News / USA

US Election Results Could Affect Foreign Policy

US President Barack Obama records the weekly address, 01 Oct 2010 (file photo)
US President Barack Obama records the weekly address, 01 Oct 2010 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. voters will elect a new Congress on November 2, and public opinion polls indicate the domestic economy will be the top issue this year.  Experts say foreign policy concerns do not appear to be a major factor in the congressional midterm elections.  Republican gains in November, though, could have an impact on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy over the next two years.

Political experts agree that the economy and worries about the high unemployment rate will be the dominant issues in this year's election, even though the United States and its allies remain at war in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama would like to begin drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the middle of next year, battlefield conditions permitting.

"The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground and our support for Afghanistan will endure," said President Obama.  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," said Brown.

If Republicans gain seats in the November elections, as analysts expect, that could solidify support for the Afghan war in the short term.  It also could create the potential for conflict in Congress, however, 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 the Republican agenda does include a pledge to remain tough on terrorism and to press for a more comprehensive missile defense system.

Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas said, "We are committed to standing by our friends and our interests.  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.

Henry Nau, with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said, "I doubt seriously if sanctions are going to bring them around on stopping their nuclear program.  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, according to 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," said Mann.  "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, and analysts say that could have an impact when President Obama deals with a new Congress early next year.

Charles Kupchan, with the Council on Foreign Relations, said, "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.  They tend, I think, to hail to what you might call the neo-isolationist wing of the Republican Party."

Republican gains in the Senate also could complicate efforts to ratify a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia.  The START 1 treaty expired in December of last year, and the Obama administration wants a vote in the Senate on the successor treaty soon.  But experts 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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid