After listening carefully to Republican candidate Mitt Romney's foreign policy statement, and the comments made on it, I see that there are no major differences with President Barack Obama's foreign policy.
However, there were attempts throughout the statement to emphasize differences, and to characterize the foreign policy of the present administration with weakness, and to lament all problems of the world on its failure to deal effectively with these challenges.
The statement prioritized the issues of the Middle East and highlighted the need for new policy directions there. That is hopeful, but it would depend on whether the interests of the people of the Middle East will be really taken in consideration.
There was an encouraging statement from President Obama in Cairo soon after he took office; however, its major principles, which were hoped would be leading the foreign policy of the Obama administration, were abandoned.
Therefore, it is pleasant surprise to hear Romney supporting a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel. In the meantime, we have to wait and see whether these words will be translated into action.
It must be emphasized that there are only two peaceful methods to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Either the establishment of a Palestinian state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital on the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967, or one democratic, nonracial and peaceful state from the Jordan River to Mediterranean Sea for all the peoples of the Holy Land.
The Palestinian Authority has done everything possible to satisfy the demands of the United States and Israel. However, Israel is continuing in its usurpation of Palestinian territories, and strangling Gaza.
The great majority of the Palestinians and all the Arab states will go along with either solution.
As for the Libyan crisis, as indicated by Romney, all Libyans mourned the death of our ambassador and his colleagues. I wish to add that all Arabs and Muslims appreciated the work done by our late ambassador and diplomats to help the Libyan people.
We hope that the Libyan people will be able to overcome the violence and chaos, and to establish a democratic government. As for Egypt, the government there is working to resolve many problems inherited from the previous regime, and will be friendly to and cooperative with the United States.
Many still hope for an end to the death and destruction in Syria. The statement of the Turkish foreign minister concerning the possible acceptance by the opposition of the proposal that the vice president of Syria form a national unity government to oversee the transformation of Syria to a democratic state is encouraging.
However, the positions of both the Syrian president and his main supporters in the United Nations, namely Russia and China, are not known yet. Though I doubt that the Syrian president would surrender power peacefully, it is hoped that the Obama administration, the European Union, and the Arab states would exert pressure on Russia and China to agree on this proposal. And, that the United Nations Security Council adopt a resolution supporting the idea of establishing a national unity government, and authorize its special envoy to negotiate with all the parties concerned to ensure a peaceful transition toward democracy and human rights in Syria.
It is hoped that any bipartisan policy of the United States toward the Middle East and other parts of the world should stress democracy and human rights, and less militarism.
Amer Araim is an adjunct professor of political science at Diablo Valley College and is a former Iraqi diplomat in the U.N. He is a resident of Walnut Creek.