September 26, 2007

What should the US Presidential Candidates be discussing?

Ashok has asked a number of bloggers to think about and address this issue- amongst them me. As a non-American I don't know enough about US domestic policy to really presume to highlight an issue there and thought I'd stick to foreign policy in trying to work out a neglected area. I have two neglected areas that the American Presidential candidates in my opinion ought to at least be thinking about it not discussing. I'll briefly lay out what they are and why they are interesting, without advancing policy ideas because as I hope you'll appreciate both areas are incredibly complicated.

The first issue which I think US politicians ought to think about more is Central Asia, excluding Afghanistan and Pakistan. Part of the reason, many believe, that we face a war on terror is because of the conjunction of dictatorships and oil. Terrorism is seen by many as the reaction of Middle Eastern peoples to their own governments as much as to the West or Israel. Let's take that as a presumption for a moment. If so then conditions in Central Asia are just as worrying. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are all ruled with varying degrees of corrupt autocracy. Many of those nations have huge oil reserves underneath them or are potential conduits to the outside world for pipelines. They sit on the edge of Southern Russia which has its own problems with radical Islam, and throughout these countries there is an upswell of support for radicals, especially Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The conditions are not good. This region should be a priority for any forward thinking US President who wants to anticipate the problems of the future.

Another region which should be discussed more and isn't and hence represents the second of my points is the Taiwan strait. If there is to be a nuclear war anywhere in the world involving the United States, the probability is that it will arise over the Taiwan strait (the other most likely nuclear war, more likely and another issue that Americans should be thinking about is over Kashmir). Taiwan though is a democracy, its a democracy where many of the people want to vote for complete independence from China but China threatens continuously to invade Taiwan should they vote that way. China tells anyone who mediates that Taiwan is part of China. China also fires missiles over Taiwanese territory and always ramps up military pressure when Taiwan goes to the polls. There is no clearer place in the world where democracy confronts aggressive, nationalistic dictatorship than over the Taiwan strait. The military balance on the South China Sea and Chinese and Japanese recent build ups of power there should also be a major concern for the United States. China ultimately is not just an economic issue, but a political one.

There are two issues- the former especially- which I don't think are being discussed enough in the current Presidential campaign, I hope they get some attention.

This is an interesting meme- I know its an imposition but anyone who reads this can consider themselves asked what neglected issues you think the US Presidential candidates should consider and put it on your blog, with a link preferably back to Ashok, as he is going to compile the suggestions later.


Ashok said...

Thanks so much for the post!

I'm waiting for a few more responses before I put up a list of links, but that has to be forthcoming - I started this meme.

edmund said...

Two excellnt choices - particual the midde asian one- which really is not bieng talked about at all.

I would add on at least the parial home front genetic engineering on humans and it's related activites (I think Browback may have mentioned this a bit) , legal immigration reform ( that is reduich legaling US immigraiton or changin its nature) which is being talked about a bit but very little, affirmative action for hispanics and asians and most of all in terms of neglect - neurotechnology which isn't being talked about at all.