Sat, May

The Most Important Foreign Policy Goal of All

ALPERN AT LARGE - It’s by far too early to predict the outcome of the elections of 2012, but one talking point cannot be taken away from our current President:  his military victories.  Ask the families and supporters of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Khadafi about whether President Obama had the willingness to take out America’s enemies.

Unfortunately, military victories—even extraordinary military victories—cannot guarantee a second term in office as President of the United States.  Ask former President George Herbert Walker Bush (“Bush the Elder”) if Operation Desert Storm translated into a successful re-election campaign in 1992.

After a decade of military efforts abroad and security measures at home, Americans increasingly want a job as the ultimate measure of the security they want in their daily lives.  And as the economy turns increasingly sour over the course of this year, the mood of the American public, and their faith in our current President, is polling increasingly sour as well. (Link)

Lots of people are angry, and lots of people support Occupy Wall Street and its counterparts throughout the nation and world, but Americans’ real anger is directed towards its political establishment. (Link)

And as the lack of organization, the lack of a defined message, and the lack of restraint on part of its members continues to lead the Occupy Wall Street movement into the arms of its detractors as they wear out their welcome (link), the ability of its supportive political leaders to gain traction from this support (whether it’s LA City Hall or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or President Barack Obama himself) cannot help but diminish as they, too, walk into the arms of their detractors and wear out THEIR own welcome.

So what’s missing, as President Obama goes on the campaign trail to push for a second stimulus package focused on jobs, and a renewed effort towards revitalizing our transportation and infrastructure (T/I) efforts?

Perhaps it’s the perception that the first stimulus package did not focus enough on private-sector jobs and did not cost-effectively enhance our T/I efforts.

Perhaps it’s the perception that too much of the first stimulus package did NOT go to T/I efforts at all.

Perhaps it’s the perception of a complete failure by the last Congress (which had no shortage of T/I boosters) to enact a seven-year T/I budget that’s been overdue even during the Bush Administration, and which would have guaranteed a secure method of planning, funding and constructing projects that are equally overdue by years, if not decades.

Perhaps it’s the perception that the first stimulus package had too much focus on unsustainable public sector jobs and benefits and not enough on really motivating private sector employers to hire and provide benefits for desperate and unemployed workers.

And perhaps it’s the perception by the budget and deficit hawks of the new Congress that there’s nothing to be gained by cooperating with this President, either because they’re GOP partisans or because they’re sick of trillion-dollar deficits, or both.

Not very fair, but politics is anything but fair.

But what is fair is to acknowledge that while so many Americans blame past President G.W. Bush for getting us into our economic messes, they also blame current President B.H. Obama for not getting us out of it.

Inasmuch as our country cried out for another Franklin Delano Roosevelt with the election of President Obama, the “New Deal” of our current President came in the form of a Health Care Reform that was understood or supported by too few Americans, and came in the form a stimulus package that did not reach out and benefit to enough Americans to make a difference.

Then again, it can be pointed out by historians that it was NOT the New Deal that pulled us out of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, but rather World War II that ended our country’s economic doldrums.

So what’s the magic formula that will bolster the political fortunes of either the current or next President of the United States?

It doesn’t appear to be war—we’ve had plenty of that and folks throughout the political spectrum are up to their eyeballs in rage and disgust with local, state and federal politics.

But what might be something to consider—if President Obama or his successor has the guts to take it on—is the acknowledgement that we now appear to have a new “Holy Grail” for which our political leaders must quest and strive for:  a new Most Important Foreign Policy Goal of All.

That new Most Important Foreign Policy Goal of All increasingly appears to be the financial strength based on the economic self-sufficiency of having ample jobs and the avoidance of being a debtor nation.

And while no one is about to engage in a military war with China, the increasing recognition of the danger of both President Bush and President Obama to owe so much to a nation that has not been playing by international trade rules and who has destroyed our standing in the world economy by doing ANYTHING to encourage its own citizens’ employment. (Link)

So if President Obama didn’t heed the late Steve Jobs’ warning of being a one-term President before (link), he’ll need to heed it now, because an increasing number of Americans are looking for a new Hope and Change President that—our current military victories aside—is anyone but President Barack Obama.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

Tags: foreign policy, George Herbert Walker Bush, Barack Obama, George Bush, wars, GOP, Congress, Occupy Wall Street, Nancy Pelosi

Vol 9 Issue 95
Pub: Oct 25, 2011