-- Originally written: 17th October
The past few weeks have produced great economic turmoil.
The world has not seen such a down turn in prosperity since the Great Depression. As you’d expect this has taken hold of the US Presidential Election, and has become the focal point of both John McCain and Barack Obama’s campaigns. Other seemingly high agenda issues such as abortion, immigration and energy have now slipped into the background of people’s attentions as the American public come to terms with the implications of the crashing markets across the world, and their effects on their livelihoods.
However, one issue, which has also slipped into distant memory, is foreign policy. This was meant to be one of the most important issues for US voters in the 2008 election. It pitted the vastly experienced John McCain against the international novice, Barack Obama. It also put the wily old foreign policy expert, Joe Biden, against Sarah Palin, whose foreign policy experience is simply laughable for a woman in her position. Both sides perfectly balanced against one another, about to go toe to toe in a foreign policy battle to win the hearts and minds of the US electorate. It has panned out most people, myself included, expected.
However, the issues remain. American soldiers are still in Iraq. More are flying out to the Middle East every day on yet another tour of duty. The US military is fighting Taleban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with no end in sight. Osama bin Laden is still at large. Iran is still pushing ahead with its controversial nuclear plans. The Israelis and the Palestinians are nowhere near reaching peace by the end of the year, as set out at Anapolis. And the threat of Russia still looms over Eastern Europe, especially an increasingly volatile looking Ukraine. Not to mention Darfur and Zimbabwe, which are now completely, lost in the back pages of US foreign policy doctrines.
These are the issues that will face the victorious duo from January 20th onwards, but they thus far not drawing much attention. Sure, the economic situation is very important to the American voter. But so is American standing in the world, and for all the faults of the last eight years of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy, America is still the number one power in the world. The stereotypical view of American voters has always been that they are very inward looking considering the authority their nation has over the world. The economic crisis has only strengthened this view in my mind.
The new President and his Vice President will find that you can push foreign policy to the side for only so long before it comes back, and becomes hard to shift. Iran is likely to be the main issue for the Obama or McCain to face. Let’s hope that the American voters will consider this too when going to the polls on November 4th, because although the American economy is very important, but so is American involvement in the world. A lack of jobs may see an increase in recruitment for the military, which is very much needed with the calls for a troop ‘surge’ in Afghanistan. Barack Obama has stated in his manifesto that he wants tens of thousands of extra troops in the American military. The economic crisis hitting American families might unexpectedly help him out with this.
On a lighter note, it was very amusing to see Hugo Chavez refer to President George W. Bush as his “Comrade”. I have a feeling the Venezuelan President is going to miss ‘Dubya’ come January.
By Stewart Munn