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Al Jazeera English panelists rate Obama’s progress

Panelists discussed Obama's presidential performance thus far during a live taping of Al Jazeera English's "Empire" Friday. Marie McGrory/Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Danielle Solinski.

Four panelists assessed President Obama’s performance during a live taping of Al Jazeera English’s “Empire” at the Jack Morton Auditorium Friday afternoon, concluding that the 44th president was borrowing too much foreign policy direction from the Bush-era.

The panelists – Roger Hodge, author of “The Mendacity of Hope”; Stefan Halper, author of “The Beijing Consensus”; As’ad Abu Khalil, founder of The Angry Arab blog, as well as author and four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader – were generally disappointed with the Obama administration.

“There’s an unseemingly continuity between the Bush military and foreign policy and the Obama foreign policy,” Nader said in a interview before the event.

The panelists discussed the differences in the two administrations foreign policy approach.

“I think that we can say that not only is he ‘Bush-lite’, but he may be ‘Bush-heavy’, Khalil said.

Halper offered a differing viewpoint, citing Obama’s progress with China, Russia and Korea.

“I don’t think we can simply just talk about a seamless continuation of Bush policy,” Halper said.

Afghanistan and Pakistan were a big focus of the forum, with Nader calling the war in Afghanistan “unwinable.”

“I don’t think Obama will pass the test [on Afghanistan and Pakistan],” Hodge said. “I think he will fail the final exam.”

The Middle East peace process between Israel and Palestine also received poor grades from the panel.

“I give the Obama administration an A for effort but not much for achievement,” Halper said.

Other topics covered during the discussion included Iraq, the existence of an ‘Obama Doctrine,’ and what the administration’s foreign policy would look like if Obama were elected for a second term.

The hour-and-a-half program – dubbed Obama 2.0 – was part of a public affairs program focused geo-political issues. The program airs monthly on the 24-hour English-language news channel headquartered in Doha, Qatar.

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