If, the events of the 11th of September 2001 have taught us nothing else, is it that what happens in often far away places can have a dramatic influence on all aspects of American life.
A decade ago, President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney tried to convince voters that each had a better plan to create more and better jobs. In reality, the value of the Chinese currency influenced the recovery of the US manufacturing sector more than many domestic factors, and still many Americans looked for a uniquely internal solution to our economic woes.
When the dust settled and the American people took a long reflective look at the choice they made that November, ten years after the fateful events of 9/11, one issue emerged as the most important one, and that was, who was most capable of navigating a more difficult set of international challenges than any president has had to face since World War II.
The determining factor in that election came down to who the American people believed could guide the United States of America through the tepid waters of US foreign affairs. That is to say, which of the contenders was able to lead our diplomatic efforts and, when called upon to do so command the Armed Forces of the United States properly. - http://www.theoxfordscientist.com/tepid-waters.html
The 11 September 2001 attacks, according to former Secretary of State Rice, were rooted in oppression and despair, and therefore, the US ought to advance democratic reforms and support basic human rights throughout the greater Middle East, North Africa, Central and South Asia.
To achieve a fundamental change in those states and governments, Rice envisioned the US cooperating with other nations to assist in building and sustaining democratic, well-governed states, that would respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves in the international system responsibly.
Current realities then and now, however, paint a much different picture of that expansive geography. Hamas is the government in the Gaza Strip, the Muslim Brotherhood has taken control in Egypt and will in all likelihood emerge as a dominate player in a post-Assad Syria.
These are hardly the ingredients for well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people and act within the international system responsibly.
Diplomacy unfortunately is all too often a history of missed opportunities, and we have witnessed a host of major lost opportunities as we are brought to contemplate a continued all-out civil war in Syria. And yet, Rice must find some solace in the final communique issued by the world's two most powerful leaders at the close of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
In a joint statement delivered by Obama and Putin, both leaders committed to the shared goal of bringing about a “political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system that would be implemented by the Syrians themselves.” The significance of Putin joining in on a statement that could have been written by former Secretary Rice should not be undervalued or over valued.
Progress in the Syrian crisis at that time would come if both Obama and Putin could accept, given the failed UN mission led by former Secretary General Kofi Anan, that the only realistic option to avoid all-out civil war in Syria was to allow Putin the world-stage diplomatic role he craved as mediator. All other contingencies having been mapped out this approach was the only logical one to pursue at that juncture.
Presidential candidate Romney, however, failed to pay particular attention to the relationship he intended to garner with Putin and other world leaders. Putin desire to arrive on the world stage as a significant influence and his cooperation in Syria at that time could only increase the effectiveness of American involvement in the region.
While the Syrian chess match continued, Libya hung in the balance, Mali had been overthrown by fighters returning from the 'revolution' in Libya with weapons supplied and sieged from by NATO forces, and the newly emerged nations of North and South Sudan were again a very troubled region. The first North African state to embrace change, Tunisia, is not a settled matter by any means, and their neighbors have all seen increased unrest and low level, but continuous and escalating violence.
The US Fifth Fleet is armed to the teeth in and around the Strait of Hormuz, and Israel and Iran are on a collision course. Iraq is an ethnic and religious battleground steadily slipping into all out multiple-faction civil war.
Observable progress in Afghanistan was always a matter of debate and not degree. China, our military dictatorship trading partner, is not playing by the rules on currency valuation, and Europe will need our help to stave off its growing economic crisis. Russia is also emerging from the chaos of its own dramatic change in governance and its southern Central Asian States are teetering between rational and irrational forms of government. North Korea is a question mark at best, and Indonesia a nation with the world's largest Islamic population and their neighbor Malaysia may or may not remain stable. Nigeria is in the midst of a religious war that also consumes many of its neighbors. East Africa is still the paradise of pirates, and another famine in Ethiopia is not far off. Burundi requires our urgent attention, and the Congo ...
The next US president will have to deal with a myriad of pressing and unavoidable challenges at a time when some Americans with rather loud voices, amplified by broadcast media want to steer the wherewithal of American influence to the task of sorting out domestic issues, gleefully ignorant of the interconnectedness between our domestic concerns an our international obligations, that is, until planes start flying into iconic structures in our largest cities.
In reality, however, as soon as one enters the White House and assumes the role of President of the United States and Commander in Chief of US Military Forces, one must play the hand that one is dealt, and often no one has cut the cards beforehand.