TIME White House

Obama Says Elizabeth Warren Is ‘Wrong’ on Trade

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers remarks during the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference at the Washington Hilton on April 13, 2015 in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) delivers remarks during the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference in Washington, D.C., on April 13, 2015

After months of simmering, backroom disagreements between the White House and the liberal, populist base of the Democratic Party about the issue of free trade, President Barack Obama went on the offensive Tuesday.

In an interview with MSNBC, Obama said Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her supporters are “wrong” to think that the White House’s signature free-trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, would be bad for the American economy. The sweeping 12-nation accord, which would become the largest free-trade pact in U.S. history, would open up borders between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Japan and Australia, and is supported by a wide variety of business groups and most Republicans.

“I love Elizabeth,” Obama told host Chris Matthews. “We’re allies on a whole host of issues. But she’s wrong on this.”

Warren, a longtime ally of the President and a populist hero in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, has been a vocal opponent of the deal, which Congress is expected to vote on soon. Liberal groups and labor leaders have also publicly protested the deal on the grounds that it would exacerbate inequality and lead to fewer American jobs.

“U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is out there saying things like this about the trade agreement: ‘It’s going to help the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind,'” Matthews said to Obama. “She also says it challenges U.S. sovereignty.”

“They are throwing the kitchen sink at this trade agreement which will involve 11 nations and ourselves on the Pacific Rim,” he continued. “Why are they saying these things?”

“Chris, think about it,” Obama responded. “I’ve spent the last 6½ years yanking this economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Every single thing I’ve done from the Affordable Care Act to pushing to raise the minimum wage to making sure that young people are able to go to college and get good job training to what we’re pushing now in terms of sick pay leave … Everything I do has been focused on how do we make sure the middle class is getting a fair deal. Now I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class.”

“And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is,” the President continued, “when you dig into the facts, they are wrong.”

The full interview will air on MSNBC’s Hardball at 7 p.m. E.T.


Here Are the 5 Things TIME 100 Says About the World

Malala Yousafzai after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in Birmingham, England on October 10, 2014.
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images Malala Yousafzai after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in Birmingham, England on Oct. 10, 2014.

The most influential people in the world, from around the world

The annual TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people is out—and looking very international. Fifty-one selectees were born outside the U.S., ranging from national leaders like Tunisia’s Beji Caid Essebsi to financiers like Brazilian multi-billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann to artists like the novelist Haruki Murakami—a favorite of mine, as I’ve been trying to get him on the list since around when the TIME 100 started in 2005.

It’s a large and diverse list, hailing from five continents. But there are a few lessons we can draw from who made the TIME 100–and who didn’t:

1. Asia has a crop of strong leaders: China and India may be two of the most dynamic countries in the world, but for years their leaders were anything but. From 2002 to 2012 China was run by the colorless and cautious President Hu Jintao, though most decisions were made not by the president alone but through consensus among the top tier of the Communist Party. In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presided over a decade of increasingly listless rule, ending in 2014 when he left office at the age of 81.

But today, both China and India are run by forceful leaders eager to to put their stamp on history. In the TIME 100 issue President Barack Obama notes that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential.” Unlike many of his predecessors, Modi has worked to lead from the front, and he’s already carved out an impressive international profile—not too many other international leaders can pack Madison Square Garden for a speech, as Modi did last September.

If anything, Chinese President Xi Jinping is even more powerful—and more determined to exert direct control of his country. In the TIME 100 former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd—a Mandarin speaker and China expert—writes that Xi is now “likely to be China’s most powerful leader since Mao.” That’s not always a good thing. While Xi is carrying out reforms that are needed to make China’s economy more sustainable, he’s also ruthlessly cracked down on civil society and challenged the U.S. for global leadership. Joining Xi on the list is his tough-minded Internet czar Lu Wei, who’s strengthening the Great Firewall.

A third new Asian leader also made the list: new Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz writes in the TIME 100 that Widodo “has brought youthful energy and a popular touch to his large and diverse nation.” But after a promising start last fall, Widodo has faltered in his first year in the office—as Wolfowitz goes on to note, he’ll need to “overcome the entrenched interests in Indonesia that resist change.”

2. Latin America…not so much: Just one Latin American leader made the TIME 100 this year. From Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto—dodging corruption allegations and public anger over a bloody drug war—to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who may be impeached just a few months after winning re-election, it can seem like every Latin American leader is struggling to stay above water. Even politicians who have had success in the past are flailing—Chile’s widely respected President Michelle Bachelet, who was on last year’s TIME 100 list, has seen her family tainted by corruption allegations.

The one leader bucking trend: Cuban President Raul Castro, who has presided over a historic rapprochement with the U.S. And the region has influencers outside politics. Two Brazilians made the list—the surfing champion Gabriel Medina and the multi-billionaire dealmaker Jorge Paulo Lemann (who’s no slouch of an athlete himself, winning Brazil’s national tennis championship five times in his youth). The courageous Guatemalan human rights activist Aura Elena Farfan was saluted for “fighting for justice for the tens of thousands who were disappeared or killed during the civil war. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour hailed Telemundo anchor Jorge Ramos, born in Mexico City, as a reporter “determined to get an answer or go down trying.”

3. Japan is a cultural superpower: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe didn’t make the TIME 100 list this year—though having been decisively reelected in December, he had a pretty good claim. But two other representatives of Japan did. The home organizing maven Marie Kondo introduced audiences around the world to the happiness of a scrupulously clean living space. (Her most important piece of advice: if an object doesn’t bring you joy, chuck it out.)

And the novelist Haruki Murakami more than earned his spot—his most recent novel sold half a million advance copies in Japan before it was even printed, and became a bestseller around the world. For the TIME 100 we paired him with his countrywoman Yoko Ono, who knows a thing or two about succeeding globally, who celebrated Murakami’s “great imagination and human sympathy.”

4. Africa’s time is now—and Nigeria leads the way: Seven Africans made the list—and more came from Nigeria than any other country. That includes the new president-elect of Africa’s most populous nation, the man TIME’s Aryn Baker called a “born-again democrat” who will face the difficult challenge of defeating the Boko Haram insurgency. Doing so could mean killing another TIME 100 selectee: Boko Haram’s enigmatic leader, Abubakar Shekau, whom retired U.S. General Carter Ham warns “is the most violent killer their country has ever seen.”

But the African spots on the TIME 100 list go beyond strongmen. We selected Obiagali Ezekwesili, an anticorruption activist in Nigeria who has dedicated her life to ensuring that the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram aren’t forgotten. The actor Idris Elba hailed Dr. Jerry Brown of Liberia for his heroic work to help stop the Ebola outbreak that killed thousands in West Africa. “It is because of this man’s actions—rather than his words,” Elba wrote, “that many lives were saved.”

5. Women are changing the world: Women make up nearly half the TIME 100 list, ranging from the pinnacle of power to activists on the ground. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn’t just the most powerful women in the world—she’s one of the most powerful people period. “Angela Merkel,” writes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, “managed to leverage German economic power into diplomatic power.” France’s Marine Le Pen isn’t loved by everyone, but she’s become a major force in French politics—and Europe could be next.

But for every political or business leader, there are women like Chai Jing, the courageous Chinese journalist whose environmental documentary Under the Dome was watched by more than 200 million people in China. Dr. Joanne Liu, the Canadian-born head of Doctors Without Borders, got the Ebola crisis right when so many of her peers got it wrong. And of course, there’s Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who first made the TIME 100 in 2013 at age 15. All she’s done in the meantime is win a Nobel Peace Prize—so we decided to put her on the list again. And that gave us the chance to publish another young woman, the Syrian Mezon Allmellehan, who wrote that “yes, I can make a difference, and I have to continue to fight for what I believe in.” Fitting words for an extraordinary—and influential—collection of women and men from around the world.


Cubans Hail Removal From U.S. List of State Terrorism Sponsors

A man drives his taxi past a Cultural Center with the word "Cuba" on it, in Havana, Cuba,, April 14, 2015
Desmond Boylan—AP A man drives his taxi past a Cultural Center in Havana on April 14, 2015

The removal heals a decades-old insult to Cuba's national pride and will lead to restoring diplomatic ties

(HAVANA) — Cuban officials and ordinary citizens alike hailed the island’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, saying the move by President Barack Obama heals a decades-old insult to national pride and clears the way to swiftly restore diplomatic relations.

“The Cuban government recognizes the president of the United States’ just decision to take Cuba off a list in which it should never have been included,” Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs, said Tuesday night.

Cuban and U.S. foreign-policy experts said the two governments appeared to have taken a major leap toward the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington after four months of complex and occasionally frustrating negotiations.

“This is important because it speaks to Obama’s desire to keep moving forward,” said Esteban Morales, a political science professor at the University of Havana. “Now there are no political obstacles. What remains are organizational and technical problems, which can be resolved.”

In a message to Congress, Obama said Tuesday that Cuba’s government “has not provided any support for international terrorism” over the last six months and has given “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”

Cuba will officially be removed from the terrorism list 45 days after the president’s message was sent to Congress. Lawmakers could vote to block the move during that window, though Obama would be all but certain to veto such a measure.

What remains to be seen in coming weeks is whether Cuba will allow U.S. diplomats to move around Cuba and maintain contacts with citizens including dissidents, the second point of contention in the negotiations on restoring full diplomatic relations.

Cuba is highly sensitive to any indication the U.S. is supporting domestic dissent and that issue may prove considerably tougher than amending the terrorism list. The Obama administration made little pretense in recent years that it believed Cuba was supporting terrorism.

Cuba was put on the list in 1982 because of what the U.S. said were its efforts “to promote armed revolution by organizations that used terrorism.”

That included support for leftist guerrilla groups including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Basque separatist movement ETA in Spain. Cuba also sheltered black and Puerto Rican militants who carried out attacks in the United States. Among those was Joanne Chesimard, who was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from a U.S. prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.

Cuba renounced direct support for militant groups years ago and is sponsoring peace talks between the FARC and Colombia’s government. Spain no longer appears to be actively seeking the return of inactive ETA members who may be in Cuba.

For Cubans, the terrorism list was a particularly charged issue because of the U.S. history of supporting exile groups responsible for attacks on the island, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados that killed 73 people aboard. The attack was linked to Cuban exiles with ties to U.S.-backed anti-Castro groups, and both men accused of masterminding the crime took shelter in Florida, where one, Luis Posada Carriles, lives to this day.

“It’s really good that they finally took us off the list even though the reality is that we never should have been there,” said Rigoberto Morejon, a member of the Cuban national fencing team who lost three training partners in the bombing. He added that the hoped “we can keep advancing in the re-establishment of relations.”

Beyond the emotional impact, the terrorism list hobbled Cuba’s ability to do business internationally.

A 1996 law that strips sovereign immunity from nations on the list that engage in extrajudicial killings exposed Cuba to huge judgments in U.S. courts when mainly Cuban-American families accused the Cuban government of responsibility for the deaths of loved ones, said Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer who specializes in U.S. law on Cuba.

The perceived and real risks of doing business with a country on the list also made it highly difficult for Cuba to do business with foreign banks. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington has been forced to deal in cash since it lost its bank in the U.S. last year. The ability to reopen a U.S. bank account is one of Cuba’s most urgent demands in the negotiations to reopen embassies. While that decision falls to individual banks, removal from the list will make it easier.

The listing also prevented U.S. representatives at the World Bank and other global financial bodies from approving credit for Cuba, which is increasingly strapped for cash.

Obama’s decision was welcomed on the streets of Havana.

“Finally!” said Mercedes Delgado, a retired accountant. “The door’s opened a little more. That’s always good.”

TIME trade

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Help Define President Obama’s Legacy

US President Barack Obama speaks while Japan's new conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens, following their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on Feb. 22, 2013.
Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama speaks while Japan's new conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens, following their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on Feb. 22, 2013.

The massive TPP trade deal could help boost the global economy and President Obama's legacy—if Congress lets it happen

In the next few days, the Senate will begin debate on one of the most important questions it will answer this decade—whether to grant the President “trade promotion authority” (TPA), also known as “fast track.” This move would give President Obama and his successors the authority to place trade agreements before Congress for a simple up-or-down vote, denying lawmakers the chance to filibuster or add amendments to the deal which change its rules.

Those in favor say that Presidents can’t negotiate growth-boosting trade deals without fast track authority, because other governments won’t make concessions if they know that Congress can later rewrite parts of the agreement. Those who oppose TPA say the devil remains in the details—small changes within a massive trade deal can have huge impacts on individual business sectors, and on the winners and losers in any agreement. They say trade deals are too important for the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Americans to leave their elected representatives with no say in their content.

That debate is now coming to a head because negotiations among a dozen Pacific Rim nations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—an enormous multilateral trade deal involving a dozen Pacific rim countries—are entering the final stages. The talks now include the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. This group represents 40 percent of world trade and 40 percent of global GDP. Without TPA, there will be no TPP, say trade advocates, which would cost America significantly. Too bad, counter trade opponents. If Americans can’t influence the deal’s content through their representatives, America is better off without it.

What’s at stake? TPP proponents say the deal would generate hundreds of billions of dollars of economic gains over the next decade by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers across the 12 countries it covers. It would enhance security relations among member states, boost labor and economic standards and set rules for global commerce on free-market terms. For some countries, TPP would give their economies a significant boost. Projected GDP growth in Japan and Singapore for 2025 would be nearly a full 2 percent higher with the deal than without. Malaysia’s GDP might be higher by more than 5 percent. The difference for Vietnam might be more than 10 percent.

For the U.S., the political and security impact of the TPP is more important than the economic effects. In 2025, US GDP will be $77 billion higher with TPP than without it—just 0.3 percent. But the White House says it will boost exports by 4.39 percent over 2025 baseline forecasts. If true, that matters, because exports create the kinds of middle class jobs that boost longer-term growth and reduce income inequality. TPP would also give the U.S. a firmer commercial foothold in the world’s most economically dynamic region. And it would do so while growing the economies of U.S. partners and allies, which are anxious to avoid overdependence on fast-expanding China. That’s good for US security interests and makes TPP a central element of the Obama Administration’s long-promised pivot to Asia.

This is a big moment for those who believe in the power of trade to boost economic trajectories. In 2012, China surpassed the United States to become the world’s no. 1 trading nation in total trading volume. Today, there are 124 countries that trade more with protectionist China than with free trade America. That’s why the Trans-Pacific Partnership—whether he can pass it or not—will be a crucial part of Barack Obama’s legacy.

TIME Hillary Clinton

President Obama Likes Hillary Clinton, But Won’t Yet Endorse

Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid - Washington
AP Video still of Hillary Rodham Clinton announcing that she will seek the presidency for a second time, immediately establishing herself as the likely 2016 Democratic nominee on April 12, 2015.

He's waiting

To be clear: President Obama likes Hillary Clinton and thinks she would be an “excellent President,” but he’s not endorsing her yet.

Although Obama personally praised his former Secretary of State during a press conference Saturday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that he’s not offering a full-blown endorsement of her nascent presidential campaign just yet.

“The two of them have become friends, but there are other people who are friends of the president who may decide to enter the race,” Earnest said. An endorsement, he said, would likely come from the president after Democratic voters pick a nominee.

Earnest said he wasn’t aware of whether or not the President received a “specific heads up” about Clinton’s announcement, which came via a video released Sunday afternoon. The two met face-to-face a couple weeks back, but Earnest did not say if they spoke about her campaign rollout at the time.

The President and the lone-Democratic candidate in the race to 2016 also have a similar week ahead. Both will spend the week touting the importance of strengthening economic opportunity for the middle class and for women and fixes to the tax code. Obama will make his case from Washington and at an event in North Carolina. Clinton, however, has hit the road to Iowa where she’s set to make local stops this week. Reporters hinted at the coincidence at Monday’s press briefing, but Earnest insists it shouldn’t be surprising.

“This is an indication that the priorities that the president has championed are consistent with the values that most Democrats share,” Earnest said.

Read next: Meet the People From Hillary Clinton’s Launch Video

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Barack Obama

See Obama’s 20-Year Evolution on LGBT Rights

  • 1996: Obama supports domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage—at least according to the paper trail 

    Then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, shown in a 1999 file photo.
    Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty Images Then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, shown in a 1999 file photo.

    In one campaign questionnaire that Obama filled out when running for the Illinois state Senate, he states that he supports domestic partnerships and adding sexual orientation to the Human Rights Act, the state’s civil rights law. He also says that he supports affirmative action for gays and lesbians.

    In another questionnaire for Chicago LGBT newspaper Outlines, Obama says he supports same-sex marriage. In 2009, a copy of his typed responses was unearthed and printed in the Windy City Times. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” reads the questionnaire bearing his signature at the bottom. Later, Obama aides will dispute that he actually filled out the questionnaire himself.

  • 1998: Obama is ‘undecided’ about same-sex marriage

    Barack Obama Windy City Times
    Windy City Times Windy City Times, Vol. 24, no. 17

    Seeking reelection in Illinois, Obama fills out another questionnaire for Outlines, which the Windy City Times published in 2009. This time he says he is “undecided” whether he supports legalizing same-sex marriage or repealing an Illinois law prohibiting it.

  • 2004: Obama supports civil unions and civil rights for gays and lesbians—but insists that marriage is not a basic civil right

    “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” Obama says in an interview on Chicago public television during his U.S. Senate campaign, adding, “but what I also believe is that we have an obligation to make sure that gays and lesbians have the rights of citizenship that afford them visitations to hospitals, that allow them to transfer property to each other, to make sure they’re not discriminated against on the job.”

    He says homosexuality is not a choice and “for the most part, it is innate.” Obama distinguishes marriage from other civil rights, saying, “We have a set of traditions in place that I think need to be preserved.”

  • 2004: Obama opposes the federal Defense of Marriage Act while running for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. He also opposes same-sex marriage

    Barack Obama, US Senate candidate for Illinois, is greeted by delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July, 2004.
    Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images Barack Obama, US Senate candidate for Illinois, is greeted by delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July, 2004.

    The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton, allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally established in other states. It previously prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, until the Supreme Court ruled that provision unconstitutional in 2013.

  • 2006: Obama questions his own opposition to same-sex marriage

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" is displayed at a bookstore in New York City on July 14, 2008.
    Chris Hondros—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" is displayed at a bookstore in New York City on July 14, 2008.

    In his memoir The Audacity of Hope, Obama recounts a story of how a lesbian supporter called him up after he had said he opposed same-sex marriage in radio interview, citing his “religious traditions” as part of the reason. She had been hurt, feeling he suggested that she and people like here were “bad people.”

    He wrote: “And I was reminded that it is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided … that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion.”

  • 2007: During the Democratic primary, Obama reaffirms support of ‘strong civil unions’ that offer all the rights that come with opposite-sex marriage

    During an August debate sponsored by groups like the Human Rights Campaign, he also says, “individual denominations have the right to make their own decisions as to whether they recognize same sex couples. My denomination, United Church of Christ, does. Other denominations may make a different decision.”

    Obama implies that he personally sympathizes with LGBT people, saying, “When you’re a black guy named Barack Obama, you know what it’s like to be on the outside.”

  • 2008: As a presidential candidate, Obama pledges to repeal DOMA and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which banned the service of openly gay troops in the U.S. military

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama talks with Pastor Rick Warren during the Saddleback Forum in Lake Forrest, Calif. on Aug. 16, 2008.
    Alex Brandon—AP Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama talks with Pastor Rick Warren during the Saddleback Forum in Lake Forrest, Calif. on Aug. 16, 2008.

    He also says, repeatedly, that he is against gay marriage. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix,” he tells pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Presidential Forum in April.

  • 2009: Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act

    President Barack Obama hugs James Byrd Jr.'s sister, Louvon Harris during a White House reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in Washington on Oct. 28, 2009.
    Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP President Barack Obama hugs James Byrd Jr.'s sister, Louvon Harris during a White House reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in Washington on Oct. 28, 2009.

    The hate crime law, which Congress had first introduced in 1997, gives the Justice Department jurisdiction over crimes of violence in which a perpetrator has selected a victim because of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as many other characteristics.

  • October 2010: Obama starts ‘evolving’ on gay marriage

    At a Q&A session with progressive bloggers, Obama says that while he has been “unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage,” times are changing and “attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents.”

  • December 2010: Obama signs a bill repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

    President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law at the Department of the Interior in Washington on Dec. 22, 2010.
    Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law at the Department of the Interior in Washington on Dec. 22, 2010.

    The same month, he reiterates at a press conference that his stance on same-sex marriage is “constantly evolving.” By July, the Commander-in-Chief formally certifies that the military is ready for the open service of lesbian, gay and bisexual troops. Open service for transgender troops remains verboten.

  • February 2011: Obama instructs the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court, saying that he believes it is unconstitutional

    “While both the wisdom and the legality of [DOMA] will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court,” Holder said in a statement.

  • May 2012: Obama becomes the first president to support same-sex marriage

    After Vice President Joe Biden announces his support for same-sex marriage, Obama is forced to move up a planned announcement of his change in position. In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Obama says he has changed his mind. “At a certain point,” he said, “I’ve just concluded that — for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that — I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

  • July 2014: Obama signs an executive order protecting LGBT employees working for government contractors

    President Barack Obama holds hands with Edie Windsor after she introduced him during the Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City on June 17, 2014.
    Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama holds hands with Edie Windsor after she introduced him during the Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City on June 17, 2014.

    The order applies to a group of workers that, at around 28 million, accounts for about one-fifth of the American workforce. “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” he says. The federal government, as well as the majority of states, do not have blanket prohibitions on LGBT discrimination.

  • December 2014: The Obama Administration interprets the Civil Rights Act as supportive of LGBT rights

    The Department of Education articulates a clear stance on gender identity, while the Department of Justice announces that all its attorneys will interpret the federal ban on sex discrimination to include discrimination against transgender Americans.

    “Under Title IX,” a memo from the Department of Education reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

    “This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

  • January 2015: Obama becomes the first president to use the word ‘transgender’ in a State of the Union address

    President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2015.
    Mandel Ngan—Pool/Getty Images President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2015.

    “As Americans, we respect human dignity,” he said. “That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

  • April 2015: Obama says that conversion therapy for minors should be banned

    US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One under a rainbow upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica on April 9, 2015.
    Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One under a rainbow upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica on April 9, 2015.

    Conversion therapy attempts to “correct” homosexual or transgender feelings. Obama’s response comes after thousands signed a White House petition in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl who committed suicide by walking into traffic after being forced to go through such sessions, according to notes she left. Two states, California and New Jersey, have outlawed the practice.

    Read Next: Meet the New Generation of Gender-Creative Kids


Obama, Castro to Come Face to Face Amid Bid to Restore Ties

US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica to Panama on April 9, 2015.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica to Panama on April 9, 2015.

President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro will attend the Summit of the Americas on Friday

(PANAMA CITY) — As leaders from across the Western Hemisphere gather Friday in Panama, all eyes will be on two presidents: Barack Obama and Raul Castro, whose expected encounter at the Summit of the Americas will mark a historic moment as the U.S. and Cuba seek to restore ties they abandoned decades ago.

Americans and Cubans alike can recall just how deep the animosity between their countries ran during the Cold War, when even a casual, friendly exchange between their leaders would have been unthinkable. So while Obama and Castro have no formal meetings scheduled together, even a brief handshake or hallway greeting will be scrutinized for signs of whether the two nations are really poised to put their hostile pasts behind them.

Obama and Castro cross paths at the Summit of the Americas in the throes of a delicate diplomatic experiment: the renewal of formal relations between countries that haven’t had any in more than 50 years.

Even their arrival Thursday evening seemed steeped in symbolism: Obama, after arriving in Panama City, was whisked via helicopter to his waiting motorcade at an airport former known as Howard Air Force Base, from which the U.S. launched its 1989 invasion of Panama.

Castro’s plane landed on the tarmac minutes later, missing Obama only briefly — two world leaders passing warily in the night.

Four months ago, Obama and Castro announced their intention to restore diplomatic relations, beginning a painstaking process that has brought to the surface difficult issues that have long fed in to the U.S.-Cuban estrangement. Hopes of reopening embassies in Havana and Washington before the summit failed to materialize. The U.S. is still pushing Cuba to allow more freedom of movement for its diplomats, while Cuba wants relief from a sanctions regime that only Congress can fully lift.

Yet in the days before this year’s Summit of the Americas — the first to include Cuba — both leaders sought to set a productive and optimistic tone for their highly anticipated encounter. While in Jamaica on Wednesday, Obama signaled that he will soon act to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, removing a stigma that has been a source of friction for Havana.

Obama’s move could come within days.

“We don’t want to be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said Wednesday in Kingston, Jamaica, before flying to Panama City. “When something doesn’t work for 50 years, you don’t just keep on doing it. You try something new.”

In another sign of engagement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met privately in Panama on Thursday — the highest-level meeting between the two governments in decades. The U.S. said the meeting was lengthy and that the leaders agreed to keep working to address unresolved issues.

On Friday, Obama was to meet with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and other Central American leaders. He planned to speak at a forum of CEOs before joining other leaders for dinner at Panama Viejo, home to archaeological ruins dating to the 1500s. A visit to the Panama Canal was also possible.

In a nod to lingering U.S. concerns about human rights and political freedoms, Obama was also attend a forum bringing together both dissidents and members of the Cuban political establishment.

TIME White House

Obama Visited the Bob Marley Museum on Caribbean Trip

U.S. President Barack Obama gets a tour of the Bob Marley Museum from staff member Natasha Clark (L) in Kingston, Jamaica on April 8, 2015.
Jonathan Ernst—Reuters U.S. President Barack Obama gets a tour of the Bob Marley Museum from staff member Natasha Clark (L) in Kingston, Jamaica on April 8, 2015.

It's the first Presidential trip to Jamaica since 1982

President Obama visited the Bob Marley Museum Wednesday on the first stop of his trip to Jamaica, where he has traveled to reemphasize the U.S.’s commitment to the Caribbean region.

The museum in Kingston, Jamaica was the legendary Reggae artists’ home up until his death in 1981. Six years later it was converted into a museum, complete with a recording studio, a display of his Gold and Platinum records, and a 3-D hologram of the late-artist.

Reporters were not allowed to enter the museum with the President, according to a pool report, but at least one photographer caught him saying, “I still have all the albums,” as he looked at a wall of Marley’s records.

While in Jamaica, the President will sign the official guest book at Jamaica House, the official residence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who he’ll be meeting with during his visit. The President is also scheduled to make appearances at the University of the West Indies, and the National Heroes War Park Memorial.

Obama will travel to Panama on Thursday for the Summit of the Americas, where the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. is expected to take center stage. Obama is poised to remove Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terror, signaling an announcement may come during the President’s weekend trip.

This is the first Presidential trip to Jamaica since 1982.

TIME Opinion

The ‘Obama Doctrine’ Echoes Kennedy and Nixon

President Barack Obama Hosts Easter Prayer Breakfast
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg / Getty Images U.S. President Barack Obama smiles while speaking during the Easter Prayer Breakfast in the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 7, 2015.

Where does the “Obama doctrine” fit in with the history of presidents and foreign policy?

In a recent New York Times interview with Thomas Friedman, President Obama enunciated an “Obama doctrine” for dealing with nations such as Cuba and Iran: “We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.” By “engage,” he meant engage diplomatically; by “capabilities,” he meant our overwhelmingly superior military. Following the example of President James Monroe, a great many modern Presidents have enunciated explicit or implicit doctrines, including Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and George W. Bush. Some of them pushed the United States further forward in the world; others represented something of a step back. Putting Obama’s doctrine in historical perspective suggests that he is returning to an earlier tradition of American foreign policy represented above all by those two great rivals, Kennedy and Nixon—but, typically, Obama used vaguer, gentler language than any other President, continuing his endless, so far fruitless search for consensus.

The Truman Doctrine, presented to Congress and the world in a March 1947 speech, set the tone for the next 40 years of American foreign policy. Confronted with a civil war in Greece, President Truman argued that the United States should give aid to allied governments that were resisting internal rebellions aided by outside forces. While he did not specifically identify Moscow as the ultimate enemy, the speech became the basis for the containment strategy that ruled our foreign policy until 1989. And in fact, the Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter and Reagan doctrines were all simply extensions or modifications of containment. Eisenhower in 1957 announced that the United States would resist Communist encroachment in the Middle East. Nixon in 1969 stated that the United States would no longer send ground forces to help third-world allies threatened by Communist aggression, but would use naval and air power. Carter in 1980 announced that the United States would forcibly resist any Soviet attempt to move into the Persian Gulf region. Going a step beyond containment to liberation, Reagan in the 1980s declared that the United States would assist guerrillas fighting Communist regimes in the Third World.

More broadly, however, different Presidents enunciated different principles behind the ends and means of their foreign policy, particularly towards the Soviet Union. Thus, in his American University speech in June 1963, John F. Kennedy called for peaceful coexistence between the United States and the Soviet Union, founded on mutual respect for one another’s institutions and even beliefs. The Test Ban treaty followed in short order. Nixon not only enunciated his own doctrine, but declared, echoing Kennedy, that there could be no winners in a nuclear war, and embarked upon détente with the Soviet Union and arms-control treaties based upon equality. Reagan on the other hand declared, through subordinates, that the United States must prepare to fight and “prevail” in a nuclear war with the Soviets, whom he often argued, until the advent of Mikhail Gorbachev, could not be trusted.

The collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War in 1991 opened up new vistas for foreign policy. George H. W. Bush essentially unveiled a new approach to aggression in response to Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait, using the United Nations to form an overwhelming coalition to roll back Saddam’s aggression without trying to overthrow him. (It is interesting that neither Kennedy nor Bush the elder, whom I consider the two most effective diplomats to have occupied the White House in my lifetime, saw fit to enunciate a “doctrine” that might serve as a substitute for case-by-case analysis.) In 1999 Bill Clinton went a fateful step further, undertaking the Kosovo war without the full support of the U.N. Security Council, and establishing a precedent that Vladimir Putin loves to invoke. But the real shift came in 2002, when George W. Bush’s administration, in a new National Security strategy, announced that the United States would use its overwhelming military power to prevent dangerous or hostile states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, without regard to the rest of world opinion. This doctrine led us into Iraq, and had Iraq gone more smoothly, it might well have led us into Iran and North Korea as well.

The Obama doctrine seems to represent an explicit, although vaguely stated, return to a policy of containment and deterrence, in the tradition of Kennedy and Nixon. It repudiates not only preventive war, but also the fantasy that economic sanctions can bring down or fundamentally alter hostile regimes. Our sanctions against Castro have lasted the whole of Barack Obama’s natural life, without result. While the agreement with Iran may not work out as planned, Obama said, “Iran understands that they cannot fight us.” That argument—that Iran can be, and is being, effectively deterred from war by American power—trumps, in the President’s mind, Iran’s ideological stance, and especially its rejection of Israel’s right to exist. The President rejected Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demand that Iran be required to accept Israel’s existence as part of the deal. In the same way, Nixon and Kennedy (although not Reagan) made important agreements with Soviet leaders without trying to insist that they renounce their ideology.

Iran has in fact made remarkable concessions for the sake of the agreement. Because successive Presidents have declared that Iran must not have a nuclear weapon, we tend to forget that nothing in international law forbids them from enriching uranium, and only the Nonproliferation Treaty, which the Iranian government signed but could denounce, as North Korea did, forbids them from developing weapons. The Iranian government, a proud and militant regime, is surrendering a good deal of its sovereignty for the sake of improving its economy and its relations with the West.

The President is moving towards a new, more realistic approach to the Arab world, one that does not demand a wholesale capitulation to American policies and values as the price of any cooperation with the United States. Given the intense opposition that he faces at home, however, I do not know if he can bring this shift about without using less tentative and more inspiring language than he did in his interview with Friedman. Both Kennedy and Nixon, following parallel courses in their dealings with Moscow, spoke boldly of a new era of peace and a potential end to a nuclear nightmare. Today’s President remains “No drama Obama.” The shift he is proposing is truly dramatic, especially against the background of the last 15 years, but it may need more inspiring rhetoric to turn his vision into reality—lest his opponents’ jeremiads against the dangers of the agreement drown out his very sensible arguments for it.

The Long ViewHistorians explain how the past informs the present

David Kaiser, a historian, has taught at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Williams College, and the Naval War College. He is the author of seven books, including, most recently, No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War. He lives in Watertown, Mass.

TIME Scott Walker

Obama: Walker Should ‘Bone Up’ On Iran

Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2015 after a deal was reached on Iran's nuclear program.

President Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker traded barbs this week over the White House’s emerging nuclear agreement with Iran, with the commander-in-chief suggesting his potential successor “bone up” on foreign policy.

The back-and-forth stems from Walker’s comments last week on a conservative radio show that if elected president he would pull the U.S. out of an Iran agreement on the day he takes office, even if American trading partners wanted to abide by the deal.

“Absolutely,” Walker told radio host Charlie Sykes. “If I ultimately choose to run, and if I’m honored to be elected by the people of this country, I will pull back on that on January 20, 2017, because the last thing — not just for the region but for this world — we need is a nuclear-armed Iran.”

In an interview with NPR Monday, Obama said Walker’s approach was “foolish” and would undercut executive power.

“I am confident that any president who gets elected will be knowledgeable enough about foreign policy and knowledgeable enough about the traditions and precedents of presidential power that they won’t start calling to question the capacity of the executive branch of the United States to enter into agreements with other countries,” Obama said. “If that starts being questioned, that’s going to be a problem for our friends and that’s going to embolden our enemies.

“And it would be a foolish approach to take, and, you know, perhaps Mr. Walker, after he’s taken some time to bone up on foreign policy, will feel the same way,” Obama continued.

Walker, a second-term governor, has had little exposure to foreign policy issues and has spent much of the past several months engaged in policy briefings to bring him up to speed. Next week, Walker is scheduled to travel to France and Germany, two American allies at the center of the Iran talks, as well as Spain. Next month he is expected to make his first visit to Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a vocal critic of the emerging agreement.

In a statement, Walker did not back away from his position, criticizing Obama’s “failed leadership” on the world stage.

“President Obama’s failed leadership has put him at odds with many across the country, including members of his own party, and key allies around the world,” Walker said. “Americans would be better served by a president who spent more time working with governors and members of Congress rather than attacking them. Whether it is cutting a bad deal with Iran, calling ISIS the J.V. squad, or touting Yemen as a success story, Obama’s lack of leadership has hurt America’s safety and standing in the world.”


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