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President Obamas

Initiatives
Continuity and Change Between the
Obama and Bush Administrations

Outline
Change Between Obama and Bush
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Economics (Govt. Regulation of the Economy)
Foreign Policy
Continuity Between Obama and Bush
Historians Rank the Presidents
Civil Liberties &
Civil Rights
Abortion
Federal Funding for Family Planning Overseas
Federal Funding for Family Planning
Obama reversed a Bush administration ban on federal
funding for overseas organizations that offer family planning
services
These organizations counsel women on the option of abortion
Republican presidents (Reagan, Bush43) have banned federal
funding, and Democratic presidents (Clinton, Obama) have allowed
for it
The Goal of the Initiative
Obama wants to show his support for a womans right to choose
Obama is also trying to send a message that leaders matter, that
different leaders will have different policies on key issues
What the critics say: Abortion is wrong and should not be
promoted with tax dollars

Stem Cell Research
Government Funding of Research
Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research
Obama reversed a Bush administration ban on federal funding
of stem cell research
Private companies could still engage in stem cell research under Bush,
but research institutions receiving federal monies could not
The goal is to extract the cells of an embryo (a fertilized egg),
then program the cells to grow into a liver, kidney, lung, or
some other organ to be used to transplant into an adult in
need
The research is in its early stages and has not yet produced an organ
The controversy is that an embryo dies in the process of extracting
its cellspro-life advocates view the embryo as a human being
The Goal of the Initiative
Obama wants the bio-medical science in the US to compete with
others in the world, which are using fetal stem cells
What the critics say: Adult stem cell research is much more
promising and has produced a transplanted tracheaan embryo does
not die when adult stem cells are used
I place stem cell research under the
category of civil liberties because it is so
closely related to the abortion issue. The
question is this. In the case of stem cell
research (and abortion), the question is
this. Is the fetus a human being? If yes,
then presumably it would be granted rights
and abortion and fetal stem cell research
would be illegal. Our political culture
answer no to that question today, thus
abortion and stem cell research is legal.
Medicinal Marijuana
No Federal Enforcement Against Medicinal Marijuana Use
No Enforcement of Federal Ban on Medicinal Marijuana
14 states have passed laws that allow for the legal use of marijuana
for medicinal purposes (e.g., to ease pain)
There is a nationwide federal ban on marijuana use for any purpose
The Bush administration enforced the ban in states where marijuana use was
legalized for medicinal purposes, creating a clash between federal and state
governments
The Obama Justice Department has decided not to enforce the federal ban
in states where medicinal marijuana use is legal
The Goal of the Initiative
The Obama Justice Department will allow the states to experiment with laws
allowing for the use of medicinal marijuana
Will drug use increase in states which allow for the use of marijuana for
medicinal purposes? Comparisons between states that ban marijuana
to those which allow for its use should reveal this answer in time
What the critics say: The slippery slope is in playlegalizing marijuana
for medicinal purposes will result in legalization for any purpose and contribute
to the decline of Americas national morality
*Interestingly, Republicans have not fought the president on this issue. A majority of the public
supports legalizing marijuana for medical purpose (not for recreational purposes).

Gays in the Military
The Repeal of Dont Ask, Dont Tell
Ban on gays in the military overturned by Congress
Obama reversed Clinton-era policy on dealing with gays
In the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton promised to change
military policy by allowing gays to serve openly in the military
But he did not have public support nor did the highest military
commanders agree with the change in 1993
As a compromise, Clinton agreed to the dont ask, dont tell
policythe military would not ask about ones sexual orientation,
and gays would be obligated to stay quiet about their orientation
In 2010, public support for allowing gays to serve openly hovered
around 70% and the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff agreed with a
change in policy Obama had political cover to make the change
The Goal of the Initiative
Obama wants to end discrimination against gays, believing that gay
rights is the next civil rights struggle in Americapolitically, Obama
wants to satisfy an element of the core Democratic basethe gay
rights lobby
What the critics say: Allowing gays to serve openly will disrupt unit
cohesion, which could adversely affect how well the military performs
on the battlefield
Congress repealed the dont ask, dont
tell policy in Dec. 2010, during the lame
duck session of Congress. It was one of
several significant victories for Obama
while Democrats still controlled both
houses of Congress. The military will
make the change slowly it will not
happen overnight. Republicans seem to
have accepted the change they are not
mounting a major campaign to reinstate
dont ask, dont tell

Between 1993 and 2010, about 13,000
military personnel were discharged from
the military after being outed as gay.
The Obama Effect
African-American Attitudes in a Post-Obama America
After Obamas election,
attitudes among African
Americans on
empowerment and on
race relations have
become more positive
*The poll was conducted
by the Pew Research
Center, which published
the results of its biennial
study on trends in political
attitudes and core values
on May 21, 2009. The
survey was conducted in
March and April of 2009;
more than 3000 adults
participated in the survey.
Economics
Government Regulation
Health Care Reform

A Major Step Toward Universal Health Care Coverage
40 or more countries have universal health care systems, and
they achieve this by mandating participation in the system and
by reducing or eliminating profit in the health care sector
Obamas health care reform includes and individual mandate which
forces everyone to buy-in to the system; the mandate is being
challenged by ~26 states in court (decisions are still pending)
Obamas health care reform will essentially reduce profit among health
insurance industry by: 1) requiring coverage of people with preexisting
conditions, 2) denying the application of annual or lifetime limits on the
amount of money that will be paid out to treat a patient, 3) requiring
coverage of preventive care treatments
The Goal of the Initiative
Obama wants to move America toward a universal health care system
Obama believes that everyone should have a right to health care
coverage, and thus government should ensure this right
What the critics say: Universal health care coverage is an assault on
freedom; in a free country, no one should be forced to purchase health
care coverage; in a free country, insurance companies should be able
to make profit
Though there are a variety of ways to achieve universal health care for all citizens, there are a couple of common characteristics
among the different universal health care systems that exist in the world: 1) government takes much of the profit out of the health
care market, and 2) there are government mandates that require everyone to participate in the system.

There are four entities in the health care market: 1) insurance companies, 2) pharmaceutical drug companies, 3) hospitals, and 4)
doctors. In America, each of these are in business to make a profit (i.e., to make money over and beyond what is required to pay for
the costs of doing business), but in the (approximately) 40 other countries where universal health care systems exist, profit is largely
taken out of the system, and doctors make less money in countries with universal systems.

The law that the president signed (on Mar. 23rd 2010) focuses mostly on the insurance sector of the health care market. Once the
law is phased in over the next few years, health insurance companies will no longer have the authority to deny coverage for those
with pre-existing conditions (e.g., someone who has cancer and wants insurance to help pay the costs); they wont be able to place
annual or lifetime limits on the amount of money they will pay out to treat a patient, and they will be required to fully cover
preventive care measures, such as mammograms and colonoscopies (in other words, these procedures will be free to patients).
These requirements will drive up costs for insurance companies, which will offset these added costs by raising premiums (payments)
for all their policy holders. To take profit out of the insurance market, the federal government would need the power to impose price
controls on insurance premiums, which is not in this current law. So, another incremental step in the laws governing the health
insurance companies would be required in the future to make this happen in America.

Then there are the pharmaceutical companies, the hospitals, and doctors. Their profits would have to be addressed in the future
before America reaches a universal system of health care. Of course, none of these wants to give up their profits, and each has
lobbying arms to pressure our leaders not to take additional steps to target its component of the health care market.

The president and the Democrats in Congress have taken a significant step toward universal health care in America, but to put in
place a universal system of health care, the individual mandate will have to survive a constitutional challenge and our law makers will
have to place price controls on insurance premiums and largely take away profits from drug companies and hospitals as well as
reduce the incomes of doctors. Given our for profit capitalist tradition and strong belief in individual freedom, there will be much
resistance to the additional incremental steps that would be required for America to adopt a system of universal health care. The
Republicans in Congress have promised to repeal and replace the Obama health care lawthe Republican-led U.S. House voted
for repeal in Jan. 2011 but the repeal effort was defeated in the U.S. Senate. Still, the health care issue helped Republicans take
majority control in the U.S. House in 2010, and they hope to make health care an issue to their advantage in the 2012 elections
cycle, and depending upon the outcome of the 2012 elections, attempt to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law then.
Regulation of Greenhouse Gases
Regulation of CO2 Emissions
Federal Regulation of CO2 emissions from cars/trucks
The federal government has adopted the California standard
for regulation of CO2 for the entire United States
California sued during the Bush administration and the US Supreme Court
agreed with California that CO2 is a pollutant, but upheld federal authority to
grant or deny waivers to states to regulate CO2 emissions from tailpipesthe
Bush administration did not grant a waiver
California wants to reduce tailpipe emissions by 30% over the next 6 years
The Goal of the Initiative
Obama wants the automakers to produce more fuel efficient cars and trucks,
ones that use cleaner alternative fuels, to combat climate change
Now that the federal government will own a large % of the US automotive
industry (GM and Chrysler), it will have a say in what kind of cars are built
and sold
What the critics say: In the absence of high gas prices, consumers will not
demand smaller green cars and trucks; they will instead buy used cars rather
than new green cars they dont want; also, the critics say human-induced
climate change is a hoax
* In a related matter, the Obama administration has agreed to reduce greenhouse gases nationwide by
17% (by 2020?). This too will result in more regulation of utilities and others who produce CO2 emissions.
The Republican-majority in the U.S. House intends to fight the EPA on implementing these regulations
because enabling legislation to regulate CO2 has not passed Congress.

Regulation of Tobacco Companies
Regulation of Cigarettes
Federal Drug Administration (FDA) can now regulate
nicotine in cigarettes
The Clinton administration (1993 2001) made a concerted
effort to give the FDA more authority to regulate nicotine, but
the tobacco companies had enough support in Congress to
stop the effort
The Bush administration did not pursue regulation of tobacco products
Now, the FDA can 1) regulate the content of nicotine in tobacco
products, 2) require labeling of the ingredients (similar to labeling on
food products) and 3) control the advertising of tobacco products to the
public (some control of advertising was established under Clinton also)
The Goal of the Initiative
Better educate the public about the hazards of smoking and simultaneously
discourage tobacco use
What the critics say: There is not a lot of criticism of the regulation of
nicotine, though the tobacco companies would want to have the freedom to
adjust the amount of nicotine in their products free of government interference
*Congress passed a law that authorizes the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate
nicotine in cigarettes, and it did not face stiff opposition from Republicans. There is not a lot of
sympathy for cigarette smokers in our culture.

Foreign Policy
International Relations
USA
Guantanamo
Bay
(Cuba)
Israeli-
Palestinian
Conflict Iran
Iraq

The World Map
Where has Obama Initiated Changes?
Afghanistan
Pakistan
Missile
Defense
Libya
The Obama Effect
World Reactions to the Obama Presidency
US favorability in most countries
substantially increased when
Obama became president
After Obamas first year in office,
favorability toward the US
increased in some countries but
decreased in others
The Obama Effect
Arab and Muslim Reactions to the Obama Presidency
Despite his good-neighbor gestures,
Obama has not been able to gain much
favor in the Arab and Muslim world in
dealing with Afghanistan, Iran, the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, or with
change in the Middle East
Obama hoped to
change the
perception that the
U.S. only
considers its own
interests at the
expense of other
countrys interests,
but he has not
been successful
Good-Neighbor
Foreign Policies
What is characteristic of a good-neighbor initiative is an accommodation on Americas
part to another country or region of the world. A good-neighbor gesture is desired by the
target country or region. The theory behind the good-neighbor doctrine is that an
accommodation by the U.S. will be reciprocated by a good will gesture by the target
state or region.

The reciprocity exchange can be explained as follows: America will be good to other
countries by accommodating their concerns, and in turn, other countries are expected to
reciprocate by being cooperative as the United States pursues its interests in the world.
On the one side of the reciprocity exchange is an accommodation by the U.S., and on
the other, greater cooperation from the target state or regionnot through compulsion
but through the realization of mutual interests.

A good-neighbor ideology underlies many of the presidents varied foreign policy
initiatives, including leading from behind in Libya (Lizza 2011), new initiatives on
nuclear-weapons and non-proliferation, and a change in the missile defense architecture
in Europe. The policy of mutual interests, mutual respect toward the Muslim world is
also a new application of the good-neighbor doctrine. Drawing down troops and ending
Americas combat role in Iraq is one such initiative intended to show respect for the
sovereignty of an Arab country. Others include some of the presidents policy failures
the planned closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the goal of trying the
conspirators of the 9/11 terrorist plot in civilian courts, and the attempt to change the
name of the post 9/11 conflict to the War against Al Qaida. Each of these policy
initiatives is best understood in the context of a good-neighbor foreign policy.
The Good Neighbor Policy
Leading from Behind in Libya
A limited U.S. role in the NATO operation in Libya
Obama was reluctant to intervene in a 3
rd
Muslim country,
believing this would do more damage to the U.S. image in the
Arab and Muslim world
But U.S. power was necessary to prevent Qaddafi (the leader of Libya)
from killing his own people in mass, as Qaddafi had threatened to do to
defeat rebel forces trying to overthrow his regime
Obama allowed Britain, France and Italy (who are more dependent
upon Libyan oilthe U.S. is less dependent on Libyan oil) to take the
lead in a NATO coalition, hence leading from behind
The Goal of the Initiative
To present the U.S. as a more cooperative partner in world affairs
(as opposed to a hegemonic bully)thus to improve Americas
image and encourage more cooperation in world affairs
One source of anti-American sentiment is Americas hegemonic
status and its willingness to exercise powerObama wants to
change this sentiment by changing U.S. behavior in the world
What the critics say: 1) Leading from behind is weakness, 2) U.S.
has no vital interest in Libya and should not be involved
Leading from behind is designed to present America as a humble partner in the
multilateral coalition fighting the Qaddafi regime. The president was a reluctant partner
from the beginning, for both practical and ideological reasons. There was stiff opposition
within his national security circle, namely from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and
from an unusual coalition on the far right and far left of American politics. These were
practical influences on the presidents decision to limit the role of the U.S. in the Libyan
operation, but there were also ideological reasons. First, Obama demanded a limited
role for the U.S. to rebuke the argument that America acts unilaterally, with no regard for
the interests of other countriesthis is common critique and source of anti-American
sentiment. Having received authorization of the UN Security Council, agreement by
NATO to carry out the UN mandate, and support the Arab League helps to dismiss that
critique. Secondly, positioning the U.S. in a support role is a concrete step toward
multipolarity. The president anticipates a transition from U.S. hegemony to a multipolar
world (NSS 2010), in which the U.S. must get accustomed to being a cooperative
partner, which is exactly how he has designed the U.S. role in the Libyan intervention.
Lastly, the president explicitly ruled out putting U.S. troops on the ground in Libya, in part
to maintain the support of Arabs throughout the region, who would likely turn against the
Libyan intervention if the U.S. were to insert ground troops, as it did in Iraq. The
presidents ideological motivations are consistent with the goals of the good neighbor
doctrine. Obama wants to meet the standard of good by presenting America as a
humble and cooperative partner in a multilateral coalition, as well as by showing respect
to U.S allies in the Arab world, who wish not to see U.S. troops in another Muslim
country.
The Good Neighbor Policy
A Change in Missile Defense Policy in Europe
Sea-Based Missile Defense to Protect Europe
Obama opted to deploy a sea-based missile defense to protect
Europe from a missile attack from Iran, North Korea, or others
Bush planned to deploy a land-based missile defense system in
Poland and the Czech Republic
Russia objected to the US plan under Bush because it feared the US
was becoming too dominant in Russias former sphere of influence
Russia once controlled the area that is now Poland and the Czech
Republic
The Goal of the Initiative
Protect Europe from a missile attackandaccommodate
Russias concerns about US power in Europe
In return for accommodating Russia, Obama hopes that Russia
will cooperate with the US on dissuading Iran from pursuing a
nuclear weapon
What the critics say: Obama has appeased the Russians without
getting anything from Russia, such as an agreement on what Russia
will do to dissuade Iran; we can expect Russia to become more
belligerent and demand more concessions from the US
After announcing the change, Russia agreed to allow the US to fly non-military supplies
through Russian airspace to Afghanistan; Russia backed off its opposition to the U.S.
maintaining an airbase in Kyrgyzstan; Russia signed-on to the terms of the new START
treaty (though similar agreements were also achieved under a more confrontational
foreign policy during the Reagan years); Russia supported a round of tougher UN
sanctions on Iran for building a uranium enrichment plant without notifying IAEA
weapons inspectors, and it has acquiesced to missile defense in Europe by accepting a
NATO offer to participate in the program. Perhaps one could score these as victories for
the good-neighbor doctrine, given how cold US-Russia relations had become in the last
few years of the Bush administration.

A sea-based missile defense system would be less threatening to Russia, and
essentially making Russia part of the team by inviting it to participate with NATO on
missile defense is an even greater accommodation. Russias acquiescence on missile
defense is a great diplomatic accomplishment for the Obama administration, but it is
only an intermediate goal. The end goal is to exchange the accommodation on missile
defense for Russias cooperation in dissuading Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The critics of the presidents reset policy equate the politics of accommodation with
appeasement; they argue that Russia has a rival-power interest in maintaining the
Iranian nuclear issue as a distraction to the U.S. as Russia reasserts itself in the world
(Opinion Journal 2009). Russia has supplied the fuel rods to the reactor in Bushehr
(Iran), and facility is now operating, despite Irans continued efforts to enrich uranium,
and in recent years, Russia has considered selling Iran surface-to-air missiles to defend
against a potential air attack, though it has not yet followed through on this sale.
The Good Neighbor Policy
The Nuclear Posture Review (2010)
Explicit Limits on use of Nuclear Weapons
The US pledges to not use nuclear weapons against a non-
nuclear state if that state is in compliance with the Non-
Nuclear Proliferation Treaty
True even if that state attacks the US with chemical or biological
weaponsUS will retaliate with conventional weapons
Bush did not explicitly eliminate the possibility of using nuclear
weapons when he announced his post-9/11 National Security Strategy
The Goal of the Initiative
Improve Americas image by avoiding the use of implied threats
and encourage more cooperation on non-proliferation efforts
An implied threat is counter to the good neighbor doctrinepart
of being good to others (and in return, expecting others to be
good to us) is avoiding the use of implied or direct threats
What the critics say: Implied threats are very useful and act to deter
potential enemies from attacking the US or its allies because of the
uncertainty associated with how the US will retaliateusing an implied
threat in self-defense does not make the US a bad actor
Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Under this treaty, non-nuclear states (those who do not possess nuclear weapons) agree
not to pursue a nuclear weapon. Also, nuclear states (as of 1968) agree not to transfer nuclear-weapons technology or materials to
non-nuclear states. There are only 4 countries who are not members of the NPT (North Korea, Israel, India, and Pakistan), and each
of them are nuclear-weapons states. They did not join (or in the case of NK, withdrew from the treaty) because they want to possess
nuclear weapons.

See Sec. Defense Gates statement on the use of Nuclear Weapons (4-6-2010):
http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4599. Sec. of Defense Gates cited Iran and North Korea as
exceptions. In other words, the US will continue to use the implied threat of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea.

This debate is about the psychological effect the threat of the use of nuclear weapons has on potential enemies and allies. In reality,
nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used, even if a terrorist organization attacked the US with a nuclear device. Obamas critics
advocate the peace through strength doctrine, which assumes the world is a very dangerous place filled with lots of bad actors,
and one way to keep those bad actors in check is to employ implied threats (what Sec. of Defense Gates called calculated
ambiguity). President Obama is more concerned with improving Americas image in the world, and he believes if we stop using
implied threats, we could recruit new allies (who before viewed America as a bad actor in part because the US uses implied threats)
to help us achieve our goals in the world.

Some of Americas harshest critics accuse the US of using bullying tactics in its foreign policies. With his nuclear policies, Obama is
attempting to accommodate these critics who view the US as a bully in world affairs. The president has initiated nuclear policies to
present a less threatening face to the world, which include: 1) reducing US and Russian nuclear stockpiles through arms control
agreements (the new START Treaty), 2) refusing to build the next generation of more advanced nuclear weapons, and 3) ruling out
the use of implied threats in its policy on the use of nuclear weapons (excepting Iran and North Korea). In return, Obama hopes to
encourage much of the rest of the world to cooperate with the US as it addresses the issues of non-proliferation, i.e., keeping nuclear
materials out of the hands of rouge states and non-state actors (like Al Qaeda).

Also in April 2010, President Obama convened a nuclear summit, at which the heads of 40 countries attended (the largest delegation
of world leaders to assemble on American soil since the creation of the UN in 1945). At the conference, it was agreed that countries
would transfer their enriched uranium to the US, which would then dilute it and sell it to nuclear power plants to produce electricity.
Enriched uranium can be used to make a nuclear weapon, so transferring stray nuclear materials to the US so that they cannot be
used for building weapons is a good idea, but it requires cooperation. Obama believes that if he can improve Americas image in the
world, then we will receive the cooperation that would be necessary to transfer excess enriched uranium to the US. The nuclear
summit did not get a lot of news, but Obama believes this is one of the unique contributions he can make in this world. In other
words, he believes that he has put in place policies that will produce the cooperation necessary to reduce the proliferation of nuclear
material, and that this would be less likely to happen under Bush or Reagan or Clinton or any other president who does not
implement a good neighbor foreign policy.


The Good Neighbor Policy
Timelines for Withdrawal from Iraq
Timeline for Troop Withdrawal from Iraq
US will drawdown troops to a residual force (35K to 50K) by end of August 2010,
leave Iraq entirely by December 2011
Residual force responsibilities: 1) train, equip and advise Iraqi security forces,
2) conduct anti-terrorist operations (should that be necessary), 3) defend US
personnel and embassy officials
Bush never committed to a timeline for withdrawal (until Iraqi PM Maliki began
to advocate a timeline during the US presidential election campaign in 2008)
The Goal of the Initiative
End Americas combat mission in Iraq
This is related to the good neighbor policy because Obama is sending the
message that the US should have never invaded Iraqand withdrawing
implies we wont do it again, which would be welcome news to the Arab
and Muslim world
What the critics say: Same as Bush, that the Sunni insurgent groups,
Shiite militias, and Al Qaeda will wait until US forces leave, then reappear to
attempt to take power by force
*PM Prime Minister
Some liberals are not satisfied with the large size of the residual force (50K troops is too many), so
Obama has been criticized by his own base of support on this matter.
Why did Bush not want to commit to a timeline for withdrawal? Bush worried that the Sunni insurgents,
Shiite militias, and Al Qaeda would wait until US forces leave before using force to take power in Iraq

Good-Neighbor
Foreign Policies
A Few Failed Initiatives
The Good Neighbor Policy
Mutual Interests, Mutual Respect to the Muslim World
Failed Mutual Interest, Mutual Respect Policies
Closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility
Congress denied the president the authority to transfer prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay to the U.S.
Trying the (five) 9/11 Plotters in Civilian Courts
By denying the president the authority to transfer prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay to the U.S., Congress has forced the president to try
Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and 4 others in military courts
Renaming the War on Terror
The name change to War Against Al Qaeda has not been widely
adopted, and the Obama administration has given up on the change
Intended Goals of these Initiatives
Pay respect to Moderate Muslims to improve Americas image
Obama wants to change the perception that the U.S. mistreats
Muslim prisoners (by denying them the same civil liberty
protections as other prisoners in the U.S. are afforded)
The name change was to make clear that the U.S. is at war with Al
Qaeda, not with Muslims nor is the U.S. at war with Islam
In his inaugural speech, Obama conveyed this message, To the Muslim world, we seek a new way
forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. (Obama 2009b). This policy of mutual interests
mutual respect is essentially a new application of the good-neighbor doctrine. The reciprocity exchange
is this: America will display that it is good by showing respect to Muslims, which in turn is intended to
have the intermediate effect of improving Americas image and favorability among moderates throughout
the Muslim world, thus enhancing Americas soft power (Nye 2009). The intended end effect would be
greater cooperation among the various countries of the Muslim-majority world as America combats
terrorism, addresses nuclear proliferation, pursues Israeli-Palestinian peace and other initiatives that are
of mutual interest to both sides.
Closing the Guantanamo Detention Facility
Civil liberty advocates argue that Guantanamo symbolizes a perversion of criminal justice, making the US
appear to be hypocritical (i.e., US is not honoring procedural rights for accused suspects), and advocates
of closing Guantanamo say that Al Qaeda has used it as a recruiting tool by highlighting the injustice
committed against prisoners. If the US is more consistent with its values (specifically, civil liberty
protections for accused criminals), Obama hopes that will help stem Al Qaeda recruiting and encourage
more cooperation from other countries in stopping future terrorist acts

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility was originally planned to be closed in February 2010, but that
deadline was missed because a Democratic Congress refused to appropriate the money to purchase a
facility in Illinois (the Thompson Facility) that state officials have agreed to sell to the federal government.
Then in December 2010, a majority Democratic Congress (with the support of the Republican minority)
passed a law that would prohibit the president from transferring a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay to America
proper to be tried in a civilian court. The law reversed a key Obama foreign policy goal, and it forces the
Obama administration to try the 5 plotters of the 9/11 attacks in military courts at Guantanamo Bay.
Democrats in Congress went against their own president because they worried about being labeled weak
on our enemies by closing Guantanamo. Republicans would argue that Democrats didnt take the
terrorist threat seriously because if terror suspects are kept at Guantanamo then there is no threat of a jail
break (terrorists attacking the Thompson facility) nor would there be a threat that terror suspects could
potentially radicalize other inmates (presuming terror suspects are mixed with other criminals).

Trying the 9/11 Plotters in Civilian Courts
When announcing his decision to try KSM and four other plotters of the 9/11 attacks in civilian court,
Eric Holder (the US Attorney General) described 9/11 as the crime of the century, rather than
labeling it an act of war. Holder also planned to try (5) other terror suspects who committed terrorist
acts outside U.S. borders in military commissions, so the Obama administration had planned to
implement a hybrid approachtrying some in civilian court (those who committed terrorist acts on
American soil) while trying others in military tribunals (those who plotted or committed terrorist acts
outside of America).

The Obama administration and Eric Holder in particular have received much criticism for allowing
terror suspects to lawyer-up by reading them their Miranda rights and for deciding to try several
top-ranking Al Qaeda members in civilian court (this was prior to Congresss actions to force the
president and Holder to try these terror suspects in military courts). In response to the mounting
criticism, Holder wrote a 5-page memo to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explaining how
successful the civilian justice system had been at gaining intelligence information from terror
suspects, even after they had attained lawyers to defend them. Holder also reminded McConnell
that the Bush administration had transferred only 2 terror suspects from civilian to military control
and the legality of both transfers were challenged in the courts, forcing the Bush administration to
return both suspects to civilian control. Still, the pressure on Obama and Holder has not relented,
and both are being forced to move in a more conservative direction. Holder announced on Meet
the Press (a Sunday news program) that he wants more authority to question terror suspects
before having to read them Miranda rights (i.e., you have the right to remain silent; you have the
right to a lawyer). This is the national security exception to the Miranda procedure, and Holder
wants Congress to expand the exception to be more consistent with the threat we face
today. Getting tough on criminals is a more conservative policy orientation, and Obama and Holder
are little by little moving in a more conservative direction on these matters. National security
concerns always drive policy in a more conservative direction.
In his inaugural speech, Obama conveyed this message, To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward,
based on mutual interest and mutual respect. (Obama 2009b). This policy of mutual interests mutual
respect is essentially a new application of the good-neighbor doctrine. The reciprocity exchange is this:
America will display that it is good by showing respect to Muslims, which in turn is intended to have the
intermediate effect of improving Americas image and favorability among moderates throughout the Muslim
world, thus enhancing Americas soft power (Nye 2009). The intended end effect would be greater cooperation
among the various countries of the Muslim-majority world as America combats terrorism, addresses nuclear
proliferation, pursues Israeli-Palestinian peace and other initiatives that are of mutual interest to both sides.

Closing the Guantanamo Detention Facility
Civil liberty advocates argue that Guantanamo symbolizes a perversion of criminal justice, making the US
appear to be hypocritical (i.e., US is not honoring procedural rights for accused suspects), and advocates of
closing Guantanamo say that Al Qaeda has used it as a recruiting tool by highlighting the injustice committed
against prisoners. If the US is more consistent with its values (specifically, civil liberty protections for accused
criminals), Obama hopes that will help stem Al Qaeda recruiting and encourage more cooperation from other
countries in stopping future terrorist acts

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility was originally planned to be closed in February 2010, but that deadline
was missed because a Democratic Congress refused to appropriate the money to purchase a facility in Illinois
(the Thompson Facility) that state officials have agreed to sell to the federal government. Then in December
2010, a majority Democratic Congress (with the support of the Republican minority) passed a law that would
prohibit the president from transferring a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay to America proper to be tried in a civilian
court. The law reversed a key Obama foreign policy goal, and it forces the Obama administration to try the 5
plotters of the 9/11 attacks in military courts at Guantanamo Bay. Democrats in Congress went against their
own president because they worried about being labeled weak on our enemies by closing Guantanamo.
Republicans would argue that Democrats didnt take the terrorist threat seriously because if terror suspects are
kept at Guantanamo then there is no threat of a jail break (terrorists attacking the Thompson facility) nor would
there be a threat that terror suspects could potentially radicalize other inmates (presuming terror suspects are
mixed with other criminals).

Trying the 9/11 Plotters in Civilian Courts
When announcing his decision to try KSM and four other plotters of the 9/11 attacks in civilian court, Eric Holder
(the US Attorney General) described 9/11 as the crime of the century, rather than labeling it an act of war.
Holder also planned to try (5) other terror suspects who committed terrorist acts outside U.S. borders in military
commissions, so the Obama administration had planned to implement a hybrid approachtrying some in
civilian court (those who committed terrorist acts on American soil) while trying others in military tribunals (those
who plotted or committed terrorist acts outside of America).

The Obama administration and Eric Holder in particular have received much criticism for allowing terror
suspects to lawyer-up by reading them their Miranda rights and for deciding to try several top-ranking Al Qaeda
members in civilian court (this was prior to Congresss actions to force the president and Holder to try these
terror suspects in military courts). In response to the mounting criticism, Holder wrote a 5-page memo to Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explaining how successful the civilian justice system had been at gaining
intelligence information from terror suspects, even after they had attained lawyers to defend them. Holder also
reminded McConnell that the Bush administration had transferred only 2 terror suspects from civilian to military
control and the legality of both transfers were challenged in the courts, forcing the Bush administration to return
both suspects to civilian control. Still, the pressure on Obama and Holder has not relented, and both are being
forced to move in a more conservative direction. Holder announced on Meet the Press (a Sunday news
program) that he wants more authority to question terror suspects before having to read them Miranda rights
(i.e., you have the right to remain silent; you have the right to a lawyer). This is the national security exception
to the Miranda procedure, and Holder wants Congress to expand the exception to be more consistent with the
threat we face today. Getting tough on criminals is a more conservative policy orientation, and Obama and
Holder are little by little moving in a more conservative direction on these matters. National security concerns
always drive policy in a more conservative direction.

Name Change for the War on Terror
See John Brennans 2
nd
speech on this subject, delivered to the Center for Strategic International Studies on 5-
26-10: http://csis.org/event/statesmens-forum-securing-homeland-renewing-americas-strengths-resilience-and-
values . Here are a few excerpts from Brennans 5-26 speech:

The presidents strategy is absolutely clear about the threat we face. Our enemy is not terrorism because
terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse
to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate
tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of ones community.

And there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children. Indeed,
characterizing our adversaries this way would actually be counterproductive. It would play into the false
perception that they are religious leaders defending a holy cause when in fact, they are nothing more than
murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims.

Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al-Qaida and its
affiliates to justify terrorism, that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. The reality, of course, is
that we have never been and will never be at war with Islam. After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of
America.

Instead, the presidents strategy is clear and precise. Our enemy is al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates. For it was
al-Qaida who attacked us so viciously on 9/11 and whose desire to attack the United States, our allies and our
partners remains undiminished. And it is its affiliates who have take up al-Qaidas call to arms against the United
States and other parts of the world.
Other Foreign Policy-
Related Initiatives
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Engagement in Peace Negotiations
Engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian Issue
In the first two years of the Bush Administration, Bush did
not attempt to advance the peace process
At the time, the Israelis and Palestinians were fighting a low-scale
war and Bush did not consider Yaser Arafat, leader of the
Palestinians, to be a partner for peace
Obama has engaged from the outset
He has appointed a special envoy, former Senator George Mitchell,
who helped broker a peace between Britain and Ireland during the
Clinton Administration
Every president, since Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) set the precedent,
is expected to advance Middle East peace
The Goal of the Initiative
Obama believes Bush was not aggressive enough diplomatically,
and he hopes that he can pressure the two sides to agree to a
lasting peace
What the critics say: Obama is wrong-headed, for 30 years
presidents have tried to broker peacethe differences run deeper
than a diplomatic surge can solve
The Obama administration plans to donate $900 million to a larger international fund to
rebuild Gaza. The Clinton and Bush administrations gave money to the Palestinians
also, but in much smaller sums. The scale of funding is so much larger under Obama.

Obama has put more pressure on the Israelis than previous presidents to stop building
new Israeli communities (called settlements) in what might someday be a Palestinian
state. The settlement activity is in an area called the West Bank. Under a two-state
solution, the West Bank would be part of a Palestinian state.

In June 2010, Turkey asserted itself on this issue and sponsored a flotilla of 6 boats to
sail to the Gaza Strip to bring supplies to the Palestinians (the Israelis are imposing an
embargo on Gaza, in an attempt to stem the flow of low-tech rockets into that area
rockets that are routinely fired into Israel and have killed a few Israeli civilians). The
Israelis stormed one of the 6 ships, and 9 Turks were killed in the raid. Turkey and much
of the world condemned the Israeli action. The US did not make a forceful stance one
way or another. The Israelis defended their actions, insisting they have a right to self-
defense. Turkey has been friendly with Israel through much of Israeli history, but that
seems to be changing now.
Relations with Cuba
Sanctions Policy on Cuba
Overtures to Cuba
No Limit on Travel to Cuba
Cuban Americans were restricted to travel to Cuba once every 3 years,
but now can travel as much as they want to Cuba
No Limits on Remittances (i.e., money sent to Cuba)
Cuban Americans were restricted to sending $1200/yr to their families
in Cuba, but can now send as much as they please
The Goal of the Initiative
Eventually to open Cuba to more trade with the US
These policy changes are a trial balloon to gauge the reaction in America,
especially in the Cuban American community, which tends to be strongly
anti-Fidel Castro (and anti-Raul Castro, the new leader of the country)
A ban on US-Cuba trade dates back to the 1960s, shortly after Castro
declared Cuba a communist statethe ban has not resulted in the collapse
of the communist regime
What the critics say: The US should keep the trade ban in place until Cuba
agrees to allow for democracy (competitive political parties), meets human rights
standards, and releases political prisoners
*The money sent home by an immigrant to America is called a remittance.
After Obama announced these policy changes, Raul Castro (Fidel Castros brother) said that he would be
willing to talk to the US about releasing political prisoners but then recanted later.

Highlighting the Real Cost of War
Flag-Draped Coffins & Budgeting the War
The Real Cost of War
Flag-draped coffins (of US soldiers killed overseas) can be
photographed and reported on, if the families of the victims
agree
Since the Persian Gulf War (1991), a ban on news coverage of flag-
draped coffins had been in placeBush maintained the ban once the
US went to war following 9/11
Include the monetary cost of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War
in the accounting of the Budget
Under Bush, the monetary costs were off-budget and monies for war
were appropriated separately from the normal budgetary process
The Goal of the Initiative
Highlight the costs of war
Obama is a peace advocate (or anti-war advocate) at heart and
wants the public generally to share this sentiment
What the critics say: Opposition is not strong, but the critics would say
that Obama wants to use the flag-draped coffin issue for propaganda
purposes, to promote the anti-war position (this is true, but Obama
would not refer to peace advocacy as propaganda)
Release of Bush-Era Torture Memos
Civil Liberties v. Public Safety in War
Obama Released Bush-Era Enhanced Interrogation
or Torture Memos (these were classified under Bush)
Several top-level members of Al Qaeda were water-boarded, in
some cases 100s of times
This interrogation technique was approved by Bush administration
lawyers, who asserted that they were legal under international law
The Goal of the Initiative
Open the debate over enhanced interrogations to public scrutiny
The controversy that ensued almost assures that torture
techniques will never be used again, even under a future president
Appease Obamas liberal base of support
The core liberal base wants Bush administration officials
prosecuted as criminalsObama hopes the release of these
memos and the consequential embarrassment to the Bush
administration will satisfy the liberal base
What the critics say: Release of these memos damages national
security by alerting Al Qaeda to what its members must do to counter
US interrogation techniques; also, critics argue that this is a witch-hunt
whose end goal is to put Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld in jail
In addition to water-boarding, other enhanced interrogation techniques used during
the Bush administration included placing a suspect in a box with a poisonous insect,
repeated slamming of suspects against a flexible wall, sleep deprivation, and exposure
to extreme cold.

The controversy and debate sparked by the release of the memos will almost assure
that these techniques will not be used again, even under a future conservative
president. Why? Because they are too controversial. The cost of using these
techniques would not be worth the gain (unless the US is hit with a massive terrorist
attack or series of lesser terrorist attacks; that would change the civil liberty-public
safety balance, and public safety would become the greater priority).

Adversarial politics is involved here. Obamas core liberal base wants high-level Bush
administration officials to be prosecuted. Obama has an ambitious agenda and he
really wants to concentrate on the future rather than look back at Bush, but he needs to
throw some red meat to his base. His compromise is this. Release the memos and
embarrass the Bush administration but then choose not to prosecute CIA interrogators,
Bush legal advisors, or the leadership (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld). As of late
2010, it seems to have worked. I dont hear calls for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and
Rice to be prosecuted anymore. The liberal base has either been satisfied by the
degree to which Bush has been discredited (by the release of these memos and by
general criticisms of the Bush administration) or they have given up on high-level
prosecutions of Bush and his foreign policy team.
Continuity
Between Obama and Bush
Continuity in Policy
Between Bush and Obama
Economics
Reaction to the Financial Crisis of 2008 Both Bush and Obama
reacted similarly, believing that the private sector (capitalism) could
not resolve the economic crisis precipitated by the collapse of the
US housing market
Both Bush and Obama embraced massive government intervention
into the economy
Bush approved $700 billion to bailout the financial system
Obama approved $787 billion stimulus package to jump-start the
economy
Foreign Policy
War in Afghanistan Both Bush and Obama (have) ordered
predator drone attacks of the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan,
without the explicit approval of the Pakistani government
For these airstrikes to be legal under international law, the US would
need the approval of the Pakistani government or would need
knowledge of an imminently planned attack on US forces by the Taliban
or Al Qaeda
An imminently planned attack means that an attack on US forces is going to happen
very soon, within a couple of days or even in a couple of hours.

Health Care There is some continuity between Bush and Obama on health care policy.
Bush and a Republican-majority Congress added a prescription drug benefit for
Medicare recipients. This means that the federal government will be paying for some of
the costs of the prescription drugs consumed by the elderly. Obamas health care
initiative (made law in Mar 2010) will increase government authority much more than
Bushs did, but nevertheless, the direction of policy (i.e., more government authority over
the health care sector of the economy) is the same for both presidents. The difference
between Bush and Obama is that Bushs health care initiative was an incremental step
toward universal health care in America, while Obamas is a major step.

Financial/Wall Street Reform: A bill passed Congress with bipartisan support in May
2010, though Republicans in the US Senate used the filibuster to hold-up the bill for
about 6 weeks. Republicans did not want to institute permanent bailouts of Wall Street
firms, akin to the bailouts that occurred at the end of the Bush administration (and
carried out by the Obama administration). The new law will give the federal government
the power to takeover an investment firm that is presumed failing before it can cause
harm to the entire financial market. Its assets would then be sold off and the firm would
be dismantled, rather than bailed-out. The law also requires transparency in the trading
of derivatives (very complex financial instruments) and higher capital requirements,
meaning that investment banks and insurance companies will have to keep more of their
own money on reserve, in order to cover the costs of their investments/insurance
policies should they become worthless.
Obamas Job Approval Numbers
Compared to Past Presidents
Presidents want to be
above 50% in their job
approval ratings
Obama is polling
below 50%
Nixon, Reagan, and
Clinton were polling
below 50% at the 2
year mark of their
presidencies (where
Obama is now)and
they won reelection
Carter and Bush (the father) grappled with a sluggish
economy, and both lost reelection. Obama also is
grappling with a sluggish economy
Its too soon to predict Obamas reelection chances.
His poll numbers in Apr. 2012 should be more
predictive of his odds at winning another term
Historians Rank the Presidents
Lincoln is ranked as
Americas greatest
president
FDR ranks 3
rd
best
Obama hopes to be
classified with these
presidents someday,
perhaps as the 4
th

greatest president; he
has modeled his
cabinet after Lincolns,
and Obamas policy
agenda resembles
FDRs New Deal
But he has to be
reelected and his
policies must last the
test of time
Bush43 was ranked as the 7
th
worst president, though
if there is any solace for Bush, it would be that Truman
(5
th
best) and Wilson (9
th
best) left office as disgraced
presidents, but now historians rank them among the
10 greatest presidents
See 2009 C-Span poll of 64 historians: http://www.c-
span.org/PresidentialSurvey/presidential-leadership-survey.aspx

Bush4343
rd
president, the son not the father

In my opinion, Obama is very similar to Ronald Reagan. Despite that Reagan was
conservative and Obama is liberal, Obama is an activist president, like Reagan was.
Obama has a clear idea of where he wants to take the country, and has put forth
policies to make that happenReagan did also. Obamas conservative opposition is
very threatened by his policy agenda, as was the liberal opposition toward Reagan.
Obamas liberal base of support is a little unhappy with the president, believing he
should have accomplished more than he has (in his first two years in office), and in
the 1980s, Reagans conservative base of support reacted very similarlythey felt
Reagan made too many compromises with liberals and that he had not really moved
the country in a more conservative direction. Ironically, conservatives today view
Reagan as God-like. All Republican presidential candidates are compared to the
Reagan standard. I think this will be true of Obama also. In 20 years or so, liberal
will appreciate Obamas accomplishments. They dont today because they are
hoping for so much more, just as conservatives hoped for so much more when
Reagan was in office.