But with the campaign season over and the challenge of governance looming, Obama and Clinton have both changed their foreign policy tunes, and at the same time, the foreign policy challenges facing the President-elect have come into sharp focus.
The true tension in foreign policy is that between realism and idealism. Foreign policy realists favor strong relationships with nations in key strategic positions geographically, economically, and demographically, while idealists favor strong relationships with nations whose ideals reflect our own.
The Bush Administration has pursued a largely idealistic foreign policy, stressing the spread of democracy, the war on terror, and the fight against so-called “Islamofascism. Barack Obama’s is a much more realistic view, preferring to take a pragmatic approach to international counterterrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the War in Iraq.
In this context, the choice of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State seems puzzling. As a “hawk, she supported the War in Iraq and has refused to apologize for that support and took a much harder line on Iran during the primary season. However, a primary campaign often becomes about candidates differentiating themselves from opponents who agree with most of their views, and it is likely that much of her “tough talk was a political move to distance herself from Obama, with whom she agreed on every major domestic issue.
Since the appointment, Obama and Hillary have both been careful to say that Obama will be making foreign policy and Hillary will be carrying it out.
Hillary is certainly qualified for the job. She commands respect from world leaders, many of whom she met either as First Lady or as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and she gave an oft-quoted speech at a women’s conference in China.
The staff she brings to the State Department will certainly be more hawkish and more seasoned than many of Obama’s foreign policy advisers, but they will likely be balanced out by foreign policy higher-ups such as Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author on genocide who famously called Hillary Clinton a “monster, and future United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a longtime Obama supporter.
The proverbial “wild card in terms of Obama’s foreign policy, the factor whose specific effects will be unclear, is Obama’s overwhelming international popularity. From Paris to Beirut to Beijing, Obama is seen as heralding a new era of internationalism and cooperation. Will that make international policymaking easier at first? Probably. But high expectations can also lead to high levels of disappointment if the situations change in Iran, North Korea, or Russia and Obama decides to take a harder line, or if rapid troop withdrawal causes chaos in Iraq. All signs indicate that Obama’s foreign policy will be more popular than President Bush’s was, but as has often been said, the bar is quite low.]]>
Record losses in the stock market and troublingly high unemployment figures indicate that neither Wall Street nor the proverbial “Main Street are thriving. But what does Wall Street have to do with Center Street, Beacon Street, and especially Brandeis Road?
Before we even get to the wider consequences of this crisis, the worst we’ve seen since the Great Depression, I have two words for the more self-centered: student loans.
The current crisis has worsened the so called “credit crunch that began in force last winter. That means that banks are reluctant to lend money for homes, businesses, and for education.
Federal loans will be available at pre-crisis levels through the 2009-2010 academic year, but the worsening economy will increase demand for expensive and risky private loans. And for all you underclassmen, there are no guarantees about federal loan interest rates beyond next year.
Applications for financial aid are up 16 percent nationally from last fall, and 10 percent more Northeastern University students have applied for midyear aid than last year.
As tuition increases and loans get more expensive, more and more of us will face the prospect of leaving college with as much as $100,000 in debt.
If that doesn’t get you caring about the worsening economy, picture this: less spending money from your parents. Slimmer chance of getting a car once you get your license. Maybe there won’t be enough money for expensive SAT tutors, application fees, or college visits.
Consider too the $1 billion Governor Patrick is cutting from the state budget because of falling tax revenues. Public school is a government project, and less state money means fewer teachers, larger classes, and fewer supplies.
And besides the economic concerns that affect South students directly, this nation and the world are changing all around us, and we need to take notice.
Nationally, Congress could well end up spending $1 trillion trying to stimulate the economy and dampen the effects of the meltdown. Depending on which analyst you consult, this is either a crucial intervention or a futile effort that will needlessly swell our burgeoning national debt.
Globally, world leaders, including President Bush, are working on a retooling of the global financial system that will change the way this country engages in trade, investment, and banking.
We could very well end up with a highly regulated, European-style system that will either stifle business beyond the point of what’s reasonable, or prevent a future crisis – depending on whom you talk to.
What we know for sure is that the face of business and finance will be drastically different five years from now than it was five years ago, and the guarantees about the future we thought we had as students in a prestigious public school no longer exist.
As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, Wall Street, Main Street, and Brandeis Road are inexplicably tied.]]>