WASHINGTON — Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama made many promises to the American people. Msnbc.com has chosen 14 of these to explain, explore, and track. See if the new president keeps his word, and vote on his progress during the first 100 days.
Other political news of note
Military shrinks in size, scope under Obama
In two major speeches, President Obama signaled a scaling back of drone attacks and a more targeted approach to fighting terrorism. Add recent budget cuts, and it's clear the military is in for a serious downsizing.
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- Military shrinks in size, scope under Obama
Obama’s words: “Nuclear weapons have to be on the table. The issue of terrorism needs to be on the table. Incursions into Iraq that are affecting the safety of our troops, that needs to be on the table. Joining the World Trade Organization, that needs to be on the table. Once those items are on the table, then, yes, I would be willing to have a meeting to see if we can make progress on these fronts.”
The issue: In June of 2007, President BarackObama said he would be willing to meet, without preconditions, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea during the first year of his administration.
“...The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this (Bush) administration, is ridiculous,” said Obama.
A few months later he said, “I did not say that I would be meeting with all” of the leaders of hostile nations. “I said I’d be willing to. Obviously, there is a difference between pre-conditions and preparation.”
But he left himself much leeway for delay because he said extensive preparation and lower-level diplomatic talks would be required before any summit meeting.
Following through: In his inaugural address Obama seemed to be alluding to the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, without naming them, when he said, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
The week before his inauguration, he had harsh words for Venezuela’s Chavez whom he called “a force that has interrupted progress in the region." He also accused Chavez of “exporting terrorist activities or supporting malicious entities” such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
And in a possible sign of antagonism to come, Chinese translators removed references to communism and dissent from online postings of Obama’s inaugural address.
Trouble with North Korea intensified early into Obama's presidency when the communist country launched a rocket over Japan on April 5.
After the U.N. Security Council condemned the move, Pyongyang vowed to boycott international nuclear disarmament talks and to restart its atomic program.
North Korea then expelled U.S. monitors from its Yongbyon nuclear complex along with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it "an unnecessary response to the legitimate statement put out of concern by the Security Council."
"Obviously, we hope there will be an opportunity to discuss this, not only with our partners and allies, but also, eventually, with the North Koreans," she said.
Meantime, the Obama administration has been reaching out to Iran, attempting ease years of strained relations.
In a videotaped message to the Iranian people, the president said, "My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community."
And on April 14, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration and its European allies were preparing proposals that would shift strategy toward Iran.
No longer would there be an insistence that Tehran dismantle its nuclear facilities during early phases of negotiations. Instead, the proposals would press for Iran to gradually open its program for inspections.
Days later at the Summit of the Americas, Obama and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez shared a very public handshake. "I think it was a good moment," Chavez said about their initial encounter. "I think President Obama is an intelligent man, compared to the previous U.S. president."
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