CFR Presents

Campaign 2008

The Candidates and the World

The Obama-Romney World Visions

by Robert McMahon, Editor Thursday, May 31, 2007

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have laid out their most complete visions yet for U.S. foreign policy in the latest Foreign Affairs. Not surprisingly, they offer sharply different views on Iraq, with Obama calling for a phased withdrawal of combat forces by March 2008 and Romney writing that such a move poses “grave risks to the United States and the world.”

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Stealth Tactics on European Missiles

by Michael Moran Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The early start to this presidential election should give the public, the media, and others with serious policy questions, more time than usual to penetrate a candidate’s layered defenses of vague rhetoric, tightly controlled access, and professional flakery. Alas, it is too early to report success in getting many foreign policy answers, particularly for the nitty-gritty issues of the day. For many, these positions often simply do not exist.

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Confronting Sudan

by Robert McMahon, Editor Tuesday, May 29, 2007

President Bush’s announcement of expanded sanctions against the Sudanese government for abuses in Darfur will likely receive an approving nod from candidates on both sides of the aisle seeking to succeed him. The candidates at various occasions have roundly condemned the Sudanese government and blasted the UN for inaction on ending the atrocities, as detailed in this CFR Crisis Guide. The Senate-candidates have already endorsed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which set out a framework of tough sanctions and revived diplomacy last year. Through their votes in Congress, many have spoken out in favor of enforcing a no-fly zone over Darfur as well.

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Public Opinion and War

by Michael Moran Friday, May 25, 2007

How much influence should public opinion have on the conduct of a war? The answer, in the United States, at least, appears to depend on ones perspective on power. Those in power tend to argue that decisions in wartime need to be insulated from the passions of the mob, as Voltaire would have it. That is, of course, unless the masses overwhelmingly support the enterprise. Those in opposition, generally, feel quite the opposite, and if public attitudes toward the war move from support to opposition, poll numbers get thrown about as though the Constitution requires the electorate to regularly reaffirm confidence in the commander-in-chief’s direction. Something precisely like this has been at work in America since 2002.

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The Rogue Elephant in the Room

by Robert McMahon, Editor Thursday, May 24, 2007

If Iraq is the 800-pound gorilla of issues for presidential candidates, immigration is the rogue elephant. Approaching last year’s midterm elections, moderates from both parties retreated from efforts at comprehensive reform in favor of safe “securing-the-border” legislation focused on building a 700-mile fence on the Mexican frontier. They included a number of soon-to-declare presidential candidates, notes this new CFR election issue guide. It’s still not clear what role immigration played in the midterm results.

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CFR Blog: Foreign Policy and the Election

by Michael Moran Wednesday, May 23, 2007

c2008_button60_75.jpgThe multi-year respite from political campaigning afforded to the American public by their Constitution appears to shrink further with every passing electoral cycle. And while the “permanent campaign” as foretold by Jimmy Carter’s pollster Pat Caddell back in 1976 still applies primarily to political professionals, neither the public, nor policymakers, nor even lame duck presidents can ignore the battle lines once formed. So it is that 18 months before the 2008 election, presidential politics influences almost every aspect of government. International issues are no exception. Citing the early onset of the political season, James A. Lindsay, a leading expert on American foreign policy at the University of Texas, questions “to what extent either Republicans or Democrats are developing a strategy for what happens next in Iraq.” Indeed, he tells’s Bernard Gwertzman, “one of the things Iraq has done is crowd out a lot of other foreign policy issues.” With that in mind, has launched a Campaign 2008 site engineered specifically to track the campaign through the prism of foreign policy, trade, international economics, and national and homeland security issues. As part of this effort, CFR has launched its very first weblog, The Candidates and the World, which aims to track the appearance of these vital issues out on the stump on a daily basis. Edited by Washington-based Deputy Editor Robert McMahon, it will take the same nonpartisan, analytical approach to the debate on the campaign trail that we apply to our Daily Analyses, Backgrounders, and other well-known franchises. Read more »