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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora