Leaders of the G20 nations, which account for 90 percent of the world economy, are set to meet in Cannes, France, this week. The summit comes at a tumultuous time for the world economy, as the European debt crisis rages on and China debates its possible role in any bailout. Challenges to global economic recovery are broader than just those facing Europe though, as President Obama wrote late last week. American action to fix problems at home, chief among them high unemployment and weak demand, is needed to spur a global response and global growth that will, in turn, lift the U.S. economy. Leadership also means looking beyond today's emergency: In order to create balanced, sustainable and equitable growth, the G20 - and Washington - must quit "careening from crisis to crisis."
The European Union is continuing to struggle to forge a unified response to Europe's debt crisis. This week the head of Europe's central bank said the financial situation is more precarious than it was before the Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, igniting the financial crisis. A consensus has grown that what is needed now is a "big bang," or a large-scale plan to address sovereign debts and calm markets. But political differences among members of the euro zone are complicating efforts to enact such a move. Countries with a trade surplus, most notably Germany, are hesitant to bail out debtor countries such as Greece -- and European publics are anxious about the further political integration that many of the bailout schemes would entail. Through our exports and our need for a functional, trust-based banking sector, the U.S. has a direct stake in Europe taking quick, strong action.
Yesterday, for the second time this week, the Senate Republicans prevented a floor debate on the financial regulation bill. With the U.S. just beginning to recover from the financial sector meltdown that had the world teetering on the edge of an economic disaster, such actions prevent serious reform from taking place. This has direct implications for American national security, as economic crises at home weaken America's ability to project power and influence abroad. The financial regulation bill that has passed the House of Representatives and is being blocked in the Senate seeks to put in place a 21st century regulatory structure to prevent future financial meltdowns, in order to increase economic stability which will strengthen our security.
Today, on the one year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers,
President Obama is speaking on Wall Street, addressing the need for
regulatory reforms to the financial sector. Since taking office the
president has led a coordinated global response to the worst economic
crisis since the Great Depression.
The leaders of the eight leading industrialized nations meet in the G-8 summit in Italy today. This meeting comes just a few months after the G-20 summit in London, which sought to create a unified global response to the economic crisis. The IMF today reinforced the concern that much work remains to be done, and that it is too early to back away from stimulus policies and support for poorer countries.
In February Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, told Congress that the economic crisis had replaced terrorism as the “the primary near-term security concern” for America. From the increased likelihood of state failure, to devastating effects on the world’s poorest countries, to the reshaping of the international order, the repercussions of the financial crisis are already dramatic – but their long-term consequences remain unpredictable.
As former senior officers of the United States armed forces, we are writing today to encourage you to support the Congressional initiatives to end the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans. The current policy of isolating Cuba has failed, patently, to achieve our ends. Cuba ceased to be a military threat decades ago.
After eight years during which personal relationships and saber-rattling often substituted for diplomacy, this week the Obama Administration put the US back in the game. After the era when the arts of diplomacy were mocked and derided, this week was a reminder of what real diplomacy looks like – a search for common ground with both allies and potential adversaries that begins with a firm grasp of core American interests and values – and adds a willingness to be concerned with the interests and priorities of others.
The G-20 Summit represents a tremendous challenge for the Obama administration. But the US leaves London well-placed to lead continued global collaboration over the course of the year and manage disagreement productively. There would be no need for international diplomatic summits if everyone was already in agreement.
After 50 years of failed policy, this week new legislation is being introduced in the Senate and the House to revise our policies towards Cuba and lift the travel embargo. This first step is long past due. There is almost universal agreement amongst foreign policy experts that our Cuba policy has been a failure.