Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Great Retreat

President Obama's First Term Foreign Policy

Note: I'm not trying to be too partisan, but I see certain trends. Not supposed to be tongue-in-cheek.

OVERALL we will hear plenty of rhetoric. Some partisan: 'the last eight years are
xyz.' However, much of it will be something all Americans can and should agree with: 'America will be the shining light and hope for the world...'

But looking at Senator Obama's statements and ideologies and synthesizing them with current trends, the following are possible:

WESTERN EUROPE: Obama will be very well welcomed in London, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin. Obama will state how America has a new face now ('one that will respect its alliances...') and will get new agreements on issues. Most likely there will be a small one involving Afghanistan.

EASTERN EUROPE: For the most part, "New Europe" will be slightly (but not too much at first) unsettled about the changes in policy. Bush made it very clear that Eastern Europe represented the future and vowed to integrate these states into NATO and the EU. Obama will likely state support for this, but in no uncertain terms will not push as hard. Particularly unnerved will be the Ukraine, Moldova, and the Baltic States. The states, feeling Russia breathing down their collective neck would want a U.S. President who wants to develop a missile shield and will rush these states into closer alliance with America. Obama has already derided the missile shield pushed and developed over the last eight years. President Bush has developed a deep friendship with states such as Albania, Poland, Romania, and Georgia. Expect these states to not be as enthusiastic for Obama's plan of less military aid and less diplomatic backing.

RUSSIA: Obama's rhetoric regarding Moscow is not as harsh as John McCain's. This could be seen as extending a friendlier hand to Russia. However, considering this is on the heels of a Russian military buildup, invasion of Georgia, and threatening moves towards the Ukraine and Poland, this move could easily backfire. Russia will find a U.S. President willing to back down on a missile shield, Georgia, and the expansion of NATO. Putin plays to win, Obama plays to make everyone happy.

CHINA: Much of Obama's and McCain's policy towards China will be similar. Despite his 'populist' rhetoric towards the outsourcing of jobs, Obama will push for closer relations with China. Good news, is he'll probably get a cooperation agreement on space technology. Bad news is that he will likely forget Taiwan in the process, which McCain wouldn't.

AFRICA: The Obama-Biden Administration will take a step forward by establishing a no-fly zone in Darfur and perhaps South Sudan. This is good but almost useless (just like no-fly zones didn't prevent the crushing of the 1991 intifada in Shi'a Iraq and the concurrent rebellion in Kurdistan.) However, Obama will not push for U.S. troops ('we cannot allow politics to interfere'). In Somalia, Obama will forget about the progress made by the Bush Administration in concert with Ethiopia to fight al Qaeda. While the Islamic Courts have launched a major counterattack, an abandonment or "forgetting" will be a major setback.
Somalia will be the 'next' center for al Qaeda barring a major NATO or Ethiopian intervention.


SYRIA: Obama will most likely accomplish a major diplomatic coup in his first year. This is (if Iran doesn't have the bomb by then) the 'flipping' of Syria. Syria has been making overtures to the U.S. and has even sat down in indirect peace talks with Israel. This will be lauded as (and will be) a large accomplishment. However, much, if not most of the groundwork will have been done by Condeleeza Rice and the Bush Administration. Syria will also offer to sell it's (very) small amount of oil production to the U.S.

LIBYA: Libya has been moving closer to the U.S. since President Bush forced Kadhafy's hand in 2003 and Libya renounced and gave up its WMD. Libya has even announced moves towards 'democracy.' Expect within the first two years of the Obama presidency that Libya is selling the U.S. oil. A big coup (again done by the Bush Administration but Obama will get credit.)

IRAN: Iran will get the bomb within the first term of the Obama administration. What will happen after that I have no idea. (Probably bad)

IRAQ: Iraq will move closer to full democracy. Elections are scheduled for early 2009. The Iraqi Army is growing. Obama will take credit for 'pushing the Iraqis to take responsibility' but of course he will have almost no responsibility for this.
However, there is a real possibility for a severe civil war. If Obama listens to VP Biden and attempts to split Iraq into three mini-states, there will be sheer hell. The biggest fight will be between the current allied Shi'ite Arabs and Kurds. This will be a disaster beyond the height of Zarqawi's reign of terror. The potential abandonment of Kurdistan would be biggest scar on American hypocrisy since the Anfal Campaign.

ISRAEL: John McCain would be a great, great, and stalwart (and great) supporter of Israel. Obama will most likely not be. However, Joe Biden believes in a strong Israel.
But this will all come down to Iran's bomb. Let's hope they have a plan.


AFGHANISTAN: Expect about 10,000 more U.S. and 8,000 new Allied troops. This will be a major shot in the arm and will help ISAF greatly. General David Petraeus will institute a counter-insurgency strategy and will see progress in Obama's first term.

PAKISTAN: Constant missile and troop incursions by Obama's Administration have the possibility of destroying the little 'goodwill' that is left towards the U.S. in Pakistan. This has the possibility to tear Pakistan into deeper morass. However, there could be an Awakening in Waziristan. Bin Laden will be heavily targeted.

Overall, buy silver, dinars and learn Farsi. (check, check, check)

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