a fascinating report
on the obstacles Obama will face early on by George Friedman, CEO, CIO, etc. of Stratfor, a private intelligence disseminating corporation. Friedman discusses how Obama will have to disappoint the left and alienate the right as he tackles Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and global finance. Here's the long and short of it:
On Bringing Conservatives into the Fold:
As far as the popular vote, Obama has inherited a country as divided as Bush's. What can be promised on the campaign trail and what in-office pragmatism demands will be at odds. He'll have to work to expand his base. With that will come compromises that may anger his supporters.
Our Red-Headed Stepchild of a War--Afghanistan:
Throughout his campaign, Obama has argued that our resources should be focused on the real hornet's nest. Rather than repeat the mistakes of his predecessor, he'll eschew Bush unilateralism for a coalition of Europeans. The EU, in this case, will be divided as the global financial crisis deepens across the pond. Many are already cutting back on military spending. Neither the Europeans nor the U.S. military have the resources to truly stabilize Afghanistan with our right leg mired in Iraq. These are his options: Maintain the status quo in Afghanistan, negotiate with the Taliban, or withdraw. More potentially unpopular decisions for the Prom King.
A Phased Withdrawal:
Obama promised to extricate our troops from Iraq by 2011. While that won him points among those disturbed by McCain's indefinite commitment to a military presence, the fallout may result in anger on both sides of the aisle. A vacuum will be created in our absence and the Iranians are likely to fill it. The question is: Though Obama has said he'll engage in negotiations with Iran, how will they be enforceable with no military presence? Not to mention the destabilizing influence that may result in the Saudi oilfields and the anxiety it'll cause the Israelis. If he decides to leave some military force in Iraq, he disappoints his base. Should he accept the consequences, he'll anger the right.
Dealing with the Ruskies:
Obama promised to stymie Russian expansionism. He condemned the incursion into Georgia. But the day his presidency was announced, Medvedev announced Russia was deploying missiles in Kaliningrad in response to U.S. deployment of ballistic missile defense systems in Poland. Russia will attempt to expand its sphere of influence while the Obama administration settles into the White House. Again, he'll turn to the Europeans and, again, he'll receive little help.
The Global Economy:
If you checked out the New York Times website the day after the debate, you'd notice that much of the world was cheering Obama's victory. The Europeans cheer him because they see a closer ally. But after the recent financial crisis, Europeans want international regulations on the financial system--a new Bretton Woods. Imagine the collective cringe that will pass through conservatives nationwide as our own financial authority is subordinated by international rule. Because Obama is an intelligent dude, he likely won't do this, thus losing the darling status he currently enjoys in Europe. And he'll soon find that the Europeans are in no position to help him with the problems discussed in this post.
Lastly, Friedman points to a funny piece of evidence for European irrelevancy: When is the last time any of us gave two shits about a presidential race in France?