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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’s’

Obama’s India Trip: What U.S. May Get in Return

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

Kagan confirmed as Obama’s second Supreme Court justice

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

WASHINGTON, Aug 6, 2010 (AFP) – Elena Kagan has become only the fourth woman to win confirmation as Supreme Court justice, giving Democrats a welcome election year boost. But the court’s conservative make-up is unlikely to change.

Senators voted 63-37 Thursday to confirm Kagan as one of the nine justices who act as final arbiters of the US Constitution, set precedent for lower courts, and decide the nation’s toughest moral and legal dilemmas.

Five Republicans broke ranks to back the 50-year-old former Harvard Law School dean, and just one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against her.

She will be sworn in on Saturday by Chief Justice John Roberts, but will not be formally seated until October 1 for the court’s fall session.

Though never seriously in doubt, her confirmation to the lifetime post gave President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies a much-needed victory before November mid-term elections in which they are expected to suffer heavy losses.

Thanking the Senate, Obama said he was “confident that Elena Kagan will make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice.”

The confirmation brought to two the number of justices named by the president — after the court’s first Hispanic justice, Sonia Sotomayor — and the total number of women on the high bench to three for the first time ever.

Kagan’s “legal qualifications are unassailable. She earned her place at the top of the legal profession,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Her qualifications, intelligence, temperament and judgment will make her a worthy successor to Justice John Paul Stevens,” he said, referring to the retiring leader of the court’s liberal bloc.

But Kagan was not expected to tip the overall ideological balance of the court, which many observers have described as the most conservative in decades.

Nominating US Supreme Court justices ranks among the most consequential powers of the US presidency, as a judge’s lifetime tenure typically stretches well beyond the influence of the temporary occupant of the White House.

Some of their most controversial decisions have included the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States and the Bush v. Gore case that handed the disputed 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.

And some of the toughest rulings have come in 5-4 decisions that can take a generation to reverse.

The 50-year-old Kagan, who as US solicitor general has argued the Obama administration’s case before the high court, will be the youngest justice.

Democrats pointed to her decades of legal work, including in her current position as US solicitor general and her time as the first woman dean of Harvard Law School.

Her critics said they feared she would be unable to keep her personal politics separate from her judging and painted her as a foe of gun ownership and of restrictions on abortion.

“I’m not quite sure how I would characterize my politics, but one thing I do know is that my politics would be, must be, have to be, completely separate from my judging,” Kagan told the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings.

She drew laughs from the packed committee room by saying some high court arguments “will put you to sleep,” that judges sometimes have to act because lawmakers “make a mistake, they’re careless, whatever,” and diplomatically declining invitations to criticize her potential future colleagues.

She also backed expansive “war on terrorism” government powers, saying she favored military tribunals for some suspected terrorists, in line with Obama’s policies.

Despite looming November elections to decide control of the US Congress, opposition to Kagan becoming the court’s 112th justice was relatively tepid.

Kagan drew the American Bar Association’s highest rating of “unanimously well qualified,” and her nomination had the support of past solicitors general, including many Republicans.

She carefully avoided criticizing current members of the court despite being invited to do so during her confirmation hearings.

“I would not want to characterize the current court in any way,” she said. “I hope one day to join it.”

Source: SGGP

Crises at home sap Obama’s outreach abroad

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

WASHINGTON, Aug 1, 2010 (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s foreign policy of grand gestures has given way in his second White House year to a diplomatic slog in pursuit of elusive but occasionally promising gains.

President Barack Obama is featured on a pirate flag at a souvenir stand at a conservative rally against illegal immigration on July 31, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Obama piled up eyecatching foreign trips in 2009, with a soaring appeal to the Muslim world in Egypt, an online town hall meeting in Shanghai and a starring role at his Nobel peace prize gala in Norway.

But domestic crises have torn at the administration this year, from health care reform to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and Obama has rarely left US soil.

He made a quick trip to Prague, to sign a nuclear deal with Russia — one of his big wins so far — a swift visit to Afghanistan, and spent three days in Canada for the G8 and G20 summits.

But his limited travel has watered down the “biography as foreign policy” approach which saw Obama leverage his exotic background to appeal for a new beginning with Muslims and declare himself the United States’ first “Pacific President.”

Three times, domestic politics forced Obama to postpone a homecoming of sorts to Indonesia, where he spent some years as a child, and no foreign travel is expected before his India, South Korea and Japan trip in November.

So presidential diplomacy has shifted to talks with visiting leaders, bilateral meetings at a nuclear summit in Washington and telephone chats with world leaders.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden have shouldered the burden as road warriors.

Seeking to showcase success, the administration lists new UN sanctions against Iran, improving ties with Russia, engagement in Asia and a repaired US global image.

Yet for all the hype of Obama’s inauguration, few foreign policy challenges — such as Iran’s nuclear program for instance — have eased fundamentally since he took office.

China, taking a hardnosed view of its interests, has meanwhile more often frustrated Obama than aided him.

Nuclear North Korea is increasingly belligerent and a row over the US base in Okinawa may also sully his second visit to Japan in November.

And the administration rising Islamic militancy in Africa has sparked fears that recent thwarted terror attacks on US soil, may presage a more deadly future strike.

Obama’s political foes lie in wait meanwhile, framing a foreign policy narrative for the 2012 presidential campaign.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a possible Republican candidate, accuses Obama of ideological fudging on Islamic extremism.

“These are difficult times.” Gingrich said last week.

“It requires us to think carefully and long about a grand, national strategy. It requires us to recommit ourselves to freedom.”

Obama’s critics say 18 months of work on the Middle East peace process has yielded little but a row with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Still, there are signs Obama’s pressure may soon yield direct Israeli-Palestinian talks — though few analyst predict success.

One region where Obama is objectively making progress, is Asia, and he has committed to annual summits with regional leaders from 2011.

“The Obama Administration is starting to connect the dots in Asia,” said Ernest Bower, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Secretary Clinton is leading the way on follow through on early commitments to substantively engage in Asia.”

Bower however warned it was important that foreign policy professionals in the administration secure the precious days of time in Obama’s diary his ambitions in the region require.

Obama’s most fateful decision so far was to surge 30,000 extra troops into Afghanistan in a fundamental change of war strategy.

But with bloodshed rising and progress elusive, Obama faces fierce pressure to demonstrate success, as the war hangs like a cloud over his presidency.

In Iraq though, there is more hope, with Obama set to honor a campaign vow to get all US combat troops out of the country by the end of August.

Another problem area: strategically vital Turkey. Obama spent considerable time — including a visit last year — courting Ankara, but its anti-Israel stance, and bid to block UN sanctions against Iran defied US wishes.

Barely a month went by in 2009 without Obama touching down in Europe.

But spats over economics with weakened European leaders have left some in Europe frustrated and some in Washington seeking scapegoats.

“The United States made some tough decisions to stabilize our financial system and to inject some recovery into their economy,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

“Europe didn’t do, quite frankly, as much and that has no doubt stunted our growth and stunted world growth.”

Source: SGGP