Speaking today at the Newseum in Washington, Enough’s Co-founder John Prendergast joined other foreign policy experts and Voice of America correspondents from around the world in a “Global Town Hall” to discuss the foreign policy challenges facing new administration and President Obama’s first 100 days in office.
When asked by the VOA moderator about the progress of the Obama administration in “planting the seeds” for a revitalized American foreign policy, Prendergast highlighted the investments that President Obama and his administration have made in rebuilding relationships and restoring cooperation and trust around the world. He noted that the Obama administration is privileging a belief in the ability of the U.S. to resolve problems through negotiation and sustained diplomatic efforts instead of pursuing narrow interests.
These remarks, along with another theme of the town hall—the impression of President Obama among peoples and governments around the world—reiterate the emphasis of Enough’s recent open letter to President Obama: comprehensive peace for all of Sudan is possible because the goal is shared widely throughout the international community. What is needed now is strategic leadership from the U.S. in building an international coalition for peace, one that can find the right balance of pressures and incentives with the Sudanese government and find immediate points of leverage to pursue peace in Sudan.
Another topic of note from the town hall was President Obama’s use of “new media” in getting out his message to people all over the world, from Kenya to Cambodia and beyond. In President Obama’s weekly video addresses, in televised press conferences, and through the use of blogs, Twitter feeds, and other tools employed by the White House staff, the Obama administration is showing its commitment to reaching out, as the president said, “to old friends and former foes,” across the world.
Finally, several experts participating in the town hall underlined the impact of President Obama’s appointment of special envoys to address the most challenging foreign policy crises confronting the U.S. today. By appointing respected diplomats, such as Richard Holbrooke as envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan and trusted advisers, such as Major General Scott Gration as envoy to Sudan, President Obama signaled the emphasis his administration is placing on these crises as well as its intention to employ key resources within the U.S. government to address these complex crises by engaging multilaterally at the highest level with partner nations.
The town hall ended with the experts and VOA correspondents concluding that much work was left to be done, but that Obama’s first 100 days in office were promising indicators that the administration will continue to work with nations around the world to build the kind of cooperation necessary to address the most challenging conflicts and crises facing the U.S. and the world today.