This election coincides with a need to redefine foreign policy yet again in response to five key international trends: the Arab Spring, the potential collapse of the European common currency, the emergence of Africa as a robust trade partner, the shift in both influence and affluence from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim, and climate change.
The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington ushered in a perplexing set of new security challenges – largely strategic – that have by no means been put to rest. But these more recent trends affect both immediate and long-term US economic prosperity and raise fundamental questions about domestic priorities.
Anticipating foreign policy under a second Obama administration is relatively straight-forward even without a broader stated doctrine. The main planks are very likely to include containing Iran and North Korea through a combination of stricter international penalties as well as incentives for abandoning their nuclear programs; encouraging ongoing democratic reforms and economic development in Africa, Myanmar (Burma), and the transitional states of the Middle East through trade and assistance; strengthening strategic and economic partnerships in Asia and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim; completing the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014; and continuing to eradicate Al Qaeda and allied elements along both sides of the Pakistan border.