8:25 a.m. “Foreign Policy Challenges for the next Administration” kicks off the second day at the Humphrey Institute’s series of forums entitled America’s Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations. The panelists are:
* Edward Alden (Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations)
* Kim Holmes (Vice President, Davis Institute for International Studies, Heritage Foundation)
* Michael A. Levi (Fellow for Science and Technology and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations)
* Benn Steil (Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations)
8:32 a.m. The first topic discussed is immigration. Alden outlines how the U.S. economy has benefitted from the openness of our immigration policy (e.g. half of the patents registered in the U.S. come from immigrants). Alden explains the differences between Barack Obama and John McCain on immigration – notably that it is not a priority for Obama. McCain has stated during the Republican primary he has ‘listened to the people’ and will now secure the border first before any other immigration reform. Alden states the U.S. cannot have border security without ‘comprehensive’ immigration reform.
8:38 a.m. Holmes tackles the issue of Russia and its insurgence into Georgia. Holmes states that the Russia has miscalculated the Euro-American response to Russia’s actions, which has uniformly condemned the Georgia incident. Holmes says we must make it clear that Georgia will be a member of NATO and to prop up the current Georgian government. Otherwise, Russia will continue to push its ‘sphere of influence.’
8:49 a.m. Steil discusses the fragile U.S. and international economy that the next president will inherent – the housing and mortgage markets, soaring inflation, low to negative growth, and the financial credit crunch that institutions are facing internationally.
8:57 a.m. Holmes discusses the changing role of international institutions, such as the United Nations, where he observes U.S. influence has waned. The institution is much more Democratic, as opposed to its initial Western European-centric power distribution that defined the U.N. upon its formation decades ago. Holmes believe the international institutions are not doing what they should be doing (e.g. covering for human rights abuses) and they are not serving U.S. and western European interests like they were intended to do.
9:03 a.m. Levi is not optimistic as to the prospects of global climate agreements being tranlsated into meaningful change, although he does not more nations have been signatories to global climate agreements than trade agreements.
9:08 a.m. Holmes says the U.S. should give a security guarantee to Israel to let it be clear what the U.S. reaction would be if Iran woud use force against Israel. That is Plan B. Plan A is to take out the Iran nuclear program before it reaches operational status – Holmes expects that will be taken out (through Israel as surrogates).
9:21 a.m. Haass outlines the costs the U.S. would face if a military option were implemented against Iran (e.g. Iranian terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, reconstitution of the nuclear program, increased national support in Iran for the program etc.). Holmes is confident any reconstitution would be faced with additional Israeli action to counter that threat.