The Asan Institute for Policy Studies hosted the 10th Asan Institute Roundtable on “The U.S. Midterm Election and the Obama Administration” in the 4th floor Main Conference Room of the Asan Institute building on August 3rd, 2010. Thomas E. Mann, a prominent American election analyst, political commentator, and a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, presented his perspective on the U.S. midterm elections in November and their likely effects on the U.S.-Korea relationship.
Mann predicted that if the Republican Party wins control of the Congress, the Obama administration will face “catastrophic obstacles” in the process of implementing major domestic policies, whereas no significant changes will occur in foreign policy. He also suggested that regardless of the outcome of the elections, the ongoing cooperation between the U.S. and Korea in dealing with North Korea will continue and that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement will be ratified without difficulties.
Mann stressed that the North Korean issue is not a major factor in the outcome of the midterm elections, adding that the current North Korea policy of the Obama administration is based on the Six Party Talks, which is a policy direction the Republicans share. However, should conflict arise between the Democratic administration and a Republican Congress, this will undermine the U.S. leadership in Asia, according to Mann.