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30 Dec, 2008 09:42

Toxic foreign policy inheritance for Obama

Critics of George W. Bush's foreign policies say the next president is left to sort out a toxic legacy, including an ill-conceived campaign in Iraq and a fruitless position on Iran.

Most Americans call the war in Iraq the biggest mistake of the Bush administration, but it is far from the only one. The war – which began under what later turned out to be false pretences – has killed thousands of people.

In addition, Iran’s nuclear plans have been seen as nothing more than the paranoia of the Bush administration.

The American missile defence shield ambitions have damaged relations between the U.S. and Russia. According to Moscow, the shield in Europe is a threat to its security, while the U.S. says otherwise. Meanwhile, millions of dollars – from the American tax payers – have been put into the programme, while the country has been dealing with the biggest financial crisis in decades.

George W. Bush – who some call the least popular President in U.S. history – is finally stepping down, and Barack Obama – a man who is seen by Americans as a new page in the country's history – is stepping in. The question is whether or not he will really bring about “change”, or if it will remain the slogan that led him to power. So far, there haven't been many specifics when it comes to his foreign policy plans.

Lincoln Mitchell is an international politics Professor at Columbia University, who says U.S. foreign policy needs to and will change.

“One of the challenges for the Obama administration is to take a step back in not just missile defence, not just on Georgia, not just any individual issue, but think about what we want our relationship with Russia to be,” he believes.

As President of the United States, Barack Obama will have to clean up the mess of eight years of questionable policies. For him to provide a real “change”, American foreign affairs will have to go through serious transition.