GUANTANOMO- close the damn thing down, and prosecute those who need prosecuting in the U.S. Make a clear, outright statement that there will be no torture during an Obama presidency.
IRAQ- get out as soon as possible. This mess will be a long-time settling. Iraq never was a cohesive nation; it was glued together by European colonialism. The Shiites, Sunni, and Kurds problems will continue to fester for decades, and the fate of that "nation" will probably evolve under another strongman who will assume absolute control, or it will become three entities. There is now enough money and resources for the Baghdad government to be independent of the U.S. presence, or evolve into what the people in Iraq want. We have created a monster in Iraq. Neocon stupidity.
IRAN- set up an office in Teheran, calling it something like "Council for American interests" or some other innocuous name, not an embassy, but a place where some sort of communication can take place eyeball to eyeball. We need to be talking to Iran and make it clear how they can become a full partner in international relations, and what sort of agreement might satisfy both sides. To refuse to talk is a sure-fire way to fail. Get us over the "our way or war" mentality.
AFGHANISTAN- make some clear requirements for our position in Kabul. The current reigning regime is weak and full of leaks and inefficiencies. Increase our presence, but use personnel that can do more than just fire a gun. Yes, we should explore discussions with the Taliban, the group that "governed" Afghanistan for many years. Again, to ignore the various power groups and power sources is to guaranty failure. Get at programs to replace opium income with more positive crops.
PAKISTAN- sit down and talk with leaders from both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Again, simply imposing our military might will not work and nothing will ever be settled. We have to put people in the field representing the U.S. who can speak the language, know Islam and its sects, and understand that we need to have a more sophisticated, knowledgeable, and insightful approach to this area and the entire Middle East.
CUBA- for goodness sake, finally recognize the nation of Cuba. Our failure to recognize this important neighbor is so silly, so immature, and so long in coming that it is unexplainable. Yes, there are Cuban-Americans who oppose this, but too many of those people were part of the brutal Batista regime that we gave credence to and Fidel overthrew, these old dictator supporters were horrible to the Cuban people...paramilitary groups, police, casino managers, bordello operators, etc. Recognize Cuba!
RUSSIA- we are using our dangerous military and confrontational approach and we are unnecessarily preparing for another Cold War. The missile defense program we want to introduce into Eastern Europe simply does not work militarily, functionally, physically, mechanically, scientifically, diplomatically, or in any other way. Scrap it, but perhaps it can be used to reach some sort of peaceful negotiations with the Russians, who are now enlarging their military presence in Eastern Europe. It is time to negotiate without using ONLY the threat of military strength as a negotiating chip. It is high time we get past our colonial/industrial capitalism and show some maturity in world affairs.
[More on my hopes for a new policy agenda with Obama in future blog posts]