Newswise — International tensions are high over the war in Iraq, and emerging diplomatic concerns stemming from the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia -- as well as a recent agreement to site a U.S. missile defense system on Polish soil. How these events play out will likely play a significant role in the direction of the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.

Dr. William Boettcher, associate professor of political science at North Carolina State University, is an expert on U.S. foreign policy - with a specific interest in public opinion, the war in Iraq and presidential decision-making during a crisis (such as the diplomatic crisis currently brewing in regard to Russia).

"The key problem for Democratic candidates advocating the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is that troop withdrawals that come without declarations of victory or success will be perceived as acknowledgments of failure," Boettcher says. "In order to shift public opinion on Iraq, the Democratic candidates need to avoid the language of 'withdrawal' and 'failure' and adopt the language of 'salvage.'"

Boettcher has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Al-Ahram and the News & Observer. Interview footage of Boettcher is available at