October 24, 2012
By Melissa Bynes Brooks
On Monday night, Gov. Romney endorsed several of President Obama’s foreign policies and agreed to do exactly what President Obama is doing now, only better, during the third presidential debate on foreign policy. Each candidate discussed ideas and strategies vis-à-vis existential national security issues, America’s role in the world, unrest in the Middle East, and international trade policies with China in the global economy.
According to a national survey by the Pew Research Center mostly based on telephone interviews conducted October 4-7, 2012, nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) do not believe the changes in the Middle East will lead to lasting improvements for people living in the affected countries, up sharply from 43% in April 2011. And a majority of Americans (54%) continue to say it is more important to have stable governments in the Middle East, even if there is less democracy in the region. Just 30% say democratic governments are more important, even if there is less stability.
Both candidates displayed solidarity about standing with Israel if they are attacked. Their timeline was the same for U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in 2014. Gov. Romney supported the ongoing maintenance of an “as well as can be expected” relationship with Pakistan while endorsing the current use of strong economic sanctions against Iran, as well as the use of military drones to fight terrorism.
President Obama’s current military innovation policy entails a defense strategy that would expand the U.S. military presence in Asia while decreasing the overall size of the force as the Pentagon seeks to reduce spending by nearly half a trillion dollars after a decade of war, thus allowing for nation building here at home. Cyber warfare and unmanned drones would continue to grow in priority, countering attempts by China and Iran to block U.S. power projection capabilities in areas like the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz. The shift in focus to Asia is the result of increasing concerns at the Pentagon over China’s strategic goals as it begins to field a new generation of weapons that American officials fear are designed to prevent U.S. naval and air forces from projecting power into the Far East.
When it comes to China, 49% of Americans want the U.S. to get tougher with China on economic issues, compared with 42% who say it is more important to build a stronger relationship. In March 2011, the balance of opinion was the reverse: 53% said building a stronger relationship was more important while 40% advocated tougher policies.
Independents and Republicans now are much more supportive of getting tougher with China than they were a year and a half ago. Nearly half of independents (47%) now say it is more important to get tougher with China on economic issues, up from just 30% in March 2011. The percentage of Republicans favoring a tougher stance has increased by 11 points (from 54% to 65%) over this period.
There has been less change in opinions among Democrats, and more Democrats continue to prioritize building stronger economic relations with China (53%) over getting tough with China (39%).
This partisan divide is reflected in the vastly different views of Obama and Romney voters. By 51% to 42%, Obama voters favor building a stronger economic relationship with China. By contrast, Romney voters say it is more important to get tough with China on economic issues, by 67% to 26%.
In the book China’s Search for Security (Columbia University Press, 2012), authors Andrew Nathan and Andrew Scobell wrote that China is not going to rule the world unless the U.S. withdraws from it. China’s rise will be a threat to the United States and the world only if the United States allows it to become one. The right China strategy begins at home. The United States must resume robust growth, continue to support a globally preeminent higher education sector, and continue to discover new technologies. U.S. policy should protect intellectual property from espionage and theft, deepen trade relations with other economies, sustain military innovation and renewal, and nurture relationships with allies and other cooperating powers.
These ideals were underscored by President Obama during the debate.
“If we don’t have the best education system in the world, if we don’t continue to put money into research and technology that will allow us to — to create great businesses here in the United States, that’s how we lose the competition,” said President Obama.
Now, as a case in point, the U.S. consumes nearly 20 million barrels of oil each day, and nearly half of that oil is imported. Domestic biofuels are one way to reduce our dependence on imported oil and increase our nation’s energy security. In 2009, with transformational and breakthrough technologies in mind, President Obama launched the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). ARPA-E selections seeks out technologies that are too risky for private sector investment while focusing on accelerating innovations in clean technology while advancing breakthroughs in biofuels, thermal storage, grid controls, and solar power electronics, increasing America’s competitiveness in rare earth alternatives.
The ARPA-E’s Electrofuels program has the potential to create liquid transportation fuels that are cost competitive with traditional gasoline-based fuels and 10 times more efficient than existing biofuels thus impacting:
- Security: Cost-competitive Electrofuels would help reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and increase the nation’s energy security.
- Environment: Widespread use of Electrofuels would help limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce demands for land, water, and fertilizer traditionally required to produce biofuels.
- Economy: A domestic Electrofuels industry could contribute tens of billions of dollars to the nation’s economy. Widespread use of Electrofuels could also help stabilize gasoline prices—saving drivers money at the pump.
- Jobs: Electrofuels could create jobs in fuel production, distribution, and sales.
Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.
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