YTN Berlin speakers discuss “the U.S. Presidential Candidates and their Views on Foreign Policy”
On October 18, the German Marshall Fund’s (GMF) Young Transatlantic Network in Berlin hosted a discussion with Xenia Dormandy, Senior Fellow, U.S. International Role, Chatham House, and GMF Senior Non-Resident Fellow Fabrizio Tassinari on the “U.S. presidential candidates and their views on foreign policy”. The discussion was moderated by Sudha David-Wilp, Senior Program Officer at GMF’s Berlin office.
In her opening remarks, Xenia Dormandy provided a brief overview of President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s positions on foreign policy issues, identifying five areas of convergence and divergence. She concluded that the differences were to be found less in actual policy proposals but rather in the perception of the U.S. in the world. Accordingly, the rest of the world would view America differently under each president. This, however, would be a matter of perception and not necessarily a reflection of reality when it comes to the foreign policy realm. In the discussion that followed, Fabrizio Tassinari touched upon the potential importance of different presidential leadership styles, the relationship between the economy and foreign affairs as well as transatlantic cooperation. He argued that neither candidate was able to explain to the electorate the connection between the U.S. economy and foreign relations. He pointed out that Europe needs to take the initiative and engage with the U.S. and not wait for America to approach Europe.
The following discussion focused on the lack of clarity provided by either candidate to explain current foreign policy issues to the electorate, the pivot to Asia, and the transatlantic relationship, in particular regarding the potential of a Free Trade Agreement. Members of the audience raised questions about the relationship between Israel and the U.S. with regard to Iran and Mitt Romney’s close relationship to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu. Other topics discussed were the Arab spring, Obama’s strategy of leading from behind, leadership changes in Asia, the usage of drones, and possible future crises that might call for a closer EU/U.S. cooperation.