Friday, February 02, 2007

America’s Policy Direction in 2007

President George W. Bush gave State of the Union address on January 23. The President showed the guidelines to manage key domestic and foreign policy agendas, including budget deficit, social security, education, health care, immigration, energy and climate change, War on Terror, and the Iraq War.

Basically, the fundamental policy direction has not shifted so much from that of the last year. The media talk about closer understandings on climate changes between the current administration and Democrats. In fact, the President mentioned lowering dependence on oil and reducing emission of global warming gas last year. This year, President Bush talked furthermore that the United States explore the use of ethanol, in order to tackle this issue.

The most critical issue is the Iraq War and the War on Terror. While the President addressed to expand US commitment in Iraq. Democrats insist early withdrawal, but show no clear designs after this.

According to one post on Foreign Policy Blog, entitled “Passport live-blogs the State of the Union tonight” by Foreign Policy's editor Mike Byron on January 23, “despite reports to the contrary, we're expecting a speech that will seriously engage foreign policy issues, not least of all Iraq and Iran. Bush and his speech writers know that Iraq—and only Iraq—will define his legacy.”

Also he says that it is important to pay attention to Democrats’ response on two key issues: immigration and climate change.

On energy issue, both parties have reached a consensus that the United States must lower its dependence on oil. David B. Sandalow, Energy and Environment Scholar at the Brookings Institution, explains it as the following: National security hawks raise alarms about the vast sums of money sent each year to the Persian Gulf. Environmentalists warn about global warming. Farmers see new fortunes in the transition to ethanol. Consumers cry out when oil prices rise. (“Ending Oil Dependence, Brookings Institution Report, January 22)

Regarding climate change, the Bush administration explores resolutions other than the Kyoto Protocol. However, Warwick J. McKibbin, Professor of international economics at the Australian National University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Peter J. Wilcoxen Associate Professor of economics and public administration at Syracuse University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues as below in “A Credible Foundation for Long Term International Cooperation on Climate Change” in Brookings Discussion Papers in International Economics No. 171, June 2006.

If an international agreement is to succeed in reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, it should build on existing institutions to establish credible long-term incentives for major investments in physical capital and in research and development.

Despite consensus between current administration and Democrats on this issue, some gaps over the Kyoto Protocol still exist. The Bush administration needs to show persuasive alternatives, if it does not accept the protocol.

The most important issue is Iraq and the war on Terror. In his article to Armed Forces Journal on February 2, entitled “Buying Boots: The Challenge of Expanding US Land Forces”, Thomas Donnelly, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, points out that serious Democrats recognize it necessary to send more troops to Iraq by quoting a comment Senator Hilary Clinton. Furthermore, he mentions weak points of Democrats. “The Democrats, for all their boasting about the results of last fall's elections, understand that both their credentials and capacity to direct wartime policy are weak. They fear, rightly, being portrayed as weak on defense--here, too, they avoid any suggestion that we're engaged in a war--and well know that the powers of Congress pale before those of the commander in chief. With a view toward the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic leadership will want to be cautious and keep a tight rein on those most anxious and energetic to force a withdrawal from Iraq. Having been in the political wilderness since 1994, they care less about policy than power.” On the other hand, Republicans are not in a good position as they are obsessed with the loss in the midterm election, and there is no policy consensus among GOP presidential candidates.

Donnelly argues four questions need to be addressed for further commitment to Iraq: What's the cost and where will the money come from? How large should the increase be? What is the mission for this larger force? What kind of force do we need?

Once the size and kind of forces were decided, then, move on to strategies to defeat insurgents and promote political processes. This is mentioned in the article, “A Turning Point for the Iraq War” in AEI Newsletter in February. Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at AEI, insists that the priority must be given to establishing security around Baghdad. In addition, General Jack Keane (US Army, retired) commented that the United States could broker political solution in Iraq only by solidifying security. You can see the video of this event from this link.

The Iraq issue will be the foremost agenda for this year and 2008 election. It is time the real resolution was fixed up. In conclusion, please listen to the link for Kamen Rider Black RX, a Japanese SF super hero.

Take the risk, or the Evil will dominate the earth.
Wake up the hero! Burning light! The eternal battle with the darkness!
Wake up the hero! Shining sun! Endow me with love and courage!

Policymakers must be unyielding to terrorists as this song says.