One of the most comical moments of the 2008 election was Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s affirmation that she could see Russia from her house as evidence of her political insight to Russian intentions. The fact is, international relations and foreign policy matter, and you can’t fake a knowledge base. Nuclear testing, religious conflict, and political tension are cornerstones of U.S. policy on the Middle East, and any president will have to answer to them.
Did You Know?
Nukes in the Works
Nine nations possess 23,000 nuclear weapons. Others are eager to catch up. Terrorism, failed diplomacy—heck, even an accident—and we could all be obliterated. President Obama has set his sites on a world free of nukes, the U.S. included. He wants what other have dubbed “global zero”—that is, a world in which nobody’s got nukes. Still, he’s got his guard up for countries such as North Korea and Iran, who won’t play the game. The U.S. and other world players suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, while the country states that it is purely a peaceful civilian project. Are Republicans willing to bomb Iran? Candidates’ responses are a mixed bag, from cautious acknowledgement of the possibility to outright confidence in its inevitability.
Arab Spring Aftermath
The Arab Spring uprisings of 2010 and 2011 sparked hope in the lives of many, spreading like wildfire from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, and Yemen—where rulers were overthrown—and prompting major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco. But successful ousting of tyrannical rulers has left the region in disarray as regional security has dissipated, foreign policy has fluctuated, and new leadership hangs in the balance.
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
In 2010, amid a slew of skepticism, Obama attempted to revive peace negotiations surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has plagued the region since the early 20th century. During a speech to the United Nations in late 2010, Obama expressed hope of diplomatic peace in a year’s time. A year and a half later, little progress has been made. Though there are some hopeful signs, peace efforts have largely collapsed.