What’s in a Name?: “GWOT” Versus “OCO”

As the international community is witnessing the debate over the use of torture during the presidency of George W. Bush, another radical change has taken place over naming the United States’ campaign against terrorism.  It used to be called the “global war on terrorism” (GWOT).  President Barack H. Obama has quietly changed that name to “Overseas Contingency Operation” (OCO).  The significant development is that not only has the name been changed, but, more to the point, the actual practices of the United States dealing with its campaign against global terrorism are undergoing major transformation.

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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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Slaying the Beast Called the “Clash of Civilizations”

President Barack H. Obama’s campaign slogans of “a time for a change” and “yes we can” are filtering into his speeches and his actions toward the world of Islam.  He is serious about bringing an end to the poisonous frame of reference that the concept of “the clash of civilizations” presents for Muslims.  In this sense, he is busy slaying the beast that that idea has become in the past fifteen or more years.  President Obama’s interview with al-Arabiyya soon after he entered the White House, his message to the Iranian people on the day of the Nowroze (Iranian New Year), and his trip to Turkey were the most credible examples of that reality.  However, Obama’s battle with the beast is challenging and does not guarantee a victory at this point.


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China’s Accession to Superpowerdom

The G-20 meeting today in London is an event of major significance.  Even though the decline of the United States is not yet an irreversible phenomenon, the rise of China has become formalized.  Now, the question is when will the G-8 either become the G-9 by including China, or will it remain the G-8 by excluding Russia, Italy, or Canada.  At least regarding the PRC’s rise, the handwriting is on the wall.

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