Research Proposal: American Government Final

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American Politics Final

Briefing

He [Obama] asks you to fully detail how as president he can best govern and lead the country. You are asked to provide analysis of the most effective ways of using presidential powers. In particular, he wants to understand how he can best achieve his policy goals using both "HARD" and "SOFT" power. He wants to know how he can use those powers to gain the support of the Congress, the American people, foreign governments, and the media.

A soft-power 'H' bomb -- that is what you have been called Mr. President, because of your masterful eloquence on the world and the domestic stage (Ghitis 2009). To the world, you have directed a voice that articulates admirable leadership. Your have acted respectfully rather than arrogantly towards other national leaders with whom America must cooperate to regain her old strength. You have shown sensitivity and intelligence regarding other nation's cultures, despite the right-wing disapproval shown to your slight bow to the leader of Saudi Arabia. However, you must continue to deploy your mastery of soft power to address the two greatest threats facing America, that of economic despair and foreign aggression (including terrorism), and back that soft power by hard power when necessary.

During the recent G20 summit it was almost difficult not to look more fluent when discussing international affairs than your predecessor. Clearly, you had won the hearts of the populace of Europe -- "presidents and prime ministers strained to stand near America's new rock-star president" but your "popularity did little to advance U.S. interests at the negotiating table" regarding EU policy (Ghitis 2009). America has undeniably lost prestige in the global community because of the 'know-nothing,' xenophobic attitude exhibited the Bush years. Furthermore, even Europe has become a house divided as it grapples with the economic crisis. The EU is currently engaged in an internal debate between poorer and richer nations about how much deficit spending is appropriate during the recession, as concerns over devaluing the Euro compete with anxiety over growing unemployment. America must try to exercise leadership, despite the fact that no matter who is leading America, it is inevitable that America will be blamed for the credit crisis. At present, regarding nuts and bolts economic policy, the U.S. remains at "odds with Europe, and particularly Germany, on the need for Europe to risk more of its budget to stimulate economic growth. Germany remained unmoved by American arguments, and in the end Europeans will risk much less of their own money to revive global economic growth. America's trillion-dollar budget deficit, meanwhile, will stimulate consumption and help everyone -- including European exporters -- sell more of their products" (Ghitis 2009). America, in terms of its current relationship with Europe, seems vulnerable and European leaders are also unhappy with what they see as an increasingly protectionist American policy regarding the steel industry in particular, and also America's shoring up of its automotive industry.

Domestically, your use of hard power regarding the economy is more impressive. For example, you forced General Motor's hand to abandon its previous path and unseated its CEO, in a show of force designed to extract concessions from the flagging automaker in exchange for federal bailout money. You have worked to create a deal for Chrysler and Fiat that will allow this company a dignified exit as an independent entity from the corporate stage without loosing too many American jobs. You also extracted an important victory in the form of the stimulus bill from Congress, a historically large settlement that you believed was necessary to bring America back from recession. Tentatively, some consumer spending figures and housing sales are beginning to show signs of a resurrection, and more importantly, despite a dismal job market, consumer confidence is up. The next challenge is to work to create new jobs in sectors of the economy you have defined as a priority, such as the green sector, with further public support and stimulus money. This will require pressuring Congress and industry to enact real and often painful changes. You do have the media finesse to rally the American public to consider living a new way of life, where hybrids replace traditional cars, and wind and solar energy become viable alternatives. Your must take aggressive steps now, while your administration is new and your popularity and political capital is high.

Many future foreign policy challenges also lie on the horizon, not the least of which is the war in Afghanistan. The American public and Congress are clearly behind you in this regard, but you must make sure that your efforts are not regarded as saber-rattling, and show a real intent to improve the safety of the world, in contrast to the diffuse and disastrous intervention in Iraq. One commentator remarked: "Washington has been pressuring NATO to contribute more troops to the struggling war effort in Afghanistan since long before Obama came to office. While Obama is much more popular than his predecessor, he was no more successful than the Bush administration on this front. At the NATO summit in Strasburg, European alliance members agreed to a much-touted boost of 5,000 troops. Despite the publicity, the outcome was a deep disappointment. After giving in on the economy, Obama might have pushed for a trade-off on Afghanistan. But for the most part, European leaders offered only to send more forces temporarily, to help with security during the upcoming Afghan elections" (Ghitis 2009).

However, all is far from lost. You have been able to show toughness in your rhetoric and still show a willingness to speak directly with America's enemies, like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Iran. You did condemn North Korea's failed missile launch in a forceful manner that did not inflame hostilities. Do not let Republican criticisms of your efforts deter you -- after all refusing to speak to aggressive nations did little to advance American interests, or protect America's safety and security. You have set a new agenda for the economy and created a more compassionate and diplomatic foreign policy. Hopefully, in the upcoming months the Gitmo prison will be a distant memory, torture will no longer be practiced by American troops -- and in addition to your moral strength, you will communicate a clear sense of concrete objectives that must be realized. Your willingness to see America as a joint actor in the world community, not a cowboy does not mean that foreign powers should think that America has forgotten its ability to lead.

Briefing Paper 2

Obama also asks you to prepare a detailed description, discussion and analysis of the five major areas of responsibility of the American President. (Chief Executive, Chief Legislator, Chief Diplomat, Commander in Chief, and Chief Crisis Manager. He wants actual examples and conclusions in each area.

As Chief Executive, you are responsible for the executive branch's leadership, for giving guidance to your staff, finding quality people to serve under you, and for setting the agenda of the administration into the future. You have tried to appoint the most competent and forthright people to your cabinet. For example, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner was a controversial choice, yet you still 'stuck by' your decision to give him stewardship of the economy, even while the stock market showed a shaky performance during his early tenure. You must set the agenda of the new administration in a top-down fashion, such as in your embrace of Keynesian economics through the stimulus package.

As Chief Legislator and law-maker, you are responsible for upholding the laws, such as laws prohibiting Americans from using torture, as well as shaping the laws and changing the laws -- such as lifting the ban on stem-cell research and calling for more stringent environmental controls on emissions. The Chief Legislator must enact policy that addresses America's position both internationally and domestically, as well as respond to Congressional demands for reform. Containing the deficit while stimulating the economy also requires a deft handling of legislative action. Appointing a new Supreme Court Justice who will honor the laws and engage in the type of pragmatic interpretation of the Constitution you believe in is another challenge on the horizon.

As Chief Diplomat, you have projected a quietly confident persona. The President must negotiate the best position for America's interests and values abroad while still remaining cognizant of America's unique role in the international community. Shifting more control to the Iraqi government as America quietly departs from Iraq, bolstering American forces in Afghanistan, and trying to address potential acts of aggression in a diplomatic fashion will all be priorities of your agenda. Potential 'hot spots' include the West Bank, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Key to improving the economic situation of America is working better with the EU and striving to create a more expansionist spending policy in the developed world, despite fears of deficit spending, to extract the world from the global recession. Showing that America can work well with other nations as well as command and go out 'on its own' has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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