A World in Crisis Means A Chance for Greatness

Robert B. Zoellick – The Washington Post

Copyright The Washington Post
Aspiring U.S. politicians dream of being FDR, but rarely do the times and the person converge. The next president will have the chance to be a 21st-century FDR.
For either Barack Obama or John McCain, the first duty will be to restore confidence. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been allotted to fix the financial breakdown. But fears have gripped the country. The new president needs not only a bold program but also the resolution to reassure…
…The next president faces another historic challenge: reintroducing the United States to the world. He could make a good start by promptly sending the vice president and the new secretaries of state, Treasury and defense to consult with countries large and small, developed and developing, on all continents. In early 1989, Secretary of State James A. Baker III visited 15 NATO allies in eight days. With four emissaries, the new president could reach 50 countries or more in his first months in office.
Those envoys should have a simple message: to listen and learn. Of course, the new team should have some initial ideas and priorities to discuss, but taking the time to hear other world leaders’ insights and concerns will prove as shrewd an investment as recapitalizing the banks…
The rise of such developing economies as China and India provides the world with multiple poles of growth that can help a global recovery. But the emergence of these big new economic players also serves as fodder for scaremongers, intent on whipping up fear about the effects on living standards in the developed world.
Some 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with almost two-thirds of the region’s population, boast growth rates that averaged about 6.6 percent between 1997 and 2007. A boom in what has historically been one of the world’s poorest regions would be a great achievement, saving many of the bottom billion and freeing untapped talent and energy.
But it will be an achievement left unrealized unless a new president, as in times past, has the vision and the courage to stand up to the challenges of isolationism at home and to offer the leadership to help make it happen…

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