Friday, November 7, 2008

APCO on Future Obama Foreign Policy

Lobbyists and consultants are busy trying to figure out what an Obama administration will mean to their business interests. Although largely a recap of old news, APCO has a great rundown of Obama’s foreign policy that includes an emphasis on nuclear non-proliferation.

Obama has outlined the following key foreign policy priorities: secure loose nukes from terrorists; pursue tough, direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran; and renew American diplomacy.

As much as these are driven by the political requirements of a presidential election, they also signal clearly a sincere concern about nuclear safety and a desire for collaborative diplomacy. Obama also emphasized his intention to end the war in Iraq responsibly and to work hard with the Iraqi leadership to achieve political consensus. He also noted that addressing the Israeli-Palestinian issue, stopping the genocide in Darfur and engaging China are priorities as well. In his discussions of foreign affairs, he often mentions that he will undertake smart diplomacy and will try to address problems by rallying international support for collaborative American leadership.


Obama is likely to undertake an early initiative to form a genuine consensus with Europe – through NATO, the European Union and bilaterally – on a variety of issues, starting especially with the financial crisis, but including: global social issues (poverty, health, water, narcotics, trafficking in persons); security issues (nuclear weapons, terrorism, arms control); and governance (rule of law, corruption, political choice, media freedom, human rights, religious tolerance). He will press hard for greater European participation in addressing these problems, especially as they manifest themselves in Afghanistan and Pakistan. NATO member states can expect to be pressured strongly and early to contribute more substantially to the effort in Afghanistan.

Obama has signaled that he will turn to addressing issues with Russia once he has built a clear consensus with Europe on the way ahead. It will no longer be easy for the Russian leadership to split Europe and the United States on energy, climate change, missile defense, democracy and human rights, and nuclear safety. While this probably means trade-offs and some compromises to achieve consensus on some issues, do not expect a weakening of core U.S. principles.


Obama maintains that he will deploy tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions, offering WTO membership, investment and normal diplomatic relations in exchange for abandoning its nuclear program and support for terrorism. Failure to take this path will result in increased economic pressure and political isolation. He would strengthen the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty to provide for international sanctions against countries such as North Korea and Iran if they break the rules. Obama also wants to secure existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials and to negotiate a global ban on the production of nuclear weapons material, principally to keep these out of the hands of terrorists. His ultimate goal is a nuclear-free world. This is the issue on which Obama concentrated while in the Senate, and he has gathered around him individuals with considerable technical expertise and political weight on this issue.

(via Politico)

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