The one aspect of the Inauguration that is serious is the Inaugural Address. I was disappointed in this one. The President barely mentioned anything about what is America’s future role internationally or any of the issues facing us outside of our borders. Most people who follow the international community believe that was a huge mistake. The world is in a very insecure state at this moment, and the likelihood is that the U.S. will face some major challenges in the next four years. Although I know all the issues that the President listed are very important to him and to certain groups in the U.S., the majority of the United States and the world really need the White House to focus on:
- keeping us out of major wars,
- moving America’s economy to a more positive state, and
- a plan for the future that recognizes the reality of the current developments, and that the U.S. is irrevocably intertwined with what happens around the globe.
The Middle East is an area that is especially worrisome to many. The Arab Spring has brought about changes that are still putting governments and societies in chaotic flux. One can debate whether the U.S. should have stepped in earlier and helped the moderate opposition in the area or whether we should have backed our long-term allies such as Mubarak and tried to postpone the change. (I personally think the former since we can’t stop the changes that are going to happen in autocratic societies whether they are our allies or not.) Although Bin Laden is dead, the threat from various terrorists still is very real. The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians could easily set the spark that starts another war in the region.
Asia is also not a quiet environment that we can ignore. North Korea could at any point cause a major meltdown in the area. Keeping the Pacific region calm and stable as a market for our exports is not necessarily an easy assignment either. Japan and China are facing tougher economic times, which does not bode well for our economy. Southeast Asia is undergoing political changes as the governments in Burma, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, just to name a few, are struggling to manage their futures. Pakistan and Afghanistan are far from stable.
The economic issues that Europe is facing also could easily trigger massive demonstrations and riots. Greece, Spain and Italy are not the only nations that are struggling. The U.K. is heading into another recession due to the austerity program that they have had to adopt. Germany is facing how to bail out their neighbors in order to keep the system functioning.
When the Cold War ended, many thought our major foe in the world was gone and that we would have no serious international issues to face. That utopia was not meant to be. Our potential enemies are now more varied and harder to identify, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Unfortunately, the world is not less dangerous today, but we face different types of international challenges. It would be nice to hear our President recognize these issues and discuss how he plans to manage them. As he started his second term, many of us were hoping to hear something that would explain his view of what was happening and what America’s role would be in the process. Let us hope he does so soon.