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.


1.     Fix the financial crisis.  The G7 should coordinate moves to restore the solvency, liquidity, and integrity of global financial markets.  U.S. leadership will play a key role in bringing this about.

2.     Implement an effective policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan needs to be diffused, and the U.S. should isolate, pin down, and hammer Al Qaeda in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The two countries are integrally connected.

3.     Deal with Iran.  The next president should strengthen the front against Iran while engaging Tehran in a two-pronged effort to prevent nuclear weaponization, as stopping uranium enrichment appears impossible.

4.     Strike a bargain with China (at least tacitly).  China should accept the rules of the game on trade, energy, emissions, development, supporting rogues, et cetera.  In return, the U.S. should grant Beijing a role in international financial institutions and the G7/8 commensurate with its power.

5.     Move forward with the Israel-Palestine peace process.  The next president should start negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians on the initial steps toward a Palestinian state.

David C. Gompert is Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation, former Senior Advisor for National Security and Defense for the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, and former Senior Director for Europe and Eurasia for the National Security Council.