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After 2010 elections, Obama will look abroad

Not that much of the speculation about how President Obama will respond to the Democrats' likely losses in Tuesday's elections has concerned foreign affairs -- which is surprising.

True, international issues -- from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the Middle East peace process -- have hardly figured in congressional campaigns across the country. Yet the conventional wisdom says the midterms' principal result will be a deadlocked Congress in which Obama's major domestic initiatives will stand little chance of passing. That means that, like more than a few presidents before him, he is likely to turn abroad in search of accomplishments to propel his reelection campaign.

Bill Clinton is remembered for his domestic "triangulations" after the Democrats 1994 mideterm losses. But in the next two years Clinton also oversaw a major U.S. military intervention in the Balkans, brokered an interim deal between Israelis and Palestinians, signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and ordered cruise missile strikes against Iraq.

So what could Obama accomplish abroad between now and 2012?

One possibility will open before him later this week, when -- like Clinton before him -- he leaves the country after the election for a long tour of Asia. Obama's trip will take him to the region's big democracies -- India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea -- which in recent months have shown signs of growing nervousness about China's aggressiveness. Therein lies the opportunity: to rebuild the U.S. position as a leader and defender of Asian democracies against Beijing's belligerent autocracy.

While Obama is away, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to the United States for a potentially crucial meeting with Vice President Biden. The last encounter between these two last Spring led to a disastrous public dispute between Washington and Jerusalem over Israel's settlement construction in Jerusalem. But Biden actually has better rapport with Netanyahu than does Obama -- and Obama badly needs to persuade Netanyahu to make concessions on settlements that will allow the resumption of Middle East peace talks.

In August, Obama pushed Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to set a one-year deadline for agreeing on the terms for a Palestinian state. In so doing, he ensured that he will begin his reelection campaign either with a historic breakthrough in the Middle East -- or a failure for which he will likely take much of the blame.

Similarly, Obama has set a mid-2011 deadline for beginning troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and pledged that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. If he is able to fulfill both those pledges without plunging either country into chaos, he will have two more big accomplishments with which to impress voters -- particularly in the Democratic base.

So the next 14 months will produce plenty of presidential action on foreign policy, even if there are no sudden crises in places like Yemen or Sudan. And there is one wild card: Iran. Negotiations with its regime about its nuclear program are expected to resume later this month, but there is no indication so far that its hardline regime will be willing to stop or even to slow down its nuclear program. My colleague David Broder speculated over the weekend that Obama will lead the U.S. and its allies in a confrontation -- or even a war -- with Iran that will reshape the political landscape in 2012.

I think that's unlikely. Senior administration officials appear relatively relaxed about the Iranian threat for now, in part because of technical problems Tehran has been having enriching uranium. Even if the regime remains defiant, a move toward military confrontation by either the United States or Israel before the next presidential election won't happen unless Iran itself takes radical action -- such as expelling UN inspectors.

Still, foreign affairs will loom larger in the political debate by the time the next presidential campaign begins. Thanks in part to the timetables he has set, Obama will either have some big successes to talk about -- or his opponents will have some fresh clubs.

By Jackson Diehl  | November 2, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
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Comments

That's about it, fill our his term with foreign meet and greetings stalling for time before the the next round begins after the softening up process that begins tomorrow has prepared the electoral grounds...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | November 2, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama fiddles on the world stage while America remains unemployed?

Is that the strategy?

Is that the best an Ivy education can produce to solve America's problems?

Posted by: jfv123 | November 2, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

This article is meaningless.

Similarly, jfv123 wrote "is that the best an Ivy education can produce to solve America's problems?"

___________* Meaningless.

Posted by: jewishmother | November 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

This article is meaningless.

Similarly, jfv123 wrote "is that the best an Ivy education can produce to solve America's problems?"

___________* Meaningless.

Posted by: jewishmother | November 2, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse


Diehl,
Why even pretend You fool no one.

Just name the column: WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR THE JEWS? You only interest.

Posted by: whistling | November 2, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse


Does this dispicable little zionist ever write anything
anywhere,

without bringing up bombing Iran? Like the rest of his kind. God, they never give up.

Posted by: whistling | November 2, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

His trip will cost the American taxpayers $200 MILLION PER DAY!!!

And he wonders why the people are ANGRY??

What a dumb a$$

Posted by: thinker16 | November 2, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Why not give the Middle East peace talks a boost next week while the Obama admn. is on vacation? Identify and round up, say, 2.5K grandchildren of former Nazi SS personnel, lock'em in a Catholic church and burn'em alive. A kind of Kristallnacht in reverse, should garner some international headlines in the press.

Posted by: johnson0572 | November 2, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

There is another possibility and one which is much more likely.

Sensing Obama's vulnerability at home nations such as Russia, China, Iran, etc. and groups such as the Palestinians will stage events in the knowledge that Obama has no leverage at home and thus no political capital to spend.

The world could be in for a wild ride these next two years.

Posted by: krankyman | November 2, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

He has no options for international "wins" unless he brings Osama Bin Laden back in chains.

Arab/Israeli talks will go no where. It is in neither group's interest to change anything.

Iran will get a bomb.

We will get chased out of Afghanistan next year.

Iraq will fall apart back into sectarian violence.

Posted by: katorga | November 2, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"Clinton also oversaw a major U.S. military intervention in the Balkans, brokered an interim deal between Israelis and Palestinians, signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and ordered cruise missile strikes against Iraq."

Clinton at least still had a coherent foreign policy and a set of American ethics and an American public used to defending these ethics left over from the Cold War. Obama has a bunch of snot-nosed whiney leftists who believe America is evil, our military should be slaughtered, prosecuted and disbanded, our allies overthrown, our leaders jailed.

And Obama doesn't have a clue about foreign affairs except bowing, and apologizing and he has a Secretary of State who seems to think it's her job to fly as many miles per day as possible and avoid Washington DC and actually running a coherent foreign policy at all costs.

Oh two other things: "Clinton also oversaw a major U.S. military intervention in the Balkans, .....and ordered cruise missile strikes against Iraq."

1) Did he get Congressional approval as required for that war with Serbia? Had the Serbs ever done anything to us? Are we still there?

2) Oh, so he attacked Baghdad with missiles? Why was that? I thought that stuff was all George W. Bush's invention and war-mongering. You mean there was reason to fear Saddam? That one sure won't sit well with the REDS on this board....they love Saddam, their great hero, and wish he were alive.

Posted by: wjc1va | November 2, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, Israelis and Palestinians. Obama is only interested in pursuing peace if it gets him reelected. As we have seen these past two years, it is all about him, all the time.

Posted by: shewholives | November 2, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he could do us all a favor and move abroad!

Posted by: garys_opinion | November 2, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

He needs to get away from the US. His political career has taken a hit and deservedly so given his arrogant and dismissive style of governance over the past two years. During the last month on the campaign trail Obama came across as shrill, partisan and definitely un-presidential. If he doesn't change gears soon his political epitath will be written as RIP BHO " Finally shovel ready"........

Posted by: jkk1943 | November 2, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

He'd better not! The past three Administrations have "looked abroad" when the voters sent the message that they wanted to end this globalization free trade nonsense. The resulting loss of millions of jobs, the country flooded with cheap shoddy often dangerous junk, the hordes of guest workers taking jobs from American's led to this revolt. So... end free trade. Get out of the WTO. Abrogate all of those trade treaties. Welcome a "trade war" which will actually help our economy. Bring back trade tariffs and keep right on raising them until the imports stop and we grow domestic jobs to produce those goods and services we need. Fail to do that and your problems are just beginning!

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 2, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Democrats, it looks as though we're going to take the House, so here are the new rules: GROW UP! STOP BEING SO ARROGANT! UNDERSTAND THAT AMERICANS HAVE NO INTEREST IN TURNING SOCIALIST! UNDERSTAND THAT REPUBLICANS WILL HELP PEOPLE WHO REALLY NEED HELP BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ABUSING THE SYSTEM. YOU DEMOCRATS NEED TO START ENABLING THEM SO WE CAN ALL WORK TOGETHER TO HELP THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY NEED HELP.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

NOTHING CAN DEPRIVE IRAN OF ITS INALIEANABLE RIGHT TO NUCLEAR ENERGY.

BUT, US CAN KEEP TRYING TO SABOTAGE IT BY ALL MEANS SUCH AS SANCTIONS, VIRUS, ALL KINDS OF MEDIA PROPAGANDA LIES LIKE WMD IN IRAQ, IRAN IS A THREAT, ISRAEL OR US TO STRIKE IRAN, YOU NAME IT.

UN CHARTER VII ARTICLE 51:
Provides for the right of countries to engage in military action in self-defense, including collective self-defense (i.e. under an alliance), FOR IRAN/

Posted by: clownsandliars1 | November 3, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

NOTHING CAN DEPRIVE IRAN OF ITS INALIENABLE RIGHT TO NUCLEAR ENERGY.

BUT, US CAN KEEP TRYING TO SABOTAGE IT BY ALL MEANS SUCH AS SANCTIONS, VIRUS, ALL KINDS OF MEDIA PROPAGANDA LIES LIKE WMD IN IRAQ, IRAN IS A THREAT, ISRAEL OR US TO STRIKE IRAN, YOU NAME IT.

UN CHARTER VII ARTICLE 51:
Provides for the right of countries to engage in military action in self-defense, including collective self-defense (i.e. under an alliance), FOR IRAN.

Posted by: clownsandliars1 | November 3, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Iran raps US nuclear double standards

Iran has criticized the United States for allocating a huge budget to nuclear proliferation, saying it contradicts Washington's claim of supporting a nuke-free world.

Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei condemned the US nuclear double standards and said Washington advocates a nuclear-free world on the one hand, while it continues to develop and modernize its nuclear arsenal on the other.

“The US plan to develop and modernize nuclear weapons … to which a budget of more than one hundred billion dollars is allocated to is in direct contradiction to the White House slogans on a nuke-free world,” Khazaei told the UN General Assembly's Disarmament Committee on Friday.

Posted by: clownsandliars1 | November 3, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

40 jets, dismantling and re assembling a helicopter, taking over a whole hotel (the best of course), all at a cost of 200 million a day to us!

Posted by: CayC | November 3, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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