When it comes to foreign policy, the 2008 presidential candidates
have focused almost exclusively on the Middle East. Given the public
debate about America's engagement in Iraq, that's understandable.
But such myopia is also deeply regrettable. There's another world
out there besides the Middle East, one with major problems and flash
points that cannot be ignored by the public and a future US
It's imperative that voters and the media ask all of the
candidates tough questions about issues other than the ones they
already ask about the Middle East. Some of the important ones
How should the United States (1) Maintain a balance of power in
East Asia, (2) Respond if China tests a second anti-satellite
weapon, (3) Respond to a Chinese military action against Taiwan?
If China does act against Taiwan, whoever becomes the next US
president will have to respond in a matter of hours - not days - as
to whether the US honors the Taiwan Relations Act and whether it
becomes militarily involved in the conflict.
Looking elsewhere, we should also ask candidates how they intend
to ensure that a politically divided Ukraine continues toward
integration with Europe and not move closer to Russia. How should
the United States respond to an increasingly authoritarian Russia,
remembering that it has the second-largest oil reserves in the
world, that Siberia is a treasure trove of minerals yet to be
exploited, and that Russia is a military superpower? How should the
US respond if Russia covertly threatens Poland for allowing a
potential American anti-ballistic missile defense system on its
Should a conflict arise between Kosovo and Serbia - which could
involve Russia - where stands the United States?
And what about NATO? Should the US insist on a greater European
contribution in terms of personnel and funding? The same question
could be asked about the United Nations.
What should be America's policy toward India, a nation with the
second-largest population in the world, a fast-growing economy, and
a military with an increasing capability, all the time remembering
its contentious and continuing border dispute with Pakistan, an
American ally in the fight against the Taliban?
If North Korea reneges on its promise to give up its nuclear-
weapons program, should the US encourage Japan to develop nuclear
weapons? Should the United States continue a policy of downsizing
the number of its troops in South Korea while, at the same time,
South Korea is considering significant decreases in its active and
reserve forces? …