Category: international


President Obama has signed three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Free trade agreements are important in America, because it opens new markets, and it creates jobs in our country. These trade agreements were started by President Bush, and President Obama completed the deal after he was sure that American workers were protected, and environmental practices were followed.

Many believe that this free trade agreement is as important as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA is one of the most successful trade agreements in history, and has contributed to increasing trade and investments between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investments, and eliminate most of the tariffs.

As a result of NAFTA, Mexico and Canada are the first and second largest export markets for United States agricultural products. This free trade agreement has benefited farmers, ranchers, investors, and consumers.

Trade will not go away as an issue with the Obama administration. These three new trade agreements will bring the number to 20 countries that have free trade agreements with the United States. The Republicans wants the president to be more aggressive in finding more free trade deals with other countries.

“From day one the guiding principle has been not just to complete the three trade agreements, but to develop a new paradigm for trade, and rebuild and restore America’s confidence in our trading policy. The administration is on track to reach Obama goal set early last year of doubling US exports over a five-year period,” said US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Trade agreements have always been a tricky business because you always want to do business with a friend, but that is not always the case. In many countries around the world, they levy high tariffs on US goods, and Americans allow them to ship their goods to our country with few or no duties. Many countries are trying to control their economy and keep American products out of their markets.

Nevertheless, supporters say these three deals are a winning proposition for American businessmen and farmers, who face high tariffs in these three countries. The deal in South Korea could boost exports by $10 billion and increase exports in Colombia by $1 billion. Many of the experts think that these three deals can create 70,000 jobs for Americans.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Overall, these agreements are a win for the American economy, they mean higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small business owners, and jobs for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products.”

President Obama is also getting applause from other industries. The following statement is attributable to the president Gary Shapiro of The Consumer Electronics Association.

“The Congress passage and now Presidential signing of these free trade agreements is the first major action in five years on free trade. It tells the world that the US is back in business and wants to remain a global player. Enacting these three agreements will strengthen our economy. Free trade has helped foster a high-tech boom, created more than 25 million jobs during the past 15 years, and increased real wages for U.S. workers.”

As President Obama continues with his plan to increase jobs for American citizens, he will have to reduce high tariffs in other countries, which will help American businesses large and small. Signing a bill is only the first step in implementing the trade agreement. Working together and ensuring compliance from the three countries will help improve the trade deficit, and keep the U.S. economy strong.

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President Obama Spends Six Days “Mending Fences” in Europe …by Roger Caldwell.

President Obama speaking in Europe

There is a shift taking place in the world economy, and the United States must make friends with those we considered enemies. China, Japan, and India are the richest countries in the world behind America, and we are forced economically to make financial agreements. Many European countries are starting to think that U.S. is more concerned about its relationship with other countries, as opposed to them.

Last week President Obama, his wife Michelle, and his administrative team made a

President Obama with his wife, Michelle

six-day, four-nation tour to Europe. The purpose and focus of the trip was to discuss a broad range of economic and security matters as well as reaffirm our friendship and solidarity with the European countries.

The trip began in Ireland where President Obama has family roots, and was well received with large crowds lining the streets to welcome him. Everywhere he went in small villages or large cities, he was warmly greeted. His message for the Irish was inspirational despite current economic troubles; “we both will weather the storm and come out better.”

The next two days were spent in England, where President Obama made his first official state visit, where there was ceremony, and a special formal dinner. The president was given the opportunity as the first American president to address both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in Westminster Hall with a speech.

President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of England

During the formal evening dinner, President Obama stated, “Our relationship rest on common language, common history, and common adherence to the rule of law, the rights of men and women, and our relationship never rests.” It was obvious that throughout the president’s visit in England, he emphasized the “special relationship” that the two countries have and they must continue to work together.

In a joint interview in the Times Newspaper in London, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron said they are committed to working together “on rebuilding our economies.” “We are two different countries but our destination must be the same: strong and stable growth, reduced deficits and reform of our financial systems,” they wrote.

The next stopover during the president’s trip was a visit to France. In France, he was given an opportunity to meet with the Group of Eight nations(G8), which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Russia.

President Obama at the G8 Summit in France this year

The goal of these nations is to be a catalyst for action, and collaborate economically and militarily. At the conclusion of the G8 Summit, the leaders issued a statement expressing support for the democratic uprising in the Middle East and North Africa. The leaders also asked senior foreign and finance ministries to meet in coming months to forge a framework of unity and continuity. They also are planning to help Egypt and Tunisia to recover stolen assets, and praised economic political development in both countries.

The final stop on the president’s European trip was in Poland. In Poland, President Obama met with Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski, and assured him that the U.S. contacts with Russia will not come at the expense of the security of Poland. Our president is holding Poland’s transformation to democracy as a model for the world.

Strategically, the European trip was extremely important to the United States and the countries that that President met with during the six day trip. There is an economic recession in many of these countries, and there is a need for an international bailout. This trip was the initial discussion of a global plan and more meetings will be necessary to resolve the different global problems.

In order for the United States to be economically successful, we need the European nations. President Obama reassured the European nations that strategically we are strong allies, but because of the global recession, America cannot afford to pay the global bills without more help.

On Monday, March 28, 2011, President Obama held a nationallytelevised speech where he

President Obama

attempted to give his plan, strategy, and reason for bombing and intervention into Libya. Based on his explanation, the bombing of Libya was necessary to save lives and promote freedom. It is a limited invasion in terms of time and scope and the international coalition has prevented massacre.

Without America leading this global coalition, Gadhafi would have showed no mercy on his people, and he had already compared the rebels and demonstrators to “rats.” In certain parts of the country, Gadhafi had turned tanks, bombs, and soldiers on innocent citizens, and the people need food and medical supplies.

As a result of the conditions, the United Nations initiated a “No-Fly” zone, an arms embargo, and put a global freeze on Libya’s billions of assets. There are certain Arab countries that are also supporting the “No-Fly” zone, but there are others that do not support the bombing of a sovereign country.

Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves, and certain countries believe that the “vital interest” in Libya. There are other countries in that region in the world where citizens are being murdered and not allowed to demonstrate and protest, but the existing government is still supported by the United States.

Last week there was a London Conference where 36 countries and the UN Secretary General Bar Ki-moon, which was hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron.

British Prime Minister David Cameron

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

This conference tried to work out a plan to get rid of Gadhafi. The media gave the impression that all the major countries are supporting this NATO coalition, but only two African countries: Tunisia and Morocco, attended the conference. The entire African Union refused to attend the London Conference, along with China, Russia, India, and Pakistan.

As the Libyan conflict continues to intensify, it is obvious that the strategy and plan must be continually made “up on the fly”. During President Obama’s speech on the Libyan conflict, he was adamant that there will be no ground troops, and the leadership of the military operation is no longer under the control of the United States.

But many American citizens do not believe President Obama when he says that his administration will not attempt to overthrow Gadhafi by force. “To be blunt,” said Obama, “we went down that road in Iraq.” Nevertheless, it appears that President Obama is following in President Bush’s footsteps and the Libyan strategy is starting to get messy.

Dr. Boyce Watkins from Syracuse University has surveyed over 650 African Americans and 27% are against President Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya. There were 24% who supported the action, and 49% who were undecided. As this conflict drags on, it is a recipe for confusion and spending money that we don’t have.

Many African Americans are starting to not trust President Obama, and skeptical of our military and government. Many believe that we should stop trying to police the world and concentrate on the problems at home.

Minister Farrakhan and many African American leaders are criticizing the United States government for launching military action against Libya without justification. They have accused America of just wanting Gadhafi out of the picture to secure oil interest and set up a puppet government. They are asking for a ceasefire on all sides in Libya, and let the people vote on whether Gadhafi should remain in power.

This is a good idea, but in Libya there will be no peaceful transfer of power. Gadhafi has demonstrated that he will murder to stay in power, and President Obama has stated that he desires a regime change.

In the final analysis, whether we agree or disagree with President Obama, history is not on the side with Gadhafi. He will probably leave and live in a friendly country with his billions, or he will die in his country trying to stop the movement of freedom.

 

Libya on the streets in protest

As President Obama takes a five day trip to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador, there are many major events bombarding the president. There are a series of bloodless revolutions and bloody civil wars that have spread through Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Libya. In Japan, there is an earthquake and tsunami, with the possibility of 10,000 people dead, and trillions worth of property destroyed.

Everyone has been waiting for decisive action from the president on global issues, and on Saturday, March 19, 2011, President Obama authorized limited military action against Libya. France, Britain, and the United States have warned Gadhafi that they would resort to military measures if he ignores the United Nations resolution demanding a cease-fire. 

Initially Libya agreed to a cease-fire, and promised to stop military operations against its citizens to prevent international military intervention. The United Nations authorized a “no-fly zone” and all necessary measures to prevent the regime from striking and killing its own people. Once this announcement came from the Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa

Moussa Koussa, foreign minister of Libya

 Koussa, it was followed with a fierce attack by Gadhafi’s forces against Misrata, the last rebel-held city in the western half of the country.

Once the coalition forces observed that Gadhafi was not going to abide by the United Nations cease-fire resolution, it was time to take decisive action. The United States is taking part in a five country operation, “Odyssey Dawn”: along with Britain, France, Canada, and Italy. Their goal is to stop the innocent slaughter of the civilians.

U.S. Navy soldiers stand in preparation for efforts towards Libya

The United States has a host of forces and ships in the area, including submarines, destroyers, amphibians’ assault and landing ships. A senior military official said the United States launched air defenses with strikes along the Libyan coast that were launched by Navy vessels in the Mediterranean. The assault would unfold in stages, and Obama once again stated that the United States would not send ground troops to Libya.

America is in a precarious situation in this particular conflict. This country is still one of Africa’s largest oil producing countries on the continent. We know we need oil and President Obama has emphasized that the purpose of this operation is not to get rid of Gaddafi.

In a letter to President Obama, Gaddafi said, “If you found rebels taking over American cities with armed force, tell me what would you do?” There is no simple answer to this question, because all around the world, in Asia and Africa there are civil wars with governments against rebels and grassroots people. Many of these people are deprived of their human rights and dignity, but very little is done because countries have their own national sovereignty.

President Obama addressing Libyan conflict

President Obama has laid out a leadership role for the United States for the Libyan civil war. “In this effort, the United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone – it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together,” says Obama.

It appears that the United States has learned its lessons in going into countries without international support. It makes sense to strategically plan responses to international conflicts, because once you are in, it is hard to get out. Hopefully the Libyan conflict will not be a long protracted war, but a quick conflict where the different factions can reach a compromise.  

President Obama is taking a stand concerning global justice and other tyrants and dictators should take notice. There are basic human rights that all citizens should have protected, and global coalitions can bring this to fruition. It is easy to talk justice and treating everyone with human rights, but it is hard to make it a reality.