President Obama\'s legacy
Mohammad Amjad Hossain from Virginia, USA | Published:
January 18, 2016 22:32:24
October 22, 2017 03:10:13
In his last State of the Union speech on January 12, President Barack Obama has spoken about his successes and failures. During his presidency Obama has led the United States of America to great progress, brought buoyancy back to a shattered economy and achieved a record job growth.
Obama faced enormous challenges when he assumed the presidency in 2008 from the Republican President George Bush. These are: shattered economy, two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and conflicts in the Middle East. He brought back home US troops from Iraq. Ignoring criticism by Republican lawmakers he did not send troops to Syria. He, instead, forged a grand coalition to fight against the dictatorial regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Syria and Iraq. This reflects a Machiavellian approach.
Obama brought Iran back to the negotiating table. After seven years of negotiations, both covertly and overtly, the US, along with five other world powers, signed a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran on May 14, 2015. Iran agreed to reduce its existing stockpile of low-enriched Uranium by 98 per cent, disable two-thirds of its uranium enriching centrifuges, convert the underground Fordow nuclear facility into a research centre, and redesign the heavy-water reactor in Ark so that it cannot produce weapons grade plutonium. The UN Security Council also endorsed the deal by adopting a unanimous resolution on July 20, 2015.
Another diplomatic success of the Obama presidency is the ending of the 50-year-long hostility between the US and Cuba. Both the countries have opened their embassies. Deals with Iran and Cuba have become signature foreign policy achievement of Obama.
President Obama reached out to the western hemisphere. He religiously attended all the summits of the Americas. While attending the seventh Summit of Americas in April of 2015 in Panama City of Columbia, he had tete-e-tete with President of Cuba, Raul Castro.
Obama's initiative to bring about 50 African countries to Washington to hold a summit from 4-6 August of 2014 is a memorable event. The summit built on his trips to Africa in the summer of 2013. Another summit with members of Gulf cooperation council which was held in Camp David in May of 2015, is worth taking note of. This summit, first of its kind, was held to convince Gulf countries of their security against any foreign threat.
Obama played a crucial role in making the Paris climate summit 2015 a success. His another foreign policy signature project is TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) which US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations. The 12 nations involved account for almost 40 per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product) and a third of world trade.
Domestically, Obama has been consistently working to fully implement the health-care law of 2011 against the stubborn opposition from the Republicans in the Congress. The Republicans have made 62 attempts to repeal the law.
About 14 million jobs have been created in the US during Obama's presidency while his stimulus plan enacted in 2009, coupled with the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, has succeeded in overcoming recession. US economy is now robust in comparison with countries in the world.
But Obama has not succeeded in unifying his nation as he had committed to do so when he took over the administration of the United States in 2009. His efforts at reaching a two-state solution of the Palestinian crisis and enact a strict gun control law in the US also did not bear any fruit.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh.