Against Obama

All of these steps, these combinations and permanency, is the road to hell. The United States did not take the right path.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek of the Czech Republic, president of the EU, on Obama’s financial stimulus package, which he accuses of being “protectionist”

The zombie ideas have won. The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system . . . This plan will produce big gains for banks that didn’t actually need any help; it will do little [for] banks that are seriously undercapitalised. And . . . when the plan fails, as it almost surely will, the administration will have shot its bolt: it won’t be able to come back to Congress for a plan that might actually work. What an awful mess.

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economist and New York Times columnist, on Obama’s economic policy

This does look a lot like Jimmy Carter. [He] tried weakness, and . . . the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators, when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead. I think it sends a terrible signal . . . about how the new administration regards dictators . . .

I don’t think there’s any downside to talking to him. But I think taking a picture that clearly looks like they’re buddies hurts in all of Latin America.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Obama and Chávez

With this statement [Torture is a crime], the US department of justice appears to have offered a “get-out-of-jail-free card” to people involved in torture . . . Torture is banned under international and US domestic laws, but those laws are only meaningful if they are enforced. It’s welcome that the remaining memos have been published. There will only be accountability where there is transparency, and President Obama rightly wants to draw a line under the human rights abuses of the “War on Terror”. But this is the wrong way to go about it. Brushing torture and rendition under the carpet will not provide closure – the facts should be brought out into the open through an independent . . . inquiry. Those who have broken the law, no matter what rank they hold, should be prosecuted under the law.

Amnesty International’s Tim Hancock on the decision not to prosecute CIA operatives for torture practices

President Obama goes out of his way to praise those who engaged in these unlawful practices and assures them they will not be prosecuted . . . He is acting as jury, judge and prosecutor [but] whether or not to prosecute lawbreakers is not a political decision. Laws were broken and crimes were committed. If we are truly a nation of laws, as he is fond of saying, a prosecutor needs to be appointed and the decisions regarding the guilt of those involved . . . should be decided in a court of law.

Michael Ratner, president of the Centre on Constitutional Rights on the torture issue

The tone, image and symbolism will be different, and he will have more interest in multilateral solutions [than George W Bush]. But I don’t see evidence of dramatic change. Mr Obama has not shown much sign of appreciating that “we have entered an age where the US can’t dictate to the world any more”.

Doug Bandow, a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan