Role of foreign policy in a constantly connected world

“My first job as commander in chief, Bob, is to keep the American people safe, and that’s what we’ve done over the last four years.”

Regardless of the rest of the debate trailing off into the back-and-forth boxing match we all expected, President Barack Obama nailed the role and importance of a quality and effective foreign policy plan in the opening moments of Monday night’s debate on foreign policy.

However, in the last 20 years the role and importance of foreign policy has drifted away from the focus of the Cold War and grown into a different beast entirely.

My Twitter feed was blowing up during Monday night’s debate, with many growing weary over the focus on the economy and waiting on bated breath to hear a plan detailing we’re to do with the power of China, Russia and the entire Middle East.

But as Obama not so gracefully pointed out to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, we don’t live in the Cold War anymore. The world has changed immensely.

The truth: A successful foreign policy plan is now based just as much in economics as it is in the amount of nuclear weapons and “big-sticks” you carry while speaking softly.

As hard as it may be to accept, Obama and Romney were both right. Romney pointed out that the Iranian people do not see America as a worthy world superpower because of our national economic crisis, a fault we cannot afford to have amidst such tumultuous times.

Likewise, Obama said, “One of the challenges over the last decade is we’ve done experiments in nation building in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And we’ve neglected, for example, developing our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education system.”

Romney agreed, asserting, “Nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater today than it was four years ago … and that’s because we’ve become weaker on each of those four dimensions.” While his extreme cynicism may have clouded his statement, it couldn’t be truer.

In order for America to move forward and remain as one of the leading world superpowers, our leaders must have a focus on foreign policy that is just as domestic as it is international.

No longer can foreign policy strictly rely on a strong and visible military. America must move to a more respected economic state to remain on top.

The president stated, “America remains the one indispensable nation.” As true as this may be, we can no longer expect a strong military to keep us on top.

With the world growing more interconnected each day, foreign policy evolves to be factors of military action, economic stamina and nationwide sentiment.

If America is to stay on top in the growing and evolving world, we must elect leaders who are aware of the necessity to focus on each of these factors, and who will fight for America on all fronts, military and otherwise.

 

Reach the columnist at caleb.varoga@asu.edu or follow him at @calebvaroga

 

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