January 20, 2009, instantly became permanently engraved in history as the day Barack H. Obama became the first black President of the United States. This is a huge milestone in American politics, culture, equality and gives hope to millions for our county and its future opportunities. There is a new hope for a nation enduring an economic recession, for a state fighting wars abroad, and a country defending its borders, both inside and out. Obama himself has spoken of “the task ahead,” and Americans can agree that there will be change. This change is necessary to the survival and improvement of many of today’s issues, including foreign policy. The transition between administrations will take more than a single day of ceremonies to complete. It will take years to implement the campaign promises of our new President and his staff, but all Americans will be affected in some way. A common necessity true to all Americans, is our need for national security and foreign relations. These imperative responsibilities of the government will soon change. The transition between the old and the new is becoming evident with every word President Obama speaks. Success hinges on the response of Americans and the reception of other world powers. There are many variables and only time will tell if the changes are for the better.
The eight years of former President Bush administration endured many struggles, both foreign and domestic. 9-11 will never be forgotten and neither will the ensuing responses. Bush birthed the War on Terror and declared Iran and North Korea as the axis of evil. Suddam Hussein was removed from power and Iraq, still occupied by American troops, is still growing into the country we told it to be. America was accused of pursuing its interest in oil, while we claimed a fight against terrorism. The US lost some credibility with the UN and much respect from the citizens of the world. There are groups of people who are grateful for the liberation of Iraq, but the general population questions our self instilled manifest to police the world by our standards. Back home, the Patriot Act was drafted and passed, allowing further infringement on constitutional rights. Some Americans became paranoid and question why George Orwell’s novel 1984 was not actually titled Bush Administration 2002. We could not see him, but big brother was looking over our shoulder. Other hot topics included the American mistreatment of captives and prisoners at Guantanamo and in Iraq. Many citizens believe that we were cracking down and getting tough, this may have been true, but while it lasted our nation’s image sank to rock bottom with foreign peoples and governments. American United shined through immediately following 9-11, but past that, few would say there were many highlights during the past eight years. Approval ratings were at all time lows. Perhaps it had something to do with the Supreme Court ultimately choosing Bush as president or the decisions he made thereafter, probably both, but people were dissatisfied with their government. The past series of events have lead into a great desire for change – a word interchangeable with the name of a former US Senator: Barack Obama.
During the Presidential Campaigns, Barack Obama’s “go to lines” almost always incorporated ideas of hope and change. They were his selling points and they struck a chord with not only the American people, but with people all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of German residents attended a speech given by Obama in Berlin, long before he had clinched the presidency. The world came to recognize our new president because he put himself out there, made himself vulnerable to global opinion, an opinion that had nearly forgotten the good in American ideals. Obama has won back the necessary approval to initiate his new strategies in foreign relations. Much to the dismay of former Presidential nominee John McCain, President Obama said he would be willing to sit down and discuss matters of extreme importance with the enemies of the United States. This is taboo by the standards of the previous administration; there must be no negotiations with the enemy. To compromise would be giving in to the demands of evil, to the axis of evil. Obama disagrees with the old approach because it does not allow issues to be resolved peacefully. Also, it builds up a negative reputation among groups of people, even legitimate nations, who have been unable to cooperate with the US in the past.
The future of the United States is uncertain. Other world powers are rising. America has been falling into the mix of nations, rather than leading them. In his inauguration speech, Obama calls the nation to pick itself up, dust ourselves off, and lead the world once again. Abroad, this means withdrawing troops from Iraq. The initial goal of the new administration was to retract all US forces within sixteen months of the new Presidency. This could be difficult with the inconsistent waves of violence that are stirred up beyond US control. The Joint Chiefs and top generals hesitate to lay out specific withdraw plans because it gives terrorists and enemies of the state a timeline for violence. This is a real obstacle that will be difficult to overcome, and the world has yet to hear the game plan for withdraw. But again, I believe that this is one more change that will regain the trust and respect of foreign nations. This process will give us credibility among decision makers abroad. The respect of our allies and enemies is an invaluable possession in today’s world of globalization, a culture created by us, which hates us.
It is difficult to predict the outcomes of so many changes. Our government is far from a controlled experiment, where one variable is changed at a time. 2009 is not just a new start for the United States, but a new era between Americans and the world. The image of a hated state has been altered to one of hope and change, but will it be able to coexist with the other rising superpowers of today’s world? Will it combat terrorism as efficiently as the past administration? The response of our foreign allies and enemies will determine the success of our new President, but until then we watch, as our neighbors begin to size up our new leader.