Sun, Nov 02, 2008 - Page 9 News List

What does the world want from the US president?

The US remains the only superpower and the only nation that matters in every part of the globe and is capable of mobilizing international action to deal with global issues. If only we could all vote on Nov. 4

By Chris Patten

Ahead of that, a new president should unleash the US’ creative potential in boosting energy efficiency and developing clean technologies. It would be a welcome surprise if a comprehensive follow-up to the Kyoto Treaty could be agreed upon next year. But at least we should aim to agree on the process that will move world-wide discussions in the right direction and, as part of that, the US should aim to engage Europe, China, and India, in particular, on technological developments like clean coal.


The US’ relationship with China will be a key to prosperity and security in this new century. I do not think that a struggle for hegemony is inevitable, or that it would be desirable. The US should focus more attention on China, without ever pretending that China’s record on human rights can be swept under the carpet. China cannot sustain its economic development without political changes and environmental improvements.

In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered wise advice to the next US president upon his retirement. Israel and Palestine have become, he said, the hopeless and bloody prism through which US diplomacy often seems to see the world. It has long since been time to move on, making a sustained drive for the sort of settlement that was almost achieved in the Clinton years.

There is a paradox in all this. The world has for years called for a multilateral approach from Washington. When we get one, will the rest of us — Europe, for example — actually respond with sufficient commitment and drive? It would at least be a welcome challenge to be required to put our efforts where our mouths have been.

Chris Patten is a former EU commissioner for external relations, chairman of the British Conservative Party and was the last British governor of Hong Kong. He is chancellor of Oxford University and a member of the British House of Lords.


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