January 8th, 2009
12:18 PM ET

Obama's peace offensive

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/08/transition.wrap/art.obama.grab.cnn.jpg]

Michael Hirsh

Barack Obama has put on a good show of focusing his pre-inaugural attention on the economy while largely ignoring the rest of the world—especially the Middle East. On Wednesday the president-elect even trotted out some rather quaint logic as to why he was staying away from foreign policy, harking back to the old idea that politics should stop at the water's edge.

"In domestic policy Democrats and Republicans—we can have our back and forth about tax policies," Obama said at a news conference, but "when it comes to international affairs, other countries are looking to see who speaks for America." On "foreign policy I think the need to adhere to one president at a time is particularly important." Challenged by a reporter over what he really thought about Israel's Gaza invasion, Obama said everyone would find out after Inauguration Day.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Middle East
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Obama has a keen sense of what he can address now and what needs to wait. I'm satisfied to trust that because he has logical reasons behind it. I also think that all of us are going to be pleased at the way Obama can see the forest instead of focusing on the individual trees – not only with the problems of the Middle East but how those inter-relate with our energy policy, etc. After the last 8 years its a good feeling to know that someone intelligent is going to be sitting in the President's chair again.

    January 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  2. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Whether he says anything or not, it doesn't matter. Carter, Clinton, Bush I and Bush II have all tried different ways form being personally in negotiations to being almost hands off. None of it has worked. What ever approach Obama tries won't work either as long as one side (the Arabs) refuses to acknowledge the other side's right to exist. Israel has accepted the premise of a division of Palestine into two states since 1947. The Arabs to this day largely reject Israel's right to exist. The Hamas charter says that there should be one Palestinian state made up of what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. There will be peace when the Jews kill all the Palestinians or the Palestinians kill all the Jews.

    January 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  3. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    For once I have to agree with Cindy. Obama has absolutely no power as President-elect to actually effect a foreign policy agenda and speaking out about it (with much opposition to the way G W Bush has and is currently conducting US foreign policy I am sure) would only be counter-productive in that it would create confussion regarding any intiative G W Bush may be working on.

    As President Mr. Obama with his new Secretary of State I am sure will follow a different path than the one that is currently being followed and as President he will have the authority to make the actual decisions which will allow him to actually follow this path. Speaking out now at best is meaningless and at worst can create more turmoil needlessly.

    January 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  4. Panfilo Fuentes

    The answer from Obama is clear, more of the same.
    Already Senators Feinstein and Rockefeller and the Jewish lobby have laid down the gauntlet, be evenhanded with Israel and you will no one confirmed and nothing done on your economic package.
    Being a Chicago politician deal are not new to Obama as he will make deals with Jew politicos’ on both sides of the aisle whether it is New York’s Peter King to California’s Feinstein and Boxer, or Lieberman from Connecticut or even Joe the Plumber, the message is the same.
    Obama needs to say nada, the program to support Israel both financially; militarily or politically, the deal is done …starting with 300 billion dollars in 2009

    P Fuentes
    Bakersfield Ca

    January 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  5. Lamont austin

    Now I hope Cindy Ga.

    Has a better perspective of Obama's objectives, If you heard him address america today you wouldve been very happy to hear a dialogue of truth, hope and prosperity and it all seemed very logical
    as to the approach to improving america, but im sure cindy ga has a more negative approach.

    ron austin
    tucson az

    January 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  6. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    @ CINDY, thanks Cindy, you are quite right. The media and pundits forget or perhaps they are trying to stir up drama....... but.... there IS a sitting president, George W. Bush, until January 20th.

    January 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  7. ashok choudhury

    When you do a good home work, you may really do the job better.
    This also shows seriousness, sincerity, determination and a will to make it.
    The conceptual framework approach, obama and his men are going to take to find solution to the never-say-die isreal -palestine problem
    is clearly an expression of 'obamaism'.
    bring in 'change' and believe that 'we can.'
    now, interestingly, these words should be prescribed to both isreal and palenstine.
    if they 'change', they can. and if they think 'we can' they will change.
    for better.
    i wish, the obama medicine works.

    January 8, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  8. sherold wheeler

    Does Illinois or New Orleans need social workers? I would drive back and forth to New Orleans if someone provided me a car and gas. I would also fly back and forth to Illinois if I had too, but I will not relocate from my ancestrial, Choctaw homeland.

    January 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  9. Cindy

    Why should Obama speak of the goings on in Israel and elsewhere? He could say all that he wants but really it doesn't mean a hill of beans until he gets into office because he can't do anything yet. So I think for once that he is right. He'll have four years to talk all about this and other messes that arise while he is the pres. Give the man a break! He can't do it all.


    January 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  10. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    PE Obama is using perfect, sensible and authentic logic! How indeed could he speak for the current administration? How could he inquire, draw lines of pro and con on issues to which he has not been briefed, nor does he have domain over the outcome until after the inauguration!

    January 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  11. William Isely

    Obama's speech, while inspiring in general, did not address with sufficient priority the major root to our present problems, that is too much foreign oil, and hence money going abroad, is going out the tailpipes of our cars.
    When you add up the numbers of how much oil we use in our cars and light trucks and also how much oil we are importing (75%), to solve this problem as well as the one of global warming, we have to eliminate using liqud fuels in our cars. Hybrids won't get us there.
    The only solution we can do now is to use the recently developed carbon/lead battery technology and across the board build, at least 90%, only all electric, battery powered cars. The government will have to make this the law as the car companies see all electric vehicles as less profitable because they are more reliable and last longer. For history look at what GM did with the EV-1.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:33 pm |