Tag Archives: Obama

Obama, 1 year in: flaws aren’t failure – but there are new risks in policy towards Iran

President Barack Obama has handed himself his sharpest challenge yet: a year of showing his unclenched fist to Iran has produced nothing and now he is toughening up his stance with a missile shield for the US naval forces in the Gulf. What will this do to his presidency? There was so much hope and much of that energy remains, even if it is not being so effectively tapped, but in confronting Iran, might Obama seriously lose his way?

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Copenhagen: Recovering from the hangover

Copenhagen is a city where people like to party. Coming into December, the city was all dressed up for a climate party with posters of green exhortation everywhere and different official and unofficial events laid on. But in the end as everybody knows, the climate conference was no party. Yet there is this terrible sense of hangover around. Political leaders, delegates, activists and journalists have reeled away from the site and the recriminations have started about who just behaved badly and who actually threw up.

Around the city there were also some particularly crude advertisements using sex to sell booze with the slogan, “Party now, Apologize later.” But that’s another way the conference was not like a party. No-one has apologised. Even though the city encouraged them. One set of posters that went up well before the conference showed world leaders in 2020 apologizing for having failed in Copenhagen in 2009: ageing Obamas, Merkels, Browns et al look down and acknowledge their fault. But there have been no apologies. Instead they have passed the blame.

Let’s try something different. Instead of blame and apology let’s take some time to discuss results, reasons and response. It’s a lengthy discussion that must start now because it’s already time to shake off that hangover. Continue reading

Obama in power (13): is the war in Afghanistan a Just War?

President Obama used the occasion of his Nobel lecture as he accepted the 2009 Peace Prize in Oslo on 10 December to defend the idea that war can be a legitimate means of upholding the larger peace, and specifically to argue that the US and allied war effort in Afghanistan is a just war.  Did he convince? Continue reading

Obama in power (12): more on that prize

It wasn’t Obama’s fault. He didn’t pick him and so far as we know there was no lobbying though that is common behaviour by would-be laureates and their friends.  Once the prize was announced he would have been churlish to turn it down. His dignified acceptance and remarks about the other worthy nominees struck the right note. But… Continue reading

Obama in power (11): Hope’s prize

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has not done either President Obama or itself any favours by awarding him this year’s prize. It’s an award for promise rather than achievement. Read the citation and it sounds pretty much like saying, ‘We award the prize to the most popular man in the world because we like his views.’ Continue reading

Climate agreement in Copenhagen? Prospects dimming rapidly

September’s UN Climate change summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appears not to have succeeded. It was a good try and could have worked if national leaders had stepped up to accept the challenge. But most of them haven’t. The regular conferencing to prepare the Copenhagen summit in December has resumed in Bangkok and the acrimony is at an unprecedented level. Continue reading

Obama, Hu and climate change: a question of who leads

What just happened? – it might be a good question to ask about the UN climate summit convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last Tuesday. “Not a lot” is the most likely answer. Continue reading

Climate change and the complex complications of the Copenhagen COP

The Copenhagen climate conference in December is crucial for the future well being of the vast majority of humanity alive today and the billions yet to be born.  Its prospects are not good, however, and it is beset by multi-layered complexities. There needs to be much more political energy going into it now in order to achieve anything that can be politely called success in three months time.  Continue reading

Enormous costs of adaptation to climate change

However good the agreement that may be reached at Copenhagen in December is on reducing carbon emissions, the world is going to have to adapt to the consequences of climate change that are already feeding through the natural system. A new study will discomfort a lot of people by showing strong grounds to think the costs of adaptation will be several times higher than previously estimated. Continue reading

IMF’s July economic projections: so many uncertainties remain

The International Monetary Fund’s July World Economic Outlook report portrays the world economy shrinking in 2009 by 1.4% and growing though not strongly at 2.5% in 2010. This both reflects and buttresses a widely held view that at global level and in some countries and regions, the end of the worst of the recession is occurring or is in sight but that recovery will not be strong or quick enough to take this year’s overall economic results into the realm of growth. Moreover, some of the sharp variations in IMF projections from one quarter to the next, on which I commented in my 24 April post, have flattened out and there seems greater to be greater consistency, confidence and certainty than before. But underneath, a plethora of uncertainties remain. Continue reading