Obama's global to-do list
From China to Pakistan, major challenges loom.
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On Nov. 15, President Bush will host a meeting of 20 world leaders to discuss the global financial crisis. Many will want to meet the president-elect. Even if meetings are not possible, they will want to scope out his views.
President-elect Obama should make early appointments of his secretary of the Treasury, his secretary of State, and his national security adviser.
Millions of Americans who did not vote for Obama will be waiting to see whether campaign promises of bipartisan concord will be fulfilled by the appointment of some moderate Republicans to his cabinet and other senior positions.
In capitals from Paris to Islamabad and from Moscow to Beijing, they are watching for changes in tone and substance in US foreign policy. As the US deals with new challenges, old allies – particularly with pro-American leaders in countries such as France and Germany – should be listened to and enlisted.
Though its economy is currently challenged, and its military drained, America will remain the world's only global superpower, its will and resources formidable. But other nations are emerging, set on sharing influence and prestige.
China is already an economic colossus. It is a significant exporter to, and banker for, the US. (Challenging the dominance of Boeing and Airbus, it just this week signed a contract to sell up to 25 regional jetliners to General Electric.) It is extending its trade tentacles into Africa and Latin America. It is sopping up oil wherever in the world it finds it to fuel its booming economy.
India does not yet match China's spectacular growth but it's not far behind. It has become a telemarketing and outsourcing center for many American corporations. By 2040, it is expected to boast the world's third-largest economy.
Brazil is a third significant player on the global scene. A massive bank merger this week created Latin America's biggest financial institution, hailed by The New York Times as likely "one of the few bright spots in the global banking firmament."