American Foreign Policy is Already Post-Partisan

(…..) Observers of American politics expect that the country’s foreign policy debates will continue to be hopelessly acrimonious, polarized. And our survey evidence shows some serious partisan disagreement. However, it shows a number of issues on which bipartisan cooperation is possible, particularly international trade and traditional security alliances. Both groups firmly believe in addressing common global problems through multilateral engagement. Even in Congress, where partisanship may be at its highest point in decades, party elites have shown an ability to work together on multilateral issues. After all, they passed New START treaty in 2010 and recently concluded bilateral trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, South Korea. Foreign policy partisanship may be an enduring theme in American politics, but so is bipartisan agreement on multilateral initiatives. At the outset of Cold War, Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg led his party to give crucial backing to Truman administration initiatives such as the Marshall Plan and NATO. Later, the Ford administration negotiated and signed Helsinki Accords, which were designed to improve relations between First and Second Worlds. Agreement overcame initial controversy, it was at first perceived as recognition of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, to enjoy substantial support from congressional Democrats and the Carter administration. And more recently, Obama administration embraced PSI, which was first developed by the Bush administration. The commitment of policymakers in both parties to multilateral engagement may help explain the continuities in foreign policy across multiple presidential administrations. Think of similarities between Bush and Obama administration policies toward Asia, on support for WTO and NATO, on P5 plus 1 process for Iran’s nuclear program. All are initiatives that balance policy effectiveness, sovereignty, interdependence. In terms of their Asia policies, both the Bush and Obama administrations attempted to allay regional allies’ fears of China’s rise and ambitions through a mix of bilateral security guarantees and participation in regional organizations. On Iran, both the Bush and Obama administrations attempted to use a combination of the UN Security Council resolutions, IAEA inspections, increased bilateral security commitments to Persian Gulf countries, multilateral sanctions to persuade the Iranian regime to give up its suspected nuclear weapons program. As history and our survey demonstrate, even on areas with significant partisan difference, ideological orientation need not result in acrimony and policy paralysis. Vigorous partisan debate can improve the quality of policy by restraining overreach by each side, injecting new ideas into the debate, and helping the United States drive a better bargain on the international stage. So although partisan differences over foreign policy will inevitably surface, and may even become quite severe, the American foreign policy community need not be destined for an ideological struggle over multilateral engagement. Perhaps international partnership begins at home.



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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