News / Asia

Domestic Politics to Follow Obama on Asia Trip

One question not asked of President Obama in his Wednesday news conference about the U.S midterm congressional elections, was the potential effect of the outcome on his foreign policy agenda. Like former Democratic president Bill Clinton who traveled overseas shortly after the Democrats suffered midterm elections losses, questions about Mr. Obama's reduced political power at home will certainly follow him through a 10-day Asian trip beginning at the end of the week.

In 1994, shortly after Democrats suffered a major defeat at the hands of Republicans in that year's midterm elections, former President Bill Clinton traveled to Indonesia to attend the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit.

During that visit to Jakarta, Clinton faced questions from a persistent traveling White House press corps about Democrat's loss of control in Congress to Republicans.

Fast forward to November 2010. President Obama will also attend an APEC summit, this year in Yokohama, Japan, along with the first G-20 summit to be hosted by South Korea.

Before Tuesday's midterm elections, which handed control of the House of Representatives to Republicans, White House officials acknowledged that the U.S. political situation would likely be a key topic, at minimum for the media, during Mr. Obama's upcoming trip.  

The president's first stops, in India and Indonesia, will focus on bilateral economic, trade, and security/strategic relations, and in Jakarta, on extending the outreach to the Muslim world he began with a speech in Cairo last year.

Mr. Obama will have to conduct important bilateral and global business, including bilateral meetings with China's President Hu Jintao and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, against the background of diminished political power at home.

The only mention of foreign countries during the president's news conference came as he answered a reporter's question about finding common ground with Republicans on spending priorities, saying he would not favor cutting into "core investments" that will ensure U.S. global competitiveness.

"We should be able to agree now that it makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us, and we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth.  That used to be us.  They are making investments, because they know those investments will pay off over the long term,' Mr. Obama said.

This week, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, Mike Froman, was asked if the president would have to devote time to reassuring key trading partners jittery about U.S. political changes.

Froman said U.S. domestic politics would be a subject during the president's trip because other countries are "naturally interested" in what goes on in the United States. Regardless of the U.S. election results, Froman said Mr. Obama will focus on expanding U.S. export opportunities and creating jobs for Americans.

One important unfinished piece of business for the president and Congress is completion of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. Froman said discussions were continuing aimed at achieving a satisfactory result by the time President Obama arrives in South Korea.

Asked about the impact of the U.S. elections on the image of the United States abroad, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called them a powerful example of the American people exercising their constitutional responsibilities and living up to the framework of government by the people.

Saying the president may be devoting some time during his Asia travels to what he will face back in Washington when he returns, Gibbs said Mr. Obama will be fully prepared to answer questions about the U.S. midterm elections at each stop of his journey.

One reality President Obama and White House officials likely have been considering for some time before the midterm elections is the impact on foreign policy objectives where the U.S. Congress is concerned.

The administration will have to work with Congress on final approval of the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia, on China currency legislation that stalled in the U.S. Senate.

The president will also be dealing with the likely new Republican chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives.  

Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a hard liner when it comes to issues with Cuba,  such as relaxation of the U.S. travel ban, and on Iran, and is among lawmakers in Congress who have voiced concern about the importance of safeguards being included in a $60 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid