Against the background of the global economic crisis, domestic issues have trumped foreign policy in the run-up to the US election.
To discuss the major foreign policy questions facing the next US administration, euronews spoke to Christiane Amanpour, Global Affairs anchor at ABC News, in New York.
Lise Pedersen, euronews: “What major foreign policy changes can we expect in the next four years? Is America’s influence still as great as it used to be?”
Christiane Amanpour: “Well, two separate questions there: Yes, America’s influence is still great by virtue of the fact that it is the only superpower. It has the world’s strongest economy despite this economic crisis globally right now, and it has, obviously, the world’s strongest military. So yes, the US can be expected to still be in a dominant position.
“The real question is how the US chooses, under a new administration, either Obama or Romney, to project that power and where it chooses to do so. Will it choose to retreat because of the economic crisis and because of what both candidates have been saying: the need to do nation-building at home, and the need to get the economy really back on track to serious growth back at home? However, as you’ve seen in the foreign policy debate, there was not a whole lot of difference between either Romney or Obama on the major issues.”
euronews: “Peace in the Middle East is all but stalled. Relations with Israel are at an all-time low – can we expect the Middle East peace process to be revived, and which of the candidates is more likely to do that?”
Amanpour: “Well, I don’t think either, if you want my very frank analysis. If there is to be a Middle East peace process, both the United States and the parties have to be thoroughly engaged. That is, the US really has to be there as the good faith third party, the backer of this process, and also the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas – I know they’re not even involved in it – but the fact is that the Palestinians are split. Now, having said that, there’s no indication at all that either candidate will use the full weight of the US presidency, to throw it behind a renewed push, for peace in the Middle East.”
euronews: “What is the biggest threat facing the US? Does the main security threat still come from the Middle East or is it no longer a security threat but an economic one coming from China?”
Amanpour: “Obviously, there is an economic challenge from China. But by the flip-side if China’s economic health is bad: that also has a reverberation on the US and Europe, so nobody’s wishing for a decrease in Chinese economic growth. Obviously, both candidates want to manage it better so that it’s more advantageous to the US, but in those foreign policy debates, President Obama identified terrorism as the biggest threat facing America going forward, and Governor Romney identified a nuclear Iran as the biggest threat going forward.”
euronews: “During the third presidential debate, which was about foreign policy, the eurozone crisis wasn’t even mentioned. But how could this crisis impact on US-EU relations, bearing in mind the EU is the largest trading partner of the United States?”
Amanpour: “Well precisely, and it was perhaps a glaring error. The only problem is that US polling doesn’t show the eurozone crisis to be a huge issue. But even though the European system doesn’t play in an American election overtly, remember that when the United States wants to act anywhere in the world… let’s just go back to Libya: who did it call first? The eurozone, the Europeans! Who did it bond with, who did it go into alliance with? Britain and France, which led the action in Libya, and then the US joined up, and there was a broader impact. So, my point is to say that Europe is very, very important to the United States, even though it doesn’t play a huge role, either in presidential debates or in the campaign.”