Posted by: Tony Carson | 26 September, 2007

The US president: it’s all about foreign policy, stupid

This is a fascinating to-do list for the next US president, fascinating more for what it leaves out than what it included.

To what extent is the job of the US President to leave home to roam the world looking for trouble spots or foreign policy opportunities?

In other words, what percentage of the President’s job description takes place off shore?

According to John Hughes, a former editor of The Christian Science Monitor, is a professor of communications at Brigham Young University damn near all of it.

Wage disparity, racism, health epidemics, tax simplification, the collapsing Middle Class, poverty, health care inequities, gun proliferation, failing infrastructure, clean water, a falling dollar, debt, balance of trade deficit and on and on. No. None of these are on the list — these are all domestic issues.

Hughes’ To Do list is almost exclusively off-shore, which seems like a version of Nero’s fiddling while Rome burns.

But his list (below) does conveniently beg a question: with the increasing power of the states, can a president have significant impact on domestic policy or is his legacy mined solely from foreign policy?

In terms of spending, the president is somewhat ham-strung domestically with relatively little of his budget available for discretionary spending (less than 5%). Off-shore, though, his purse has no bottom: without ever declaring war he has managed to commit upwards of a trillion dollars to foreign occupations.

It may be time to look at the US presidency in a whole new light: its all about foreign policy stupid.

The following are Hughes’ key challenges:

1. Global warming and its implications.

2. Energy.

3. Jihadism.

4. Grinding poverty in Africa, and in the Arab lands that spawn terrorism, must be supplanted by economic development that offers hope.

5. Nuclear threats,

Areas that need the Presidents “perceptive attention:”

• Israel and the Palestinians, who must create independent homelands at peace with each other

• North Korea, apparently making some progress toward curbing its nuclear military ambitions

• Iran, which is not making such progress and seeks to extend its influence throughout the Middle East

• Iraq, which must exert more effort towards healing its factional divisions and reduce the presence of US forces

• Darfur, where genocide is continuing unchecked

• Zimbabwe, where a dictator is bringing a nation to its knees

• Cuba, where a peaceful transition must take place upon Fidel Castro’s departure

• Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez dreams of a socialist revolution across Latin America

• Russia, where the disappointing aftermath of communism’s demise is a slide away from democracy

• China, where attempts to run a booming free market economy with a communist political system must inevitably give way to change

When the new US president isn’t attending to foreign issues, there are some major challenges at home:

• illegal immigration and the future of some 12 million illegal immigrants already working in the country

• social security

•  Medicare

No mention of the UN, Nato or international agreements, treaties, co-operation and intelligence-gathering. This To Do list seems more of Bush failed policy of Unilateralism.

As they say, people who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.


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