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Ilan Goldenberg

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100 Days, 100 Foreign Policy Achievements

Posted: 04/27/09 02:54 PM ET


President Obama's first 100 days have seen an enormous amount of activity on national security - travel by the President, his Cabinet and envoys, gestures intended to signal a change in the US's approach to the world, and substantive reforms to policy overseas and the conduct of policy at home. In 100 days, the Obama Administration has taken more than 100 actions that are reshaping American foreign policy, reversing the failures of the Bush Administration, and renewing America's standing in the world.

Ten of the most significant actions are:
Moving to end the war in Iraq and ensure that it no longer dominates all other American national security interests;
Refocusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan and preparing a comprehensive strategy to address the threat posed by Al Qaeda there;
• Leading a global response to the economic crisis through the G20, obtaining commitments of $1.1 trillion to safeguard the world's most vulnerable economies;
• Returning to techniques that are proven and moral standards that the world looks to us to uphold by banning torture and moving to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center;
Reinvigorating the transatlantic alliance by treating our European allies as full partners, supporting a growing role for the European Union, and mediating among allies at the NATO Summit;
• Setting out a major agenda to protect Americans from the spread and use of deadly weapons, with a long-term commitment to work toward eliminating nuclear weapons and an immediate plan to negotiate new nuclear weapons cuts with Russia;
Re-engaging with Muslim nations through targeted, positive public diplomacy;
• Presenting a national security budget that prepares the US for 21st century challenges, begins to rebalance between civilian and military programs and targets unnecessary, ineffective and wasteful spending;
• Inaugurating a new era of improved relations in our own hemisphere by beginning to open to Cuba and investing in a plan to help Mexico fight drug cartels;
• Reaching out to begin a new approach to Iran based on negotiations and rebuilding consensus among key US partners.

Iraq

1. President Obama completed an internal strategy review on Iraq, and announced a plan to end the war in Iraq, putting in place the political, diplomatic, and military components necessary for U.S. forces to withdraw by the end of 2011, and transition responsibility to Iraqis.

2. After years of Iraq policy which drew contempt from Iraqis and produced deep political divisions at home, President Obama united 80% of Americans behind a new strategy, which also drew historic support from Iraqis.

3. In his first visit to Iraq as President, Obama pushed Iraq's leaders to make much needed progress on political reconciliation.

Afghanistan-Pakistan

4. US diplomatic and military engagement in Pakistan helped guide the country out of an acute political crisis, which rose out of tensions between President Zardari and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

5. The Obama Administration completed a strategic review of US policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, refocusing the U.S. from the war in Iraq to the region where the September 11 attacks originated.

6. The Obama administration committed to a comprehensive approach to Pakistan which includes greater development aid, support for democratic institutions, and assistance to the Pakistani military in fighting the insurgency.

7. President Obama unified policy implementation in South Asia by appointing Ambassador Richard Holbrooke United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Holbrooke wasted no time, quickly traveling to the region for a listening tour involving all the key players.

8. In an unprecedented trilateral exercise, the Obama Administration brought key leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Washington to help coordinate the President's strategic review policy analysis. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that these meetings would continue and a Presidential trilateral is scheduled for May.

9. The United States organized an international conference on Afghanistan at The Hague to gain support for the completed U.S. strategy review from key regional and international players in a coordinated diplomatic effort.

10. At a recent Pakistan donor's conference in Tokyo, the U.S. secured aid commitments of roughly $5bn "to bolster the country's economy and help it fight terror and Islamic radicalism."

11. Thanks to President Obama's encouragement, NATO members pledged various military and foreign aid contributions to the mission in Afghanistan.

Global Economic Crisis

12. In response to the global economic crisis, the Obama administration successfully built consensus among the world's major economies at the G20 conference in Europe on a coordinated response based on financial assistance, regulation, and a commitment to free trade.

13. Obama led G20 leaders to commit $1.1 trillion as part of a global stimulus fund for the IMF, intended to stave off economic catastrophe by propping up the world's vulnerable economies.

14. Along with other heads of government, Obama agreed on improved global financial regulation, including the creation of a new Financial Stability Board, regulation of hedge funds, and tax havens.

15. President Obama and the Democratic Congress led the world in responding to the economic crisis and the President signed a major economic stimulus package on the 29th day of his presidency.

Terrorism, Detainees and Torture

16. The Obama administration moved beyond the antagonistic rhetoric of the past by dropping the phrase 'War on Terror'.

17. President Obama signed an executive order to ban torture and subject all interrogations to Army Field Manual Standards that conform to the Geneva Conventions.

18. Obama signed an executive order to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within a year.

19. President Obama signed an executive order to close CIA secret prisons.

20. Obama ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. detention and interrogation policies and kicked it off with visits by Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Counsel Greg Craig to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

21. Obama named one of America's top diplomats, Dan Fried, as "Guantanamo Closure Czar."

22. Obama administration released Bush era "torture memos" in an effort to return transparency to the executive branch.

23. The Obama administration began a review of the Military Commissions system in order to reverse the failed policy that led to only one conviction of a terror suspect under the Bush administration.

24. The Obama Administration further solidified intelligence sharing with key allies by signing a national agreement with Germany on counterterrorism cooperation.

Europe

25. President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Clinton all affirmed the importance of the European Union and visited Brussels and Prague, signaling a new period in transatlantic relations.

26. President Obama and Vice President Biden dramatically shifted U.S. policy on European defense by expressing support for an EU defense force.

27. At the NATO Summit, Obama used the opportunity to restore America's commitment to the historic military alliance.

28. Obama personally acted as arbiter between Denmark and Turkey in the appointment of the new NATO Secretary General.

29. President Obama reached out to the European people through public forums in France, the Czech Republic, and Turkey.

30. Holding meetings in Washington and London, President Obama, together with Gordon Brown, strengthened the "Special Relationship."

31. Obama visited Turkey, taking a major step to repair a critical alliance.

32. Thanks in part to Obama's encouragement and his meetings with Turkish and Armenian officials, Turkey and Armenia announced plans to normalize relations.

Nonproliferation

33. In a major address in Prague, Obama laid out a comprehensive vision to reduce the dangers of proliferation and work toward a nuclear free world, recommitting the U.S. to strengthening the global nonproliferation regime and reducing its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

34. Obama pledged to work with the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and, in a sign of the issue's importance to the President, entrusted responsibility for the initiative to Vice President Biden.

35. The Obama administration and Russia announced plans to begin talks on a new START treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals to approximately 1,500.

Russia

36. Secretary of State Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva and agreed to "reset" the U.S.-Russia relationship.

37. President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed a joint statement pledging cooperation across a range of issues and resetting the tone for U.S.-Russia relations.

Iran


38. In a move that changed the tone of U.S-Iran relations, President Obama directly addressed Iran's people and leaders on the eve of the Iranian New Year and referred to the "Islamic Republic of Iran."

39. President Obama reached out to Iran during his inaugural address, offering to "extend a hand" in exchange for an "unclench[ed] fist."

40. The Obama administration engaged Iran on the issue of Afghanistan by inviting a representative from Tehran to the Hague Conference and having Special Representative Richard Holbrooke meet with him, the "first step toward unlocking 30 years of tense relations."

41. President Obama gained support from Iran for joint efforts in Afghanistan on counternarcotics issues.

42. Thanks to the Obama administration's efforts, Iran pledged $350 million at a Pakistan donors conference in Tokyo.

43. The Obama administration agreed to fully participate in the UN Security Council's P5+1 talks with Iran over the country's nuclear development.

44. By linking missile defense in Eastern Europe to Iran, the Obama administration incentivized the Russians to play a more constructive role in pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons.

45. Obama's outreach resulted in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making a public declaration saying that Iran was preparing a new negotiating package on its nuclear program.

National Security Budget

46. The White House raised the profile of civilian international affairs agencies by increasing the international affairs budget 10% for FY2010 (from $47.2 billion to $51.7 billion). The administration then engaged at high levels to defend the funding increase from cuts proposed in Congress.

47. To ensure the State Department is properly resourced, President Obama filled the position of Deputy Secretary of State for Management, appointing Jacob J. Lew. The position was vacant during the Bush administration.

48. The administration put forth a progressive defense budget that seeks to prepare the Pentagon for the 'hybrid' military challenges of the 21st century.

49. In the new defense budget, the administration made cuts to ineffective, unnecessary and outdated weapons programs such as the F-22, the DDG -1000 destroyer, and Future Combat Systems.

50. Pentagon rolls back the use of contractors.

51. Obama seeks to reform the defense procurement process by bringing assessments in-house and by setting more stringent guidelines for weapons programs and defense firms.

52. Moving to end the abuse of supplemental funding requests for Congress, Obama vowed to bring the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq into the regular budget by 2010.

53. Obama's Pentagon committed to prioritizing people over hardware by committing to expanding the ground forces and the Special Forces, as well as committing more funding to vets and medical coverage.

54. President Obama's proposed defense budget offers the largest increase for veterans funding in 30 years.

Foreign Policy Infrastructure

55. By appointing Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State, the second most prominent Democratic politician in the United States, Obama elevated the prestige of diplomacy as an instrument of foreign policy.

56. President Obama restored the UN Ambassador to a cabinet level position.

57. In an effort to ensure stability as the U.S. fights two wars, and in a show of bipartisanship, President Obama asked Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to stay on.

58. Obama administration plans to create a new military command to coordinate the defense of Pentagon computer networks and improve U.S. offensive capabilities in cyberwarfare.

Engaging the Muslim World

59. In his inaugural address, President Obama called for relations with the Muslim world, characterized by "mutual interest and mutual respect," a call that received an overwhelmingly positive reception in the Muslim World.

60. President Obama took an unprecedented step toward improving Muslim perceptions of the U.S. by conducting his first televised interview as President with Al Arabiya.

61. In Turkey, President Obama spoke to the Muslim World, stating that "America is not at war with Islam," and that the relationship cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism."

Middle East Peace

62. Beginning on Day 1, President Obama actively engaged on Middle East peace, placing phone calls to key regional leaders.

63. Obama further signaled his commitment to Middle East Peace by appointing Sen. George Mitchell as Middle East Envoy, who has journeyed to the region three times already.

64. In the first serious engagement in a number of years, the U.S. invited Syria's ambassador to meet with a senior U.S. diplomat, and sent two representatives to Syria for talks. This came as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached out to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem at the Gaza conference.

65. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended Gaza aid conference, pledging $900 million in aid in order to "foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realized, a state that is a responsible partner, is at peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors and is accountable to its people."

Latin America

66. President Obama began a critical process of improving relations with Cuba and Latin America by removing barriers preventing Cuban Americans from sending remittances, removing the travel ban to Cuba for Cuban Americans and permitting American telecommunications companies to sell services to Cuba.

67. The Obama Administration's overtures to the Cuban people persuaded Cuban President Raul Castro to announce his willingness to discuss a wide range of issues with the United States.

68. With recent visits by the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, as well as a recently completed strategy review for the southwest border, the Obama administration has elevated Mexico to a major foreign policy priority.

69. President Obama changed the tone of relations with the hemisphere when meeting with nations at the Summit of the Americas.

70. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed one another in accepting responsibility for the contribution U.S. demand makes to Mexico's drug trafficking crisis, resolving to do more both abroad and at home to confront the problem.

71. President Obama committed to combating the narcotics trade and the violence associated with it by sending more Border Patrol, ICE and AFT agents to patrol the US southern border with Mexico.

72. President Obama expanded the tools available to him to combat the drug war by imposing financial sanctions on drug cartels, similar to the way the US restricts financing of terrorists.

73. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano appointed a former prosecutor from California, Alan Bersin, to the newly created position of United States "Border Czar".

74. President Obama will accelerate the release of funds for the Merida Initiative, intended to help Mexico improve its internal security and combat the drug trade.

75. The Obama Administration announced an increased rate by which southbound vehicles and cargo crossing the southern border United States border will be inspected for money laundering and arms smuggling.

76. President Obama pledged to push for the treaty to combat small arms trafficking in the Americas.

International Energy and Environment

77. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress have started work on creating a national climate policy for the United States, including an international effort.

78. In a signal of the Obama administration's commitment to combating climate change, and achieving energy security, President Obama created the position of Energy Czar, appointing Carol Browner to coordinate government action in these areas.

79. The Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide a threat to human health, the first step towards regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

80. The administration's stimulus bill contains large clean energy investment.

81. The administration re-energized Western Hemisphere cooperation on clean energy and climate change by committing to the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas and by asking Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu to attend a meeting of the Americas Energy Symposium this June in Peru.

Human Rights, Foreign Aid and Development

82. President Obama signed an executive order repealing the "Mexico City policy" or "global gag rule" that withheld U.S. funds from organizations that discuss or provide family planning services abroad.

83. The administration announced that it would resume contributions to the UN population fund for family planning and more than double the previous contribution made in 2001.

84. Obama appointed one of his closest advisors, Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, Special Envoy to Sudan.

85. Obama reasserted the U.S. government's willingness to send U.S. troops to UN-commanded peacekeeping operations, deeming contrary legislation unconstitutional.

86. Secretary of State Clinton pledged $50 million in new aid to Haiti, bringing the total US contribution for the year to $300 million. The aid, which includes emergency food aid, aid for infrastructure projects, and funding to train police officers, will help Haiti recover from tropical storms and food riots.

87. The administration announced a Secretary's advisory committee on Haiti and a national diaspora committee to work with the U.S. government on key issues.

88. Following the G20 Summit, President Obama announced his intent to secure "$448 million in immediate assistance to vulnerable populations," and to double support for food safety to $1 billion."

89. In a show of support for the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, Obama urged the Sudanese government to allow aid workers back into Darfur.

90. President Obama's budget dramatically increases funding for the UN peacekeeping force, which has conducted 63 operations around the world since its inception.

91. The Obama administration announced that the U.S. will support a United Nations declaration urging nations to decriminalize homosexuality.

92. President Obama created a new position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, appointing Melanne Verveer.

93. By executive order, President Obama established a new White House Council on Women and Girls, chaired by senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

94. The administration demonstrated a new commitment to fighting for change on the UN Human Rights Council by announcing it will run for a seat next year, reversing the Bush administration boycott.

Asia

95. In a recognition by the administration of Asia's importance as well as the rise of China, Hilary Clinton visited the region on her first trip as Secretary of State.

96. Obama mediated a spat between Chinese leader Hu Jintao and French President Nicholas Sarkozy over financial shelters.

97. Following North Korea's missile launch, President Obama responded appropriately by showing a steady hand and not overreacting to North Korean provocations, instead seeking and attaining a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea.

Public Diplomacy

98. Michelle Obama's activities around the President's Europe trip received an overwhelmingly positive reception and reinforced America's image abroad.

99. In a move reminiscent of Henry Kissinger's successful effort to bring the U.S. the 1994 World Cup, President Obama delivered a message to FIFA imploring soccer's governing body to grant the U.S. the right to host the Cup again in 2018 or 2022.

Piracy

100. Obama administration resolves stand-off with pirates, successfully freeing an American hostage.