Opinion: Obama is running out of time | Opinion | DW | 02.01.2016
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Opinion: Obama is running out of time

A new president will be elected in the USA in 2016. Whoever wins the poll will shape world politics in the coming years, writes DW's Washington correspondent Miodrag Soric.

In 11 months' time, Americans will elect their president. No matter who wins, the decision will have a global impact. If Hillary Clinton is the victor, then the USA will continue to play the role of an international guardian of order, only resorting to military action when necessary to protect the country's interests. With the Republicans, it depends on who is the eventual candidate. Several Republican contenders lean toward isolationism more than Obama, who is obstinately refusing to send ground troops to Syria. His stance will probably not change much in 2016. So fighting will continue in Syria until the warring parties finally realize that only a political compromise will restore peace in the country.

After many active years in the Middle East, the USA is turning away from the region more and more. All attempts to establish stability and peaceful order have failed, and the USA has basically wasted many trillions in taxpayers' money on that part of the world. Many Americans ask themselves, "What for?" The USA now relies much less on foreign oil; the country is producing its own. In the Middle East, Washington is primarily working towards goals related to security policy: it wants to curtail the Islamists' sphere of influence. In 2016, the so-called "Islamic State" and al Qaeda will not be beaten once and for all. That is why Obama is leaving this task to his successor – or his successor's successor.

Relations with Russia remain difficult

The same holds true for peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The American president has given up any hope of bringing the conflicting parties back to the negotiation table. Relations between Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu are irretrievably broken, and the two leaders will politely ignore each other in the coming months.

Soric Miodrag Kommentarbild App

DW's Miodrag Soric

Tensions between the presidents of the USA and Russia will remain as well. The American president is still insisting on the sanctions against the Kremlin. After all, Moscow has violated Europe's peaceful order. Ukrainians, Poles and people from the Baltic States are particularly pleased about the tough approach toward Russia – but not the German economy, which has been losing billions due to the sanctions. So the different stances on Russia have divided the West.

Obama is running out of time in his last year of office. Improving relations with Iran and Cuba is on his list of priorities. Yet the authoritarian regimes in these nations are not making life easy for him: hostility towards the USA has shaped political understanding in Tehran and Havana for much too long.

Guantanamo, new gun law?

It still remains to be seen whether Obama can succeed in closing the Guantanamo detention center. After all, he promised to shut it down right after he was first elected president in 2008. Until now, the president's attempts have failed because of resistance in Congress.

Representatives in Congress view many of the president's initiatives with skepticism: for instance, Obama's goal of passing stricter gun laws. Congress is highly unlikely to vote for a comprehensive reform. Most members of Congress do not want to antagonize the powerful gun lobby at the beginning of an election year.

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