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Obama wins the U.S. presidency - What is it to Kazakhstan?

09 november 2012, 11:58
0

Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections should become a good experience for him, because he succeeded in a tough battle, Kazakhstan political expert Dossym Satpayev told Tengrinews commenting the U.S. election.

Obama was re-elected for the second term with 303 votes of the electors vs the required minimum of 270 votes. Meanwhile, his Republican rival Mitt Romney received 203 votes.

“This victory is not triumphal compared to the one we saw four years ago. I think that these election have to be a signal for Barack Obama, because it clearly showed that the country has split and it is very serious. From “the president of hopes” Barack Obama has turned into “the president of disappointments” for many Americans, and he won his carte blanch in a difficult battle,” Satpayev said.

He said that it is unlikely that anything will change in the United States' foreign policies, including in the policies towards Central Asia, because the incumbent president won the elections. “Generally speaking, pragmatism is the American cornerstone. From this point of view, Central Asia is one of the important geostrategic regions for the United States,” he summarized.

Dossym Satpayev. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©

Dossym Satpayev. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©

Kazakhstan political expert Rassul Zhumaly has a similar point of view on the U.S. global policy: “As for the international policy, it is quite conservative and is not going to undergo any serious transformations. And even if Mitt Romney had came to power, I would be saying the same. Well, Romney would probably mean a stronger rhetoric in American-Russian relations, but the changes would be no more serious than that,” Zhumaly said adding that when the White House changes hands the transformations first of all affect the country's domestic policies.

Rassul Zhumaly. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©

Rassul Zhumaly. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©

“Election of one person or another does not have a decisive effect on America's political strategy. Of course, there are differences in details, but the concept remains unchanged,” Director of the Institute of Asian Research Sultan Akimbekov said.

He believes that one shouldn’t expect any changes in the American policies, because it is “formed and fine tuned based on America's own interests”, and the nature of "those interests in our regions is obvious”. “It is clear that there is a battle of interests between the United States, Russia and China for the influence in Central Asia. In this situation we stick to a multi-vector policy: this is our main priority. America's attitude towards Kazakhstan is quite positive and we can see that in fact America is quite positive about the processes that are taking place at the territory of Kazakhstan,” Akimbekov stressed.

He continued that Obama is very different from his opponent Romney and is set for a “soft policy line” towards, say, Russia. “This is also important for us. If you remember, Romney even declared Russia 'the number one geopolitical enemy' of the United States. This implies that had he been elected there would be such a fiercely competitive environment that could cause exacerbation of the relations,” he said.

Sultan Akimbekov. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©

Sultan Akimbekov. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©

U.S. citizens in and outside of the country were watching the presidential elections. U.S. General Consulate in Almaty organized an event in one of the hotels, where anyone could watch the election process on TV with a cup of coffee and in the company of the consulate’s personnel.

U.S. Consul General Michael G. Snowden (L). Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

U.S. Consul General Michael G. Snowden (L). Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

U.S. General Consulate's Public Affairs Officer Tristram Perry (Almaty). Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

U.S. General Consulate's Public Affairs Officer Tristram Perry (Almaty). Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

 

 

Americans watch the elections in Almaty. Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

Americans watch the elections in Almaty. Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

 

 

Americans watch the elections in Almaty. Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

Americans watch the elections in Almaty. Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

 

Americans watch the elections in Almaty. Photo by Daniyar Bozov©

 


Several days before the U.S. elections two professors of Nazarbyaev University John Witte and Howard Schweber discussed the benefits and drawbacks of Obama's reelection with the university's students.

Howard Schweber, visiting professor at Nazarbayev University. Photo courtesy of law.wisc.edu

Howard Schweber, visiting professor at Nazarbayev University. Photo courtesy of law.wisc.edu

Howard Schweber shared Akimbekov's opinion on Romney's anti-Russian attitude: "There are three main ways I can think that Obama remaining in office would benefit Kazakhstan. At least one of them has a reverse, if Governor Romney would become president. Governor Romney was asked what was the greatest security threat to the United States, and he answered, “Russia”. That attitude does not bode well for American involvement in Central Asia, with

America’s ability to broker relations with the European Union with the CIS counties; or in general for America’s ability to sponsor the kind of investments, cultural exchange, educational developments, political development and diplomacy that can yield positive results for the region."

"President Obama understands that the world is a complicated place. He in particular understands that Afghanistan is not the Middle East, and that Pakistan is part of South Asia. By the same token he understands that Central Asia is its own unique portion of the world. During our operations in Afghanistan, we have leased as you probably know, a military base in Kyrgyzstan. The United States has become more involved in this region of the world than any time in our previous history, in the modern era for certain. President Obama has long standing connections to the region, a seasoned State Department team, also with long connections to the region, and an understanding of the necessities and complexities of forming partnerships in a multi-polar world, with countries such as China and Russia.

"This is opposed to a form of foreign policy that results to chest-thumping against those who attempt to oppose American will, and, as for example the claim that America controlled the direction of the Arab Spring."

John Witte, dean of the new School for Humanities and Social Science at Nazarbayev University. Photo courtesy of www.lafollette.wisc.edu

John Witte, dean of the new School for Humanities and Social Science at Nazarbayev University. Photo courtesy of www.lafollette.wisc.edu

John Witte disagreed that Romney election bode ill for Kazakhstan and said: "Kazakhstan is located in central part of Asia that is absolutely critical to the world. It is a stable democracy that will enhance this country as well as the United States’ goals. It is also a country of peace, stability, and prosperity. All of these things the United States will benefit from. Some of our companies are already  here. I think that they will benefit. And also, to be honest, I think that there is a greater free-market spirit here in Kazakhstan than there would be in the Democratic Party of the United States.

So I think that in fact that private initiative would be well-received here. And that private initiative is not the hallmark of the Obama administration."

Speaking about international stability and threats to Kazakhstan John Witte insisted that the view - widespread in Kazakhstan - that China and Russia "are nothing but friends for Kazakhstan" was wrong. "I thought there were some other reasons for moving the capital to this part of the country but perhaps there aren’t," he said referring to Kazakhstan moving its capital from Almaty located in the country's south close to the Chinese border to Astana located in the center in 1997.

"I would say that of course we need alliances with the Russians and the Chinese. The Russians have not been very cooperative with the United States in the last few months, as you are well aware," he continued.

"The Chinese are a huge force that we have to work with in the world to come. They are also a force that perhaps we have to do some negotiating with because of their currency and their trade negotiations and their trade practices."


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