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President Obama's Foreign Policy Agenda


President Obama's Foreign Policy Agenda
John Moore/Getty Images
Updated April 14, 2010
The following article sets forth President Obama's goals and underlying principles, "Guiding Principles," that form his agenda for foreign policies and plans under his administration during his first-term in the White House.

Obama's "Guiding Principles" are brief but packed with powerful, albeit sometimes surprising, ideas and immediate goals.

The White House
Foreign Policy - Guiding Principles

President Obama has committed... to a foreign policy that ensures the safety of the American people. But he also refuses the false division between our values and our security; the United States can be true to our values and ideals while also protecting the American people...

"Finally, while there are instances and individuals who can be met only by force, the United States will be prepared to listen to and talk with our adversaries in order to advance our interests.

Refocusing on the Threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan

"Following an intensive 60-day interagency review, on March 27, 2009, the President announced a new strategy with a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.

"The strategy is comprehensive and flexible and will need to be fully resourced. In addition to the new troops the President has chosen to deploy, the strategy calls for significantly more resources to the civilian effort and frequent evaluations of our progress."

(For updates, see Afghanistan War News & Views.)

Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq

On February 27, 2009, President Obama announced a plan to responsibly end the war in Iraq." (For current status of the Iraq War, see Iraq War Facts, Statistics and Results".)

"By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end and Iraqi Security Forces will have full responsibility for major combat missions. After August 31, 2010, the mission of United States forces in Iraq will fundamentally change.

"Our forces will have three tasks: train, equip, and advise the Iraqi Security Forces; conduct targeted counterterrorism operations; and provide force protection for military and civilian personnel. The President intends to keep our commitment under the Status of Forces Agreement to remove all of our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Keeping Nuclear Weapons Out of the Hands of Terrorists

"On April 5, 2009 in Prague, President Obama presented an ambitious strategy to address the international nuclear threat. He proposed measures to: reduce and eventually eliminate existing nuclear arsenals, including negotiations on further nuclear reductions with Russia, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and completion of a verified Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; halt proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states, and prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons or materials.

We have pledged to work with our partners to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea through the Six-Party process. And we will present a clear choice to Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, including its right to peaceful nuclear energy, or continue to refuse to meet its international obligations and fail to seize the opportunity of a positive future.

Promoting Peace and Security in Israel and the Middle East

"The President believes that we cannot afford to wait to work for peace in the region, so he appointed a Special Envoy for Middle East peace on his second day in office. In the Middle East, we share the goal of a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors.

"The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security. The President has committed himself and his Administration to actively pursuing this goal.

Re-energizing America’s Alliances

"The United States seeks to engage in dialogue that is honest and grounded in mutual respect, as the best way to resolve disagreements and work towards shared interests. We are committed to strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones to confront the challenges of the 21st century.

"On his first trip overseas, the President visited Europe to begin this process, with the G-20 Summit, the 60th Anniversary NATO Summit, and the U.S-E.U. Summit.

"The President made clear in his speech to the Turkish Parliament that America's relationship with the Muslim world will be based on more than our shared opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

"The United States seeks to strengthen our historic alliances in Asia while developing deeper bonds with all nations of the region, so that we might work together to confront the challenges of the 21st Century, including proliferation, climate change, pandemics and economic instability.

Maintaining Core American Values

"Every challenge is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This is why the President ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture, and set up a Special Task Force to thoroughly review detainee policy.


"Ending the crisis in Darfur and ensuring Sudan’s long-term stability through the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is a top priority for the Obama Administration. The humanitarian crisis there makes our task all the more urgent.

"The President has appointed a Special Envoy for Sudan as a strong signal of his commitment to support the people of Sudan. We are committed to working with the international community to end the suffering, seek a lasting settlement to the violence, and ensure a stable and secure future for the region.

Restoring American Leadership in Latin America

"The future of the United States is inextricably bound to the future of the people of the Americas. We are committed to a new era of partnership with countries throughout the hemisphere, working on key shared challenges of economic growth and equality, our energy and climate futures, and regional and citizen security.

"We are committed to shaping that future through engagement that is strong, sustained, meaningful, and based on mutual respect."

Source - The White House website

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