The Future of US Foreign Policy in the Middle East

The Future of US Foreign Policy in the Middle East

  • 9 November 2008

While the newly elected President of the United States,
Barack (Hussein) Obama, is certain to change the tone
and style of US presidential actions, attitudes and policy
statements, profound policy changes of particular interest
to Arabs, Muslims and Israelis are likely to come more
slowly. Despite his relatively sizable election victory in the
popular vote and his very substantial margin in the Electoral
College, coupled with Democrat majorities in both houses
of Congress, President Obama will not have a free hand
to simply reshape US foreign policy. There will be strong
pressures for him to place the domestic economic agenda
above foreign policy initiatives, although the two are closely
interrelated. The US Constitution does not encourage party
discipline as other parliamentary systems do in other parts
of the democratic world. Obama will have to build his
legislative majorities on a case-by-case basis. Party labels –
Democrat and Republican – do not guarantee legislative
support for the President’s position on any issue, and
Obama’s presidential honeymoon is likely to be short-lived.
Three early foreign policy challenges will involve
extricating the United States from its occupation of Iraq by
creating a situation that will make possible the withdrawal of
US forces; calls for the tightening of international sanctions
on Iran in an attempt to pressure Tehran to give up its drive
to acquire nuclear capabilities; and the effort to restart talks
aimed at achieving a two-state solution to the Arab–Israeli
conflict, which became mired in bureaucratic infighting
during the George W. Bush administration. Despite the
departure of neo-conservative advisors from the corridors of
administrative power, their supporters will still be present in
the policy-making process in the form of influential lobbies.

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Sunday 9 November 2008

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Sunday 9 November 2008

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