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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More