Obama’s victory was almost inevitable with his keen intelligence and organizational abilities. Let’s say Obama picked the right candidates for the right job and his campaign management was superior to Republicans in every way. Yet the Obama hype almost started getting destructive with a sudden fall in his popularity a few months before the elections but McCain obviously did not play all his cards right and Obama’s final victory became smoother and easier. With the keys to the house in his pocket, Obama has to open doors and face certain cobwebbed realities. So, what are these realities/challenges and how could these be possibly handled?
Challenge No 1: The Economy
Wall Street next door and Obama has a job to keep it stable and moving. The focus has to now shift from politics to economy for a while and Obama has to arrange a number of meetings with business leaders, advisers, economists and analysts to shape up the economy so that America can go back to the prosperity of the Clinton days, his plan of cutting taxes is not enough, Obama needs a detailed map. The dollar has to be strengthened and market confidence has to be restored. Obama will have to give a convincing speech to restore world confidence in the US economy and place a convincing agenda on how exactly he will get the economy back on tracks.
Challenge No 2: Iran and North Korea
This is a tough job. Iran and North Korea seem to have either overstated or understated ambitions of power. Nuclear capabilities give that power to nations or at least that’s how things are perceived so diverting Iran’s nuclear interests and negotiating with North Korea for a more transparent and acceptable nuclear agenda would be quite challenging. North Korea’s nuclear ambitions seem to be more secretive and unpredictable than Iran’s, so a bit more dodgy. Iran is however motivated by the idea of being a dominant Middle Eastern power with a defensive and aggressive stance, especially after the political upheaval of Baghdad. So it will be tough to handle Iran, although North Korea’s unpredictable ways will have to be controlled as well. Iran’s commitment to NPT will have to be reiterated diplomatically (from NTI: C ountry Overviews: Iran - ).
Challenge No 3: Terrorism
Well, Al-Qaeda and their terrorist movement seems to have lost some steam. Osama and his clan started around late 90s with an agenda and let’s say a ‘day job’ of bombing people and they still organize these terrorist groups in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan (US Department of Defense - ) but considering our ever dwindling attention span, the media and people have started losing interests in terrorists and their activities. Yet Obama’s focus should be to root out terrorism completely and this can only be done with a clear plan and a military agenda so that the US and local Pakistan government forces could destroy all terrorist camps in the Afghan-Pak border. The aim should be to work closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan governments to find and completely destroy all existing Al-Qaeda and other terrorist establishments.
Challenge No 4: Middle East – Israel/Palestine
The crisis in Israel and Palestine seems to be never-ending and the region remains a fertile ground for terrorism which spreads further down to Egypt and to Syria and other neighboring countries. However the problem here is more political-religious rather than the criminal-anti-social Al Qaeda agenda, so a political-religious solution could be worked out by world leaders and Obama could lead and structure the entire peace strategy for the Middle Eastern region involving leaders of International Organizations like the UN, the Middle East and the European Union.
Challenge No 5: Russia and China
Although the US relations with several European nations would be predictable and France and Britain would continue to maintain beneficial political relations with Washington, the political course with Russia is not quite clear or predictable at this time. It will be in Obama’s interest to join hands with and melt hearts of his Russian counterparts. Here Obama has to use loads of his ample charm and a sprinkle of diplomacy to get Russians to like him. Really, the Cold War tradition remains an obstacle for normal relations between Washington and Moscow and since Obama has crossed quite a few barriers in the election campaign, he should be able to cross the Cold War remnants as well (more in Moscow Diary: Cold War echoes - ). China and the communist clan are inflexible and stiff but since China has great interests in the US economy and foreign investments and is more interested in progress rather than only power, congenial political relations with China shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Challenge No 6: Africa – Conflicts and Poverty
Conflicts in Congo and Sudan, problems in Zimbabwe and all other African causes of poverty and lack of healthcare should touch Obama deeply as he has his roots in Africa but talk of ethnicity apart, Obama seems to have the vision and the interest to bring positive change to all aspects of life. Obama’s opinions and intervention should receive certain acceptability in Africa and he could work closely with the UN and other international organizations as well as regional African leaders to resolve conflicts in the region.
Challenge No 7: Energy, Environment and Global Warming
Obama has consistently stressed on the energy independence of America and a national energy policy with a goal on energy efficiency. Using renewable energy sources would mean reducing greenhouse gas emissions and Obama has already promised to focus on improving air quality standards, supporting water conservation policies, regulating contamination-pollution and funding all environmental conservation efforts in general that will indirectly or indirectly affect global warming. This is what needs to be done. Obama already has a proper environmental agenda in place which he will have to implement with the emphasis being on funding for environmental causes (New Energy for America ) . This challenge should be easier to handle with the right kind of scientific advice and scientific plan focusing on energy conservation, energy efficiency and energy independence.