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Clinton Summit: Obama Thanks You for Your "Stick-To-It-Ness"

By Ruthie Ackerman, World Policy Journal Star Spotter: Goldie Hawn, Demi Moore, Jesse Jackson, Julia Ormond, Ben Stiller. When President Bill Clinton asked President Barack Obama to pass the Parmesan recently at a restaurant, Obama did not know his next question would be, “Will you come speak at my meeting?” Not only did Obama agree to kick off Clinton’s star-studded annual meeting, the Clinton Global Initiative, but he did so after giving a speech on climate policy at the United Nations on the same stage as Chinese president Hu Jintao. Obama is facing increasing pressure to pass mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases and to get healthcare reform legislation passed, two issues that threaten to overshadow his first year in office. In fact, talk of the health care reform debacle in Congress took center stage over other issues at the Clinton Global Initiative and put a damper on the mood compared to past years. Clinton looked wounded, tired—not his usual charming self. After Obama got stuck in traffic, Clinton was left with an extra three-minutes of stage time, which he used to bash Congress for their views on health care reform. Obama, on the other hand, didn’t let out a peep about healthcare, instead bounding on stage for his first public appearance with Clinton, with an important message: “You don’t have to hold a public office to be a public servant.” He then added, “That’s the beauty of service—anyone can do it and everyone should try.”

Henry "Chip" Carey: Gaddafi and Obama, Unlikely Bedfellows

After celebrating four decades in power last month, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi visited the United Nations (and the United States) for the first time and addressed the UN General Assembly today. He spoke after President Barack Obama, which symbolically, if not actually, created an uncomfortable encounter. The controversy over the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber “on compassionate grounds” and his subsequent hero’s welcome in Tripoli outraged many victims’ families and elicited a White House complaint. Many analysts and commentators have since remarked that this episode has confirmed the old cliché that a leopard cannot change his spots. Nevertheless, Washington faces a dilemma over whether to continue actively engaging Libya or to proceed with caution—holding short of military assistance or even re-imposing economic sanctions. There’s little argument that Libya has been (at least partially) rehabilitated, following the nation’s 2003 renunciation of nuclear weapons and the 2002 $2.7 billion settlement of the civil lawsuit from the 270 Lockerbie victims’ families that was paid out in stages over the following few years. In response, Washington facilitated the end of UN Security Council-imposed economic sanctions and, in 2006, removed the former pariah state from the list of nations that promote terrorism. Washington henceforth began the process of initiating military assistance to its erstwhile enemy. Much progress has transpired, particularly with respect to core U.S. national security interests, but internal politics and the ruling structure within Libya are still largely the same.

News Brief: Obama Scraps East European Missile Shield

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