Perhaps Asia's major concerns for the upcoming US presidential election would be to understand what each candidate stands for, their policy priorities, their inner circle advisors, the real implications of their policies and how the US plans to relate itself to Asia for the next few years.
Dr Dan Steinbock, Information, Communications and Technology Research Director at the India, China and America Institute (ICA), scrutinized the US presidential campaigns of 2008 and the geostrategic implications in Asia, particularly in the context of the rise of China and India. His insightful analysis is based on the national priorities of the US electorate; the leading candidates as defined by polls, fund-raising and delegates; and, in particular, their inner circles of advisors and policy positions.
Dr Steinbock's analysis emphasized the American notion of 9/11 which now influences foreign policy, the foreign perception of the foreign and economic policy. Additionally, the issue of security will play a huge part in US's foreign policy in years to come.
Interestingly, recent polls clearly indicate how the US voters prioritize domestic issues. The first national priority is economy, replacing war in Iraq, which is followed by health care, illegal immigration, terrorism and other issues.
To highlight the global attention to China and India, Dr Steinbock demonstrated the economic gravity shifts to Asia. By 2015 China's Gross Domestic Product will notably exceed that of the USA. Pointing out China and India's steady growth over the past few years, he argued that the conventional western view that the US, EU and Japan is moving higher in the value-added chain and innovation, is a myth. Emerging multinationals in China and India are no longer satisfied with imitating the West. Instead, they seek to convert cost advantages to more sustainable competitive advantages-often through innovation.
Dr Steinbock compared and contrasted major players of the US presidential elections: Democrat candidate Hilary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain, and their key issues and core principles in their BRICs (Brazil-Russia-India-China) agenda. All three prominent candidates agree on promoting energy independence. While the democrats, Clinton and Obama, plan to end the war in Iraq and restore America's standing globally, republican McCain seeks to overcome failure in Iraq and protect national security. Both Democrats are willing to generate an affordable and accessible health care while McCain highlights ethics reform, lower taxes and economic prosperity.
Regarding BRICs prospects, both Clinton and Obama envisage a bill to impose high duties on Chinese goods. They voted for the US-India Energy Security Cooperation Act in 2006. Clinton has strong support from the Indian-American community due to her vocal support of Indian businesses; Obama sees both cooperation and competition with China, and he seeks to forge a more effective regional framework in Asia. McCain, on the other hand, will take more affirmative strategy. He would like to hedge against China's rapid growth and its sphere of influence through military presence in East Asia, alliance with Japan and APEC countries to counter-balance China.
The candidates also have interesting advisors in this unpredictable and pricy election. Clinton's advisors include Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger and Anthony Lake. Clinton stresses a pragmatic and problem-solving approach based upon her wide range of proven experiences, while Obama's overall platform emphasizes on building a grand strategy and great plans seeking national integration. Obama's inner circle includes Samantha Power, Greg Craig, Susan Rice and Zbenew Brezinski. McCain advocates free trade, security and environmentalism. McCain's inner circle of advisors includes John Weaver, Rick Davis, Susan McFarlan and Henry Kissinger.
Dr Steinbock encapsulated his insights into new global prospects. The talk implied his expectations for the unfolding election, concern for US-Sino economic relations in the view of emerging China and India in the context of competitiveness and innovation.
Dr. Steinbock focuses on issues of international business and international relationships among the most advanced economies (US, Western Europe, Japan), and the large emerging economies (China, india, Russia, Brazil). He divides his time between the United States (New York City), Europe (Helsinki) and Asia (Shanghai, Guangzhou).
He is also an expert of the global mobile communications industry and Finnish competitiveness and innovation.