IMF: INCOME GAP DAMPENS GROWTH; PH GAINS SHORTLIVED IF INEQUALITY IS HIGH

PHOTO- The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C. -THE Philippines must address the widening income gap if it hopes to sustain its economic growth and ensure that it becomes inclusive, a senior International Monetary Fund official said Friday. “There is an empirical study that income inequality is high and associated with short durations of high economic growth. You might be able to enjoy high growth for a short amount of time, but it’s not sustainable,” IMF deputy managing director Naoyuki Shinohara said in a forum entitled “Rethinking Economic Growth” at the World Economic Forum on East Asia. Shinohara said government’s role in allocating funds plays a big role in addressing income disparity. Governments in this part of the world, he said, don’t have “not enough” taxes, provide huge amounts of tax exemptions and suffer from corruption. “If you look at countries in Asia, the size of government is relatively small. It means the role of government in the allocation of income is relatively small compared to other regions,” he said. Shinohara pushed for higher income taxes compared to consumption taxes, such as value-added taxes, with the latter being “regressive” and “hitting the poor more than the rich.” READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy hit on inclusive growth 'rhetoric' | Wealth of 10 richest Pinoys equals income of 21M workers

If the combined wealth of 10 of the richest Filipinos represents the income of more than 20 million wage earners, then what inclusive growth is President Benigno Aquino III talking about? A workers' group on Friday assailed the chief executive's assertation before the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia that the Philippines, through the Filipino people, had made inclusive and remarkable growth doable. The group said that while there might have been progress, this failed to trickle down to the poor. Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chairman Renato Magtubo said that based on his group's study, the estimated US$45.3 billion combined wealth of the country's 10 richest people is equal to the annual income of 21 million miniumum wage earners - a proof that economic growth does not translate to substantial poverty reduction as its benefits remain concentrated in the hands of a few. "The Philippines is not a fantastic story of economic miracle but an old testament to this kind of regional growth pattern where a handful of business elites control more than half the economy," said Magtubo. “The Philippine government cannot claim ‘inclusive growth’ until this ratio of inequality is effectively reversed,” he added. Basking in the international acclaim of one of the region’s most astounding “economic miracles,” Aquino on Thursday attributed the country's remarkable growth to the collective effort of the Filipino people. "When many of you have praised the achievements of the Philippines, we always point out that the pursuit of large-scale reforms in every aspect of governance is the achievement of the Filipino people," Aquino said in his speech at the opening of the WEF in Manila. "They made the goal of achieving inclusive growth doable, and it is also they who will make it irreversible," the President added. But Magtubo countered Aquino's statement, saying that any mention of the word "people" at the WEF, "won’t go beyond the context of market – open markets for corporate products and cut-price and flexible labor markets for their efficient operations." “Thus the WEF cannot brag about wonders and miracles when Asia remains the biggest home to the world’s poorest people epitomized by workers in vulnerable employment,” said Magtubo. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino spotlights ordinary Filipinos at World Economic Forum

President Aquino on Thursday shone the spotlight on ordinary Filipinos, paying them the ultimate tribute for the country’s amazing economic run during his speech at the start of the plenary session of the World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA). Aquino said it was the collective effort of his countrymen that brought the Philippines to where it is now—“in the midst of a dramatic turnaround in every sector.” The President also told political and business leaders that achieving inclusive growth—where the benefits of a booming economy could be shared by all—was the “yardstick by which we measure any government undertaking.”
“We are intent on… making certain that each and every Filipino enjoys the full dividends of progress,” he said.
Offended --But while Aquino celebrated the ordinary Filipino in his speech, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung used the occasion to draw the delegates’ attention to his own countrymen whom he claimed were driven to acts of violence because of China’s provocative moves in the South China Sea.As a result, the small Chinese delegation attending the event walked out of the session. A member of the Chinese delegation told the Inquirer that the group was offended by the Vietnamese prime minister’s remarks, particularly when he brought up the territorial dispute during the economic forum.READ MORE...

ALSO: China absence casts shadow on WEF

Several of Asia’s most powerful men and women are converging in Metro Manila this week to take part in discussions that will help shape the region’s future, but a giant dragon is casting a shadow on one of the continent’s brightest spots. For participants to this year’s World Economic Form (WEF) on East Asia—being held in the Philippines for the first time as a reflection of the country’s rising prominence—one glaring no-show cannot be ignored: China’s. “Their absence is noticeable for me. They aren’t present in any big way,” said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for the Asia-Pacific at IHS, a US-based think tank. “There are a couple of [Chinese] companies here, but it’s not a substantial presence,” he said in an interview Tuesday night. China’s snub, he said, might serve as a harbinger of worse things to come. The largest economy in Asia—and the world’s by 2021, according to IHS—ironically may also become the continent’s biggest hurdle to development. Biswas said geopolitical risks as a result of territorial disputes between China and several of its neighbors, the Philippines included, clouded the WEF agenda.China has claimed “indisputable sovereignty” over most of South China Sea (locally called the West Philippine Sea), including areas the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, among others, say are theirs.READ MORE...

ALSO: Obama to detail broader foreign policy agenda

Confronting critics of his foreign policy, US President Barack Obama will outline this week a strategy for his final years in office that aims to avoid overreach, as the second of the two wars he inherited comes to a close. The president’s commencement address on Wednesday at the US Military Academy will come amid growing frustration in the White House with Republicans and other critics who contend that Obama has weakened America’s standing around the world and faltered on problems across the Middle East and in Russia, China and elsewhere. That criticism has mounted over the past year following Obama’s decision to pull back a military strike in Syria and his inability to stop Russia from annexing territory from Ukraine. A White House official said Obama would specifically address both situations as well as the status of ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.
The president is also expected to discuss how he views shifts in the counterterrorism threat from the al-Qaida and other groups, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity to preview the president’s speech. Obama came into office vowing to end the lengthy American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seeking to keep a war-weary nation out of unnecessary conflicts. READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

IMF: Income gap dampens growth; PH gains shortlived if inequality is high


The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C. (April 19, 1999)

MANILA, MAY 26, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Joyce Pangco Panares, Jennifer Ambanta, Macon Ramos-Araneta - THE Philippines must address the widening income gap if it hopes to sustain its economic growth and ensure that it becomes inclusive, a senior International Monetary Fund official said Friday.

“There is an empirical study that income inequality is high and associated with short durations of high economic growth. You might be able to enjoy high growth for a short amount of time, but it’s not sustainable,” IMF deputy managing director Naoyuki Shinohara said in a forum entitled “Rethinking Economic Growth” at the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

Shinohara said government’s role in allocating funds plays a big role in addressing income disparity. Governments in this part of the world, he said, don’t have “not enough” taxes, provide huge amounts of tax exemptions and suffer from corruption.

“If you look at countries in Asia, the size of government is relatively small. It means the role of government in the allocation of income is relatively small compared to other regions,” he said.

Shinohara pushed for higher income taxes compared to consumption taxes, such as value-added taxes, with the latter being “regressive” and “hitting the poor more than the rich.”

However, VAT may have its benefits if combined with social transfer mechanisms, he said. The Philippines, Mexico and Brazil have implemented conditional cash transfers, while Japan spends its VAT on the government’s social security programs.

“If the design of [social transfer mechanism] is not right, it can harm the efficiency of the economy. There needs to be a good balance between efficiency based on mechanism and whatever the social value we have to protect,” Shinohara said.

“Taxation and income transfer in the area of social programs will reduce income inequality by one-third,” he said.

Economic officials on Friday said the administration was able to showcase the Philippine narrative during the three-day WEF summit, with world and business leaders expressing interest in investing here.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the Philippines, as host, was able to share its remarkable comeback story to the rest of the world through WEF-EA.

“By focusing on the good governance, the Aquino administration has been able to provide the Philippines with strong macroeconomic fundamentals that have not only resulted in economic growth but have also resulted in a more optimistic future for ordinary Filipinos,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, saying during the forum the Philippines was able to show how its has transformed itself from a laggard to a leader.

“The WEF-EA has served as a great platform to share how in a short period of time the Philippines has become the leading economy in Southeast Asia,” Abad said.

But Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said the Philippines might be losing out on the race for job-creating investments because of the high 30 percent corporate income tax, the highest among the ASEAN countries.

“If it (Philippines) does not follow the regional trend of reducing tax on business income, it might be left behind,” Angara said.

At present, he said the region’s average rate is about at 23.1 percent, with Singapore as the lowest at 17 percent and the Philippines as the highest at 30 percent.

Also t the WEF summit, the World Bank said climate change was among the biggest threats to poverty reduction and economic growth.

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said climate change was a challenge that needs collective action by national governments, development partners, private sector, civil society, and local communities.

Speaking before participants of the WEF on East Asia, Kyte emphasized that climate change is not just an environmental challenge, but a fundamental challenge to economic growth and financial stability.

“Countries need to take bolder action now before the impacts of climate change put prosperity out of reach for millions and roll back decades of development. If we don’t confront climate change, we won’t end poverty,” Kyte said. “The cost of inaction far exceeds the cost of action.”

Kyte said the government can design and enforce policies that put resilience at the core of development. Resilience should also be at the core of the private sector’s investment decisions. And this will not happen, she added, without the involvement of communities and local leaders.

Kyte cited the Philippines as among the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters as a result of climate change.

Over the last five years, the country has experienced severe weather that resulted in huge damage and losses.

“Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, Sendong, and Pablo claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people, caused economic damage and losses amounting to approximately $5.7 billion, and affected new areas such as Mindanao, which historically have not been hit by strong typhoons,” she said.

Then in November last year, typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest typhoons to ever make landfall, hit the country and left a trail of devastation, claiming more than 6,000 lives and doing an estimated $12.9 billion in damage.

World Bank country director MotooKonishi added that the poor are most affected by disasters.

“Disasters also push people, who previously were not poor, into poverty,” he said. “This is the very reason why the World Bank is supporting measures, programs and projects that strengthen the country’s capability to deal with natural and man-made disasters.”

The three-day WEF summit ended May 23 with a reception and farewell dinner at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Finance officials said the government spent P71 million for the WEF-EA with some help from private corporations like the Ayala Corp. and SM Investments.

The forum brought together three state leaders, 16 finance ministers, and over 600 delegates representing more than 30 nationalities.

Among the heads of state were Myanmar Vice President Sai Mauk Kham, the Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

FROM INTERAKSYON.COM

PNoy hit on inclusive growth 'rhetoric' | Wealth of 10 richest Pinoys equals income of 21M workers By: InterAksyon.com May 23, 2014 7:04 PM


File photo of President Benigno Aquino III. InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - If the combined wealth of 10 of the richest Filipinos represents the income of more than 20 million wage earners, then what inclusive growth is President Benigno Aquino III talking about?

A workers' group on Friday assailed the chief executive's assertation before the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia that the Philippines, through the Filipino people, had made inclusive and remarkable growth doable. The group said that while there might have been progress, this failed to trickle down to the poor.

Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chairman Renato Magtubo said that based on his group's study, the estimated US$45.3 billion combined wealth of the country's 10 richest people is equal to the annual income of 21 million miniumum wage earners - a proof that economic growth does not translate to substantial poverty reduction as its benefits remain concentrated in the hands of a few.

"The Philippines is not a fantastic story of economic miracle but an old testament to this kind of regional growth pattern where a handful of business elites control more than half the economy," said Magtubo.

“The Philippine government cannot claim ‘inclusive growth’ until this ratio of inequality is effectively reversed,” he added.

Basking in the international acclaim of one of the region’s most astounding “economic miracles,” Aquino on Thursday attributed the country's remarkable growth to the collective effort of the Filipino people.

"When many of you have praised the achievements of the Philippines, we always point out that the pursuit of large-scale reforms in every aspect of governance is the achievement of the Filipino people," Aquino said in his speech at the opening of the WEF in Manila.

"They made the goal of achieving inclusive growth doable, and it is also they who will make it irreversible," the President added.

But Magtubo countered Aquino's statement, saying that any mention of the word "people" at the WEF, "won’t go beyond the context of market – open markets for corporate products and cut-price and flexible labor markets for their efficient operations."

“Thus the WEF cannot brag about wonders and miracles when Asia remains the biggest home to the world’s poorest people epitomized by workers in vulnerable employment,” said Magtubo.

The Asian region has the highest rate of informalization in the world, according to PM.

"As defined, informal workers are the own-account (self-employed) and unpaid family workers combined. They also include workers in irregular (contractuals) or seasonal employment," Magtubo explained.

He said that recently, informal workers had been labelled as precariats or workers living in precarious working conditions.

The group said the International Labor Organization (ILO) had estimated the Asia-wide “vulnerable employment” in 2007 at 1.1 billion people or 62.2 percent of all workers in the region, while informalization in the Philippines is estimated to be between 41 and 77 percent.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino spotlights ordinary Filipinos at World Economic ForumBy Christian V. Esguerra, Paolo G. Montecillo 1:02 am | Friday, May 23rd, 2014

DAVOS IN ASIA" President Aquino addresses the 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City on Thursday. Often called Asia’s equivalent of Davos, the meeting serves as an ideal platform for participants to discuss opportunities for the promotion of greater economic inclusion in East Asia and better decision-making in the face of unpredictable and natural economic disruptions. More than 600 leaders from business, government, civil society and academic institutions from 30 countries are taking part in the gathering. MALACAŃANG PHOTO/RYAN LIM

MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino on Thursday shone the spotlight on ordinary Filipinos, paying them the ultimate tribute for the country’s amazing economic run during his speech at the start of the plenary session of the World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA).

Aquino said it was the collective effort of his countrymen that brought the Philippines to where it is now—“in the midst of a dramatic turnaround in every sector.”

The President also told political and business leaders that achieving inclusive growth—where the benefits of a booming economy could be shared by all—was the “yardstick by which we measure any government undertaking.”

“We are intent on… making certain that each and every Filipino enjoys the full dividends of progress,” he said.

Offended

But while Aquino celebrated the ordinary Filipino in his speech, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung used the occasion to draw the delegates’ attention to his own countrymen whom he claimed were driven to acts of violence because of China’s provocative moves in the South China Sea.

As a result, the small Chinese delegation attending the event walked out of the session.

A member of the Chinese delegation told the Inquirer that the group was offended by the Vietnamese prime minister’s remarks, particularly when he brought up the territorial dispute during the economic forum.

Shortly after Dung’s speech, WEF founder and executive chair Klaus Schwab tried to defuse the situation and declared that the forum “is a neutral organization and we don’t take stands.”

“I appeal, on behalf of the World Economic Forum, to all parties to resort to discussions and dialogue to resolve the situation, which has a potential to create a situation we all do not want to have. We are living in a global world, we need global partnerships, we need global peace,” he said.

Solid vote of confidence for PH

During his speech, Aquino highlighted the country’s economic gains under his watch, which, he said, were backed by “the renewed perceptions of the international community.”

The Philippines was easily the star of the so-called “Asia’s Davos,” the country being among the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with a 7.2-percent growth rate last year—all despite calamities such as Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“We are set to build on our momentum and become even more competitive, as our manufacturing sector continues its revival and as we continue to increase our infrastructure spending—more than doubling it, from around P200 billion in 2011 to more than P400 billion in 2014.”

Moving forward, the President said “all signs for the future are pointing upwards,” noting that the Philippines would hit by next year a “demographic sweet spot.” It is characterized by a significant portion of the population joining the labor force while also driving consumption.|

“We are incredibly poised to take full advantage of the situation, having made strategic investments in education and skills training, which will equip our future workforce with the correct skills to fill the jobs that are and will be created,” he said.

After Aquino addressed the delegates, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took center stage and said that the Philippines’ hosting of the economic forum was a “solid vote of confidence for this country’s economic achievements.”

2-pronged approach

During the session, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told the delegates that the two-pronged approach of the Philippine government in boosting infrastructure would become a global model that other developing countries could emulate.

The two approaches are the public-private partnership (PPP) program, where private enterprises are invited to bid for and invest in public infrastructure projects, and the allocation of consistently increasing national budget to infrastructure.

“We need connections to supply chains. We need to make it easy for tourists to visit and move around the country. We need to make it easier for investors to do business here. All of these require heavy investments in infrastructure and the Aquino administration is doing exactly that,” Purisima said.

The government will increase the budget for infrastructure from 2.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year and 3.1 percent this year, to 5 percent of GDP by 2016, he said.

Also, he said over P1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects under the PPP program were already in the pipeline.

PPP’s 57 infra projects

According to the PPP Center, there are 57 infrastructure projects under the PPP program that are in various stages of implementation.

So far, contracts have already been awarded for seven PPP projects collectively worth P62.6 billion.

“Soon, one can look at the PPP program of the Aquino administration and say that it has been one of the better [economic development] programs not only in the Philippines but in the world,” Purisima said.

China absence casts shadow on WEF Economic integration to tip scale in Asean’s favor
By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:20 am | Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
 


Philippines Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping before the opening ceremony at the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia summit in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. China’s absence in Manila has cast a shadow on the ongoing World Economic Forum on East Asia being hosted by the Philippines. The little-known security forum in Shanghai is seen to be China’s platform to show its willingness to work with her wary neighbors. AP PHOTO/MARK RALSTON

MANILA, Philippines—Several of Asia’s most powerful men and women are converging in Metro Manila this week to take part in discussions that will help shape the region’s future, but a giant dragon is casting a shadow on one of the continent’s brightest spots.

For participants to this year’s World Economic Form (WEF) on East Asia—being held in the Philippines for the first time as a reflection of the country’s rising prominence—one glaring no-show cannot be ignored: China’s.

“Their absence is noticeable for me. They aren’t present in any big way,” said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for the Asia-Pacific at IHS, a US-based think tank. “There are a couple of [Chinese] companies here, but it’s not a substantial presence,” he said in an interview Tuesday night.

China’s snub, he said, might serve as a harbinger of worse things to come. The largest economy in Asia—and the world’s by 2021, according to IHS—ironically may also become the continent’s biggest hurdle to development.

Biswas said geopolitical risks as a result of territorial disputes between China and several of its neighbors, the Philippines included, clouded the WEF agenda.

China has claimed “indisputable sovereignty” over most of South China Sea (locally called the West Philippine Sea), including areas the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, among others, say are theirs.

Top agenda

Already, the issue of China was on top of the agenda at the scheduled meeting this week between President Aquino and Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is in town this week for the WEF.

Earlier this month, state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) placed a deep sea drilling rig in an area both Beijing and Hanoi claim as theirs. This triggered violent anti-Chinese demonstrations in Vietnam that have left two Chinese workers dead and factories damaged.

Tensions between China and the Philippines in recent months have also continued to rise. Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario accused Beijing of violating international laws for its extensive reclamation work on Mabini Reef—an area claimed by the Philippines.

The Philippines last March brought China to court, questioning the validity of the latter’s Nine-Dash Line claim before the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Japan, according to reports this week, said it would set up military posts on the Senkaku Islets that are also claimed by China.

“China is the common denominator in these issues,” Biswas said.

Several countries have started to feel the pinch. China’s General Administration of Customs said in January that bilateral trade with Japan fell 5.1 percent last year to $312.55 billion. Chinese exports to Japan dropped nearly 1 percent, while Japanese exports to China fell by almost a tenth.

The year before, trade between Asia’s two largest economies dipped 3.9 percent.

China’s importance to the region as a whole cannot be understated. In 2012, foreign direct investments to Asean from China reached $4.34 billion, or 6.7 percent of the total. China’s share of Asean’s total trade was 12.9 percent, beating Japan, the European Union and the United States. In the same year, 9.2 million Chinese tourists visited Asean countries, making them the region’s largest market for visitors.

In Vietnam, Biswas said investments from China were expected to dip as its companies mirrored Beijing’s more assertive stand. Vietnam’s tourism sector, one of the main drivers of its economy, is also expected to take a hit. Last year, 1.9 million of Vietnam’s 7.5 million tourists were from China, official data showed.

In 2012, the travel and tourism industry employed 3.8 percent of Vietnam’s workforce. Including wider effects from investments and the supply chain, the proportion grows to 8.1 percent.

China’s tourism administration this month issued a travel warning for its people, saying visits to Vietnam should be “carefully considered.” The warning also called on Chinese tourists to “raise their consciousness of danger,” according to a report by Singapore’s Straits Times.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has already pledged to help protect Chinese tourists amid rising tensions. “People in Vietnam wouldn’t want to go to China. It’s the same with the Chinese. They wouldn’t want to visit Vietnam,” Biswas said.

Asean-China spats

Spats between China and several members of the Asean come ahead of the 10-nation bloc’s aspiration to integrate into a single economic unit starting next year.

Biswas said Asean’s relationship with China was vital if East Asia as a whole was to achieve the economic gains it sorely needed to lift millions of its citizens still mired in poverty.

The opportunities for economic cooperation between the increasingly important Asean bloc and its larger neighbor were immense, policymakers said.

If taken as a single country, the Asean bloc is the third-largest in the world in terms of population with more than 600 million people—dwarfed only by China’s 1.35 billion and India’s 1.24 billion.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima earlier this week noted that Asean was one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. In 2012, the region’s $2-trillion economy grew by 5.8 percent, accelerating from 2011’s 4.8 percent. In the same years, the global economy expanded by just 2.9 and 3.9 percent, respectively.

In 2013, Asean’s 10 members were able to attract more foreign direct investments (FDI) than China for the first time in history, Purisima noted.

The region also leads the world in several areas. Asean is the world’s top exporter of electronics and the second-largest manufacturer of garments next to China. The 10 countries also attracted more foreign visitors than France, the world’s leader in tourism.

“Asean’s potential is clearly there,” Purisima said at the Financial Times-First Metro Investments Corp. (FMIC) Investments Summit in Makati City.

China’s peace dividend

International Monetary Fund (IMF) deputy managing director Naoyuki Shinohara said Asean, strong as it is, stood to gain even more if harmony with China could be attained.

Obama to detail broader foreign policy agenda Associated Press 4:23 am | Monday, May 26th, 2014


US President Barack Obama: ‘Too risk-averse’ AP FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON—Confronting critics of his foreign policy, US President Barack Obama will outline this week a strategy for his final years in office that aims to avoid overreach, as the second of the two wars he inherited comes to a close.

The president’s commencement address on Wednesday at the US Military Academy will come amid growing frustration in the White House with Republicans and other critics who contend that Obama has weakened America’s standing around the world and faltered on problems across the Middle East and in Russia, China and elsewhere.

That criticism has mounted over the past year following Obama’s decision to pull back a military strike in Syria and his inability to stop Russia from annexing territory from Ukraine. A White House official said Obama would specifically address both situations as well as the status of ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.

The president is also expected to discuss how he views shifts in the counterterrorism threat from the al-Qaida and other groups, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity to preview the president’s speech.

Obama came into office vowing to end the lengthy American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seeking to keep a war-weary nation out of unnecessary conflicts.

Too risk-averse

The war in Iraq ended in the closing days of 2011 and the Afghan conflict will formally conclude later this year, though the White House is seeking to keep a smaller contingent of US troops behind to train Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism missions.

Some foreign policy analysts argue that Obama’s aversion to military action makes it harder for the United States to levy credible threats that force international foes to change their behavior.

“He’s far too risk-adverse a president,” said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations. “And in a world where no one will lead except America, he has abdicated and surrendered much of the leadership.”

The White House official said Obama would argue that the United States remained the only nation capable of galvanizing action and would make the case that American power needed to be part of a sustainable international system.

The president would argue that his foreign policy philosophy was not isolationist but rather “interventionist and internationalist,” according to the official.

Obama is expected to expand on remarks he made last month at a news conference in the Philippines when his frustration with his critics boiled over.

He specifically targeted those who are quick to call for US military action, arguing that they had failed to learn the lessons of the Iraq war.

“Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?” he said. “And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?”

Private meetings

Ahead of the president’s speech, Obama’s top advisers have been holding private meetings with congressional lawmakers to address their specific foreign policy concerns.

However, the outreach appeared to accomplish little, according to some participants, with a Republican senator calling one meeting “bizarre” and another lawmaker saying the White House refused to provide specific answers to questions.

US Republican Sen. Bob Corker was among those who participated in the White House meetings. In an interview, he questioned how much Obama’s speech could accomplish in shifting the way the White House’s foreign policy approach was viewed.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE