The Foreign Policy Card
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
In considering the nature of the Democratic defeat it is fairly clear that for most Republican (or all) voters, foreign policy issues were not a consideration. Except for addressing a few distinct ethnic and religious groups—read Jews perhaps—none of the candidates went off their anti-Obama message. Exit polling as well suggests that foreign affairs was one of, if not the least, issue of concern to any voters who even were attentive to substance.
This opens up the question of what Americans will accept or tolerate from the Administration and from Congress in the international arena over the next two years. It has been clear for a while that they do not want any more U.S. boots on the ground; certainly not in the Middle East. Recent reports however suggest that the President may indeed ask Congress—now or definitely in January–for an updated “authorization of the use of force” resolution to continue his campaign against radical forces in Iraq and Syria. It is has been suggested that this could well create a situation—at a minimum–of U.S. air forces becoming engaged.
The first foreign policy confrontation between Congress and the President already will emerge on November 24 when the P5+1 and Iran deadline for an agreement over nuclear weapons development and/or increased sanctions will be faced. The confrontation over extending the deadline once again, which is the generally predicted scenario, may well be a harbinger as to how far and hard Congress plans to engage and fight foreign policy issues during the balance of the Obama years.
From the President’s perspective, it is being suggested that given the likelihood that the next two years may well make his battles with Congress over domestic and budgetary issues during his first six years look like child’s play, the international stage may be the only place where Obama might be able to achieve some progress. In this regard, the President will need some partners as well. Given the plummeting of his personal ratings at home he may well find himself being treated abroad as well as if he were carrying the plague.