Foreign Policy Blogs

SOTU Review: America, the World, and Global Competition

To be fair, the White House was clear that President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday would not be focused on foreign policy, and so the basically-perfunctory treatment of international issues during the speech was not much of a surprise.  Obama is clearly more focused on domestic policy than foreign affairs, but in selecting the “competitiveness” theme, he did choose to make the case for his preferred spending projects in international terms.  America’s competitors, after all, are other countries.

The problem, however, was that this fact was not particularly evident in his speech.  For example, while I understand what he and his team were trying to do in keeping the speech light on policy and heavy on inspiration, Obama’s simple input money-output Green Jobs Revolution formulation at the center of the speech was a bit misleading given how other countries are competing for those same green jobs.  This was an important – and missed – opportunity to educate the public about what the U.S. is up against in the global marketplace, and I don’t totally understand why he didn’t wade into the subject.  The American people would almost certainly support him if he explained the pernicious effects of state capitalism and resource mercantilism, which would strengthen his own position on the issue.

A discussion of America’s place in the world and the challenges of the global marketplace is not at all out of place in a speech assessing the condition of the United States.  I would actually suggest that it should be an essential part of that discussion.  This was my core problem with the speech.



Ryan Haddad

Ryan Haddad is the Senior Blogger for U.S. Foreign Policy at FPA. A foreign affairs and national security analyst based in Washington, D.C., he worked in European and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Bush Administration and is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Providence College. He can be followed on Twitter at @RIHaddad.