You probably won’t be able to make it through your day without encountering one of the many 100 day report cards being offered up for President Obama. We haven’t done a formal analysis, but here are a few thoughts on how the president has done on the issues we care about here at Enough during the first 100 days. There are a number of important positives. We now have a special envoy for Sudan, and the President has reached out directly to organizations, including Enough, indicating that he is seeking a comprehensive approach to Sudan’s multiple conflicts. Many of the president’s key foreign policy appointments – Secretary of State Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice at the U.N., Gayle Smith (an Enough Project co-founder) and Samantha Power at the NSC – are people who are long-time human rights defenders. On the world stage, President Obama has done some important initial work to demonstrate a willingness to work through multilateral institutions and consult not only our key allies, but some countries with which we have major disagreements. These are very important steps in rebuilding the ability of the United States to exert genuine leadership in forging a sustainable peace not only in Sudan, but in multiple other countries as well. Equally encouraging, President Obama has spoken passionately and very publicly about the need to counter mass atrocities.
In a number of areas, the grade would certainly be incomplete. We have seen far less from the administration on Congo than we would have hoped, and the same might also be said for Zimbabwe. It sounds like a special envoy for Congo is in the works, which would be a welcome development. In Somalia, piracy has dominated the headlines, but at least the administration has taken a deep breath and seems to understand that unilateral military action can create a significant and negative blowback in terms of trying to achieve lasting political stability in Somalia.
One area that has been a disappointment: the U.S. Agency for International Development. There has been no announcement on a new head of USAID and few, if any, political appointees have been put in place at the foreign aid agency. We hope whatever internal deadlock there may be over appointing a head of USAID is soon resolved.
On balance, a very, very encouraging start from President Obama, and an immense amount of work that remains to be done.