Tehran, Iran - This fascinating question to put to a panel of foreign commentators. Even though it is mostly a domestic matter in the United States, no part of the global village can be indifferent to the tectonic shift in Washington.
Fellow contributors to PostGlobal have covered many topics noticed abroad: the Arab-Israeli conflict, North Korea, environmental damage and religious conflict. However, with so many freshmen in the new Congress, it is unlikely that we'll see any noticeable change of direction. Moreover, domestic issues tend to trump foreign policy matters, Iraq and the war against terrorism not withstanding. The elected pack is already busy planning for the presidential elections of 2008. They must curry favour with powerful lobbies. Fundraising for the next election cycle is probably paramount on their minds.
In this environment, I believe the United States Congress ought to go back to basics of the U.S. constitution. That constitution has served as a beacon for the rest of the world and, over the last two centuries, has yielded a unique and successful nation. That nation has exemplary freedom benchmarks and a very strong economy that has attracted talented and hopeful immigrants. In this effort, principles of equal treatment under the law, respect for human rights and a fair chance to impeach one's adversary must be refurbished and, once again, amplified--if only to set aside blind and absurd simplifications or a corrosive and divisive of us-vs.-them mentality.
Exit polls indicated that corruption was the number one issue on the mind of voters. Internationally this appears as torture, secret evidence and kangaroo military commissions that have dubious constitutional origins. They can charge citizens, or foreigners, with dreamed up "crimes". America's treaty obligations ought not to be snuffed out in favour of short-sighted tactics. A return to international discussions, legal systems on cross-border criminal prosecution, environmental changes and demilitarisation of festering conflict zones (i.e. the Arab-Israeli matter) should be on the agenda.
This may well be a long wish list. In reality, the first round of discussion is most likely to be yet about old fashion factional and political postures under the rotunda of Capital Hill and the early signals are already transmitted. Donald Rumsfeld has resigned and his slated successor is a man from the era of the Iran-Contra Affair, when a (milder) betrayal of the U.S. Constitution sacrificed the transparency of its system and its intentions for expediency.
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