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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obama's Future Foreign Policy

While US foreign policy is highly focused on the Middle East, what can be expected from president-elect Barack Obama's future foreign policy toward the rest of the world?

With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tensions with Iran, instability in Pakistan, Lebanon and Palestinian territories, the Middle East, and the immediate region beyond, has took the center stage of US foreign policy throughout the years of the Bush administration. Therefore, president-elect Barack Obama has stated his positions on several issues touching the Middle East. But what about the rest of the world?

Obama has surrounded himself with many Clinton-era foreign policy advisers, many whom can be characterized as liberal interventionists. However, many expect him to balance the liberal interventionist point of view by also seeking the advice of political realists, none the least from former President Carter's Nation Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Obama also promised to bring a few Republicans in his administration so as to give a more bipartisan leaning to his presidency.

Obama sided incontestably with Georgia in the August war over South Ossetia. To regain lost standing and influence in world affairs, Obama may be tempted to put a wedge into the Sino-Russian strategic partnership by constructively and extensively courting one of the two powers. With the actual context of global financial crisis, China is a much better choice. Therefore, by reaching to China and making it a “world stakeholder”, Washington could attempt divorcing Beijing from Moscow. A diplomatic breakthrough with Iran could also further isolate Russia

Read more at Suite101: Obama's Future Foreign Policy: International Relations Under New US President-Elect Barack Obama http://www.suite101.com/content/obamas-future-foreign-policy-a78386#ixzz14MVpc3v1

Also, Obama advisor Brzezinski is known for his aggressive stance toward Russia and his past proposition to break-up Russia into a loose confederation of several small and weak states so has to assure US domination in the former Soviet sphere of influence, especially in Central Asia.

As stated above, notwithstanding the pressure from liberal human rights groups, Obama will probably put an end to the Bush discourse of China as a “strategic competitor” and go back to the Clinton-era talk of a “strategic partner.”

On the North Korean issue, even if he stated his willingness hold bilateral talks with its leaders, he may be more tempted at this point to keep the six-party talks intact so as to continue coordinating US policies with regional allies like Japan and South Korea, as well as to keep an eye on Chinese and Russian moves toward Pyongyang.

Read more at Suite101: Obama's Future Foreign Policy: International Relations Under New US President-Elect Barack Obama http://www.suite101.com/content/obamas-future-foreign-policy-a78386#ixzz14MVkeaDI

On the other side of Asia, Obama will no doubt build on Washington's new found partner in India and seek to expand military cooperation between NATO and New Delhi. However, unlike Bush, Obama may not have the same goal of building India into a regional counterweight to China that has so aroused Indian political elite's dreams of great power status. Since stability in Pakistan is tantamount to pacifying Afghanistan, Obama may try to use the new US leverage on India to bring it into making concessions toward Pakistan so that the latter does not plunge over the brink into failed statehood.

Latin America
Latin America, and especially South America, has used the fact that Bush essentially ignored the region to break free form its vassal relationship toward Washington, take an independent path for its future and begin to stand on its own. But now, Latin American countries are ready to build a new, mature, equal-to-equal relationship with the United States and Obama may just be the right interlocutor they need. Obama says he may hold bilateral talks with Cuba and Venezuela but it remains unclear if he will seek to develop a new vision of US-Latin relations.

European countries were maybe the most pleased with Obama's election. At last, many sticking points straining tans-Atlantic relations may be resolved. None the least is the issue of climate change. Even if Obama may find it impossible to convince Congress to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts China and other large developing countries, his long-term commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of the century is a welcome break from Bush's stubborn feet-dragging on the issue.

Other questions such as the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the end of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, a more collaborative stance at the UN and a rise in foreign aid to fight global poverty (especially in Africa) will also be welcome in European capitals and streets, as well as in the rest of the world

Read more at Suite101: Obama's Future Foreign Policy: International Relations Under New US President-Elect Barack Obama http://www.suite101.com/content/obamas-future-foreign-policy-a78386#ixzz14MVgFPKv

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