Looking ahead to post 2016 US elections it would be worthwhile to game the foreign policy scenarios, a Republican win with either Cruz or Trump; a Democrat victory with Clinton or Sanders. In now January 2016 it could be any of the foregoing or a dark horse. It is highly doubtful that the profile of the House will change, considering how artfully the Republicans have gerrymandered the congressional districts and it is unlikely the Democrats could make enough gains to take control of the Senate. In August the picture could be clearer but for now, let us game.
Syrian Refugees: refuse them entry, one and all.Use Kurds/Pershmerga against ISIS but, he obviously does not understand the significance of arming and supporting the Kurds who are enemies of the US ally and fellow member of NATO, Turkey and at odds with the Iraqi giovernment. Those arms would be used not only to fight ISIS, they would be employed to launch attacks on Turkey as one has seen with terrorist attacks by Kurds within Turkey recently.
Narrow Middle East focus with occasional reference to Russia: He supports Russian air strikes in Syria but contends they are directed at rebel groups not ISIS and is opposed to any cooperation with Russia.
China: Singing the tired refrain of human rights and China’s one child policy they have abandoned. Also he supports a “business tax” on US companies with a manufacturing base in China. A non-brainer.
Europe: Opposed to VAT, Value Added Tax and very likely to national healthcare, branding it socialism.
Democratisation. Recognises the danger of intervention, and be careful what you wish for consequences so that is in his favour. He mentions Libya, Egypt, Syria and Assad but not Iraq.
Iran and Israel: the priority is to destroy ISIS, then take on Iran and cater to Israel’s every whim.
TPP: Opposed to TPP but neither he nor anyone else talks about AIIB.
He has no foreign policy advisors yet and it is difficult to pin him down because he is so vague and uninformed.
Syria/Russia/Iraq: He doesn’t seem to favour intervention, is quiet on the Ukraine, pro Russia on intervention in Syria. His Assad views are similar to Cruz. Outspoken on opposition to the war in Iraq.
Israel/Iran: As for Israel and Iran He is pro Israel, as are all US politicians excepting Obama. His comments about Iran are like many of his statements that vary from day to day.
China: He is worried about the economic impact of China, but doesn’t mention military threats. Although he did say he would do anything to force China’s compliance, whatever that means. He criticises China’s human rights fearing the impact it has on China’s consumer market; proposes a tougher line with China on currency and trade; proposes import tariffs that would impact on the US consumers but no mention of US indebtedness, and the holding of US treasuries by China.
TPP: He opposes it and doesn’t understand it, believing China is a member!
He believes all countries need US more than US need other countries, a belief shared by his fellow Republican candidates.
The Republican candidates, one and all, are proposing foreign policy that would precipitate more wars, more casualties, and more indebtedness. The threats to roll back the Iranian agreement, if carried through, could create a rift with the countries that have signed on to the agreement. Russia, China and several European countries, anxious to benefit from post sanctions commerce with Iran have already signed commercial contracts with the Iranians. Both Xi Jinping and Putin have paid visits to Teheran.
Hawkish but critical of Arab Spring blowback. That she admits Libya was a mistake is in her favour but she remains far too confrontational with Russia and China. She supports the eastward reach of NATO something that will exacerbate relations with Russia and drive them deeper into the embrace of China. She believes Europe should be tougher on Russia but she ignores Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy.
Russia: Vague but generally critical and confrontational as are all US politicians who cannot countenance global competition.
Syria: At the same time she favours the Ukraine to be a NATO member, but she wants Russia to be present at discussions about Syria. How does she expect to Russia work with the US on Syria when she is deliberately provoking them in the Ukraine?
China: The usual hectoring about human rights but favours constructive trade relations.
TPP: Opposed to it in opposition to Obama
Weak on foreign policy, dovish, a rights supporter but probably not an interventionist. With regard to foreign policy, one of the most telling criticisms of his lack of knowledge was his naïve and uninformed proposal that Saudi Arabia and Iran cooperate to fight and defeat ISIS. This is one of the worst examples of US politicians and their lack of knowledge of current events, history and Islam I have read. This is the sort of proposal that one of the equally uniformed Republican presidential candidates would make.
Israel: being Jewish he is in a difficult position and so far he has remained quiet on the subject of the Palestinians
Iran: However, he is quite sensible about Iran, suggesting the US establish a diplomatic mission in Teheran.
China and Tibet: he follows the old tired line about human rights criticizing China without mentioning the contributions China is making to the global economy and development of global investment institutions such as the AIIB for underdeveloped nations.
He would probably try to keep focus on domestic issues climate change but could be forced to change tack. If a crisis arises the dynamics of the race could change. He might hand over foreign policy management to State or NSC advisors. He would seem to be out of place in any international gathering of heads of state.
Russia: Sanders really is naïve and historically uninformed. He supports Russia as a member of NATO much like his suggestion that Saudi Arabia and Iran cooperate in Syria.
TPP: Opposed, in concert with Cruz , Trump and Clinton.
With a hostile, uncooperative, and probably vengeful, Republican congress it will be nigh impossible to cobble together anything resembling a bi-partisan foreign policy, or for that matter, any policy, foreign or domestic. The choice between Clinton and Sanders is one of a hawk against a dove. Sanders would be less likely to adopt a kinetic based foreign policy but his ignorance of geopolitics could create serious problems.
Summary of summaries
There is little to choose between the Democrats and Republicans, both having severe weaknesses in foreign policy but perhaps better to go with Sanders and hope he surrounds himself with competent advisors. Hillary is too hawkish, too interventionist. The Republicans are ignorant, irrational and confrontational.
I wonder, faced with two undesirable choices, when Europe, increasingly disillusioned with the US, will cut the umbilical cord with the US. They have already done so by signing on to the Chinese sponsored AIIB.
As this electoral circus progresses, and candidates are added or subtracted and positions change, there will be amendments and postscripts to this post.
Categories:US Foreign Policy