The Fledgling Obama Doctrine

President Barack H. Obama has been in office only a few months, but the talk of a fledgling “Obama doctrine” is getting popular.   If there is such a thing as the Obama doctrine in the realm of foreign policy, it involves a number of characteristics.  These comprise breaking away from George W. Bush’s failed policies but maintaining linkages with a few successful ones; opening new foreign policy fronts with regimes that Bush loved to scorn; and, above all, attaching primacy to pragmatism.  There is no guarantee that Obama will be successful in all these categories.  What is important is that he has remarkably transformed America’s image abroad.  That should be a good basis for pursuing progress on an ever-increasing list of ostensibly obdurate global problems.

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Managing the Potential Chaos in Cyberspace

When one looks for a “full spectrum” contest between the United States (the lone superpower) and China (its “peer competitor”), cyberspace stands out as a place where that competition is gathering momentum.  The Pentagon has accused Chinese hackers of breaking into the DOD computer system.  Now, we are hearing about a new round of cyber attacks in Britain and 103 other countries, including NATO members.  The alleged source of the attacks is the PRC.  Needless to say, Beijing is describing those allegations as “baseless.”  What is interesting is that the nature of the activities in cyberspace may not be described by the use of the phrase “competition” alone.  It also has the making of a non-kinetic war (kinetic space warfare is excluded from this analysis), with winners and losers. 

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The New Global Crisis Requires A Major Revamping of the Global Power Structure

If the 1990s and the first eight years of the first decade of the 21st Century represented an era when transnational terrorism dominated world attention, the remainder of this decade and the next one promise to be a period of a new global crisis, which might be even more obdurate than fighting global terrorism.  Robert Zoelick, President of the World Bank, described this era as marked by the “double-jeopardy of food and fuel prices,” which will defy solution.  These issues will also make a number of countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America favorite places for the mushrooming of drug cartels, transnational crimes, small arms trade, and even terrorism.  The search for solutions for this new crisis might require a radical reconfiguring of global decisionmaking structures, an issue on which major powers must reflect with utmost seriousness.


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