Barack Obama has succeeded in preserving and even enhancing U.S. influence in this world precisely because he has recognized these new forces at work. He has traveled to the emerging nations and spoken admiringly of their rise. He replaced the old Western club and made the Group of 20 the central decision-making forum for global economic affairs. By emphasizing multilateral organizations, alliance structures and international legitimacy, he got results. It was Chinese and Russian cooperation that produced tougher sanctions against Iran. It was the Arab League’s formal request last year that made Western intervention in Libya uncontroversial.Mitt, by and large you have ridiculed this approach to foreign policy, arguing that you would instead expand the military, act unilaterally and talk unapologetically. But chest-thumping triumphalism won’t help you secure America’s interests or ideals in a world populated by powerful new players. You can call this new century whatever you like, but it won’t change reality. After all, just because we call it the World Series doesn’t actually make it one.
For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to visit the Global Public Square every day. Be sure to catch GPS every Sunday at 10a.m. and 1p.m. EST. If you miss it, you can buy the show on iTunes.The situation in Greece highlights for me how different America’s economic crisis is from Europe’s economic crisis.America’s economic crisis is one that is actually economically soluble but politically very difficult to solve.If we were to repeal the Bush tax cuts, we’d get $4 trillion of revenue over the next 10 years. If we were to enact Simpson-Bowles, we’d get $1.5 trillion by closing various tax loopholes. With a few simple economic decisions, we can solve America’s budgetary problem.Now, of course, you have long-term healthcare costs to deal with. That’s a huge problem and I don’t pretend it isn’t. But in every other respect you can bring down America’s budget deficit to what would be among the lowest levels of any Western country.
Greece faces a much more fundamental problem. There isn’t an easy economic solution.Greece is simply not going to be able to pay back the loans that it owes. If you do the math, it is inconceivable.That is what people like Alan Greenspan are pointing out. There’s simply no reasonable set of projections that will get you to a place where Greece is going to be able to pay back its loans.