Guest Submission by: Zbigniew Mazurak
There’s no doubt that America’s current foreign policy is internally inconsistent and totally ineffective, whether it relates to Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, or Latin America.
Unfortunately, some people are calling for America to return to the isolationist policies of the 19th century, invoking Jefferson’s principle of “peace, honest friendship, and commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none”. That policy was not suited even to the world of the 19th century, let alone the world of today. So it should not be adopted.
But does it mean that the current policy of promiscous interventionism should be continued? No, because it is bad for America. There is, however, an alternative, a third way. This assumes the US will intervene abroad, but only when it’s absolutely necessary. Here’s what this new foreign policy should look like:
First and foremost, whatever else happens or is done, America must always maintain a strong defense to protect itself and its interests.
Secondly, the US should review all of its current treaty commitments, alliances, basing arrangements and military deployments. Those not worth continuing should be ended; those that are valuable should be continued, at the minimum cost to American taxpayers. Troops should be withdrawn from theaters where they don’t need to be, starting with countries that are not directly threatened by war (e.g. Germany); they should remain only in those few countries that are directly threatened by aggressors (e.g. South Korea and Japan). America’s NATO allies must start bearing a far larger share of the total cost of mutual defense if this alliance is to be maintained. Treaties by which foreign countries have managed to hog-tie the US (e.g. the New START treaty and the yet-unratified CTBT) must be repealed.
Thirdly, the US should maintain cordial relations with all of its allies and friends around the world. Never again should the US throw its allies under the bus to appease hostile dictators, nor to obtain a lousy treaty from Russia (as was the case with the UK). Occassionally, the US will disagree with them, and that’s fine. But America’s allies (including Israel) should be treated as allies, not pawns or enemies. Mistakes like abruptly cancelling missile defense plans for Europe or giving detailed information about British SLBMs to Russia must never be repeated.
When undertaking any significant action, the US should make sure that at least some of its allies are on board, as was the case with the Iraqi war, when 30 countries joined the “coalition of the willing”, despite liberals’ lies that the US waged the war alone and that Bush was a fan of unilateralism.
As for America’s enemies, they should be treated as harshly as possible. The US should negotiate with them whenever possible, but only from a position of strength, and these negotiations must end in some kind of agreement or arrangement. Talks for their own sake are pointless. And the US should never make any concessions that would incur unreasonable costs, weaken America’s defense (e.g. disarmament treaties), or otherwise imperil the country.
What happens, though, when negotiations and sanctions fail? When should the US initiate a war?
A decision to send young Americans into battle must never be made lightly. It’s the most serious decision America can make.
Firstly, before initiating hostilies, the US government should make sure that all non-combat means of pressure have been exhausted and failed to do the task, and no other option other than war remains. Secondly, it must be proven that the enemy cannot be deterred poses such a grave threat that a war is unavoidable. Thirdly, clear, specific goals must be determined and an exit strategy must be devised to avoid endless entanglement. Fourth, if America decides to go to war, the military shouldn’t be in any way restricted in how it wages the war. And finally, war should be waged only for the sake of America’s crucial interests – not for “democratization of the Middle East”. This means reinstating the Weinberger Doctrine, promulgated in 1984 after the Lebanese fiasco and recently adopted by Governor Palin.
No wars should be waged without a Congressional Declaration of War, as required by the Supreme Law of the Land. The Constitution is clear: you’re not allowed to go to war without a Declaration of War. Presidential orders and Congressional “authorizations” of war are not enough. America’s Founding Fathers stated that clearly.
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. And, as General Sherman said, the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. That’s how the Union won the Civil War and how the US won World War II.
Two policies can greatly reduce the risk of war. One is the policy of nuclear deterrence, also known as the MAD doctrine, which has worked flawlessly since 1949 and there is no proof that it would not work against even a nuclear-armed Iran. Should nuclear deterrence fail, there’s another policy option available today: missile defense. A tiny part of the defense budget, missile defense is the only protection you have if a missile is indeed launched.
Growing the number of BMD systems, improving them, and deploying them abroad should be a priority goal for US foreign policy. These purely defense systems can greatly reduce the risk of nuclear annihilation if deterrence fails, and, if deployed in sufficient numbers, could even convince rogue states that their nuclear programs are pointless.
When analyzing any event, threat, country, or faction, American policymakers should hierarchize them on a three-point scale. At the top of the ladder are crucial American interests and the threats to them. Defeating these threats justifies any measure, including, in extreme cases, war.
Next on the ladder are marginal issues. These include marginal partner countries, assets, enemy countries, and factions. Cuba could potentially be a threat again, if Moscow decided to use it as a beachhead against the US again, but until that happens, Raul Castro is merely a rabid anti-American tinpot dictator.
At the bottom of the ladder are the majority of world issues, countries, leaders, and factions today: irrelevant issues. Who governs Bosnia, angladesh, or Togo is of no concern to the US, and there would be no adverse consequences if the US doesn’t tackle these issues. Other than standard diplomatic condemnations and resolutions, no effort should be expended on them.
American politicians must stand up to ethnic lobbies and not allow them to skew foreign policy any longer. No countries should be treated in a privileged way like sacred cows.
Last but not least: there’s currently a dispute, ongoing since the 1970s, about whether human rights or America’s interests should be prioritized by American policymakers. But this question is, itself, a mistake. Human rights constitute an inseparable part of America’s interests. It is in America’s own best interest to make sure that human rights will be respected around the world. Free countries that fully respect human rights are not America’s enemies and are unlikely to ever be. America’s enemies are exclusively dictatorships which respect neither God nor man.
Of course, human rights aren’t America’s only global interest; far from it. Other crucial interests, such as nonproliferation, must be weighed in, too. But neither should human rights be discarded, as they have been by Secretary Kissinger and Secretary Clinton.
America needs a balanced foreign policy, one that devotes equal priority to human rights and to other considerations. They are sometimes mutually exclusive, but sometimes (indeed, most of the time), they’re not. And when they’re not, America should stand for freedom and human rights.