Beyond Obama: A Global-Minded Contestant?

With the 2012 US Presidential Election just a year away, the race is already on. From an international perspective, it is hard to beat incumbent President Obama in terms of global diplomacy experience. I am not talking just about candidates’ political good and bad points, but their ability to handle global challenges. Keep in mind that when Obama ran in 2008, he ran on a platform of limited international experience and that he grew as a global dealmaker only in the midst of his own presidency. In light of recent presidential bids, it’s not surprising Republicans are focusing on the domestic economy. But they have also articulated views on foreign policy. Here’s a brief look at the global views of five contestants:

First, Jon Huntsman. Under George W. Bush, Huntsman was largely responsible for launching global trade relations. After assisting China and Taiwan into the WTO, and serving two terms as Governor of Utah, Huntsman resigned from his latest position as Ambassador to China after he was seen among Chinese pro-democracy protestors in 2011. Sometimes known as “The Manchurian Candidate,” Huntsman supports current policy on cross-strait differences between China and Taiwan. He has stated that human rights, Taiwan, and Tibet are key areas to work on with China. Huntsman is also a strong supporter of Israel, having made several trips there recently. On the immigration front, he supports immigrant reform initiatives while also backing a border-fence policy.

Mitt Romney’s platform rests mostly on the economy. Romney and Ron Paul are the only Republicans to run again since 2008. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, signed the Massachusetts healthcare reform legislation into law in 2006, a landmark move that provides near universal health insurance but also cost him Republican support. Aside from his right-wing views on abortion and gay rights, Romney’s economic views can be summed up in his opposition to what he calls the “Obama misery index.” His economic objectives lie in tax cuts and incentives for job creation rather than job targeting as Obama has done. Romney has not been very vocal on foreign policy but in terms of immigration, he believes in doubling the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Rick Perry is current governor of Texas. Perry has centered his campaign on the state’s recent economic success. As for foreign policy, Perry has declared that under Robert Gates, the former defense secretary, the Pentagon hugely overlooked the modernization of China’s defense system. He has offered support for Israel, going so far as to accuse Obama of a “policy of appeasement” after giving during peace talks “equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians.”

Herman Cain has begun gaining attention with media polls. He beat out Rick Perry in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida just a month ago. As a former chairman of Godfather’s Pizza, minister, and former director of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, he is probably the candidate who combines the most diverse angles from various walks of life. Cain supports US presence in Afghanistan and believes in the war in Iraq. He has thrown his back behind US defense of Israel while opposing any kind of negotiation with North Korea.
Michelle Bachmann has risen in media attention, too. A Republican House Representative since 2007, she founded the Tea party caucus in Congress. Bachmann is what the New York Times calls “conservatively conservative” which is to say she condemns tax increases, big government, and health care law. In terms of diplomacy, she says it is possible to work with countries like Iran but one should not rule out the possibility of a nuclear strike. On the global economy, Bachmann states she does not wish America be part of an international political economy: “I don’t want the United States to be in a global economy where our economic future is bound to that of Zimbabwe. We can’t necessarily trust the decisions that are being made financially in other countries.”

These candidates, as you can see, have articulated interesting views. Other Republican candidates to watch out for are: Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Rick Santarum. For the most part, things have been quiet with them on the foreign front, but we should expect otherwise in coming months.

Resources:

Wikipedia pages of candidates

New York Times Topics (Enter Candidates)

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