Sympathizer in Chief, Obama Heads South for Summit of the Americas
Next week, the fifth Summit of the Americas will be convened in Trinidad and Tabago. The quadrennial event will represent Pres. Obama's South American debut and, some will say, a serious test of whether he can rally a more concerted approach to the economic crisis and the other common problems confronting the Americas. Given the scale and nature of the issues at hand, Obama would be well advised to simply play President, feel their pain, and let others, like the IMF, do the dirty work.
History does not offer much encouragement for the new president. The last summit of the Americas, held in Argentina in 2005, devolved amidst major protests against efforts to create a free trade zone in the Americas, the 'Washington consensus' and Pres. George W. Bush himself, against whom 10,000 protesters marched, lead by the likes of Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales, Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, and Cuban singer and composer Silvio Rodríguez. The theme in 2005 -- "Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance" -- now seems a cruel joke in the face of the current economic crisis.
While Obama is likely to benefit simply for not being Bush, he will still have to contend with a host of worsening problems caused by South America's weaks states. While South American countries may have been living within their means thanks to tight lending restrictions imposed by the West in recent years, it has come at the expense of state control and security. As Vanda Felbab-Brown discusses in this video from Brookings, security issues like drug cartel violence in Mexico and Colombia are symptoms of the 'limited presence' and 'unresponsiveness' of governments in most South American states.
Harvard's Dani Rodrik suggests a possible solution to these weak state ills in a reformed and reimagined International Monetary Fund. Nearly choked dry of capital following its failures to contain systemic financial problems in places like Argentina, the IMF has experienced a renaissance of late with massive new infusions of capital, new lending policies and keen responsiveness to the current crisis.
The IMF seems ready, willing and able to start prudent loans to plug the budget holes of South America's struggling state apparatuses and Obama seems poised to let it. With one less foreign distraction, he'll have a few more minutes in his day to devote to epic domestic concerns, not least of all reconsidering U.S. policies which help complicate these regional problems in the first place.
- The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
- Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
- Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
- Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
- Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
- Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.
- The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
- It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
- Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.