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America's constrained capacity for foreign policy

Ukraine zaps foreign policy resources
Ukraine zaps foreign policy resources

As with everything in government, America has limited or constrained capacity to address each and every category of needs confronting the nation. There are big buckets: 1) domestic and 2) foreign. In the domestic bucket, demand may well exceed capacity because the nation has spent more than it can afford. Its legacy of obligations and debt has outstripped the rate of GDP production and tax revenue collection. The rate of accruing obligations is out of control. Therefore, foreign policy matters place considerable strain on a stressed out government and President.

Now, one thing is certain, the Ukraine situation demands prompt attention. It is complex, and how America and its allies respond to Russia sets precedents that are being read by other rogue nations and those that are not our allies and include our staunchest enemies. China, for instance, will read American and European response as it fits their parallel issues and interests. Making a mistake will have repercussions that multiply in consequences.

The questions confronting the nation today that demand honest answers include:

  1. What are our foreign policy needs?
  2. What are our foreign policy priorities?
  3. What is our capacity to address our foreign policy needs and priorities?
  4. What are the gaps, risks and potential consequences?

The headline today is that the Ukraine situation with Russia is zapping the nation’s attention to Asia. It may well be zapping our attention to South America as well.

“Ukraine threatens to undermine Obama's delayed Asia 'pivot'

By Peter Sullivan

President Obama is traveling to Asia this week under the cloud of the Ukraine crisis, which threatens to put Asian allies on edge about U.S. security commitments and create yet another distraction from the administration's much-delayed "pivot" to the region.

Obama will be visiting Asian allies, including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, that are involved in increasingly tense territorial disputes with China, and will seek to reaffirm U.S. commitment to them.”

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