The 3 Foreign Policy Issues You Should Know About

Studies show that American voters don’t care much about foreign policy. It’s complex and dense and seemingly doesn’t affect most of our daily lives.

But our world is rapidly changing -- social media and the Internet have made us more interconnected than ever, so a problem halfway around the world could impact you in a very personal way.

Foreign policy is no doubt one of the most demanding aspects of the presidency and maintaining a coherent and ethical foreign policy is essential for our next president. 

Keep reading for a breakdown of how three major foreign policy issues could impact our election and our futures--and how Lebron James started beefing with thousands of protestors.

Democracy in a corporate world

Since August 2019, massive anti-China protests have been raging in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, while technically a part of China, maintains a different form of government than the mainland and some political independence.

Hong Kong is a capitalist democracy, while China is a communist authoritarian state. The protests started with a murder trial, which prompted the proposed extradition of a Hong Kong man to China for murdering his girlfriend.

The potential for China to impose their harsh and arbitrary legal system on Hong Kong spurred massive protests that have shut down airports and caused clashes between protestors and police. 

When the general manager of the Houston Rockets tweeted support of the protests, the Chinese government retaliated by threatening all NBA business in China -- a huge media market.

Lebron James even denounced the protests while playing in China. This infuriated many Hongkongers who expected support from him and some protesters even burned Lakers jerseys in anger.

This situation encapsulates the complex interplay between individual free speech and corporate interests, which is shaping up to be a defining issue of our times.

In the U.S., politicians on both sides of the aisle have supported the protests and denounced the Chinese government’s attempts to limit the free speech of Americans.

The next president will have to carefully walk the fine line between maintaining stable trade relations with China and limiting their political and cultural influence on free people around the world. 

Oil vs. human rights

Saudi Arabia is instrumental in providing a steady stream of oil, military support and arms trades to America.

It’s like your friend’s gaslighting boyfriend: Sometimes, he gives her presents so she ignores the terrible things he does the rest of the time.

Saudi Arabia has been involved in Yemen’s civil war for nearly five years now.

The situation there has developed into a humanitarian crisis -- nearly 100,000 Yemenis have been killed and millions more displaced.

Nearly 10 million are at risk of starvation due to a Saudi military blockade that has prevented supplies from reaching Yemeni civilians for nearly five years.

The U.S. role in providing military weapons and support to Saudi Arabia has been heavily criticized by humanitarian activists who believe that our friendliness to Saudi Arabia is directly causing the deaths of millions of civilians. 

Saudi Arabia’s internal politics are also a major point of contention. Saudi society is incredibly repressive, denying rights to women and LGBTQ people, limiting basic freedoms and employing harsh and inhumane punishment.

Its current leader, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the brutal murder and dismembering of Saudi-American Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi just last year -- an act the Trump administration tried to deny.

For now, President Trump and bin Salman remain close friends and allies, but our close alliance with this repressive regime is coming under greater scrutiny with each passing year.

Our next president will have to decide what’s worth more: our role as protectors of human rights or as the greatest global military power.

Authoritarianism: the new class

Another major issue our next president will have to handle is the rise of new right-wing leaders around the world.

Many of them are hostile to democracy and are a serious cause for alarm.

For context: When World War II ended, the U.S. took the lead in setting up a world order based on democracy, human rights and diplomacy. For the first time since then, a wave of anti-democratic leaders has come to power. Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines, Brazil, Venezuela and Russia are just some of the former democracies that are slipping into authoritarian states.

This type of government is hostile and even violent to immigrants and journalists, and it focuses on rooting out real or imaginary crime and corruption. Sound familiar? 

The leaders are elected and then slowly erode norms of democracy like voting and free speech.

These leaders pose an existential threat to the democracy-based global order of the last 80 years.

Today, one-third of the world’s population lives in a backsliding democracy.

This shift is due to a number of things, but the Syrian migrant crisis and automation are major factors.

The next American president needs to reinforce the importance of organizations like the United Nations and European Union in maintaining human rights.