Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department (2001-2003), and was President George W. Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland and Coordinator for the Future of Afghanistan. He is the author, most recently, of The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens (Penguin Press, 2023).
NEW YORK – Few Americans cast their ballot in the recent mid-term elections on the basis of foreign policy. While it may be difficult for people around the world to comprehend this, given the global reach of the United States, it is an undeniable fact.
Most Americans are, after all, preoccupied with the US economy’s sluggish growth and persistent high unemployment. The world’s challenges seem far removed from their day-to-day lives. The Cold War ended a generation ago; the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, are nearly a decade in the past. Most Americans do not feel the sacrifices associated with the large troop presence and ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But the fact that foreign policy did not materially affect the November elections does not mean that the results will not affect US foreign policy. They will, but in ways that are inconsistent and even surprising.
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