Welcome back to the second installment of US Foreign Policy as it relates to the presidential candidates and their future presidencies. Today, I will continue a little bit on my China and US narrative. Then I will start on a new issue which can be considered the most alarming threat to US national security. If you read or watch the news you know all about ISIS. I am more interested in how the candidates intend to fight back against ISIS. I will also preview a short history of terrorism, very similar to this post I wrote awhile back. I would encourage you to read both that article and read my last post: US Foreign Policy: Commander and Peace. I hope your ready for some complex international relations because these two situations typify two classic international relations circumstances. Just a warning, this post may be very long.
In my last post, I started out talking about the Chinese rise to a world power via economic dominance in manufacturing. I also covered the economic interdependence that tie the US and China closely. In my concluding statements, I talked about Hillary Clinton and her corporate connections that might draw us into war because of corporate and self interests. Now I want to try to explain as simply as I can, the order of preferences for both China and the US. Trying to pick out preferences or national interests in this case, can show us where the relationship between China and US is heading. Its nearly impossible to predict because sometimes actors make irrational decisions. However, most of the time, it is assumed that actors are rational. A rational decision maker follows standard logic of any given circumstance making it easier to predict. Also my perceived preferences could be totally wrong because I’m merely an observer, not an actor inside China or the US. Observations can be inaccurate due to a lack of information. For the sake of education and knowledge though, I will try to be as accurate as possible.
Let’s start with China’s preferences or national interests. Its clear from Chinese actions that they want to build up their power. I would say that power is China’s first preference. They already have economic power but they want to be considered among the great world powers. The Chinese have perceived by history, that they have been sort of second class in terms of world power. This perceived lack of power leads into their two second preference or national interests. Chinese are looking to become influential within their sphere of influence. I can tell this because the US influence in Asian is quite large. The US holds some type of alliance or mutual defense agreement with Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam. Japan is a powerful economic engine itself. Also they happen to be a Chinese sworn rival. The last Chinese preference from what I can tell, is the continuation of their economic dominance. This is both a power AND influence preference because the economy can allow a country the resources and wherewithal to pursue their national interests.
Of course with any preference order there is a preferred set of outcomes. Based on the China’s building up a navy and their defiance of international law, one outcome is war. I would assume that in a rational decision making process they would try diplomatic or non-violent ways to get power and influence. However, I sense that now after nearly 20 years of economic dominance they still don’t feel respected. The outcome of war is very likely something that the Chinese would embrace given their large navy and abundant population. The only downside is that their opponent is already who or what their aiming to be.
The US preference is very similar to the Chinese but for different reasons. The US prefers to maintain their power because unlike China, the US already has the world power and elite status. The US also prefers to increase their influence in Asian to push back China via the Asian pivot. America also prefers to increase their economic production to catch up with China. As you can see, the US preferences are similar to China’s because the US wants to keep China from gaining too much power and influence. The most important difference is the outcome of war. US does not want to go war with China, hence the Asian pivot. Another factor that helps US national interests is economic interdependence with China. It also hurts the US because China has the same ability to effect a war.
Now in the perspective of a presidential candidate like Trump or Clinton, they will have access to much more classified information and intelligence. The most important foreign policy decision in regards to China is how to handle their bullying of other Asian countries. We can’t get caught up in their games. Its very similar to a game of poker, if a player bluffs a good or bad hand, then its up to you to figure out which their trying to hide. Sometimes you guess wrong. I believe that as long as Clinton or Trump protect US interests only and don’t try to overreach, they can keep China at bay. At the very least avoid a war that might cost over a billion people due to nuclear weapons.
If you haven’t done so already, please read The Post 9/11 Narrative vs. The Past 50 years of American Foreign Policy. This is will give you some background about terrorism, also you could read my post on 9/11’s 14th anniversary. In order to save my word count and your time, I will get right into ISIS and how the candidates might deal with it. I think the best place to start is with former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Secretary of State is an appointed position within the President’s cabinet. The Secretary of State is responsible for diplomatic relations with other countries. Under Clinton’s tenure, the rise of ISIS happened among the civil war in Syria and chaos in the Afghanistan and Iraq. Many news pundits like to blame Bush for creating a power void that let ISIS come to power. I don’t want to get into how it was formed or why because it would take a rather complex, scholarly effort to conclude such a hypothesis. However, if we look back on how Clinton handle foreign policy situations we can see how her policies might unfold as president.
One of Clinton’s most controversial moves as Secretary of State was a decision to leave ambassadors in Libya despite the dangerous conditions in the north African country. The political scandal that has followed Clinton because of the deaths of these four ambassadors under her watch. It has become known as the Benghazi Scandal. I feel like Clinton’s handling of the situation was poor, however the surprise attack cannot be faulted on her. At the same time, she should have known that surprise attacks are common and had prepare an appropriate security force to protect those ambassadors. I think from this situation, I gather the Clinton will follow a policy of national interests over human interests. During her tenure, she choose to remain out of the Syrian Civil War, which has just begun a year or two earlier. This was despite the reports of Syrian president Assad killing his own people. Once again, Clinton doesn’t deserve all the blame because I feel she made the right choice.
The Syria Civil war is a very complex conflict within the country of Syria. There are multiple warring factions. It would be stupid to get involved in such a conflict. Even to this day, President Obama and new Secretary of State John Kerry, have decided to stay away with the exception of training some rebels and bombing campaigns. An all out war on Syria would be more costly than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Unfortunately one consequences of not intervening has been the formation of ISIS. We have seen how Clinton handled some situations as Secretary of State, but how will she handle ISIS as president?
In the next series of this US Foreign policy, I will take the each of the Candidates platform on Terrorism and see how that will work against ISIS. To concluded this post, I will talk a little bit about why Trump worries me in foreign policy. Then I will do quick explanation of my title. Donald Trump is by profession, a business man. He brags about his book, Art of the Deal. Despite Trump being a savvy businessman, I have some anxiety about his foreign policy. Business deals tend not to have as high stakes as diplomatic talks can. Trump has to remember that in foreign policy, he represents the world’s most powerful nation. There are other countries and terrorist who want to see America go down in flames. Trump negotiating skills will definitely come in handy. However, his knowledge of foreign policy is probably not on par with many other past presidents.If there is one thing he could do to sooth my fears, it would be to get a very experienced Secretary of State that has been in foreign policy.
Obviously I can find positives and scary negatives about both candidates in foreign policy. To conclude this post, let me explain why “Terrorism is the New War”. If you remember in your American and Global history classes, in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries it was common for States or Nations to fight against each other. There is a multitude of wars that pit two or more countries against each other. The wars usually start over economic, religious, or land issues. Now, in the 21st century, we have seen a dramatic change in the face of war. Since the 9/11 terrorist attack, we have seen wars not to conquer other countries for land. The wars fought especially by the US have been over religious extremists and some economic interests like Oil. War has changed and so has how we conduct foreign policy. Whoever becomes President in January 2017 will be dealing primarily with a terrorism threat. It was much easier when Nations fought each other because you know who your negotiating with. Also it was easy to impose international sanctions. Now, terrorists are just groups of people with a common cause. They don’t care about being diplomatic, they want to use force and coercion.
In order to defeat these terrorist who feed off fear and overreactions, we need to unite as country. We need to unite as allies with Europe and Asian. These groups of terrorist are not new or invisible. They are human beings. Whoever is President will need to bring peace of mind and stability. Their leadership will be instrumental in fighting back the terrorists. I personally feel that their intentions are to incite war. The best defense against another costly war is to be determined to keep peace through increased homeland security of our borders. We must keep out those terrorists and allow those who deserve to be here, to come freely. The future of our nation rests upon the foreign policy decisions made in these critical years.
Part 3 of this series in a few days! Thanks for reading!