Also titled, “Putting My $120,000 Diploma To (Good?) Use.”
World politics is turbo awesome. Period. Maybe my outlook is colored by the fact that international politics was my concentration in college (definitely), but it is really interesting. I could nerd out for some time about the intricacies of diplomacy, jus cogens standards, and how bizarre and wonderful it is that states follow international law when there is no tangible punishment for breaking it. RAD.
Foreign Policy (<3 ❤ <3) ran an opposing views feature some days ago debating whether or not President Obama has failed in his foreign policy endeavors, with Marc Lynch arguing that he has not and Stephen Walt providing the dissent. It’s a really well done piece–read it!
After I read it, as much as I hated to admit it, I had to side with Walt. US foreign policy is completely busted.
Don’t get me wrong–me and Brobama are tight. I understand that the majority of the problems he has faced since coming into office were inherited and not of his own design, but there are also some glaring mistakes. Joseph and I spent a long time debating the point of whether or not the fact that these problems are all lose-lose scenarios made any difference–I say no, because as midterm elections roll in, and the upcoming presidential race begins, the American public’s collective amnesia will render any “But, Bush started it!” arguments moot. For this reason, I’m hesitant to engage the Iraq/Afghanistan quagmire, though I will say that the drawdown in Iraq is the best I could hope for at this point.
Anyway, on to my quibbles.
Israel and Palestine. Dude. C’MON. I was pumped when Obama came into office promoting bilateral talks and a two state solution (SPOILER: I am mega pro-Palestinian). When Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu went rogue back in March, I was anxiously waiting for the US to rebuke them. Nothing. Hilary Clinton’s statement amounted to, “Gee, we really wish you guys would stop building those illegal settlements,” but no one dropped my favorite S-Bomb: sanctions. (An article in the Washington Times might see things differently, but I don’t think a phone call amounts to “tough criticism.”) At the very least, I would love to see some of that foreign aid we’re sending recalled–$30 billion over the last decade, which is astronomical compared to what we send other countries. I mean, if you’re counting. And please, no counter-arguments about Israel as the only Middle Eastern ally of the US or Israel as the tiny nation that needs our protection–they’ve had the most advanced military in the region since the 1940s, and it’s not like they are the most reliable ally.
The inability of the US to hold Israel accountable, despite our one-sided relationship, is one of my biggest frustrations with the current administration (Can we please address the recent border skirmishes between them and Lebanon?) and is probably my greatest disappointment with US foreign policy.
Guantánamo Bay. Blow that place up already. Just extraordinary-rendition all of the 176 people still there back to wherever they were snatched from and call it a day. It’s a colossal human rights disaster and seriously affects US credibility when addressing the international community–maybe we can put a parking lot on it like Germany did over Hitler’s bunker. Joseph took issue with my inability to offer a coherent strategy for dealing with the remaining detainees–valid, but if I had an answer, I would be making all kinds of money with the State Department. I don’t claim to have the solution, but then again, I didn’t promise that the facility would be shut down already.
Iran. Honestly, I never thought I would say this, but Ahmadinejad was kind of making some sense when he addressed the UN General Assembly back in May. Beneath all of the rhetoric about the Zionist regime (Israel) and the US as a criminal entity, he actually made a reasonable, if not obvious, statement–how can the US expect the world to abandon nuclear arms when they themselves have not done so? Sure, the US has signed a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia, but that might not get ratified. If the US wants to be a legitimate broker for nuclear disarmament, there has to be reciprocation.
The nuclear issue notwithstanding, I am a little frustrated with the same tired approach to Iran that the administration is perpetuating. In his speech to Cairo University, Obama promised to address Iran with no preconditions, yet the US refuses to enter into talks without Iran’s complete abandonment of their nuclear program–on top of that, the current administration went one step further, imposing new sanctions on Iran. I’m not asking for the US to trade BFF bracelets with Ahmadinejad, but a little more of the open-mindedness that Obama espoused in Cairo could go a long way towards repairing the US image in the Middle East.
I doubt that any of these issues will be part of the greater American political discourse come the next round of presidential campaigning–I’m certain that the economy and domestic agenda issues like health care and finance reform will dominate the conversation, for better or for worse (WHAT UP, TEA PARTIERS). Even if foreign policy makes it into the discussion, it would most likely revolve around the cessation of combat operations in Iraq and its merits/consequences. I’m certainly anxious to see how/if the tide shifts during the midterms and how effectively the Democratic party can frame these issues come 2012.