Tag Archives: Foreign Policy

West Wing Week 03/14/14 or “What’s Up, Captain America?”

The White House

This week, the Vice President and Dr. Biden traveled to Chile to attend the inauguration of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, while President Obama worked on improving access to college for students, raising the minimum wage, and negotiating a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Ukraine. He also got out the word about the March 31 deadline for health insurance applications, congratulated NCAA champs, and designated a new national monument.

 

Friday, March 7th

·       The President and First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami, Florida to speak about the importance of signing up for Federal financial aid.

Monday, March 10th

·       The President participated in a conference call with healthcare enrollment leaders.

·       The President congratulated the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Champions at the White House.

Tuesday, March 11th

·      Funny or Die released an interview with President Obama on the web series Between Two Ferns.

·      The President added the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to existing National Monument land in California

·      Later that day, the President visited a Gap Store in New York City to highlight Gap’s choice to raise the minimum wage for their               employees.

Wednesday, March 12th

·     The President met with a group of advocates who are getting the word out about the Affordable Care Act.

·      Later that day, the President held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine.

·      Then, the President hosted a meeting with women members of Congressto discuss the 2014 women’s economic agenda.

Thursday, March 13th

·       The President spoke on the urgent need to get hardworking Americans the overtime pay they deserve.

·       Later, the President took a photo with the 52nd Annual U.S. Sentae Youth program.

 

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West Wing Week 3-15-2013: “We Don’t Have a Moment to Waste”

The White House

International Courage Awards: Last Friday, the First Lady joined Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department for the International Women of Courage Awards—where nine different women were honored. The event was a celebration of the strength and sacrifice of individuals who have worked tirelessly for the advancement of women’s rights for all.

Trade Export Council: On Tuesday, President Obama touched base with business and government leaders at a meeting of the President’s Export Council.

“The good news is we are well on our way to meeting a very ambitious goal that we set several years ago to double U.S. exports,” said the President. “And what we know is, is that a lot of the growth, a lot of the new jobs that we’ve seen during the course of this recovery, have been export-driven.”

To maintain and ignite growth, President Obama discussed finishing new trade deals with Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The Administration signed legislation in 2011 supporting free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama which has kept America competitive in foreign trade, while creating jobs for Americans.

Sultan of Brunei: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei to the Oval Office for a bilateral meeting to share their desire for “a strong, peaceful, prosperous Asia-Pacific region.”

Brunei, a small country in the South China Sea, will be holding the ASEAN East Asia Summit meeting in October. The visit is a symbol of the President’s goal of working towards a peaceful and prosperous presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

#AskFLOTUS : On Monday, in celebration of Let’s Move’s third anniversary the First Ladyparticipated in a question and answer session through Twitter. The First Lady tweeted responses to questions such as how much exercise our kids need a day and her favorite healthy winter recipe. For the record, a minimum of 60 minutes a day is required and the First Lady’s favorite winter dish is turkey and veggie chili. Head over to Pinterest for MyPlate Recipes which haves hundreds of tasty recipes for a healthy diet.

Check out the Q & A on Storify and follow @FLOTUS and @LetsMove for the latest updates.

“Being Biden”: On Thursday, Vice President Biden introduced a new audio series called “Being Biden” to give Americans an opportunity to connect with the White House through the lens of Vice President Biden. In the series, the Vice President will discuss special photos and share why the moments matter to him. Check out the first installment atwhitehouse.gov/beingbiden.

Subscribe and receive an email update when new stories are posted, sign up here.

Ask Him Anything: On Wednesday, Gene Sperling, the Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to President Obama for Economic Policy, fielded questions on the President’s plan to reduce the deficit. Through Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum, Sperling answered economic policy questions from users, and even joked about the West Wing, a TV series on which he once worked.

You can read through the Q & A on Reddit here.

Hire Vets: On Wednesday, the First Lady addressed the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, and challenged them to hire our veterans and military spouses. Through Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden have made it a priority to support them:

“We’ve got to hold ourselves to the same standards of service and patriotism as they’ve held themselves,” said the First Lady. “And we’ve got to join forces so that we can truly serve our veterans and military families as well as they have served us.”

 

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Crash Course on Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy Successes

Today I researched  President Obama’s foreign policy achievements in the last four years, in order to  prepare for  watching the debate tonight.  The entire debate will be on Foreign Policy.   This relevant article appeared in the Huffington Post on 07/06/2012.  

Here’s what I found…

The Huffington Post 

[...]

By any reasonable standard, Obama’s first-term foreign policy record is nothing short of astounding. On issue after issue, Obama has shown a steady — indeed, steely — resolve that has earned him major kudos from foreign policy specialists in both parties. Consider, for example, the following:

    • Two major U.S. land wars, both started by George W. Bush, are winding down. Obama, to the consternation of his base, pushed for a major “troop surge” in Afghanistan, but he alsostared down his top generals and resisted their demand for a prolonged counterinsurgency and nation-building campaign. The Taliban is reeling, and the American pull-back, starting this summer, is real. Obama also resisted pressure to reverse the Iraqi withdrawal and wisely brought in members of the Bush-era negotiating team to help seal and bless the deal.
    • Obama boldly intervened in Libya to oust dictator Muammar Gadaffi and to protect Western oil supplies, and he did it with minimal financial cost and no U.S. troop casualties. Moreover, in contrast to his predecessor, he didn’t act unilaterally but weighed in behind Europe and NATO. Republicans who charged the president with reckless “adventurism” have ended up with egg on their face. In fact, respect for multilateralism is back — and under Obama, it’s no longer just the “soft” option.
    • Obama has forged the closest American defense ties with Israel of any recent U.S. president, including Bush, while continuing to push for Israeli concessions on a Palestinian homeland. Obama has moved deftly, even winning strong support from the Israeli public, which says it wants its leaders to consult with Obama before taking future military action.Support from American Jews, despite concerns over friction between the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister, is holding steady.
  • Obama has also made China a key strategic priority, confronting Beijing on human rights, trade warfare, and economic spying, while bolstering America’s military presence in the Pacific. Donald Trump may think America is getting snookered but most Americans, it turns out, see Obama’s actions as judicious. In fact, leading foreign policy conservatives, includingRobert Kagan, who was a national security adviser to John McCain, and has periodically advised Romney himself, have strongly praised Obama’s entire Asia policy.

Some of Obama’s strongest foreign policy critics, in fact, aren’t on the right but on the left, which is disappointed that Obama hasn’t closed the base at Guantanamo, has eagerly embraced “drone” warfare, and has denied more Freedom of Information Act requests than his predecessor. But such criticism — while justified in some areas — is short-sighted overall. Obama has initiated some seismic shifts in national security doctrine that have a real chance of reducing the prospect of global war. Most notably:

    • Obama has quietly but forcefully revised the Pentagon’s long-standing “two-war” strategythat required an enormous conventional force structure supported by hundreds of American military bases. Under a new Obama plan, the number of soldiers in the Army and the Marines will decline by a remarkable 10-15 percent over the next decade, and a possible36 percent over the long haul. And base closures, already on the increase, will accelerate. The Obama shift means, in effect, that the U.S. is no longer contemplating a protracted land war on its own.
  • Just as dramatic are the significant steps that Obamas has taken to reduce the threat of nuclear war by shrinking American and Russian nuclear weapons arsenals to their lowest levels ever. The arms reduction process actually started under the first George Bush, but Obama is proposing to take it much further, tackling the more difficult deep-cuts, especially in tactical weapons, all the while working with Russia to force smaller nuclear states to slow or eliminate their own weapons programs.

What does Romney have to offer, by contrast? A return to Bush-era neo-conservativism managed by the same people who brought us the Iraq war, and who see any retreat from American unilateralism as a sign of military weakness. They include former Bush State department officialsEliot Cohen and John Bolton, who’ve been pushing Romney to attack Obama for abandoning Israel and for crippling America’s nuclear and conventional war capabilities. They’re also suggesting that Obama is weakening the United States in the face of threats from Iran and failing to intervene decisively to bring down the regime in Syria.

Fortunately, much of the foreign policy establishment, including Republicans like former Secretary of State James Baker, aren’t biting. In fact, there’s even growing concern over Romney’s call for a huge increase in U.S. defense spending over and above what the Pentagon under Obama is seeking. Romney’s spending hike would cost the Treasury an additional $2.1 trillion, undermining the GOP’s ostensible commitment to deficit-reduction, without necessarily enhancing U.S. defense capabilities.

How much does foreign policy matter? In the end, in a close race, it could matter a lot. One foreign policy expert, Bruce Jentleson, has noted that 8-10 percent or more of U.S. voters consistently say that foreign policy drives their vote. And the fact is, even those voters who say they’re mostly concerned about their “pocketbook” still form powerful impressions about candidates and their leadership abilities based on more than their records as economic “stewards.” These days, most voters know that America lives in a global world and that domestic and foreign policy are related, even if they’re not always sure how. It’s really up to the president to show how his handling of the trade deficit, increases in defense spending, or the threat of war can directly affect whether the economy grows or stagnates.

Some Obama successes, like his adroit handling of China, are inextricably tied to future jobs growth, in part through the recapturing of American jobs via “in-sourcing,” It makes no sense not to make this connection more explicit. Other foreign policy accomplishments could help the president with specific voter groups, including disillusioned youth and veterans, both of whom are showing strong signs of defection. Obama’s nuclear and conventional force reductions, for example, could galvanize his peace supporters but, as long-term deficit-busting measures, could appeal more widely, too.

In short, Obama seems to have a real opening on foreign and defense policy, which is something of a rarity for a Democratic presidential candidate. But he needs to seize this advantage now, before Karl Rove & Co. begin launching the kind of national security attack campaign that helped derail John Kerry’s bid for the White House in 2004. Developing a broader reelection narrative will allow voters to appreciate just how much is at stake in the election this November. It will also sharply contrast the two candidates’ leadership abilities and their fundamentally different visions for how America should confront the deeply intertwined global and domestic challenges of the 21st century.

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West Wing Week 12/2/11 or “Bo Meets Bo”

The White House

This week, as the President urged Republicans to join a Democratic effort to prevent a thousand dollar tax increase on the typical American family, the White House got spruced up for the holidays.

The President also hosted the EU Summit, the Dutch Prime Minister, and announced a new commitment to fighting AIDS in America and around the world. He also lit the National Christmas Tree. That’s November 25th to December 1st, or “Bo Meets Bo.”

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Herman Cain Speaks Of ‘The So-Called Palestinian People’

Showcasing GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain’s utter ignorance is something I enjoy doing and will continue to do until this really strange man descends from his first place position in the GOP lineup…

TPM2012

Herman Cain’s lack of foreign policy knowledge has had him in hot water before. Since he hit frontrunner status he’s been dinged for mocking “Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan” and suggesting he might free every prisoner in Guantanamo Bayin exchange for one U.S. soldier.

Earlier in the campaign, before he had frontrunner status and its resulting scrutiny, the former CEO was asked about the Israel-Palestine “right of return” issue. This is one of the red lines in mid-east diplomacy, with the Israeli stance being that the prospect of opening the door to Palestinians displaced in the 1947-48 fighting should not even be negotiated. Cain rather put his foot in it when he was quizzed about the issue on Fox News and – clearly unfamiliar with the subject – he tried to dodge it by saying, “that should be an issue for negotiation.”

Cain’s clearly been swotting up on his mid-east knowledge since then, and a recent choice of words suggests he may have been dipping into some fairly controversial sources.

Cain gave an interview to Israel Hayom that was released Friday. It’s fairly boilerplate except for the part where he addresses the Palestinians’ recent push for full UN membership:

“I think that the so-called Palestinian people have this urge for unilateral recognition because they see this president as weak.”

It’s that “so-called” that’s striking. This is still pretty controversial territory, though it did admittedly find its most notorious expression in the words of the former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. She famously said, “There is no such thing as the Palestinians.”

What she meant by that, and what Cain is tapping into, is that the notion of a Palestinian people only arose after the foundation of Israel, and that this was a convenient way of harnessing the disparate resentments of various Arab groups who had been dislodged during the tumult of 1947-48.

This is something most serious commentators tend to hold back from claiming. Around the time the statehood push chatter was reaching its peak, a National Review editorial led with the line: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian state, and the United Nations can’t conjure one into existence.” However, their contention was very different from the idea that the Palestinian identity was simply invented so the Arabs could have a convenient stick with which to beat Israel in international institutions. Their argument rested on the far more common contention that the Palestinians – riven between Hamas and Fatah-controlled territories, lacking a Weberian “monopoly on violence,” and without strong political institutions – are not yet ready to have a definite political entity that could credibly be called a “state.” But though the editorial writers denied the Palestinians the concept of statehood, they held back from denyingnationhood.

The only people willing to go that far tend to be the more hardline publications such as World Net Daily. That publication’s editor, Joseph Farah, has several articles arguing that “Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.”

The statehood push is a thorny diplomatic issue, and people on both sides of the matter have some fairly nuanced positions. However, it would seem that Cain has avoided these and has moved instead to one of the furthest edges available in this debate.

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How Obama made the 3 am phone call ad obsolete

Many of us remember the 2008  Hillary Clinton campaign video about the 3 a.m. call, implying that Hillary had the necessary foreign policy experience to handle a 3 a.m. foreign policy emergency and her Democratic primary opponent, Barack Obama didn’t.

Well, one would argue that since May 1st, 2011, President Barack Obama has put that fallacy to rest with his Obama Doctrine.  Subsequent action against known terrorists have solidified once and for all that the Obama Doctrine is working.

So goodnight 3 a.m. call, Obama’s got this…

The Grio

During the 2008 Democratic primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama there was that now infamous 3 a.m. phone call ad. At the time the fear mongering-style ad was intended to scare Texas primary voters into voting for Hillary Clinton over the inexperienced new kid on the block Senator Barack Obama.

The spooky voiceover said, “It’s 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep…But there’s a phone in the White House, and it’s ringing…Who do you want answering the phone?”

In the wake of the incredibly historic news that reviled dictator Muammar Gadhafi, who rulked Libya with an iron fist for 42 years, was captured and killed yesterday, doesn’t the 3 a.m. ad now seem utterly ridiculous?

At this moment in the Obama presidency does anyone with a little common sense and a television set really believe that President Obama has not proven both able to answer that 3 a.m. call but also give the proper orders to whoever is on the other end?

Let’s recap for a moment: President Obama came into office and experts said he wasn’t ready to be a leader on the world stage. During the primary fight with Hillary he specifically was attacked for saying that if as president he if learned that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, he would send in troops to take him out whether or not he had the Pakistani government’s permission.

Everyone called him naïve. Obama was opening mocked by both Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain for his position on Pakistan.

In May, when the President Obama learned that Bin Laden was in Pakistan, he sent in Navy Seals to take Bin Laden out. And as Americans coast-to-coast celebrated, no one dared call President Obama naïve anymore.

Last month, a drone strike in Yemen killed yet another prominent Al Qaida figure, Anwar al-Awlaki who was suspected of orchestrating a number of terrorist plots including the two on U.S.airlines in 2009.

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Is this the ‘worst Congress ever’?

The Week

The acrimonious debate over raising the debt ceiling has shined a spotlight on partisan rancor in Washington. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, who wrote a 2006 book saying Congress was “broken,” now says at Foreign Policy that hardliners in both parties have gained such “inordinate power” that compromise, even on crucial matters such as keeping the government from defaulting on its debt for the first time ever, is essentially dead. Even back in 1969, when the country was deeply divided over the Vietnam War, Capitol Hill was “considerably less dysfunctional” than it is now. Is this really the “worst Congress ever”?

Yes. And it won’t get better anytime soon: It’s hard to argue that the 112th Congress isn’t “the worst one ever,” says The Economist. It’s even more depressing when you realize that this is not a temporary shift due to transient factors, such as the rise of the Tea Party, but “the culmination of a long period of realignment in American politics” that has left the parties polarized. Things are likely to get even worse in 2012, as redistricting and acrimonious primaries pick off more moderates, one by one.
“Worst Congress ever?”

Congress is only as bad as GOP obstructionists make it: The debt-ceiling showdown has “laid bare the degree to which our political system has become dangerously dysfunctional,” says John Farmer at the NewarkStar-Ledger. The nation’s Founders divided power among the different branches of government to serve their ideal of checks and balances. “But for that to work, compromise is a must, not something malevolent,” as a growing bloc of my-way-or-the-highway Republicans now seem to view it.
“Debt ceiling struggle exposing dysfunction in the U.S. political system”

Blame the self-serving motivations of both parties: Republicans are afraid Tea Partiers will stay home in 2012 unless they cut spending at all costs, says Charlie Cook at The Atlantic. Democrats made the same mistake in 2009 and 2010, when they “obsessed about their base and ignored independent and swing voters.” Both sides would do well to remember that independents often tip elections, and they hate all this “sophomoric, partisan towel-snapping” — they just want Washington to function.
“Memo to the GOP: Focus on independents”

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West Wing Week: “One Step at a Time”

The White House

This week, President Obama traveled to Joplin, Missouri in the wake of historic and deadly tornadoes to see the devastation first hand. The President finished his week-long trip to Europe in Poland and visited Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.

Find out more about the topics covered in this edition of West Wing Week:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

 

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West Wing Week: 5/6/11 or “A Good Day For America”

The White House

This week, the President announced the death of Osama bin Laden, visited New York City to honor the victims of 9/11 and their families, made sure the federal government was doing its part in the states devastated by storms and much more.

Find out more about the topics covered in this West Wing Week:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

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West Wing Week: “Final Adjustments”

West Wing Week

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, while the White House celebrated Easter, holding the traditional egg roll on the South Lawn, President Obama kept his focus on the nation’s finances, working on short term and long term ways to get away from high gas prices.  He also pledged support for Alabama and other states in the South hit by devastating storms and announced new key members of his National Security team.

Find out more about the topics covered in this West Wing Week:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Arun Chaudhary is the official White House Videographer.

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