News / USA

Republican Gains in Midterm Elections Could Alter US Foreign Policy

US soldiers of the 82nd Airborne aim at the entrance to a cave outside the village of Malakay, Afghanistan (FILE).
US soldiers of the 82nd Airborne aim at the entrance to a cave outside the village of Malakay, Afghanistan (FILE).
TEXT SIZE - +

Experts say the state of the U.S. economy is sure to dominate the November midterm elections - not foreign policy concerns such as the build up of U.S. forces fighting alongside NATO in Afghanistan.  But if Republicans make gains on November 2, political observers think the new political lineup could have have an impact on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy over the next two years.  

Battlefield conditions permitting, President Obama has said he would like to begin drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the middle of next year.

"The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground and our support for Afghanistan will endure," Mr. Obama said. "But make no mistake.  This transition will begin, because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's."

Afghanistan remains the Obama administration's top foreign policy challenge, and even though U.S. casualties have increased in recent months, domestic support for the war effort remains stable, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.

"Interestingly, the groups that are most supportive of the president's war policy are Republicans and conservatives, who are less likely to support anything else on his agenda."

If Republicans gain seats in the November elections, as analysts expect, that could solidify support for the Afghan war in the short term.  But it could also create the potential for conflict in Congress if Democrats press for the beginning of a withdrawal next year.

Republicans are emphasizing economic issues in their campaign platform, especially tax and spending cuts. But their agenda does include a pledge to remain tough on terrorism and to press for a more comprehensive missile defense system, according to Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas.

"We are committed to standing by our friends and our interests," Thornberry said. "We will restore full funding for missile defense and push for tough enforcement of sanctions against Iran."

Republican gains in the House and Senate could strengthen the hand of conservative critics who charge that the president has not been tough enough when it comes to denying Iran a nuclear weapons potential. One such critic is Henry Nau from the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

"I doubt seriously if sanctions are going to bring them around on stopping their nuclear program," says Nau. "That is, of course, Obama's view of the way the world works and they are going to continue to make trouble."

But in general the debate over foreign policy is not likely to matter much during this year's election campaign, says Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution.

"Interesting from my point of view is that there has been relatively little discussion of foreign policy in the midterm elections.  Issues like Iraq, even Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East, are talked about at the edges but are in no way central to the campaign itself."

If Republicans do gain seats in November or win back a majority in one or both chambers of Congress, they could be in a position to at least try to steer U.S. foreign policy in a more conservative direction.  For example, conservatives could press the Obama administration to be more assertive in dealing with Russia and China.

Activists from the grassroots Tea Party movement are pushing the Republican Party to the right.  That could have an impact when President Obama deals with a new Congress early next year, says the Council on Foreign Relations' Charles Kupchan.

"The centrist wing in the Republican Party is not likely to gain because a lot of the winners of the Republicans are going to be more Tea Party members who are also not centrist liberal internationalists," says Kupchan.  "They tend, I think, to hail to what you might call the neo-isolationist wing of the Republican Party."

Republican gains in the Senate could also complicate efforts to ratify a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia.  The START-ONE treaty expired in December of last year and the Obama administration wants a vote in the Senate on the successor treaty soon.  But observers say that Republican gains in the Senate could embolden conservative critics of the treaty who argue that its ratification would weaken U.S. defenses, a notion that President Obama and Senate Democrats reject.  

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid