This week FPA.org presented the results of the FPA’s National Opinion Ballot Report that surveyed many policy experts on key issued related to US foreign policy. With over 200,000 policy experts contributing to the survey, it was found that respondents were in favour of an increase of counterinsurgency efforts as opposed to funding traditional warfare methods and a reduction in defence spending. Respondents also focused on internationally coordinated efforts to solve global and US economic problems and praised Germany’s fiscal approach in attempting to achieve economic stability in Europe and worldwide.
Policy questions related to two regions that I write on, Latin America and European Union, were addressed in the survey regarding Haiti as well as Russia and the ongoing conflict with Georgia and the Caucasus region.
Haiti was seen as an issue related closely to US aid and its approach towards governments that traditionally have been seen as being corrupt. Corruption in local government results in taking funds away from Haitians who desperately need full aid and funding to go to rebuilding the country and their communities. Despite a recent change in leadership in Haiti, many respondents believed that in order to help many in Haiti still suffering from the massive natural disaster that hit Port-au-Prince and the rest of the country, that servicing aid through NGOs, and not the Haitian government, would be more sensible due to past corruption in Haiti. While this assumption is the logical conclusion for many in the survey, giving aid to countries via NGOs and foreign organisations within an independent country may not be seen as positive in many other cases outside of Haiti, even considering level of corruption in administering aid to these countries. An issue that is gaining attention and one that was addressed by the Latin America blog as far back as last year is policy development in the drug war in Latin America. Aid given by the US to help fight drug cartels in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Colombia, receives as much praise as it receives criticism. Today former Mexican President Vicente Fox took to criticising current President and fellow PAN party member Felipe Calderon on BBC World Service saying that legalising all narcotics should be the end result to a drug war that costs Mexico lives and blood in exchange for little aid money from the US. US aid to help reduce drugs coming through the US Border from Mexico simply is not worth the costs according to President Fox. He stated that Calderon’s use of force and Mexico’s army should be withdrawn as violence begets violence in a never ending struggle that supplies drugs to the US and costs Mexico more than any aid could provide.
Moving to the survey results on Europe, many in the survey took to supporting tighter relations with Russia and Turkey, but at the expense of Georgia and other regional powers in conflict with Russia in order to maintain closer ties with Putin’s stronger Russia. Despite US support formally being given to Georgia in the past, many supported Russia over other US allies in the region, but at the expense of the America’s reputation in the region. It is assumed the US will not blindly throw its support behind Turkey if its security and relations with Israel is challenged, but the confidence the Caucasus region had in US support in the past will likely dwindle if Georgia is ignored when it gets into conflict with Russia, again. The complexity of the US relation with Georgia must be considered as more than just US-Russia interests. US support for Georgia comes with the need to keep US ABM’s (Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems) in Georgia to country any missile threats coming from Iran. Many unread policy reports on US relations with Georgia comes from perspectives regarding issues in the Middle East as opposed to the Caucasus region. No one would doubt the US and Russia need strong ties, but when discussing Georgia it becomes more complex as Georgia is located in a strategically important area for the US. I am not sure to what degree this was considered in the survey, but it is an important variable to US relations in the Caucasus region and for the EU as well as ABM’s in Georgia would be located there to prevent a strike in Europe itself coming from Iran.