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Published on October 3rd, 2012 | by Isabelle Mngadi
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="566"] America's foreign policy may be a deciding factor in the 2012 elections © Aotearoa[/caption]   With the US presidential election fast approaching, foreign policy has shown itself to be a significant basis for cross-party criticism and debate, with both candidates including the recent UN assembly, unrest in the Muslim world and the on-going economic concerns and international conflicts of the Middle East in their campaigns. Present issues of American foreign policy include are the prospect of Iranian nuclear arms, America’s presence in Afghanistan, relations with Palestine and Israel, the current administration’s response to the Christopher Stevens’ assassination, and America’s economic interests and relationship with China. On the one hand, it could be argued that foreign policy will not be the most important factor to affect the results of election, as up to 80% say that the economy is the most important issue, since  America’s federal debt has passed $16tn – but then again, it has also been noted that America’s economy is in is present state due to recent wars and the future of America’s economy rests quite significantly on international trade with China in particular. Furthermore, foreign policy is the machine by which each presidential candidate intends to move America’s international presence in very different directions. As Romney has explained: “if we don’t have the vision or power to lead, then other powers will take our place, puling history in a very different direction.” Therefore, America’s role as the “leader of the Free World” is potentially pivotal in the race for presidency. For example, as Iran’s nuclear programme grows, Israel has recently called on the UN to draw a “red line”, prohibiting Iran from attaining enough uranium to make an atomic bomb. Iran denies that its nuclear programme is for anything other than peaceful, “civilian purposes”, but Western countries such as the US are nonetheless determined to quell the growth of its nuclear armament. In a video of a party donors meeting in May, which was filmed without Romney’s knowledge, the Republican candidate expresses a strong fear of Iran bombing not only Israel, but also the US, citing nuclear armament in the hands of an “Iranian crazed fanatic” as potential leverage against America. In regards to Obama, Romney accuses the President of “betray[ing] Israel”, through what he believes to be an excessively “soft” approach to Iran. But on the contrary, Obama is known to have maintained a firm stance in opposition to Iran’s nuclear arms, having said that the US would "do what we must" to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear arms. The issue is important one because according to one Romney supporter, “[i]f the Middle East descends into chaos, if Iran moves toward nuclear breakout, or if Israel's security is compromised, America could be pulled into the maelstrom.” But if Romney’s accusation of Obama appears to come from a place of concern, and the desire to avoid conflict, why was he secretly recorded claiming that the “Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace[;…] the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish"? Since America’s stability on a worldwide stage could rest on the state of relations in the Middle East, such a pessimistic stance is not prudent. As Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Ereka aptly points out, "Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace." Clearly his suggestion carries truth, as in the video, Romney even admits that a former Secretary of State approached him with a potential plan for establishing peace, but he “didn’t delve into it.” Romney has accused Obama and his administration of being too soft in response to the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.  Although Obama condemned all acts of violence and extremism and “has urged global leaders to rally against extremism in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York,” Romney has picked up on an American press release, which states that "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions”. In response to the recent unrest, many from the Western world have been quick and forthright in their defence of freedom of speech, which is indeed justified: the right to speak out - even when in disagreement with someone else, even when your view is one that they don’t want to hear - is worth defending. But being at liberty to speak does not automatically make all speech advisable. That Obama is distancing himself from the video is in fact a wise move, and will help to re-establish security for America in the Middle East. In the face of such an issue, one can’t help but wonder how Romney would handle such a matter, since American and Arab relations are clearly just as unsteady as ever. One victory that Obama’s administration can undoubtedly be credited with is the lessening concern over terrorism. Since the report of Osama bin Laden’s death, the US has breathed a heavy sigh of relief over what Obama has described as a “devastat[ing]” blow. But is Obama doing enough when the US death toll has now risen above 2,000, with killings as recent as the Monday just passed, and the trillions that are being spent on NATO’s delayed withdrawal from the country could be redirected to dealing with the current recession? Indeed, as one American citizen has said of America’s international supremacy, “we have to be careful because we’re very close to losing it in my opinion … I think China is very hot on our heels.” Even though America’s domestic economy is the primary concern of many Americans, one businessman who has been minimally affected by the recession maintains that American businesses cannot afford a trade war with China at the moment; businesses such as his are dependent on international trade. Therefore, Obama’s trade complaint with China several weeks ago may have put a considerable strain on this all-important relationship, and although the reason for this complaint was to secure manufacturing jobs within US borders, America could be in for an employability tug-of-war in the next few months. Romney, on the other hand, has “vowed to get tough with China over what he calls ‘currency manipulation’, raising the prospect of a trade war”, and apparently missing the point of international relations altogether. Overall, influence in international politics, economics and cultural trends is important if America wishes to hold onto its “supremacy” without increasing its enemies. So far, Romney’s hard-fisted approach is in danger of alienating several of America’s allies and jumping to conclusions which all end in cross-fire and intolerance. The domestic economy may be the most discussed by both presidential candidates, but the US’ financial future is tightly bound to its actions abroad, and is worth considering. Or, in the words of the former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage: “The first and most important issue that any President is going to face, after the continued redevelopment and the re-constitution of our own economy, is going to be China, followed by the question of Iran and her nuclear capabilities, and finally the management of the so-called Arab Spring.”

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How Foreign Policy May Affect the US 2012 Presidential Election

America’s foreign policy may be a deciding factor in the 2012 elections © Aotearoa

 

With the US presidential election fast approaching, foreign policy has shown itself to be a significant basis for cross-party criticism and debate, with both candidates including the recent UN assembly, unrest in the Muslim world and the on-going economic concerns and international conflicts of the Middle East in their campaigns. Present issues of American foreign policy include are the prospect of Iranian nuclear arms, America’s presence in Afghanistan, relations with Palestine and Israel, the current administration’s response to the Christopher Stevens’ assassination, and America’s economic interests and relationship with China.

On the one hand, it could be argued that foreign policy will not be the most important factor to affect the results of election, as up to 80% say that the economy is the most important issue, since  America’s federal debt has passed $16tn – but then again, it has also been noted that America’s economy is in is present state due to recent wars and the future of America’s economy rests quite significantly on international trade with China in particular.

Furthermore, foreign policy is the machine by which each presidential candidate intends to move America’s international presence in very different directions. As Romney has explained: “if we don’t have the vision or power to lead, then other powers will take our place, puling history in a very different direction.” Therefore, America’s role as the “leader of the Free World” is potentially pivotal in the race for presidency.

For example, as Iran’s nuclear programme grows, Israel has recently called on the UN to draw a “red line”, prohibiting Iran from attaining enough uranium to make an atomic bomb. Iran denies that its nuclear programme is for anything other than peaceful, “civilian purposes”, but Western countries such as the US are nonetheless determined to quell the growth of its nuclear armament. In a video of a party donors meeting in May, which was filmed without Romney’s knowledge, the Republican candidate expresses a strong fear of Iran bombing not only Israel, but also the US, citing nuclear armament in the hands of an “Iranian crazed fanatic” as potential leverage against America. In regards to Obama, Romney accuses the President of “betray[ing] Israel”, through what he believes to be an excessively “soft” approach to Iran. But on the contrary, Obama is known to have maintained a firm stance in opposition to Iran’s nuclear arms, having said that the US would “do what we must” to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear arms. The issue is important one because according to one Romney supporter, “[i]f the Middle East descends into chaos, if Iran moves toward nuclear breakout, or if Israel’s security is compromised, America could be pulled into the maelstrom.”

But if Romney’s accusation of Obama appears to come from a place of concern, and the desire to avoid conflict, why was he secretly recorded claiming that the “Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace[;…] the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”? Since America’s stability on a worldwide stage could rest on the state of relations in the Middle East, such a pessimistic stance is not prudent. As Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Ereka aptly points out, “Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace.” Clearly his suggestion carries truth, as in the video, Romney even admits that a former Secretary of State approached him with a potential plan for establishing peace, but he “didn’t delve into it.”

Romney has accused Obama and his administration of being too soft in response to the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.  Although Obama condemned all acts of violence and extremism and “has urged global leaders to rally against extremism in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York,” Romney has picked up on an American press release, which states that “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions”. In response to the recent unrest, many from the Western world have been quick and forthright in their defence of freedom of speech, which is indeed justified: the right to speak out – even when in disagreement with someone else, even when your view is one that they don’t want to hear – is worth defending. But being at liberty to speak does not automatically make all speech advisable. That Obama is distancing himself from the video is in fact a wise move, and will help to re-establish security for America in the Middle East. In the face of such an issue, one can’t help but wonder how Romney would handle such a matter, since American and Arab relations are clearly just as unsteady as ever.

One victory that Obama’s administration can undoubtedly be credited with is the lessening concern over terrorism. Since the report of Osama bin Laden’s death, the US has breathed a heavy sigh of relief over what Obama has described as a “devastat[ing]” blow. But is Obama doing enough when the US death toll has now risen above 2,000, with killings as recent as the Monday just passed, and the trillions that are being spent on NATO’s delayed withdrawal from the country could be redirected to dealing with the current recession?

Indeed, as one American citizen has said of America’s international supremacy, “we have to be careful because we’re very close to losing it in my opinion … I think China is very hot on our heels.” Even though America’s domestic economy is the primary concern of many Americans, one businessman who has been minimally affected by the recession maintains that American businesses cannot afford a trade war with China at the moment; businesses such as his are dependent on international trade. Therefore, Obama’s trade complaint with China several weeks ago may have put a considerable strain on this all-important relationship, and although the reason for this complaint was to secure manufacturing jobs within US borders, America could be in for an employability tug-of-war in the next few months. Romney, on the other hand, has “vowed to get tough with China over what he calls ‘currency manipulation’, raising the prospect of a trade war”, and apparently missing the point of international relations altogether.

Overall, influence in international politics, economics and cultural trends is important if America wishes to hold onto its “supremacy” without increasing its enemies. So far, Romney’s hard-fisted approach is in danger of alienating several of America’s allies and jumping to conclusions which all end in cross-fire and intolerance. The domestic economy may be the most discussed by both presidential candidates, but the US’ financial future is tightly bound to its actions abroad, and is worth considering. Or, in the words of the former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage: “The first and most important issue that any President is going to face, after the continued redevelopment and the re-constitution of our own economy, is going to be China, followed by the question of Iran and her nuclear capabilities, and finally the management of the so-called Arab Spring.”

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About the Author

Isabelle Mngadi

Isabelle has recently graduated from the University of Kent, with a degree in Comparative Literature. She has completed work experience with her local MP, Ann Keen, and during her time at university, a significant portion of her studies were dedicated to exploring neo-colonialism and post-colonial development in Africa and Latin America. She has a background in working with young people from the UK and all around the world, and is passionate about helping them express their voice and be a positive influence to those around them. She is mostly interested in discussing international politics, particularly the intricacies of conflict resolution, globalisation and the establishment of human rights.



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