Remember this simple catchphrase for priorities: “It’s the economy, stupid”?
Many think that should be the watchword for the new President Barack Obama. But a confusing and dangerous miasma of foreign policy challenges lurks and lurches ahead. Without carefully applied wisdom, the United States could make matters worse on a wide range of international fronts and issues…
President-elect Obama with his two Blackberris and some light reading.
Yesterday, two think tanks said the U.S. should move away from Iraq and work like the devil on the nuclear covetous Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran.
The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations said it is time to make peace in the Middle east as a “top priority.” For the past six years under President George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy in the region has been dominated by Iraq, said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Richard Haass, president of the Council.
Now the two agree the real problem is Iran.
Nuclear aspirant: Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran
One difficulty with this line of thinking is that, depending on the day, the think tank report one considers, and the newspaper headline, America faces stadium full of “top priorities.”
In Russia, Medvedev and Putin believe they should be tops on the Obama agenda. Mr. Medvedev even threatened to deploy nuclear armed missiles in Eastern Europe unles and until the U.S. backed off of its missile defense ambitions with Poland and the Czech Republic.
And the Medvedev/Putin thrust cannot be overlooked: the two had no qualms about invading Georgia to get the attention of the U.S. and NATO: and it worked.
Russia’s Medvedev, in front of a startegic Russian missile, said his missile advances will overwhelm U.S. defensive measures in the next few years.
Terrorism could be the number one priority. Just yesterday the U.S. Director of National Security said in essence that the Pakistani Islamist radical militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba blew up Mubai, India, last week, killing nearly 200.
On the same day, yesterday, a group of wise men said the U.S. can expect to face a biological or chemical attack.
Is another 9-11 in America’s future? And are we ready to defend or respond?
Pakistan itself might lay claim to Mr. Obama’s top priority. Bankrupt, last weekend rioters ripped through the nations largest city, the Pakistani Army was pinned down by terrorists in the tribal areas, and the nuclear-armed government was under fire from all domestic and international sides over Mumbai.
A Pakistani newspaper wondered yesterday if the Army was about to break with the elected government of mr. Zardari and his Minister Mr. Gilani.
Then there are a few small matters with China, North Korea and you name it.
Oh and there are just a few domestic realities and campaign promises that need our next president’s attention: OPEC and oil, drill or not to drill, schools and education, tax relief, jobs and unemployment,health care, AIDS and the list goes on.
You won’t convince me for a second that the modern miracle of multi-tasking and several Blackberries will resolve this poisonous soup.
America needs to take a deep breath and close its eyes: too much Obama-mania could cause one not to think.
Mr. Obama, the United States, all Americans and all Western allies are in for some very hard work, sacrifices of an unknown nature, and difficult decisions.
Here’s a simple truth: The age of simplicity is over.
“It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf war. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.