The Landscape After The Battle

13:35 08.11.2012 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

It was said many times in the course of the election campaign in the U.S. that foreign policy, and in particular Russian-American relations, was not a priority. Is this true? In such a tense struggle even nuances and shades of political interpretation could be the deciding factor. As for today's America, living in a globalized world, its foreign policy is highly inseparable from the state of the global economy, and this is not a minor detail.

Suffice to say, that for Obama, the economic and financial crisis in Europe which threatens to turn into a political crisis, served as a backdrop for his own benefit in his modest and largely intermediate success in overcoming the crisis. With regard to Russia, the heat of debate has spotlighted entirely new positions, denoting a milestone that many were quick to call more declaration rather than a bid to take specific concrete action.

Since the mid-1990s, Republicans and Democrats have been arguing about which of them "lost Russia" as a completely loyal partner. During the election campaign, Romney went back to the old formula: Russia is “geopolitical enemy number one for the U.S.", deliberately destroying any conciliatory discourse with the Kremlin, to which somehow his immediate predecessors adhered to.

In the eyes of Americans, Regan looked much more natural with his "evil empire" in the 1980s than the current Republican candidate with his rhetoric about "newly forgotten" enemies of America. Obama subtly realized this, and during the last TV debate cleverly confused his opponent using his own terms. It was not without surprise that viewers heard from Romney, that the threat posed by Iran is the main "threat to U.S. national security," and as for Russia, it is a "geopolitical enemy." Because, as we know, the interests of national security are inextricably linked to geopolitics, and even veteran politicians, not to mention the ordinary spectator, could not draw a line between them.

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© AFP / Mandel Ngan, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

For his part, Obama, addressing the audience of millions, was able to pose the question: do Americans want to be led by a president who wants to return to the conditions of a second Cold War? Psychologically, his plan worked exactly on the old phobia of significant numbers of Americans, in overcoming irritation over the intractability "of the Russians."

This campaign was different in America for a number of paradoxes and curiosities, a huge number of ordinary supporters, and in this case, perhaps record financial injections. As we all know, real creativity is "paradoxes friend." But a number of issues about the current election campaign sound surprisingly serious, especially in terms of the transparency of the genuine political intentions of the candidate and the president.

For the first time it was required that the meetings between the donors for the election campaigns of the candidate and the president were to be made public and the press should not be banished from these backroom discussions. It was there at these meetings, and not in the television debates, that the important policy details of the participants in the race were voiced, and from which they would find it difficult to retreat in view of future support for their policies. They say that in the course of these discussions, the topic of Russia was raised, and Romney tried to soften his position on the "geopolitical enemy."

This last rings true in light of the unexpected, "curiosity", so to speak, going on behind the curtains. Already in the home stretch of the election campaign, it became known that the son of candidate Mitt Romney had recently visited Russia in search of Russian investors for his company Excel Trust, which owns a chain of stores across America. Nothing personal, just business. The Republican campaign headquarters declined to comment.

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© AFP / Mandel Ngan. Matt Romney, son of U.S. presidential candidate for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney

Meanwhile, as mentioned in the International Herald Tribune, during his visit Romney, Jr. said to one Russian with access to Putin that, despite the campaign rhetoric, his father, if he is elected wants to establish good relations.  After Romney’s maxims about "rose-tinted glasses" which he will throw away when he is looking into Putin's eyes as the U.S. president, and claims that he will refuse all compromises and indulgences to Moscow, in the eyes of the voters, in this story the candidate looked  inconsistent at the very least. It all looks very familiar to us from past experience of the real policies of the neoconservatives towards Russia.

However, the question remains: will the Republicans who hold a majority in Congress, be captivated by Romney’s anti-Russian rhetoric? At first glance, there does not seem to be good cause for concern: Romney lost and the ambitious leaders on the Republican side do not want to repeat his campaign speech word for word. What is more important now is that the current leaders of the party do not give the impression of a lack of consistency. And yet, how far his declaration on Russia will be the starting point for the elite members of the Republican Party is not yet known.

As for Obama, he probably has a chance to "reset, reboot or restart." By the way, almost unnoticed during the election campaign, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with students at Georgetown University in Washington. There, Mrs. Clinton spoke about the need to end Russia’s monopoly in the European energy market, and represented our country as a geopolitical rival in the new map of the world's energy policy.

So far we have not reached the stage of Romney’s rhetoric, but the trumpets have sounded, "Marlborough has left for the war," and in the bowels of the State Department, a special unit for International Energy Affairs has been established, headed by former Ambassador Carlos Pascual.

As expected, Obama and his team are celebrating victory, in a hard won fight. However, the second campaign has shattered his dream of uniting the nation, which inspired the next president in the last campaign. Today, the American press is replete with phrases such as "two Americas," and a "divided society."

Indeed, there is not a single internal problem of the USA, large or small, in which the public does not have diametrically opposing views, many of which are caused by the actions of the president. It remains split on many aspects of foreign policy.

In his time, Ivan Ilyin wrote that party politics and factionalism themselves are not able to unite a nation; it is listening to common goals, ideas and policies that unites. However, it is unlikely that Obama has read Ilyin.<!--EndFragment-->


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