The past year was marked by global economic uncertainty, a vicious partisan divide in American government, and political protests/uprisings in the MENA region as well as in the West with Occupy Wall Street. Without a doubt, these events will shape the direction of world politics and political behavior in the coming years.
Given the ambivalent state of affairs in the realms of both domestic and international affairs, several political actors should adopt strategic New Year's resolutions that would promote security and ensure some level of economic stability.
1. President Barack Obama – Throughout his presidency, the stringent party divide has restricted the president from making significant progress in tackling issues ailing the country. Although the unemployment rate dropped from 9% in November to 8.8% in December, the economy remains a top priority as 13.3 million Americans are still without jobs. Obama will have to continue working arduously to break through the partisan gridlock that has overwhelmed Washington in order to regain the support of disenfranchised Americans.
Secondly, Obama has been successful in terminating the Iraq War, eliminating Osama Bin Laden, and “suppressing” terrorist activities against the U.S. However, he cannot rest on these accomplishments. Ending the Afghan War and pulling troops from Afghanistan and Iraq would solidify some of the promises he made in 2008 and would place him in a better position for reelection.
2. OWS Leadership – OWS has chosen to shun the traditional top-down hierarchical leadership structures in place of peer-to-peer networking and working groups which may prevent outside infiltration, but how effective will this leadership approach be in the long run? OWS organizers in the United States should consider consolidating their demands, formulating a leadership panel, and taking their demands from Wall Street to Washington. Consolidating a single voice in the months leading up to the presidential elections could be very strategic in bringing their demands to fruition.
3. American Millennial Voters – Without a doubt, millennial voters have a very important role to play in the upcoming elections. Candidates will be targeting this population due to their vulnerable positions in the economy as recent grads and struggling job hunters. Republican candidate Mitt Romney has gone as far as to say, “If I’m president, all college grads will have a job.”
Although a bit drastic and unrealistic, Romney’s statement highlights the importance of young people’s votes to his campaign. Thus, a nonchalant attitude towards the presidential elections would be counterproductive because young voters have an opportunity to make their voices heard and demand more of government.
4. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Iran has come under attack in recent months and much of current political discussion revolves around the “Iranian threat” which in reality is essentially non-existent. Ahmadinejad will have to remain a rational actor and employ diplomacy in order to avoid war with the U.S. and possibly a demise of the Islamic Republic as we know it. Unnecessary political chauvinism such as the one displayed by Saddam Hussein prior to the Iraqi invasion could prove detrimental to Iran and the rest of the world.
5. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria – Finally, the president of the most populous African nation, as well as the world’s 10th largest oil producer, will have to seriously address the terrorist threat in his country. Boko Haram, an Islamist religious sect in the Northeast region of the country aiming to eliminate the Nigerian democracy and establish a fully Islamic state has committed acts of terrorism against the Nigerian people and their government since 2009.
Rumored to have links to Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram is responsible for the bombing of a United Nations building in the nation’s capital last summer and the bombing of five Catholic churches on Christmas Day. Nigeria’s role as one of the most prosperous countries in the continent is at stake if Jonathan does not act effectively in eradicating this threat.
Altogether, these politicians, groups, and many others have a very important role to play in the shaping of both American and global politics in years to come, and decisions made in 2012 will determine the future of history.
Photo Credit: Skinny lawyer