My list of my top 10 foreign policy wishes for 2008 is presented in reverse order of urgency:
10. Continued frustration for Hugo Chavez.
His presidency-for-life derailed by voters smart enough to see the writing on the wall, Chavez will become more nakedly aggressive in his quest for oil-fueled dictatorship. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s oil production drops for lack of foreign investment just as all eyes turn to Brazil’s substantial offshore oil discovery.
9. Less hyperbole on global warming.
Al Gore did a world of good, but the bandwagoning here is getting bizarre, with every current disaster and future war now attributed to CO2’s rise. We sit atop a runaway global economy that needs taming, but without damaging its proven ability to reduce global poverty.Terrorism hasn’t produced a 1930s-like crash. It would be truly tragic if our fears of a warmer planet did so instead.
8. More attention to rising global food prices.
By adding half the world to the global economy over the past generation, globalization dramatically raised income levels for hundreds of millions. The result? They all want to eat better. That demand raises food prices just as global warming and the push for biofuels re-igger regional production patterns, adding further upward pressure. With global food stores tighter than ever, we need some innovative political leadership.
7. Less demographic demagoguery from nativist know-nothings.
CNN’s sad decline (see Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck — if you must) means America now has a choice in immigration fear-mongering (look out, Fox!). Amidst a worldwide boom in tourism and transnational job commuting, the U.S. makes itself as unwelcoming as possible. As presidential candidates vie to promise the highest fence, we trash a national brand that’s long been the envy of the world. Have you no shame, sirs?
6. China’s JFK moment
No country spreads globalization faster right now than China, which creates a boom for commodity suppliers while threatening shortages among the world’s poor. As Beijing scours the planet for resources, it naturally becomes the West’s go-to guy on rogues like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran and Myanmar. China needs a John F. Kennedy-like leader to ask its people what they owe the world besides a bottom line and a well-run Olympics.
5. Africa Command’s first splendid little peace.
America’s newest regional military command stands up officially next summer to mixed expectations: strategic commitment to a region suffering preventable conflicts or an inevitable militarization of foreign aid? While the world concentrates on Darfur, both Congo and Somalia slide toward renewed chaos Soon enough, Africom will find itself enmeshed in all three. Here’s hoping it can make a good first impression.
4. Al Qaeda’s continued rollback.
Our military’s new counterinsurgency strategy is working in Iraq, the troop surge coming just in time to exploit al Qaeda’s violent overreach there. Now to shift manpower to Afghanistan, where NATO’s southward press against the revived Taliban falters. Little surprise that Pakistan destabilizes as we finally zero in on its ungovernable northwest territories. As Benazir Bhutto’s assassination indicates, this will get a whole lot scarier.
3. Nixon goes to Tehran — sort of.
It won’t be President Bush or even Secretary Rice. Given Iran’s extensive meddling in both Iraq and Afghanistan, expect the first openings to be military-focused, so look for uniforms. After the recent intelligence estimate effectively killed the White House’s drive for direct action against Tehran’s nuclear program, both sides face a window of opportunity to shift the strategic discussion. Tricky indeed.
2. The dollar bottoms out before too much shakes out.
American exporters clearly gain, but we need to be careful here. A declining dollar dilutes the worldwide flow of remittances from overseas workers. Now we hear oil producers talking about shifting reserves to euros to protect value. A strong (enough) dollar is a global collective good worth preserving. No simple answer here because we’re in uncharted waters — just a plea for a smart landing.
1. When the bubble eventually bursts in India and/or China.
There’s plenty of hot money seeking higher returns in emerging economies now, pumping up stock markets particularly in Mumbai and Shanghai. What goes up too fast, must come down even faster. This is a question of when, not if. The real uncertainty is how locals will handle the setback. If the G-8 doesn’t have a plan, it should get one fast.
You have your marching orders. Good luck and godspeed.
(Thomas P.M. Barnett is a visiting scholar at the University of Tennessee’s Howard Baker Center and the senior managing director of Enterra Solutions LLC. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)