In the euphoria of this weekend (see whistle stop photo at right), the challenges facing America’s first black President may be momentarily forgotten. But they loom large – much larger than we might imagine from watching television or reading American newspapers. Understandably, I suppose, the American media are concerned with America’s needs. But while America’s economy is the world’s largest, it is certainly not independent. Today, the world’s economies are inextricably connected. They rise or fall together.
Many pressing problems confront Barack Obama as he moves into the White House. There are wars and threats of wars, an economic collapse of unprecedented proportions, ruinous environmental policies that must be quickly reversed, social inequities to be addressed, a health care program to be implemented for all Americans, a struggling education system and a crumbling national infrastructure to be repaired, conflicting needs and wants to be resolved…
The economy must come first – not just for the good of America but also for the good of the world. Nothing can happen without a functioning global economy. And the global economy cannot function without a strong U.S. economy.
Tiny Jamaica, for example, watches and waits, a few hundred miles off the Florida coast, hoping the Obama Administration will bring a new dawn for the Caribbean. An article in today’s Daily Gleaner provides a look at the island’s wish list. It includes:
Debt cancellation for the world’s poor countries.
Help with Jamaica’s fight against crime, and restoration of drug-control funding that was cut by the Bush Administration.
Normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba.
A fresh look at the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. (The CBI was a unilateral program of economic assistance and trade for Central America and the Caribbean, which President Reagan established to counteract the spread of Communism. The FTAA was a proposed agreement, promoted by President Clinton, to eliminate or reduce trade barriers among all countries in the Americas except Cuba.)
With cascading job losses at home, Obama may find it politically difficult to implement policies favoring relaxed trade restrictions. But it is a dilemma he must resolve. The world is waiting, and America cannot recover in isolation. Like it or not, the recovery must be global.