the limitations of Obama's style and approach
His administration, he promised, would do its best to revive the world's economy, to address climate change, to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and to bring peace to Israel and Palestine.
These are all admirable aspirations, and it is perhaps unreasonable to hope that the president might have admitted that the United States has been largely responsible for each of these problems.
Barack Obama is increasingly coming to look like Lyndon B Johnson, a brilliantly gifted politician whose ambition to build a "great society" was sacrificed because of the war in Vietnam.
The heart of the Obama approach is now clear. He genuinely wants to move away from the frozen folly of the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, but he is not willing to take the political risk of acknowledging America's responsibility for the problems he wants to solve.
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Still less does anyone in Washington seem to understand that "Gitmo" itself was always an absurd colonial anomaly of the kind Americans used to denounce. Nor does there seem any will to undo the creation of an even more scandalous, though militarily more useful, colony in the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.
Washington's instinct is to treat China as a potential partner in the domination of the world
Because Europe is divided into many different states, and no doubt because many American politicians and policy-makers find European attitudes annoying, American policy does not recognise that collectively Europe has a bigger economy than the United States and far bigger than China (even if China's growth has been spectacular).
No one questions Barack Obama's personal goodwill, still less his political intelligence. But on the basis of his first nine months in office, his commitment to a serious reassessment of the limitations of American power - let alone to an acknowledgment of the implications of the country's relative decline - is not yet clear.
shared by Ed Webb on 30 Sep 09 - Cached
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