As he prepared to undertake an extensive visit to the Middle East, Barack Obama laid out the general contours of his foreign policy. He set out five foreign policy goals for his presidency: ending the war in Iraq, finishing off al-Qaeda and the Taliban, ending US oil dependency, dealing with nuclear weapon issues, and rebuilding alliances. He also urged a new Marshall Plan with most of it going to Africa in order to stimulate economies. He made clear there was need to switch the emphasis from Iraq and provide more military aid to Afghanistan.
Obama was correct in denouncing the Bush administration’s “simple-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq” which was responsible for the Taliban to regain the initiative in Afghanistan. However, Senator Obama runs the risk of focusing on military issues as key to dealing with the crisis in Afghanistan. Any resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan must have political, economic and diplomatic components if there is to be success against the Taliban. Barack Obama has yet to spell out a coherent foreign policy for Afghanistan.
Senator Obama made reference to the successful post World War II Marshall Plan which was instrumental in rebuilding western Europe and destroying communism in that region of the world. However, Senator Obama appears unaware of how the Marshall Plan functioned. It required nations that had been enemies to come together and develop joint economic and political arrangements prior to receiving money. Sending billions of dollars to Africa without a similar approach is sending money down the rat hole of corruption.