It is understandable that Americans tend to look more closely at domestic issues than international ones; after all, those seem to be the ones with the most direct impact on everyday life. However, I think that Obama’s first days have shown that foreign policy is of equal importance, if only because it is the area of American politics that is easiest to achieve drastic change in, because there is relatively little entrenched bureaucracy and fewer interest groups. And we shouldn’t forget that it is our relations with other countries, after all, that can provoke or prevent the next 9-11, that will ensure the continued favorable conditions for purchasing our imports and selling our exports, and ultimately also securing our ecological future.
Obama’s 100 day accomplishments have been numerous, but perhaps the most important shift has been the one closest to home, United States relations with Latin America. Obama promised a ´new beginning´ with Cuba and shakes Hugo Chavez’s hand. The former was backed up by real changes in the way America deals with Cuba, and especially the restrictions placed on Cuban Americans. Putting an end to our fueds with the Latin American Left Wing is key.
Anti-democratic forces had started to realize that Bush would give them endless fodder for attacks on America, and had made America-bashing a political way of life. Any leader with a leftist bent and a history of anti-Americanism could count on a ready base of support in the form of Latin nationalism, compliments of our clumsy and arrogant foreign policy. Obama has the ability now to put an end to that – by working to heal relations with our worst enemies in Cuba and Venezuela, we can ensure that necessary social reform in Latin America does not lend its popularity to left-wing authoritarianism and anti-Americanism.
The Obama administration’s reaction to elections in El Salvador this March is a drastic departure from how the previous administration handled left-wing elections, and shows that the United States is finally over the cold war. As the BBC points out, the crisis will put more pressure for reform on Latin America, and an insistence on U.S. style capitalism will not do anything to help our relations with Latin America.