week did not only bring joyful news. The horrific attacks in Mumbai, India, which lasted for three days and killed at least 190 people, served as a cruel reminder of the terror the world still suffers from. Furthermore it is a reminder of the fact that a U.S. president’s focus can shift to national security at any time (even in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the depression).

Thus, it is not very surprising that the president-elect will dedicate this week to national security and foreign policy. Embracing a sweeping shift of priorities and resources, the Obama administration is creating an expanded body of diplomats and aid workers that will be engaged in projects around the world, aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states.

At the time of my writing it is unclear whether the financing will be shifted from the Pentagon, as Obama is also seeking to increase the number of American combat troops (primarily for Afghanistan). This willcertainly add to Obama’s strenuous agenda, and as one of his senior advisers said, “[it] will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency”.

Other events concerning national security and foreign policy this week are the announcements Obama is expected to make, starting tonight with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

While Obama has made some respectable and wise decision, this is probably one of his most bewildering announcements and has certainly raised my eyebrows. Contrary to what you may believe, this bafflement does not come as a result of the rivalry which has formed between Obama loyalists, like myself, and traveling pantsuit Clintonites. Despite the tough primaries and the strained relationship, which developed as a result, Clinton and Obama share many important views and stand closer on these issues than they stand apart on others.

Therefore it seems only natural that Hillary Clinton should play a role in the new administration. However, with the exception of health care, the most debated issue throughout the campaign (and the one on whichthey disagree the most) has been foreign policy. (Sniper fire or no sniper fire?) Thus, it seems contradicting that the president elect would choose to place Clinton on top of this department (which, most certainly, will lead to frustrations in the situation room) when he could have good use of her in several other areas.

While I admire Obama’s effort to form a colorful administration, rich in views and perspectives, his choice for secretary of state might come back to haunt him. Indeed, the Obama transition team is doing everything they can to make sure the appointment will not harm his presidency. One of the more prominent actions include the close scrutiny of the Bill Clinton foundation (which lead to an agreement on nine conditions, of which one requires the former president to disclose more than 200,000 of the foundations donors.) 

Another factor of this eyebrow raising moment is, of course, Joe Biden. With all his foreign policy credentials and years of experience one would expect Obama to have a strong foreign policy agenda ready for him, indeed, that is the reason why he was chosen as VP, is it not? 

Making record fast appointments, Obama has been suspiciously quiet about what role his vice president will have. With Hillary Clinton as secretary of state the chance of a large-scale foreign policy agenda for Biden seems slim. But, as I mentioned before, these are exciting times and future will tell if Obama made a wise decision today.

Either way we can expect the situation room to be filled with arguments (for better or worse) as the future president realizes that the future secretary of state already has a very clear and strong agenda, which, undoubtedly, will clash with his own.

— Kajsa, Admin Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com

Preparing for a New World Order

•November 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

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Fighting a war on two fronts and struggling to get through the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s, the United States will not be able to maintain its position as the ultimate superpower for very long (most of us will agree on this). It has for a long time been noted that the world is changing and in some ways power has already shifted from the United States. But if the U.S. will cease its leadership in the global community who will then take its place and what will this mean to the world?

Well, there are several countries seeking the nomination (China and India being the top two) and it is most likely that they will end up squabbling over the lead title. Presuming no disasters inflicts upon these countries, the days of a single superpower will end with the U.S. and instead we will see more nations included in the influencing sector of the world.

What this means is not only that the structure of the leading bodies of the world today, such as the WTO, the IMF and the G8, will have to change and adapt to include the demands of developing countries (which I, among many others, would welcome with open arms as it is long overdue). But it might also take a turn for satellites_wideweb__470x3310the worse and be the end of the crucial, so called, “western values” of democracy and human rights. 

This would be more alarming if China is to be the nation that takes on the bigger role in the global community. With their record of human rights violations, their dictatorial regime and their criticism against “western values” there is reason to worry (especially now when they are portraying the U.S. as an example of failing western standards).

Having said that, however, a more powerful China does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. As a follow up on my last post the U.S. can still do a great deal to affect the future of our world. Convincing China that some “western values” are essential for the well being of the international community might be their last chance to change the future and should be on top (next to solving the financial crisis) of the president-elect’s agenda.

The first and most obvious move the U.S. will have to make is to follow these values themselves. By closing Guantanamo Bay, ending torture and showing a greater respect for human rights the U.S. double standard will be demolished and actual influence on China might be possible.

A second, trickier, move for President Barack Obama will be to restore the United States relationship with China. As it is right now, the two countries are competing in most areas, fighting over vital issues such as us20and20china20flagsnuclear weapons, human rights and global trade policy. Their tense relation, along with the rising problems within the U.S. has not only diminished U.S. influence on China but severely damaged the credibility of our “western ways”.

This does not, however, mean that the U.S. should break its stand against the Republic of China, nor does it mean that they should make dubious compromises just to reach an agreement on issues (this would be incredibly naive and the U.S. would likely end up digging its own grave, neglecting the very standards we want to uphold). Instead Mr. Obama should seek an approach more common to him, and quite different to the strategies of the Bush administration.

By including China and other developing nations in organizations like the G8, the U.S. will be seen as more open and inclusive. Furthermore the future president will be able to actually hear the leaders of these countries out (something Bush failed to do). Taking into account their worries and demands when considering hard decisions, Mr Obama will not only be seen as a better leader but might come to better conclusions and ultimately make better decisions.

Nevertheless, the criticism and objections against China have to continue. We can not allow a nation, which might become the next leading superpower, to neglect the policies that are keeping our world together. Indeed, we would see horrific days if the Chinese leaders were to apply their view of human rights (or democracy for that matter) across all nations.

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– Kajsa, Administrator Future for America
politics.of.tomorrow@gmail.com