While most Americans are focused on taking care of the day-to-day concerns that are right before their eyes, it’s easy to forget about the pertinent international issues that are taking place far, far away. The White House, however, cannot take such a myopic approach to governance. So this week some pressing foreign policy matters are getting some much-needed attention.
This week the president is hosting U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron for an official state visit complete with a chance to catch an NCAA tournament game in Ohio. At a recent briefing at the White House, reporters wondered if the president’s hospitality was an attempt to smooth over what has been viewed by some as a cordial, but distant relationship between the two countries as of late. But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney brushed off such notions saying, “I don't think it’s a surprise to anyone that this administration wants to continue to build on that very longstanding, very special relationship.”
Attention quickly turned to Afghanistan. In the wake of an investigation into whether a U.S. soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians, the White House answered questions about the continuing troop presence overseas and how quickly troops should be withdrawn. Carney allayed concerns, saying the pace has not been decided. He added, “I think we’ve made clear for some time now that the pace of the withdrawal of the remaining 68,000 after the surge forces are withdrawn will be decided in consultation with NATO ministers and will have everything to do with the successful implementation of the strategy.”
The president’s Afghanistan policy has taken a few shots from his Republican detractors. Most recently, Republican Whip Jon Kyl, accused the president of going AWOL in terms of his Afghanistan strategy. Carney quickly shot down that notion by pointing to how the president has fine-tuned the goals of the War in Afghanistan. “I don’t think there is any doubt — and I’d be amazed if Senator Kyl could express a doubt — that this president has taken the fight very directly and effectively to al Qaeda. And that is absolutely a result of his very focused, very clear-eyed strategy in Afghanistan.”
But there was one issue that always seems to consume some of the spotlight lately, and that’s the rising gas prices. A recent CBS News poll shows that 54 percent of Americans feel that the President “can do a lot about” gas prices, despite Obama’s assertion that there is no silver bullet to solve the problem. Carney pointed to continuing efforts to reduce our oil imports and diversify sources of energy as two ways the White House is engaged in finding a solution to the gas price hike. “It is a fallacy to suggest that there is some 3-point plan or 5-point plan out there that could magically, if you wave a wand, reduce the price that Americans are paying for a gallon of gas,” he said.
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