With Economy Back on Track, Foreign Policy is the New Priority

kohliThey say history has a way of repeating itself. And sure enough, following 2008, America must once again prioritize its policy issues. This election year it seems like America’s priority is still the economy, but I believe it is time to bring things into perspective. The American recession officially began in December 2007, when an $8 trillion housing bubble burst. This was followed by a reduction in consumption and chaos, where a total of 8.4 million jobs were lost. And so, the years leading up to the 2008 Presidential Election found the American people looking for a candidate who would guarantee them a secure and booming economy that would ensure jobs to its people. A proponent of New Deal economics, Senator Barack Obama emerged as a champion of the people. His previous voting record in the Senate and his policy of investing in social public services won hearts and votes across the nation.

At the time, the American people rightly prioritized what they expected from their next President: financial security. Accordingly, they made a choice and — according to the numbers — the right one. Economic growth in the second quarter of 2015 outdid other developed nations at 3.7 percent, and during Obama’s presidency the private sector experienced 63 consecutive months of job growth. So now with the 2016 Presidential elections just around the corner, it is up to the American public to again make a choice of candidate who can best address issues significant to them.

Without a doubt, the imbalance in the Middle East poses an imminent risk to the West, and I believe this needs to be dealt with first and foremost, before immigration reform, before the economy and before healthcare reform.

Stability of foreign relations will serve as a precursor to internal growth and prosperity. And I don’t just mean neutralizing or defeating the Islamic State. No — there’s so much more to take into consideration. Let’s begin with oil. The surge in US oil production parallels a fall in world oil prices, because the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries refuses to reduce its market share by slowing production. Excess supply of oil from both major producers will simply lead to mutually assured destruction of profits in the long run, as both manufacturers cut into each other’s supply share. Furthermore, no one needs to break down how the Middle East poses a threat to democracy itself. Sixteen of the 22 prominent Middle Eastern countries are severely non-democratic, including Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Four — Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and Turkey — are partly or semi-democratic and only two — Israel and Tunisia — can be classified as democratic.

Since long, the President of the United States has enjoyed the privilege of being the “leader of the free world.” So now, when the very fiber on which the free world exists is being threatened, it is time for this leader to stand up and, well … lead. With a stellar record as First Lady, Senator and finally, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton may just be the most qualified person for the job. Let me clarify: this is not an advertisement for Hillary Clinton for America, rather a pragmatic solution. The next President must ensure territorial and national integrity, in the face of terrorist activities, before making any other promises. If the borders of the state are themselves compromised, what good is a low unemployment rate or a higher minimum wage?

So long as Mr. Trump remains the Republican frontrunner, it is pointless discussing the possibility that the Republicans will be able to solve America’s foreign policy problem. But as for the Democratic candidates, the choice lies between Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Clinton. While Sanders is a solid candidate and has done an inspirational job with his campaign so far, his foreign policy leaves much to be desired. In all the Democratic debates, he hasn’t adequately answered questions of this nature. The war against ISIS, he said, “must be won primarily by nations in the region — Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iran — which must be prepared to send ground troops into action to defeat Islamic extremists.” His suggestion of a coalition between Iran and Saudi Arabia, countries known to be in opposition to one another, has lead many to believe that he has neither knowledge nor experience in dealing with the region.

On the other hand, Secretary Clinton knows about the global scenario. More than that she is aware of who she is dealing with and knows how to work around obstinate rulers. As Secretary of State, Clinton was actually able to mend America’s relations with most of its allies, which had been severely weakened after eight years of the Bush administration. Not only did she do so bilaterally, but she was also able to breathe new life into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Her diplomatic prowess was perfectly demonstrated by the cease-fire between Israel and Palestine that she helped broker in Gaza. Yes, there are discrepancies in her record, big ones. But her experience of both success and failure will help her enact a better foreign policy in the future. I’m afraid that Sanders’ theatric tone pales in comparison.

Having been in the position before, Clinton recognizes that we live in an interconnected world, one in which no country can live in absolute isolation. One of her strongest policy agendas is to strengthen alliances and create partnerships for the future. She’s no stranger to the fact that cooperation from the Middle East is required to ensure economic stability within the United States. That is just how the global economy functions. Fluctuation of oil prices or political instability in that region of the world affects the American stock market.

So, these options are laid out: If the people are looking for a leader who can stabilize overseas relations as well as ensure domestic and economic prosperity, Secretary Clinton is the way to go. If domestic policy is in fact all the American people are looking to solve, Senator Sanders will no doubt get the job done.

Pranati Kohli is a College sophomore from New Delhi, India.