CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Korean Hopes for U.S. Leadership Under Barack Obama

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder Sunday, March 1, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama waves to crowd before giving his inaugural address during the inauguration ceremony in Washington (Jason Reed/Courtesy Routers).

Lee Hong-koo is former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (1994-1995), a trustee to The Asia Foundation and Chairman of Friends of The Asia Foundation/Korea.

History will record November 2008 as the crucial turning point for launching a new global order. No one knows what exactly the form of that order will be, but everyone seems to be in agreement that the existing international order cannot be sustained in light of two stunning developments. First, troubles in the U.S. financial market ignited a global economic crisis of historic magnitude. Second, the election of Barack Obama offered the United States a fresh opportunity to rejuvenate its status as the preeminent global leader in shaping a new international order. These two developments within the United States have given the world cause for both despair and hope. The current economic crisis is so serious that there seems to be no promising way to overcome it in the foreseeable future. Thus it is a cause for despair. Yet, President Obama is enjoying widespread support at home and abroad as a leader —perhaps the only leader—who can and should mobilize a global consensus to transform the international order in both economic and political spheres, and thereby put the world back on the path of global development. Read more »