As we enter the New Year 2015, American President Barack Obama enters the "fourth quarter" of his presidency, as he himself has put it. After a very disappointing first "three quarters" for us progressives, there is still hope that our President will finish out his two terms of office by moving the nation forward, as he seems to have found his backbone once again. There is even real hope that Barack Obama, and his administration, are learning The Audacity of Audacity.
Consider the Obama initiative on immigration reform, which will use executive orders to reduce the seemingly-endless deportations of undocumented aliens who have been long-term residents of the United States, and who often have children born here as Americans. The tragic family separations which have spiraled upward during the Obama years should now begin to be reduced, with far fewer deportations of those who have contributed in so many ways to this nation of immigrants. It took some courage for our president to use executive orders to do what Congress has failed to do for decades, so that immigration practices can be reformed while the nation awaits changes in relevant laws.
Consider the Obama initiative on re-establishing relations with the island nation of Cuba, our near neighbor which has been subjected to punishments ranging from invasion to a multi-decade embargo for having the temerity to change its regime to one which America dislikes. Having visited Cuba myself, with my parents, the year before Fidel Castro and his Communist minions came down from the hills and took over that nation, I witnessed firsthand how America used Cuba as its pre-Las Vegas playground, emphasizing gambling, prostitution, drugs, and crime as a way of life. In spite of all that -- or perhaps because of it -- the Cuban people thrived then, and continued to thrive during much of the Communist regime, despite the loss of Soviet backing when the Soviet Empire crumbled in the 1990s. The re-establishment of friendly ties with Cuba is long overdue; as Israeli diplomat Abba Eban was fond of saying, nations should make peace with their enemies, not with their friends, as peace with friends is taken for granted.
Consider, finally, the long-delayed pullout of American troops from the War in Afghanistan, which is now occurring. Our president seems to be in the process of keeping his word that he would end our longest-running war in U.S. history. What we have accomplished in Afghanistan is unclear, but what is clear is that "more of the same" will not accomplish anything further. What is needed now in the Middle East is a totally-new approach which focuses on the reducing the terrorism of such groups as ISIS and Al Qaeda. While the solution to handling such issues may be unclear, it has become quite clear that there is no military solution to dealing with terrorism. My recommendation would be that President Obama immediately establish a broad-based Task Force of counter-terrorism experts, including academics as well as those with experience in the field, charged with devising innovative approaches to these problems. Terror tactics, representing the return of medieval barbarism combined with modern technology, have become the scourge of the Twenty-First Century -- new methods to deal with such tactics are desperately needed. Such vital new approaches are unlikely to come from the CIA, the National Security Agency, and similar internal sources. America also needs new approaches to dealing with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and other troublesome nations. Our State Department should be tasked to devise creative ways of meeting these challenges in foreign affairs.
In 2015, there will be a great number of such challenges facing President Barack Obama and his administration. It remains to be seen whether or not they are up to the task, particularly given the rabid opposition of their opponents, who will now have majority control of both Houses of Congress. One thing is certain, though: with The Audacity of Audacity, the president and his team have a least a chance of real success, and of moving this nation forward once again. One may even hope that the "final quarter" of the Obama Administration will be the one which history remembers as its best quarter for America, and indeed for the world. Go for the goal line, Barack -- you have nothing to lose!
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Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)
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