president obama

May 22, 2015

Not everyone has a mountain, and not every child gets to stay forever atop his mountain. All of which brings me to President Obama's remarkably clumsy decision to host on May 14 a summit at Camp David (the presidential retreat located in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains) on the Middle East with the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. 

“Showing up is 80 percent of life” remarked filmmaker and writer Woody Allen in 1977, a quote that if taken to heart could have saved the Barack Obama administration lot of woes and embarrassment in the way it approaches policy and politics across the globe. Obama’s failure to show up or send the vice or an ex-president to Paris’ massive rally on Sunday in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech, vividly illustrates the decline of U.S. soft power and absence of American leadership on the global stage.

A new opinion poll released Thursday shows Americans in continued support of the goal to “downgrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State (ISIS), as President Obama has articulated it.

 Obama is rightly emphasizing the reality that electricity is an input into nearly every good and service in households, villages, towns and national economies. A region in which 600 million out of 960 million are without power cannot possibly ignite, expand or sustain economic growth and development. And that is why the President decided to do something about it -- launching what I have baptized Obama's Megawatt Diplomacy that aims to build no less than 30,000 megawatts in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

NPR's wide-ranging interview with President Obama covers recent executive actions on Cuba and immigration, race relations in the U.S., health care, the midterm elections and extending democracy in the Middle East.

The Cuba announcement is the latest example of “soft power,’’ much ridiculed in an age of terrorism, religious extremism and regional warfare. It’s a policy that taps nonmilitary advantages such as technology, financial power and open institutions to push American ideals.