The New Rules: A Foreign Policy Wish List for 2012

The New Rules: A Foreign Policy Wish List for 2012

Last year was a tough one in terms of global economics, humanitarian disasters and political leadership among the world's great powers. But it was also the year of the glorious Arab Spring and hints of similar developments in Myanmar, Russia and Ethiopia. So while the year's "fundamentals," as the economists like to say, weren't so good, it left us with plenty to be grateful for as globalization continues to awaken the desire of individuals for freedom the world over. Keeping all that in mind, here is my foreign policy wish list for 2012.

A decisive election in the United States. By decisive, I mean either President Barack Obama crushes a weak Republican opponent and the Democrats keep the Senate, or the GOP takes both houses of Congress and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney wins enough hearts and minds in a bad economy to capture the White House. A possible bright spot in the event that a re-elected Obama must govern with a GOP-controlled House and Senate is the likelihood that he would retreat into foreign policy, his sole space for genuine policy freedom, during his second term. As for Romney, should he win, look for his "tough on China" campaign rhetoric to dissolve into a business-like approach that moves beyond Obama's cartoonish containment strategy.

Putin takes a hint -- or doesn't. Russian puppet-master Vladimir Putin's announcement that he will be retaking the presidency from Dmitry Medvedev this year has triggered civil unrest in Russia of the sort we have not seen in a generation. If Putin were smart, he would admit that his time has passed, as his approval rating now stands at its all-time lowest. But his ego has reached escape velocity, and so his United Russia party is likely to do whatever it takes to forge an election victory in March. Hopefully, such open fraud will mobilize the public toward persistent protests, forcing Putin into a retreat of such magnitude as to render him a lame duck and open the system up for deep change come 2016.

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