In this week’s views, we head to Johannesburg, where Daily Maverick’s J. Brooks Spector looks at how recent events in Afghanistan are affecting President Obama in an election year:
It is notable how much of the Obama presidency’s foreign policy energy has now been consumed by an Afghanistan war initiated by his predecessor for understandable reasons following 9/11, but slowly moulded into an almost entirely different “nation building” purpose. It would be a major irony if, in the 2012 general election campaign with a Republican opponent – any opponent – foreign policy debates focus on Afghanistan, in addition to the Iran/Israel imbroglio and Iraq’s future, especially now that the US population has decided Afghanistan is no longer worth the candle.
And the deeper irony, of course, is that Obama who ran for president on a platform of getting out of Iraq and winding down the Afghan war; but who then had to focus nearly 24/7/365 on the financial crisis. As Time magazine commented, “President Barack Obama is getting another dose of the reality of his job: the out-of-his-control events that shape whether he will keep it. He is lobbying Israel not to launch on attack on Iran that could set the Middle East on fire and pull the United States into another war. He is struggling to get world powers to unite on halting a massacre in Syria. He is on the defensive about staying in Afghanistan after a US soldier allegedly went on a killing spree against civilians.” Meanwhile, even as the economy seems to be – finally – on a slow upward trajectory, the price of gasoline (petrol) is on everyone’s lips and focusing all attention on the fuel pump.
For more on Obama and the pain at the pump we turn to Britain’s the Economist, where Lexington bloggers seem exasperated by recent rhetoric on the campaign trail:
Republican politicians do not yet blame Barack Obama personally for the recent changes in America’s weather. That would stick in the craw, given that, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence, most of them still question and many deny that man plays a role in global warming. They do, however, blame Mr Obama for the rise in the price of oil. This is odd too, especially for a party that as a rule likes to believe in the impotence of governments and the omnipotence of markets. As any competent economist will tell you, the price of oil is set in the market—the world market, that is—and not in the White House.
Noting that with the improvement of the U.S. economy and jobs picture, Republicans have few other choices on issues to tackle Obama the Lexington blog goes on to say:
The possible eleventh-hour exception is the rising price of petrol (gasoline). The average American motorist is now paying $3.80 a gallon, a record for the time of year. As prices have risen, all the Republican candidates have been selling the idea that the blame for this rise belongs primarily with Mr Obama—not with the market’s fear of a war with Iran, climbing demand in China or any other more plausible explanation. Unhappily for the president, many voters appear to be buying this snake oil.