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Superb Intentions and U.S. Policy Constraints

  • David S. Wiley

Barack Obama's election was an extraordinary event in American and world history, but already in his second year as president, the luster and the popularity of the Obama administration has faded, even among many who mobilized to elect him. In addition to righting two wars, Obama is attempting to fix a broken health care system in the context of a nationally contentious electorate and Congress. He also is coping with a mounting debt burden from seeking to recover from an economic collapse and public anger at an environmental disaster of mega proportions, requiring him to rein in the banks and corporations that were unleashed from public regulation during the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton years. In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the U.S. military and its rapidly expanding U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

This was an administration elected on “hope for change.” Indeed, Obama's election raised expectations across the U.S. and throughout Africa that a man of African heritage, indeed a global person, could be and had been elected. This quintessentially optimistic, intelligent, and gifted American is the product of a Kenyan father and an internationally engaged mother, a multicultural childhood, and a global education as graduate of a private secondary school and elite American universities, and he has been pinned simultaneously with American, biracial, African American, African, and even global identities (see Zeleza 2009).

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Ambinder, Marc. 2010. “Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare.” The Atlantic, May 25.
Butler, Desmond. 2009. “Land Mine Treaty Won't Be Signed By Obama Administration.” Huffington Post, November 24.
Clinton, Hillary. 2010. “Remarks at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.” March 12.
Corey, Charles W. 2009. “Africa: Hillary Clinton Outlines Obama's Africa Policy.”, January 24.
Leon H. Sullivan Foundation. 2007. “On The Campaign Trail: A Bi-Partisan Look at Presidential Candidates' Views on US-Africa Relations… in Their Own Words.”
Lubeck, Paul M., Watts, Michael J., and Lipschutz, Ronnie. 2007. “Convergent Interests: U.S. Energy Security and the ‘Securing’ of Nigerian Democracy.” Washington, D.C.: Center for International Policy,
Mazzetti, Mark. 2010. “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast. New York Times, May 24.
Obama, Barak H. 2010. “President Obama's Commencement Address at West Point.” May 22.
Patten, David A. 2009. “Obama's Foreign Aid Price Tag to Exceed $50 Billion.” Newsmax, March 2.
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Ward, William E. ”Kip.” 2007. “U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM): Questions and Answers.” Press Release, October 2.
Zeh, Katey. 2010. “Obama Foreign Aid Proposal: Shows Growing Commitment to Healthy Families.” The General Board of Church and Society (United Methodist Church),
Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe. 2009. Barack Obama and African Diasporas: Dialogues and Dissensions. Athens: Ohio University Press.
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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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