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By Michael Taube
Americans are ready for a levy that's simple and fair
Topic - Leslie H. Gelb
President Obama's postelection trip to Southeast Asia presages a greater second-term focus on that region, but some foreign-policy analysts say that shouldn't distract from the need to build better alliances with U.S. neighbors, which could be key to restoring the nation's sluggish economy.
From the killing of an ambassador to precipitous new brinkmanship in Asia and friction between U.S. and Israeli leaders over Iran, the past month has many asking whether the presidential election has suddenly entered a home stretch in which national security and foreign policy play as big a role as the economy.
While speculation in the political world over Mitt Romney's vice presidential choice courses through the summer barbecue circuit, an equally juicy topic is beginning to bubble up among foreign policy analysts: Who might be secretary of state in a Romney administration?
Last week, Vice President Joseph R. Biden offered the latest - and arguably the clearest - evi- dence of Team Obama's strategy for victory in what was once euphemistically known as the war on terror: Define down the enemy.
President Obama said the death of longtime Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday shows "the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end."
"Will the administration do that? I have no idea," Mr. Gelb said. "They haven't to date, because I don't think, at this point, that they share my sense of economics being the top priority, and I'm not sure they would define that priority the way I define it."
"I think the top foreign-policy and national security priority is the restoration of the American economy," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus and board senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who added that "a key part of restoring our own economy is our economic relationship with Canada, Mexico and Latin America."