Nearly two years ago, Obama swept into office promising to defeat terrorism, withdraw "responsibly" from Iraq, make peace in Afghanistan, forge "greater cooperation and understanding between nations," pursue a world without nuclear weapons, and "roll back the specter of a warming planet." And that was just one paragraph of his inaugural address.
"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans," the new U.S. president declared. "Their memories are short."
If Obama's optimism wasn't immediately tempered by his predecessor's daunting legacy -- two inconclusive wars, an economy in free fall, soaring deficits -- it soon became evident that his vision might have exceeded his grasp.
Twenty-two months later, Obama has notched a few significant achievements, and he remains popular around the world. But he faces rising discontent at home and a much less supportive Congress after midterm elections as economists warn ominously of a "double-dip" recession. Progress on issues ranging from climate change to Middle East peace to Iranian nukes has been scant -- and it's hard to find an autocrat who has unclenched his fist.
In other words, it's time for a fresh approach. Take it from a president who knows a thing or two about missteps: "If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes," wrote Bill Clinton. "It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit." So read on for Foreign Policy's Presidential Plan B: 10 things Obama should do now, so that the next two years don't go to waste. From a politically savvy idea for raising taxes -- really! -- to a serious antidote for our oil addiction to unorthodox new ways to speak to Muslims around the world, here's how the president can get back on track.
- Avoid the Double Dip Nouriel Roubini and Michael Moran
- Take It to the People Robert Shrum
- Get Off Oil R. James Woolsey
- Build Up the West Bank Elliott Abrams
- Make a South Asia Command Bruce Riedel
- Stop Fawning Over America's Muslim Allies Ellen Laipson
- Rewrite the Rules of War Will Marshall
- Give the Public a Green Check James Hansen
- Cut (Really Cut) Military Spending Christopher Preble
- Dump the Nukes Joseph Cirincione
- Change the Rules of the Game in Pakistan Ashley J. Tellis
- Divide the Iranian Leadership Dmitri Trenin
- Get Tough on Human Rights Kenneth Roth
- Turn South Nancy Soderberg
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