Public Disinterest in International Relations
This year President Obama and Mitt Romney are campaigning for the public vote in the Presidential race. Most of the ads we see on the television and hear on the radio are criticized for their “smear” tactics, but has anyone noticed those ads are all focused on the economy and jobs? Now, the economy has always been an important part of any Presidential campaign, but as someone who grew up during the second Bush administration, it seems impossible that there is little to no mention of international politics on the news today. I first got to vote in the Obama vs. McCain election, going into that election out of the Bush years, the War in Iraq was still the most prevalent topic. News during those years had a distinct slant towards international relations over any other topic. In 2008 the search for terrorists was considered one of the most important topics in the race for the Presidency. A survey in 2008 noted that “Foreign policy was considered to be an important voting issue to ninety-two percent of the people that took this survey.” While in 2012 on the CNN webpage, where they have Issue Polls, there was no poll even taken about Foreign Policy in the upcoming election. The closest this upcoming election gets to Foreign Policy is talk of Afghanistan (which is also minimal at best).
During the Bush years, American stance in the United Nations was a large issue. The American People were concerned with the United States disobeying the United Nations. The fact that the United States was not a part of many international organizations came to light, including the United States’ decision to continue to stay out of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Now, as Obama seeks to join the International Criminal Court, this is going on almost completely unnoticed. The stance of the United States with Foreign Policy is not something the American people are concerned with anymore. Having said this, it is imperative to consider if joining the ICC is a move we would want our President to do. This is something that should be debated for the upcoming election. One article online suggests Obama wishes to join the ICC thus making it impossible for the United States to go to war without United Nation approval including giving Russia and China veto power over US action. As another article noted “The United States rejected the ICC treaty for reasons of vital national security interests. Given our significant military involvement overseas, the Pentagon would never want to place its soldiers at the mercy of a potential political witch hunt by ICC prosecutors. ” This was written in connection with the US vote in support of ICC investigation and possible prosecution of Gadhafi in 2011. But even before that Obama wished to cooperate with the ICC. Such topics are not discussed on the TV. Ads about how Romney sends jobs overseas and Obama increased the national debt are the current focus. If someone spent the time to Google Romney and Obama and the ICC, that person would see there is much going on.
Along with the International Criminal Court debate there is also disagreements about Foreign Policy in the American law system. Romney’s position in foreign policy is to expand the AUMF to include Romney will work with Congress to clarify this portion of the AUMF, amending it to authorize the use of force against any foreign terrorist entity that is waging war against the United States. While Obama is leaving the AUMF as is. The Iranian nuclear program has become such that some are wondering why Obama wont use the AUMF to stop the continued abuses against America which in the last year has included assassination attempts on US officials in Azerbaijan. Obama continues to use the strike on Bin Laden as his foreign policy platform for the comming election but that is in the past. The future of the country depends on what is next. Do we want an expansion of the AUMF under Romney or would we like to keep things where they are under Obama? This is not in the political spotlight at the moment but it will be important in the coming years.
The public needs to become more interested in the Foreign Policy between times of great turmoil (such as 9/11) so as to ensure the proper policies are used and the President does not act without public review of these policies. The President speaks for the people and this year the people are less concerned with world peace and more concerned with getting jobs. A recent Gallup polls states that “Creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit score highest when Americans rate 12 issues as priorities for the next president to address.” There is no right or wrong answer to what should be in the Presidential ads but I think there is something amiss with the American people’s new found disinterest with what goes on between the President and the rest of the world. There is no telling what the next election in 4 years will bring but if this trend continues we can expect the international concerns we were all so used to reading about during the Bush years to continue to be replaced by economic issues.