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In this term, Obama will be 'no more Mr Nice Guy': Surya Gangadharan

IBNLive.com
Jan 22, 2013 at 05:39pm IST

CNN-IBN's foreign affairs editor Surya Gangadharan joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on Obama's new agenda in his 2nd innings.

Q. In his "Seize the moment Together " Session, will he be able to steer the sinking economy to safer waters. One feels if economy is settled, one Huge victory for him. what is your take please Asked by: Narayan

A. I don't think the US economy is going to get back to normal any time soon. Recovery is slow, the employment numbers are beginning to grow as firms resume hiring but the govt debt runs into trillions and there is a need to cut spending. Not sure the politicians are ready for that.

In this term, Obama will be 'no more Mr Nice Guy' Surya Gangadharan

CNN-IBN's foreign affairs editor Surya Gangadharan joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on Obama's 2nd term.

Q. Do you think he is going to stick to his 2014 Afghan pullout promise? If the US leaves Afghan, where does that leave us? Asked by: Soumendra Lahiri

A. The state of the economy means the US govt no longer has that kind of money to spend on adventures like Afghanistan. So withdrawal will happen but some troops will remain. The exact numbers are still not clear, 3,000 to 9,000 reported. But that strength will make it impossible to hold off the Taliban/Al Qaida advance. Nor will it give the Afghan National Army the confidence in US backing. India doesn't want the US forces to go but lacks the resources and capability to defend its interests in Afghanistan.

Q. Do you think he will be able to push in strict gun control measures considering the clout NRA holds? Asked by: Jason

A. I wonder if he can. The "gun culture" is deeply embedded in the American way of life. It may not be easy to overcome such strongly held sentiments and the NRA's ability to influence members of Congress is well known. But even if Obama is able to push through some more gun control measures, at least in terms of outlawing assault/automatic rifles, that's a huge gain.

Q. How do you think he is going to deal with Iran specially as Russia has contingency plans (now public) for Georgia and Armenia in case of war with Iran? Asked by: Jas Arora

A. President Obama has not ruled out military action against Iran if sanctions don't brake its nuclear programme. But the appointment of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary suggests he is more prepared to go the extra mile on Iran. Hagel has opposed penalties on Iran in the past and even wanted a US interests section opened in Tehran.

Q. Don't you think that Barack Obama has been an 'all talk no work' Prez? What about all the promises of world peace and tending to the needy? Asked by: Abid

A. World Peace and tending to the needy are also the refrain at beauty contests. Models mouth them. Obama talks specifically of protecting and advancing US interests wherever that maybe. That could range from climate change to sending troops to Africa. But all said and done the world agenda is second place to improving the lives of US citizens at a time of high unemployment.

Q. What stand will he take on the outsourcing business? Asked by: ab

A. I don't think outsourcing is going to be an Obama target in his second innings. All studies have shown that outsourcing has been good for US business. There are some jobs that are more cheaply done overseas. That trend will continue.

Q. How challenging will it be for Obama to pass bills - or rather how difficult will the GOP be? esp in the Senate? Asked by: pavni

A. President Obama has already sounded the direction he will take in his inaugural address. Gay rights, immigration reform etc etc are areas which he views in social justice terms. So he's going to go out there and fight for it with Congress. This is his last term, he's looking at his legacy. No more Mr Nice Guy.

Q. What does India have to gain in Obama's second innings as Prez? Asked by: EMathew

A. We'll have to see what the president delivers on Afghanistan. He's even threatened a complete pullout which could see Afghanistan fall back into the dark ages. Then there's the Asia Pivot where he sees a role for India. But Delhi will not play ball in some anti-China coalition. I expect defence ties will continue moving upward, chiefly in terms of US military hardware being bought by India.

Q. This time when Obama got elected it was evident that he could able to garner votes of Black Population when white people supported his opponent. Will this trend have far reaching impacts in US Society in the days to come ! Asked by: Parth

A. American society is changing and has changed in many ways. Twenty years ago it would have been unthinkable for a Black to be president. Obama is not only black he's also got a "hussein" as his middle name. Yes minorities including Blacks, Latinos, Asians did vote for him but so did many middle class American whites. For all you know the next US president may well be a woman.

Q. After afgan pullout what will be US relations with India and Pakistan and what will be the challenges and risks of keeping presence in Afganistan along with arch rival Pakistan Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan

A. The US is not pulling out of Asia. It needs to counter China so the push to broaden ties with India will continue. Defence ties will grow. Afghanistan is like a cockpit, anyone sitting there (like the US) overlooks resource rich Central Asia, China's sensitive Xinjiang region, Iran and Russia. I find it hard to believe the US will leave this piece of real estate. But yes it has become financially difficult for Washington to continue funding the Afghan campaign, the country is war weary. For Pakistan too its important the US stay engaged otherwise the millions of dollars in subsidies will end. The Pak economy could collapse.

Q. Should US stop outsourcing? Asked by: lata

A. Nope, not because India benefits but simply because some jobs are more cheaply done here. Manpower/labour is less expensive, some low tech jobs are more efficiently done in Bangalore or Chennai. The US economy benefits from the lower cost and is able to focus on the hitech end of the food chain.

Q. What are US's new govt plans for Europe, only US market is not sufficient to change the global economic situation Asked by: Subodh Deshpande

A. Obama's only mention of Europe was the reference to being anchored in existing alliances. So clearly NATO and US commitment to helping its allies in the manner in which it did in Libya, is a given. Otherwise there was nothing for Europe in his inaugural address. He will probably seek to manage Europe and other issues rather than transform them.

Q. What is his thinking abt outsourcing? will it affect us Asked by: man

A. I think Obama's pragmatic about outsourcing. He knows its good for the US economy. As I've said earlier some things are more cheaply done overseas. So don't worry about it.

Q. Will Obama complete his tenure successfully? Asked by: man

A. What does that mean? How do you define success? If you define it by Nobel Prize then he's successful. If it's about improving conditions for the ordinary Anmerican joe, then it would seem he's got a way to go. What's important is that he ends America's "Imperial reach", whereby it seeks to settle issues in its favour through force of arms.

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