Good Morning, Mr. President What Europe Wants from Obama
Part 9: 'A Measure of Moral Leadership Would Be to Join the ICC'
Diego Hidalgo is co-founder of the Spanish newspaper El Pais and a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
I would first expect the new US president to convey to the world the strong message that the days of arrogant unilateralism are over. The next US president will face a megacrisis in the US and the world, with several interrelated threats which cannot be resolved at the nation-state level but call for concerted action and for a new and much stronger international governance architecture. The megacrisis that started in the financial sector threatens to depress the world economy, affects the whole world, and offers an opportunity for breakthrough in world governance. The first priority for the US president should be to initiate a "world constitutional period" during which he would develop coordinated responses to the four perhaps most urgent problems: resolve the financial and economic crisis, undertake the measures needed to face climate change, end extreme poverty and hunger throughout the world and end the main wars and conflicts.
The new US president will have to commit not just to cooperate internationally but to revamp or create international institutions able to confront the four issues mentioned above as well as others like pandemics, nuclear proliferation, disarmament and decreases in military budgets throughout the world and cooperation against terrorism. Strengthening the UN, World Bank and IMF will require engaging not only the EU but particularly China and India, and giving an increased role to them and to new powers (like Brazil).
In addition to strengthening the multilateral system of governance, the US has an opportunity to regain the moral leadership and credibility lost over the last eight years by closing Guantanamo Bay, strengthening international law, putting all its weight into resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as the conflicts of Israel and Syria and Lebanon, and exiting Iraq as soon as feasible. A measure of moral leadership, which I am realistic enough not to expect, would be for the US to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Jürgen Trittin is deputy parliamentary leader of the Green Party in the German parliament.
Obama has promised change. But the new president must first "clean up after the elephant." After the catastrophic Bush years, the United States needs a general makeover. The consequences of the financial crisis must be dealt with. For US citizens, I would like to see the gaps bridged between the super-rich, the battered middle class and widespread poverty. Every citizen should have health insurance.
Investment in infrastructure and new energy is needed. The world would like to see the United States put an end to aggressive, unilateral military action, a shift toward the United Nations, respect for human rights and the closing of Guantanamo. Most of all, however, the mobilization of the original American qualities of optimism and gumption when it comes to fighting climate change.
Jeremy Hobbs is executive director of Oxfam International.
The major crises facing the world, failure of global governance, collapsing financial markets, the threat of catastrophic climate change, continuing poverty and hunger, and worsening global security, cannot be addressed without positive and urgent leadership from the United States. Whoever is the new president must use his political capital to drive this international agenda, no matter how tough the domestic issues are.
If ever there was a time to demonstrate how narrow national self interest should not be at the expense of the global good and developing countries, it is now, in the midst of the current global financial crisis.
Beyond the measures being taken to stabilize and respond to the economic crisis, the new president should support major reform of the global financial architecture, and with it, help build a new global governance, one which properly recognizes the importance of large emerging economies and does not exclude smaller and poorer countries.
The same vigor the US and Europe demonstrated in this crisis by finding billions of dollars to bail out their banks is also needed to address the long-term structural changes needed in the financial system. The new president must have the courage to step away from the failed Washington consensus of untrammeled liberalization and embrace regulation which will ensure greater stability and sustainability, support targeted state intervention which addresses poverty, (such as for small-scale farmers in poor countries) and close off tax havens. The president could demonstrate goodwill by reducing US demands on developing countries in the WTO to enable a deal to go forward.
He should push the G8 to broaden its membership, and ensure that developing countries have genuine participation in institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, reflecting the changing reality of global power. Global problems cannot be solved if key countries and those most affected are excluded. The president can breathe new life into reform of the UN Security Council to reflect the power realities of the modern world.
On climate change, the president needs to face down corporate self-interest and enviro-skepticism to ensure that we achieve an ambitious global agreement for reducing emissions at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009. He also needs to make sure that substantial funding is found for helping developing countries adapt to the impact of climate change they are already experiencing.
On poverty and food security, the near meltdown of the global economy should be the last reason for reducing hard-won recent commitments to increase aid. The president's first G-8 meeting in Italy should ensure that there is no backsliding, especially when developing countries are likely to bear much of the brunt of the global economic downturn caused by profligate behavior in rich countries.
On security, apart from the need to make much better progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, US leadership is also needed to ensure that the protection of civilians in conflict is paramount, an issue highlighted by the unfolding tragedy of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The president has a mandate from the American electorate but a responsibility to the global community and for that we expect moral and practical leadership.
- Part 1: What Europe Wants from Obama
- Part 2: 'We Need the US as a Strong Partner'
- Part 3: 'On Iran, Precious Time Has Been Lost'
- Part 4: 'We Need a Washington Less Ideological in Dealing with Russia and China'
- Part 5: 'The Time Has Come to Kick-Start Talks with Tehran'
- Part 6: 'Some Disappointment Is Inevitable'
- Part 7: 'By Voting for Obama, Americans Are not Voting to Become an EU Country'
- Part 8: 'Please Don't Bomb Iran'
- Part 9: 'A Measure of Moral Leadership Would Be to Join the ICC'
- Part 10: 'Obama -- Something that Is Still Impossible to Achieve in many European Countries'