For our January/February issue, you may recall, FP reached out to several leading thinkers with the same question: If Barack Obama were to tackle a global problem that is actually solvable in his second term -- no grand Mideast peace bargain or wholesale reinvention of the world economy -- what should it be? We highlighted 10 answers we received in the magazine, and it now looks like some of the recommendations could be in reach. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the president endorsed four of the proposals.
Sure, Obama didn't embrace all of the suggestions in our roundtable. There was no talk of rescuing Greece, banning land mines, capturing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, severing ties with our more unsavory allies, or taking U.S. nukes off launch-ready alert (the president did call for cuts to the nuclear arsenal).
And he also backed some of the very pie-in-the-sky initiatives we were trying to avoid. If you're going to set the goal of eradicating extreme poverty (defined by Obama as living on a dollar a day or less) around the world within the next two decades, you need to have a more detailed game plan than platitudes about "connecting more people to the global economy" and "giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve."
Still, the fact that the president threw his weight behind some of the objectives outlined in our package suggests he is thinking about realistic ways to forge a foreign-policy legacy during his final years in office. As for Zbigniew Brzezinski's recommendation that Obama "get his authority back"? That was certainly the subtext of last night's State of the Union address. Achieving that goal would go a long way toward helping the president follow through on the others.
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