News / USA

President Obama Calls for Worldwide Focus on Democracy

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, 25 Jan 2011
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, 25 Jan 2011

Multimedia

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night dealt largely with the nation's domestic economy, but he did touch on some international topics.  

President Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech that his administration plans to promote democracy around the world over the next two years.

"No one rival superpower is aligned against us," said Obama.  "And so we must defeat determined enemies, wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. And America's moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity. And because we've begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America's standing has been restored."

Mr. Obama specifically expressed support for the people of Tunisia, who are fighting for democracy after forcing an autocratic leader from power.  He mentioned the recent referendum on statehood in south Sudan.

"In south Sudan, with our assistance, the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war," he said.

Robert Kagan at the Brookings Institution expects more U.S. focus on democracy in the next two years.

"Although people thought that [President] Obama is going to abandon the whole democracy agenda because Mr. Bush had poisoned it, I think you are going to see an increasing return to that issue," noted Kagan.

Kagan also expects the U.S. relationship with China to be a major issue.  He says it is not in America’s interest to see a rising China become the dominant hegemonic power in East Asia, with America’s allies in the region falling within the Chinese sphere of influence.

But the China expert at Brookings, Kenneth Lieberthal, says President Obama’s biggest foreign policy challenge in 2011 could be the ongoing transfer of power in North Korea.

"If there is a breakdown as of now we have not really worked carefully with the Chinese," said Lieberthal.  "Neither have the South Koreans or the Japanese, as to what the response would be. What would the PLA [the Chinese Army] do on the North Korea side of their border?  What would the ROK [South Korean] forces do?  What will the U.S. forces in the region do? And the potential for inadvertently everyone getting into a very dangerous situation is pretty high."

The Brookings Institution experts say President Obama still faces a very serious challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, says analyst Stephen Cohen, it is becoming clearer every day that the situation cannot be resolved without including the Taliban.

"The irony is that if Taliban are included in the Afghan settlement, then the Indians are upset, the Iranians are upset," said Cohen.  "They might turn to military force or supporting group to make sure that that settlement is not achieved."

And in Pakistan, Cohen says, there are three critical issues that affect vital U.S. interests, besides the issue of terrorism:

"There is a short-term crisis in terms of their involvement in Afghanistan, a medium-term crisis in terms of their coherence as a state and a long-term crisis in terms of what they are going to do with their nuclear weapons," added Cohen.

The Brookings experts say that besides his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and to convince Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear programs, President Obama will also have to protect the fragile victory in Iraq.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More