Dmitri Medvedev and Hu Jintao

The Atlantic Council’s Robert Manning recently focused our attention on the October Asia-Europe Summit in Beijing.  We Americans might have missed the significance of the emerging multipolarity and shifts in global power while up to our elbows in election politics and financial woes.

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Editor's note: We polled several friends of the Atlantic Council last week on the question What are the top foreign policy priorities for the next president?   We'll be running their responses all week.

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Editor's note: We polled several friends of the Atlantic Council last week on the question What are the top foreign policy priorities for the next president?   We'll be running their responses all week.

The next president should pay particular attention to five foreign policy objectives.  The following are not listed in order of priority.  Some are urgent, some are of more long-term importance, and some are both.  It is important to point out that all five require concerted U.S.-European cooperation, so transatlantic cohesion is a cross-cutting priority for each.

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Editor's note: We polled several friends of the Atlantic Council last week on the question What are the top foreign policy priorities for the next president?   We'll be running their responses all week.

Aside from the obvious war priorities of Iraq and Afghanistan and managing the world economic crisis, I'd list (not necessarily in order) :
 
Iran and non-proliferation — There may be an opening for some real progress. If not there will be an early need for some very tough decisions on sanctions, defenses, Gulf cooperation, and (possibly) military action.
 
Russia — In the early months, the new team will need to figure out a strategic approach Russia, not just on the important specific questions of arms control, Georgia, and Iran, but more generally.
 
Nuclear weapons — What are they for in the 21st Century, what arms control measures should replace START II, what (if any) programs -- RRW, Deep Penetrator, etc. - are needed, what organizational arrangements to strengthen oversight and management?
 
Israel-Palestine — As soon as there is an Israel government, how to restart the negotiations process, and more relevant, how to build a capacity in the PA to suppress terrorism from the WB that will give Israel the confidence to reach agreement -- and to take the interim measures on settlements and movement that are likely to be needed for the PA to take hard decisions and make them stick.
 
The reality of the new President — if it's Obama -- there will be a boost, but also a let down when it turns out he puts Country First, and if it's McCain, there will be a let down, period, until he shows there is Change We Can Believe In.  This is my formulation of the "restore America's prestige/reputation" question. 

Walter Slocombe, secretary of the Atlantic Council board of directors, is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Debate word cloud from Flickr user EricaJoy, used under Creative Commons license.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy was the first foreign leader to offer congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. In a statement released by the Elysee palace, Sarkozy declared, “At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond … France and Europe... will find a new energy to work with America to preserve peace and world prosperity.”

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Editor's note: We polled several friends of the Atlantic Council last week on the question What are the top foreign policy priorities for the next president?   We'll be running their responses all week.

1.      Addressing the global financial crisis; he should appoint his economic team immediately and figure out a strategy for both injecting stability and confidence back into world markets and limiting the damage to the real economy.

2.      Work with other NATO members to develop a strategy for fighting the war in Afghanistan on a long-term basis and get the commitments to pursue that strategy consistently.

3.      Reach an understanding with General Petraeus about the timeline for withdrawing from Iraq and begin the diplomacy necessary to put together a U.S.-EU-U.N. conference on ensuring a stable and prosperous future for Iraq in the wider region.

4.      Announce that he will close Guantanamo within six months based on the recommendations of a bipartisan commission and ensure full compliance with the Geneva Conventions by all parts of the U.S. government.

5.      Announce an immediate review of U.S. climate change policy with the intention of figuring out how the United States can play an leading diplomatic and economic role in doing everything possible to avert what is possible to avert and mitigate what is not.

Anne-Marie Slaughter is Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.  Debate word cloud from Flickr user EricaJoy, used under Creative Commons license.

World Economic Forum

As almost everyone now agrees, recovery from what promises to be a protracted global recession will require a multilateral effort.   In an increasingly interconnected world, the politics of mutualism, as I have written elsewhere, will force developed as well as emerging countries to rely on each other.

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The European Union has already come too far with the project of closer integration to stop now. At least that was the view of former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, speaking at a conference in London last month. He went on to suggest that further European integration should not be constrained by politically reticent member states.  If countries such as Britain do not want to move to the next stage they should be offered special status that preserves close ties, but doesn’t require specific policy commitments, much like current EU relations with Switzerland and Norway. As Giscard points out, this would “avoid them acting as a brake on the progress of others.”

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The above illustration depicts the number of articles devoted by the New York Times to a given country since 2000, compiled by the gang at Gene Expression.

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Foreign Policy Priorities for the Next President

While the public opinion polls have told us for weeks that Barack Obama is likely to win the longest presidential contest in American history, the voters will finally decide once and for all tomorrow.

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