Barack Obama's election as the President of the United States of America hasn't occurred in an easy period: the country is currently in the midst of a global financial crisis, whilst also being bogged down in an arduous conflict in Iraq. Hence, several challenges are awaiting the President-Elect, in a world subject to rapid changes. The emergence of the "BRICs" (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as great powers and the persisting anti-Americanism throughout the world are shattering the established order, leading to the development of a different and parallel international system. Therefore, the major issue of Obama's mandate will be to take into account the changing balance of power; ?the "post-American world"' in order to restore the image of America in the eye of the world. Lessons from the past, which mainly prove that U.S. power is limited, can help Obama to deal with upcoming challenges.
[...] Threats of withdrawing assistance must replace threats of militarily intervening. Obama will have, for example, to deal with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in particular in Iran. It might be preferable to avoid diplomatic close-mindedness and military intervention. Accordingly, Obama has declared that he would open the Americano-Iranian dialog, which means he has integrated the lessons from the past. Indeed, behavior change of States can be achieved by other means than regime change: according to Mark Leonard, “political and economic engagement can be a powerful and permanent agent of change”. [...]
[...] Indeed America is likely, considering the lesson of growing anti-Americanism, to adopt a profile” and cut back on its hegemonic tendencies. A common lesson can be drawn from the Vietnam and Iraq Wars: those so- called “universal” values such as democracy and human rights cannot be imposed by force. The Vietnam conflict was characterized by an unwise use of containment, as part of the anti-domino effect strategy. The US officially backed South Vietnam in order to establish a united democracy; yet, the U.S. [...]
[...] In other words, there is a “moral obligation” for America the face of humanitarian catastrophes”, that has been acknowledged by Barack Obama. This lesson should help Obama to deal with the Darfur humanitarian catastrophe. Here again, diplomacy seems by far preferable to the use of force: the U.N. fears, for example, that military intervention in Darfur could aggravate the situation. And even though “specialists close to Obama's presidential campaign said that ( ) the new administration sees a need for diplomatic approaches to security crises across the (African) continent”, Obama is apparently intent on hardening the US policy toward Darfur. [...]
[...] Adopting a low profile and limiting perceived soft power means avoiding provoking Russia a very proud country, that easily feels offended and frustrating its sovereignty. The missile shield in Poland and Czech Republic, and the enlargement of NATO to former Soviet Republics are, for instance, important factors of dissension between the US and Russia. Whilst avoiding containment (too rigid) and the carrots-sticks strategy (ineffective with Russia, that bases its foreign policy on the paranoid myth of external threat), the Obama administration will have to cooperate “wherever it is possible to do that is to say war against terrorism and nuclear proliferation. [...]
[...] foreign policy demonstrate the need for a balance between the occasional necessity of intervention and the respect of the principle of non-interference. Multilateralism and consent of the international community is the sine qua non to this “balanced liberal internationalism”, both realistic and idealistic. Lessons from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate the necessity for America to act within the consent of the international community. Indeed, unilateral interventions seem doomed to failure. Consequently, regarding the current conflict unfolding in Afghanistan, the US need to take into account the European's views, who don't see it as a war of necessity. [...]
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