Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Foreign Policy Challenges to the Next US President

Currently, rivalry in the presidential election of the United States is becoming more and more intensified. People tend to pay too much attention to the rise and fall of individual candidates day by day. However, it is vital that the most competent commander in chief must be selected to protect US homeland and solidify the American world order. Neither gender nor “blood and colour” should be a top agenda.

The next President of the United States will face unprecedented challenges in the War on Terror, nuclear non-proliferation, and dealing with rising economies like China and Russia. President George W. Bush will pass Middle East problems, such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine to his successor.

In view of foreign policy turning points, Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution and Former Deputy Secretary of State under the Clinton administration, contributed an article, “Trouble Ahead for the Next U.S. President” to Financial Times Magazine on January 4.

Talbott was a roommate with Former President Bill Clinton as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Therefore, he argues US foreign policy from Clintonian viewpoints. However, removing some biases, this article makes some crucial policy recommendations for US and foreign leaders and citizens.

Let me comment briefly to this article. Strobe Talbott says that the rift between the United States and the United Nations be repaired. So is the relationship with US allies, he argues. Talbott is critical to the Bush administration’s “unilateralist” policy on Iraq and disregard of international institutions.

Talbott urges the next president ―― whether Republican or Democrat ―― to address complete obligation to the Geneva and UN torture conventions, and re-sign the International Criminal Court treaty, in order to send a clear message that the successor will take utterly different policy approaches from those of the Bush administration.

Throughout this article, Strobe Talbott insists on Kantian rule-based foreign policy, rather than Hobbesian power-oriented foreign policy advocated by neoconservatives. He argues that nuclear non-proliferation and climate change are urgent issues for the next president to take actions. On the other hand, he does not mention democracy promotion and the War on Terror, both of which will continue to be key foreign policy agendas after the Bush administration. I am disappointed with this point.

However, I agree with him that the United States value multilateral approaches to manage global issues and defeat present dangers. Though Talbott is critical to Bush diplomacy, I have to remind readers that NATO globalization has started under current administration. NATO is exploring strategic cooperation with Japan and Australia. Success in Afghanistan is a step toward the future. It is a pleasure that Japan is back to the Indian Ocean to help NATO.

Regarding nuclear non-proliferation, Strobe Talbott insists on obligation to NPT rules. Actually, he is a vocal critic to the US-India nuclear deal between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Also, he urges the next president to respect the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. I do necessarily not agree to rigidly rule based approaches, because the United States needs new partners like India. Asia-Pacific allies such as Japan and Australia are exploring strategic ties with this country. I believe America’s policy option be more flexible. But I agree with Talbott that non-proliferation issue has become more important than ever.

Another issue is climate change. It is a critical issue, and the global community needs US leadership. Strobe Talbott argues that the United States ratify the Kyoto Protocol immediately. In my view, more practical ways need to be suggested. Right or wrong, the Kyoto Protocol was rejected at the Senate. It is unlikely that Albert Gore movie change such atmosphere. Will the next administration show alternatives without damaging America’s national interest? It is true that the Bush administration failed to do so.

Whether you agree with him or not, there is no denying that Strobe Talbott points out vital agendas for the next president. America stands at crossroads, and the world stands at crossroads as well. The most desirable candidate is the one who is qualified to be the most competent commander in chief and able to pursue multilateral endeavor like NATO globalization.

The selection of the leader is beyond party politics. I feel resented with the tear and sympathy tactic and an appeal for women voters by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would have never done a thing like that. She said she became the Prime Minister not because she was a woman, but because her policy was right. If she were to be the real commander in chef, Hillary Clinton must behave like Lady Thatcher of Finchley.

Who will take over unfinished job of President Bush in the Middle East, non-proliferation, and other global issues? The brightest commander of multilateral efforts is wanted now.