Opinion / OP Rana

Will Obama take a step forward at G20?

By OP Rana (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-15 08:48

Will Obama take a step forward at G20?Much has been said and written about the handshake between President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing. And there is no denying the handshake has eased tensions in East Asia over the Diaoyu Islands dispute between China and Japan, which seemed to threaten peace in the region.

Xi has also taken the initiative to strike a landmark climate deal with US President Barack Obama, setting a self-imposed deadline for the first time to cap China's emissions by 2030. Climate scientists may speculate on the efficacy of the deal, but they agree it is good beginning.

Despite knowing full well he will face stiff opposition from a Republican-dominated Congress to cut US emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, Obama went ahead with the deal. The question now is: Will Obama show the same determination again?

Obama was all rhetoric when he assumed the US presidency. The world expected the world from him. Those expectations have melted in the violence in the Middle East, the waters of the Pacific and the bloody standoff in Ukraine. Apart from pulling out US combat troops from Iraq (and leaving the country in chaotic mayhem) he has failed his promises on the international front. Of course, he will pull out US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. But then, Afghanistan already seems a lost cause thanks in no small measure to the US invasion.

Obama promised to end the Israel-Palestine conflict and restore peace in the Middle East. His moves vis-à-vis Iran notwithstanding, the Middle East is in a bigger mess today. Worse, it has a new, very potent threat in the form of the Islamic State, which is on a massacre and destruction spree in Iraq and Syria. How does Obama want to combat this threat? Well, the old way: Oust Syrian President Bashar Assad first, and then deal with the IS.

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