Ten articles Obama should read

Jeff Haynes/Getty Images Here at Foreign Policy, we were thrilled to learn yesterday that we can count Barack Obama among our readers. (We acknowledge the possibility that he is simply trying to show up past contributor John McCain in the battle for the all-important FP-reading demographic.) But we also realize how time-consuming running for president ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
594491_080624_obama5.jpg
594491_080624_obama5.jpg
CHICAGO - JUNE 20:US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) listens to Democratic governors during a economic discussion June 20, 2008, at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Senator Obama and the governors discussed working together to reverse the effect of eight years of the Bush economy on state budgets and looking beyond conventional Washington thinking to develop innovative solutions to the economic challenges the American people are facing every day. (Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)

Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

Here at Foreign Policy, we were thrilled to learn yesterday that we can count Barack Obama among our readers. (We acknowledge the possibility that he is simply trying to show up past contributor John McCain in the battle for the all-important FP-reading demographic.)

But we also realize how time-consuming running for president can be and we're worried that the senator may have fallen behind on his back issues. To make things easier for Obama (who we assume has signed up for a digital subscription), we've compiled a list of 10 articles that the aspiring president ought to read before trying to bring change to Washington.

Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

Here at Foreign Policy, we were thrilled to learn yesterday that we can count Barack Obama among our readers. (We acknowledge the possibility that he is simply trying to show up past contributor John McCain in the battle for the all-important FP-reading demographic.)

But we also realize how time-consuming running for president can be and we’re worried that the senator may have fallen behind on his back issues. To make things easier for Obama (who we assume has signed up for a digital subscription), we’ve compiled a list of 10 articles that the aspiring president ought to read before trying to bring change to Washington.

  1. Think Again: Energy Independence,” by Phillip Deutch, November/December 2005.

    Talk of energy independence may win applause on the campaign trail, but if elected, Obama may find it next to impossible to accomplish.

  2. The Ideology of Development,” by William Easterly, July/August 2007.

    If Obama wants to get serious about fighting global poverty, he’ll have to take on the orthodoxies of the development community.

  3. Why Hawks Win,” by Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon, January/February 2007.

    When security threats arise, Obama will find himself counseled by advisors urging military action as well as those urging restraint. He should be aware of the psychological biases that favor the hawks.

  4. Think Again: Drugs,” by Ethan Nadelman,September/October 2007.

    As a candidate, Obama probably won’t touch legalization with a 10-foot pole. But if he’s really a different kind of politician, he should realize that the arguments for a more rational drug policy aren’t actually that far-fetched.

  5. The War We Deserve,” by Alasdair Roberts, November/December 2007

    It would be easy for Obama to just blame the mishandling of the Iraq war on his predecessor, but that would avoid asking tough questions about Americans’ willingness to sacrifice in times of crisis.

  6. What America Must Do,” January/February 2008.

    Perhaps Obama is wondering what his top priority should be on day one. Twelve foreign policy experts have already made suggestions.

  7. How to Negotiate With Iran,” by John W. Limbert, March 2008.

    Before Obama pulls up a chair with Ahmadinejad, he may want to heed the advice of Limbert, a former ambassador and Tehran embassy hostage.

  8. Iraq’s 100-Year Mortgage,” by Linda Bilmes, March/April 2008.

    Pulling out of Iraq will be hard enough, but Americans will still be paying for it decades from now.

  9. Think Again: Israel,” by Gershom Gorenberg, May/June 2008.

    Despite the tired pieties he recited at AIPAC, one would hope that Obama plans to be more honest and realistic in dealing with Israel than his predecessors.

  10. The Global Food Fight,” by Moisés Naím, July/August 2008.

    If Obama plans to address the growing global food crisis, he needs to get real about the wasteful ethanol subsidies he continues to support.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt McCain to look over these either.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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