Without doubt, most of us have a clue about the ongoing US election. But how many people understand the electoral process beyond media headlines? Here is a handy video guide by The Telegraph to make things easier. Additionally, you can find comments by Dr. Charles Sullivan, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Nazarbayev University, on the prospects of US Foreign Policy after President Obama leaves office.
On the candidates:
It will be interesting to see whom the Republicans and Democrats ultimately choose to be their respective nominees for President of the United States. We have a two-party system on account of how our voting system is structured. In a general sense, Republicans and Democrats differ with respect to domestic policy on most issues. As an expat and a political scientist, I am mainly interested in foreign policy. Americans like to speak of “doctrines” when it comes to our foreign policy. I would venture to guess that if Clinton were to become the next President of the United States, we would not see much of a difference from Obama’s foreign policy. If Sanders or Trump wins, then our foreign policy is less clear to me.
On assessing the US foreign policy towards Central Asia and Afghanistan:
The United States used to be interested in Central Asia during the 1990s due to the region’s energy reserves. Ever since 9/11, however, the primary concern has been Afghanistan. In my opinion, Washington does not really want to partake in a Great Game redux. America does not need the region’s oil and gas, and several of the “Stans” are failing as states. What worries me most about Central Asia is that one of the “Stans” could implode from within and thereby undermine the region’s chances to realize its potential.
On Afghanistan, the reason why America remains militarily involved in this country to this day is because Washington fears that a repeat of what happened in Iraq in 2014 could also occur in Afghanistan. The hard truth is that the United States really does not know how to effectively rebuild failed states into functioning governing entities. So, in a sense, we are stuck in Afghanistan. This is why Obama does not want to withdraw all of the troops. The next U.S. President will face the same dilemma. If America leaves Afghanistan, then the country may fracture and destabilize the wider region. But in staying, there’s also no light at the end of the tunnel.
On the next US’s regional focus:
Overall, the United States is not really interested in Central Asia. Never has been, and most likely never will be. Washington is highly concerned with the greater Middle East at present, but the countries that garner the most attention (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, etc.) fall outside of the region. The United States is the sole superpower of the international system, but it lacks hegemony in this part of the world any way you look at it. Plus, with the exception of Kazakhstan, I don’t think that the Central Asian republics are interested in reforming their systems. In our lifetime, I envision the focus of geopolitics shifting to East Asia. What everyone should watch is how China’s relations with its neighbors evolve over time.