Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama mainly continuing Bush foreign policy

Certainly on domestic issues Obama has taken some new inititiatives although on such matters as bailout funding even the Bush administration initiated considerable spending. While Obama's spending is much larger he still refuses to nationalise failing banks a step that even Greenspan the Ayn Rand devotee suggested might be the best policy. However, on foreign policy Obama is for the most part toeing a Bush line or being even more aggressive.

True, Obama is to close Guatanamo and he has also outlawed some of the severe---aka torture--methods used by Bush. However at the same time he will allow rendition. In effect, Obama is outsourcing torture. He has also defended the use of the state secrets defence to avoid giving information to those suing the government. On warrantless eavesdropping he has flip flopped and now takes the same tack as Bush did.

On Iraq withdrawal, he is now going to leave 50,000 troops in place after withdrawal including some who may have a combat role. This is no doubt something Bush could live with and some Republicans indeed support his new position.

In Afghanistan, he has already sent 17,000 more troops far more than anything Bush had done. In Pakistan he has continued the drone attacks. The Pakistan situation is getting worse for the US--and for Pakistanis as well.

Obama refused to say anything much about the Israeli attack on Gaza and Israel arranged matters so that the attacks were in effect over by the time he took office. Certainly Obama has tried his best not to offend the Israel lobby. However, it is possible that there will be conflict with the next right wing Israeli govt. since the US has supported attempts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas and also favors Egyptian peace negotiations.
On the whole however in the area of foreign policy Obama is following in Bushean footsteps.
It remains to be seen if Obama is able to do anything positive in the Palestine Israel conflict or if he will be able to arrange a better modus vivendi with Iran. There are some signs that Obama is a bit more conciliatory than Bush and certainly it could be in US interest if Iran were to help the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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