Thursday, April 10, 2008

U. S. Foreign Policy - Rest of 2008 and Beyond

Foreign policy is always very important for us, but it is especially so at the current time and the foreseeable future. It's important because indirectly or directly it affects our national security, relationships with other countries, our economy, our financial markets, the country's treasury and our national debt, the taxes we pay, and even our standards of living. It's also important because as the world's largest economy and, for the time being at least, the only real superpower, what we do affects virtually every other country in one way or another.

Given events over the last several years and where we are today, it's extremely clear that both President Bush, and the nominee who wins the presidential election in November, have and will have their hands full of critical foreign policy issues to manage. How well these are managed will have a great impact on the nation and our citizens. Voters and taxpayers better pay attention! But, based on past performance, we know that a sizable and embarrassing minority of Americans will probably not pay much attention and they will likely not even vote. They will simply pay their taxes and complain that our government is not doing the right thing, not providing enough services for them, and/or that their taxes are too high.

Most Americans over the age of 15 or 16 probably know that our biggest foreign policy issue over the shorter term directly or indirectly involves national security, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the global war on terrorists, our concerns with Iran, North Korea, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and our relationships with the two emerging superpowers, Russia and China. Over the longer term, aside from overall national security, major foreign policy issues for us, in my view, include international trade cooperation, the roles of the United Nations and NATO, energy independence, and policies to deal effectively with global warming on a world-wide scale.

President Bush, with only about seven more months in office, and despite low public opinion polls, can be expected to continue his current policies, trying to do what he believes is best for the country, and best for his presidential legacy. Foremost for him is probably achieving favorable results in stabilizing Iraq as much as possible and not having us experience any more terrorist attacks in this country. Our three major presidential candidates, Senators McCain, Clinton and Obama, are, understandably, primarily trying to get nominated at their respective conventions and winning the election in November.

How the majority of Americans feel about continuing the Bush Administration's policies and strategies with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan will definitely be a key factor in the outcome of the November election. My strong guess is that this will favor the Democratic nominee. It is also certain that, more so than in most previous presidential elections in recent years, the selection of the best running mate to serve as Vice President and the selection of their choice to serve as Secretary of State, managing foreign policies, will be of critical importance to each of the three candidates. The candidates' choice of their Vice President running mate will be known before the election. It is unfortunate that the name of their choice for Secretary of State is typically not known at that time.

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