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).

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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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