Posted on November 12, 2010 in Viewpoint with James Zogby

Walter Andersen Ph.D., Associate Director of the South Asia Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University, discussed President Obama’s recent trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. Dr. Andersen primarily focused on the president’s trips to India and Indonesia but also commented on Obama’s decision not to include a visit to China during the 10-day period. “Why he chose the four countries to visit and avoided China…I think he wanted to show that there is a growing linkage of the four democracies that he was going to visit.” Dr. Andersen also gave an analysis of the political tensions between many countries in Asia with an emphasis on the US role in each.


Matthew P. Hoh, former Marine Corps. Captain, State Department appointee and current Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, discussed the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Hoh also commented on his decision to resign from his post as Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. In 2009, Hoh sent a letter of resignation to Ambassador Nancy J. Powell explaining that he could no longer support U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. The letter stipulated all his grievances with U.S. policy in the country. In his interview with Dr. Zogby, Hoh said that at times he feels regret for resigning his post, but emphasized the reasons he ultimately did highlighting “our support for a corrupt and illegitimate and exclusionary government,” as his main reasoning. In his letter, Mr. Hoh wrote: “My resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”


Lara Friedman, Director of Policy and Government Relations for Americans for Peace Now, discussed the latest developments regarding Israeli settlements in the contested Palestinian territories. Ms. Friedman described the Israeli decision to keep building, despite appeals from the Obama Administration to halt settlement activity, as a “direct challenge to President Barack Obama.” Ms. Friedman stressed the fact that Obama’s credibility is a key component to any sort of resolution to the settlement issue. “We have a president who already has a major credibility problem in the Middle East with all of the parties, with Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire Arab world. If he does not manage this in a way that is serious, I don't see how he can maintain any credibility,” she said.


Max Fisher, foreign affairs and national security writer for the Atlantic, discussed the tea party and the likely affect its new influence in Congress will have on US foreign policy. “They [the tea party] don't really have coherent foreign policy,” Mr. Fisher said. “If you were to ask a lot of tea party republicans what their chief issues are, they're going to tell you two things mostly, domestic issues, primarily the economy and making sure that Obama is a one-term president.” Fisher continued with an analysis of the various political issues President Obama will face in the next couple of years with Republicans in control of the House.