Senator Barack Obama and Senator Joe Biden have argued that they will CHANGE the way things are done in Washington DC. One of the things they’ve pledged to do was provide a new foreign policy-one that Senator Biden claims is different from the Bush Administration’s. However, the Congressional bailout bill for Wall Street (which both fully supported) effectivelly reduces their foreign policy back to the exact same policy as President George W Bush’s.
On Iraq, they’ve pledged to remove all American combat brigades 16 months after taking office depending on conditions on the ground, and the Bush Administration plan is to do this over 20 months. In order to facilitiate a faster withdrawal, the Obama Administration would have to flood Iraq with more reconstruction money, more money for training Iraqi forces, and it depends on the enemies in Iraq fully complying rather than opposing the effort as enemies do by nature.
On Afghanistan, Senator Obama has pledged to send more American troops (something President Bush was already doing, and the Pentagon had ordered long before Senator Obama made his campaign promise). Senator Obama has also said that he’d encourage more NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, and he’d do this by offering them more foreign aid. Meanwhile France has taken a handful of casualties in Afghanistan and now many French troops are refusing to go, and Germany (which participates in Afghanistan, but will not let its forces engage in combat) is also considering withdrawal. Perhaps more foreign aid will prevent this, but the unpopularity of the war in Afghanistan over in Europe makes it unlikely. It would probably take a lot of foreign aid money to make them change their minds, and to make political leaders make take such an unpopular action.
On Iran, this is perhaps the most important issue of the election. American, Israeli, and foreign intelligence services all say that Iran could have a bomb likely in the next 2 years. The UN says Iran might have one already. It is a major foreign policy crisis that we’ve known about for 29years now, and it WILL happen on the next President’s watch. To prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Senator Obama has pledged to have direct talks with Iran. President Bush tried this, and the Iranians literally sat down and laughed at the American request to comply with UN inspectors. Senator Obama has pledged to compell Europe and other nations to enforce stricter sanctions on Iran if they fail to allow full UN inspections, and to get Europe to do this, Senator Obama has said that he’ll offer nations which support sanctions more foreign aid. If that fails, he (like President Bush and Sen McCain) has said that all options are on the table; ie military attack.
On Pakistan, Senator Obama has admitted that his foreign policy strategy is the same as the “current doctrine”; ie the Bush doctrine. The only difference is that Senator Obama has promised to get Pakistan to find Osama Bin Laden, capture/kill him, and help with the global war on terror by offering more foreign aid as a carrot rather than just sticks/threats as President Bush is incorrectly accused of having done.
On Israeli/Palestinian disputes, the Obama campaign has pledged to offer more foreign aid to bring both parties to consensus and this peace in the Middle East.
The same is true across the board. Whatever the nation, the crisis, and the US objective, Senator Obama promises a new kind of politics where America leads by aiding nations rather than threatening them. There is a problem, and it seems no one has noticed, but Senator Biden made it clear at the Vice Presidential debate. The cost of the Congressional Bailout plan for Investment Banks takes away the one thing that an Obama administration had HOPED to use as the crux of their foreign policy:
IFILL: What promises — given the events of the week, the bailout plan, all of this, what promises have you and your campaigns made to the American people that you’re not going to be able to keep?
BIDEN: Well, the one thing we might have to slow down is a commitment we made to double foreign assistance. We’ll probably have to slow that down.
-Vice Presidential Debate October 2, 2008
Less foreign aid assistance (foreign aid money) means that a President Obama will have the exact same foreign policy as President Bush’s current policy:
the 16month withdrawal from Iraq is not possible, and it will more likely be 20+ months
(anyone think CODE PINK and ANSWER will protest him? Nah, me neither)
no change in Afghanistan even as allies continue to leave the unpopular war
no change in Pakistan’s limited aid in the Global War on Terror
no change in Iran policy, and so air strikes, and expansion of the war on terror will be needed 700 or so days into an Obama administration.
Gwen Ifill failed last Thursday to ask Senator Biden what effect cutting foreign aid will have on the Obama foreign policy that relies almost entirely on increasing foreign aid. Senator Palin missed the opportunity as well. The McCain campaign hasn’t brought it up. The MSM certainly isn’t going to bring it up and embarass their candidate by informing the world of what reality is.
Who will ask?