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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid