DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – As President Barack Obama starts his second term, the world’s business and political elite pines for greater American engagement to tackle a thicket of security challenges.
From Syria to Mali, from Iran to the South China Sea, the United States’ reluctance to be drawn into conflicts far from its shores was a leitmotiv of geopolitical debate at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.
The absence of top Obama administration officials from the annual brainstorming and networking event in the Swiss mountains symbolised to some a perceived pullback from global leadership, even though it was Inauguration Week in Washington.
Leaders of Russia, Germany, Britain, Italy, South Africa, Jordan and many other nations made the journey.
U.S. bankers, business leaders and academics were out in force, but the most senior U.S. government officials were a Treasury undersecretary, an assistant secretary of state and the outgoing U.S. Trade Representative.