Which presidential candidates will follow in Obama’s footsteps abroad?
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our special coverage of the U.S. presidential race. It follows the first article in the series by our contributor Amanda Silvestri.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – With the United States House of Representatives planning to vote on a bill aimed at blocking the Iran nuclear deal, and the White House announcing that they will veto said bill, the question is begged about how the U.S. conducts foreign policy.
Currently, President Obama has made strides in using diplomacy over brute military force to tackle issues related to Iran, Syria, Israel and Ukraine. However, he has been criticized for not being strong enough in regards to these foreign issues.
The opposition in Congress has touted the president for his meek approach to Russia invading Crimea back in 2013. More recently, he agreed to send weapons to Ukraine so they could be armed against Russian invasion. This led to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s opposition to the president, and it’s not a good idea to get on the bad side of allies.
This is one of many examples of the difficult choices presidents have to make when they are in the oval office. Being the leader of the “World Police” bears an unfathomable amount of responsibility. President Obama has taken on the position to defeat the Islamic State, after previously saying he would not be willing to send troops.
The president understands how much of his campaign to get elected for both his terms in office were largely in part due to his desire to pull American troops out of the Middle East. The people spoke at the polls. They proclaimed that they do not want to be involved in conflicts in the Middle East nor conflicts around the world anymore, especially when they don’t bear any influence on everyday lives of citizens.
While it is true that the U.S. has meddled in many a foreign affair that they should not have, what many may not realize is that the world does not exist in a vacuum. Everything influences everything else. This butterfly effect may be hard to understand, but it is important because whoever is elected after Obama’s term ends will have to take up the torch.
I previously wrote about how the current candidates running for office shape up and compare to each other. What some may call the contest of the lesser of two evils, the presidential election campaign trail will have many debates where candidates will be given the opportunity to lay out their game plan. So, in regards to foreign policy, how does each candidate shape up?
On the republican side, the majority take a more aggressive approach to foreign affairs. As Obama proved, that is not entirely a bad thing. However, some are more aggressive than others. One candidate in particular, Jeb Bush (younger brother of former President George W. Bush) fell into a heap of trouble after he answered a question about whether he would invade Iraq knowing now that there were in fact no weapons of mass destruction (or WMDs) to be found. He initially answered yes, and the backlash came tumbling down like an avalanche of pure, unadulterated outrage. But when the former Florida governor had the chance to answer the question again, he changed his response and said no.
Another prominent figure on the right, billionaire Donald Trump, had an interesting response during the second republican debate on Sept. 16. The Donald said that he would get along with Putin and everyone else because he’s “a business guy,” adding that he has to play nice with everyone and be friends with everyone because that is how business is done. Though Mr. Trump has made very polarizing comments that have stirred up enough controversy to warrant a separate article, he does make a very great point of how we as the U.S. conduct foreign policy. Whether the business mogul can actually convince our enemies to play nice with us is still up for debate.
Shifting over to the democrats, the two front runners for the nomination have different experiences and views when it comes to foreign affairs. Hillary Clinton previously served as Secretary of State under President Obama. Her tenure in this position did not come without its heap of controversy. One blunder of hers that is harped on by the GOP ad nauseam is in regards to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. She had ignored the emails sent from the embassy when they informed of a possible attack and after it happened, she did not seem fazed by it. Whether these accusations hold water, there is still a strong implication that Clinton’s foreign policy stint could have been better.
The other current front runner, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has openly stated that he supports airstrikes against the Islamic State. He has called for a coalition of allies to join together to tackle the problems of the Middle East head on. He references wealthy countries in the Middle East who have the same advanced weapons as the U.S. such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Another country he has not mentioned, but still has plenty of money to spare is the United Arab Emirates. The country is so wealthy that the police drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Clearly, they have a few dollars to spare to take up the cause of helping to promote peaceful stability to the tumultuous Middle East.
Following the Arab spring in 2011 in Tunisia, it is evident that the people of the Middle East want a stable government. The U.S. can help, and whoever is elected as president next year will have to take action regardless. With the growing threat of the Islamic State, the new president must act swiftly and cooperate to combat the threat and promote peace, security, and socio-political stability to the people of the Middle East.