Faltering US foreign policy

Published 9:57pm Tuesday, December 4, 2012

To the editor:

The recent decline in the status of the United States as the economic leader in shaping world politics is quite alarming.

As usual, our major news media outlets don’t want to make the public aware of just how bad things have become. And with the latest debacle on posturing for filling the soon to be vacant Secretary of State position, it’s easy to see why.

A recent article in the Asia Times provided news that I haven’t seen covered by our national news media. The Asia Times reported that it is symptomatic of the national condition of the United States that the worst humiliation ever suffered by it as a nation, and by a United States president personally, passed almost without comment last week.

They referred to the Nov. 20 announcement at a summit meeting in Phnom Penh that 15 Asian nations, comprising half the world’s population, would form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excluding the United States.

President Barack Obama attended the summit to sell a US-based Trans-Pacific Partnership excluding China. Nobody bought what he was selling. The American-led partnership became a party to which no-one came.

Instead, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, will form a club and leave out the United States. As 3 billion Asians become prosperous, interest fades in the prospective contribution of 300 million Americans – especially when those Americans decline to take risks on new technologies. America’s great economic strength, namely its capacity to innovate, exists mainly in memory four years after the 2008 economic crisis and our president has done little to change that.

Another piece of foreign policy related news, which recently came out of Turkey, also appears to be missing from the US news media. Turkey late last week acknowledged that a surge in its gold exports this year is related to payments for imports of Iranian natural gas, shedding light on Ankara’s role in breaching U.S.-led sanctions against Tehran.

In response, U.S. senators said they would seek to close this loophole. But a Turkish trade minister has warned Turkey will not respect any new U.S. measures. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan admitted Turkey was paying for its gas imports with gold. While Washington has warned it is considering new measures to prevent such payments, Turkey’s economy minister Zafer Caglayan this week dismissed the threat.

“The U.S. sanctions stand for the U.S.,” Caglayan said. “We have multilateral international agreements. These deals we are a party to and are binding for us. But measures taken by the EU are also not binding since we are not a member.”

I ask you, are you satisfied in that our current foreign policy leadership has slipped to such a new low that is has resulted in Turkey telling the U.S. government to stick it where the sun don’t shine?

I’m not. If our campaigner-in-chief spent a little more time back in the office tending to both domestic and foreign affairs maybe we wouldn’t always be sitting on a proverbial cliff.

- Karl Kachadoorian, Tryon

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