Early Forecast (May 2014): The Republican Presidential Candidate Will Win in 2016
It is, of course, absurd to claim solid knowledge about what will happen in a presidential election nearly 2.5 years away. But just for the sake of discussion, my early prediction is that the Republican presidential candidate, whoever s/he may be, will win the election in November 2016.
It is also unlikely that such a victory would normally be attributed to foreign as distinct from domestic policy issues. In this case, however, that’s my follow-on bet: that the Republican will win because the Democrat will be tainted by Obama’s handling of key international issues.
The core issue, I believe, will be a too-rapid decline in U.S. power and influence abroad. Ever since his lame response to the financial crisis, when heads should have rolled at the top banks, it has been clear that President Obama does not understand power. Instead of building strength through a chain of successes that demonstrate muscle, he has taken an overly analytic approach, treating each challenge in isolation.
Circumstances have not helped him in the foreign policy arena. Thanks to the Bush Administration’s adventures, the U.S. is in fact tired of foreign wars. But that’s the starting point. You still can, and must, try to make the best of the situation.
The specific concern prompting this post is that Obama is sending signals of weakness if not outright spinelessness to both China and Russia, at a time when both are moving more aggressively than they have done for many years. Both appear increasingly inclined to accept Obama’s virtual invitation to find out how far he will let them go — and I think he will let them go very far.
So I think there will be one or more signal events, indicating an end to the post-USSR era in which the U.S. was the sole superpower. China will invade Taiwan or, in a less extreme and more likely scenario, China will provoke a shooting war of sorts with Japan. Russia will continue in Ukraine, and will not stop there.
One way or another, my prediction says, American voters will awaken to a world in which the U.S. looks increasingly like just one more nation among many, and that will be uncomfortable enough to make a decisive difference in the 2016 election.
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Tags: abroad, china, foreign, international, issues, Obama, policy, power, Russia, U.S., United States