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A New Foreign Policy For A Diverse And Fluid World
A New Foreign Policy For A Diverse And Fluid World
The rapid pace of technological change especially in the communications and information fields has created a very exciting but dangerous world. Information and correspondence are now transmitted almost instantaneously. There is now tremendous opportunity to bring all people and countries together. But there is also the opportunity for great mischief. We can no longer indulge those who voice a desire for isolationism. The reality of the modern world renders that desire moot. Transportation has also become very rapid with travel amongst countries now possible in a matter of hours even over long distances.
Therefore we need a new foreign policy that engages us with the world in all facets. In this article I will focus on three major interconnected areas. They are diplomatic, economic, and defense. I will show the importance of each in regards to how it will strengthen our security and prestige in the world. The interconnectedness of the three will also be demonstrated. The consequences of inaction will be illuminated.
I would like to begin my focus on the very important field of diplomacy. The center of diplomacy in the world is the United Nations. I know that this institution has taken a heavy politcal brow beating from the neo-conservatives over the past several years. They argue that U.S. sovereignty is threatened and that the votes are stacked against us there because smaller nations have gathered together in blocs to oppose us and usurp our influence. This has often been true but I feel that this is because of a lack of true diplomacy by the U.S. The heavy hand of threats has been more of the norm in U.S. diplomacy. We should instead be getting to know all of the U.N. representatives of all countries regardless of the country's size or power. We should also become familiar with all issues that concern them. This way we can better coordinate our interests with theirs to form coherent and honest relations with these countries. This way we can better head off bloc building against us and coax many of these countries to form alliances with us.
There are several regions of the world where this new approach would be extremely beneficial. Latin America is our neighboring region which makes it vital to our interests. We are worried about Venezuela and Cuba drawing other nations into an alliance against us. Hard work and smart diplomacy will prevent this.
The Far East is another region fraught with peril. North Korea continually performs mischief and possesses a nuclear weapon. China is an economic and military power and is growing rapidly. So are the rest of the Far East nations. It is critical to our national security that we maintain and strengthen our diplomatic ties in this region. They are the future economic engine of the world and we need to maintain strong relations with these nations on our Pacific side.
The Middle East as always is a tremendously volatile region that is the source of much of the terrorism in the world. The Israeli-Palestinian dilemma and Iran are thorny issues that exacerbate much of this terrorism. We must intensify our efforts to solve these problems by talking with all countries in the region to develop comprehensive solutions to these issues. We tried military intervention with Iraq which failed to resolve them. Let's try true diplomacy. Without these efforts terrorism is sure to continue and escalate.
We have been close allies with the European nations since the end of World War II but constant and close diplomacy could only improve this situation. This is even more crucial as these nations form a tighter union. Africa is another region that is quite important. President George W. Bush fostered an immense amount of good will with his strong AIDS policy in regards to Africa. The economic and medical support we gave them to fight that scourge was invaluable in their fight against AIDS. Continued support and strong diplomacy with the African nations will prevent negative voting blocs from developing in the U.N. while generating support for our policies.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India present the United States with enormous challenges also. The training base for the 9/11 terrorists was in Afghanistan with Pakistani support. The Afghanistan war we launched to eliminate these bases will probably begin to wind down next year. This means we should greatly raise our diplomatic efforts in this region to ensure that terrorism is minimized and thwarted even as our military presence lessens. Pakistan and Afghanistan are both our allies now but these relationships are tenuous. We virtually ignored this region after the Russia-Afghanistan war and this inaction led to the 9/11 attacks. The India-Pakistan rivalry is a volatile problem and we need to constantly be involved with these countries. This is a neccessity due to the reality of both countries possessing nuclear weapons. India is also a rapidly growing economic power with tremendous potential. We should continue to court them as a strong ally with a firm democratic foundation.
Russia is no longer the superpower they once were but we still need to develop stronger ties with them. Their military and nuclear strength makes this vital. They also have huge oil and gas reserves that have great influence on the world economy. The bottom line is that we need to continually talk with our friends and more importantly engage with our enemies. We have a strong core of allies in all of the regions I have outlined here. Renewed diplomacy with our enemies could help lure them into our sphere of allies. Diplomacy never hurts and offers a multitude of rewards.
An important area that will augment this diplomacy is economic cooperation. Two of the greatest factors unifying the world are economic integration and the technology revolution. They are firmly connected. Rapid technological advances allow everyone in the world to connect virtually instantly. Companies and entrepeneurs can sell their products remarkably easily throughout the world due to this phenomenon. Therefore all countries have it in their interests to maintain a positive economic atmosphere.
A free trade environment is most conducive to prosperity throughout the world. Tariff and trade wars have historically caused recessions and depressions for the participating countries. They often spread to other countries and regions. Free trade agreements have always fostered increased trade and economic prosperity. Free trade blocs expand markets for businesses and allow for less expensive products due to increased competition. We need to expand negotiations with all countries to make trade as free as possible. NAFTA was and is a tremendously unpopular trade agreement. I believe this unpopularity is wrongly considered. It is true that a share of lower paying manufacturing jobs were lost due to Mexico's lower wage base.
The total amount of trade increased dramatically especially in the high technology sector. This is where our economic future lies and this is where we benefit most. The American economy is still the largest in the world and will be for a significant period going forward. Other countries need relatively free access to our market to flourish economically. We should combine this economic leverage with our diplomatic efforts to further both our economic and security interests. We should also work to combine our power in economic and security blocs such as NATO and APEC to maximize our influence in the world. This will go a long way to maximize economic prosperity which in turn strengthens world peace and security.
The final lever of influence that I would like to discuss us is United States military power. The United States became the de facto policeman of the world after World War II. The rest of the world had been left in economic and military ruin. The Soviet Union had retained some military power and quickly built that up to a point where they rivalled the U.S. in both military and nuclear capacity. U.S. military might was needed to be used as a counterweight to Soviet and Chinese expansionism throughout the Cold War. This finally ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980's.
The United States worked to strengthen ties with their allies subsequent to the Soviet collapse while cultivating a new and friendlier relationship with Russia and its former satellite nations. They managed this transition relatively well. President George H.W. Bush was masterful in his development and nurturing of the alliance he formed to repel Iraq from Kuwait after they invaded that country. This success set us up perfectly to arrange and manage a new world order of cooperation. Unfortunately we did not capitalize on this victory and we became complacent in our foreign relations.
The Middle East and Afghanistan began falling apart and terrorist networks began growing around the world. Insufficient attention was paid to this development by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. The result was the 9/11 attacks. President Bush's administration subsequently decided that using a muscular military strategy to fight terrorism was the correct path to follow. This combined with a "My Way or the Highway" form of diplomacy led to our relative isolation and diminishing influence and esteem in the world.
President Obama has greatly reduced this militaristic bullying. He has completed the winding down of our offensive troop presence in Iraq while approving a troop surge in Afghanistan. This is expressly for the purpose of stabilizing Afghanistan before beginning a drawdown of offensive troops in or around June 2011. I believe we must maintain a strong but smaller and more mobile military. One which will allow us to carry out mostly swift surgical military actions when security threats develop around the world. This will allow us to carry out the Teddy Roosevelt policy of "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick".
We should also carry on negotiations with the other nuclear powers to draw down all nuclear stockpiles and ensure the safe storage of all of these weapons. There are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over. This level of nuclear weapons is unnecessary and should be decreased in all nations. The safe storage of these weapons in all nuclear nations is vital to prevent them from falling in the hands of rogue nations or rogue groups. The U.S. should work with the other nuclear powers to aid them in preventing this from ever happening.
Military action should be used sparingly and only in dire circumstances that threaten our national security or in the case of mass genocide. It should also be used after consulting with our allies where possible or more preferably in concert with them such as during the first Iraq War. Military action should also be used as a last resort. Not as a foreign policy experiment such as the second Iraq War.
The Obama administration has begun a form of the foreign policy that I have outlined though only in small gradual steps. None of the three areas that I have described can be implemented alone and be nearly as successful as they would be if used in concert. The diplomatic tone that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have set has been excellent and I hope they increase these efforts.
An intensified effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord in the Middle East would go a long way to reducing tensions in this region as well as elsewhere. It would also increase our influence and credibility in the region which would greatly assist us in our attempt to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The G-20 meetings this week will give President Obama the opportunity to bring the economic cooperation component into the mix more strongly. There is currently a serious threat of trade and currency wars breaking out due to the different ways countries are dealing with the sharp economic downturn of the past three years. This must be avoided at all costs. These negotiations should vigorously seek to lower tariffs and stabilize currencies. This also includes countries such as China that keep their currency artificially low as a form of economic policy to retain trade advantages over other countries.
The size of our military will inevitably shrink in the next few years. The huge budget deficit and the winding down of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will see to that. We must continue to maintain a strong military by making it leaner and meaner. This will allow us to maintain our national security while also maintaining military respect throughout the world.
Many influential people are suggesting that United States power and influence is on the decline. But if we deploy these three areas of influence as I prescribe, United States respect and strength in the world will increase to a level greater than before. The world desires positive U.S. influence because it has become an ever more dangerous place. We must manage these relations with the rest of the world in a prudent and effective way or else the dangers we face can spin out of control and threaten everyone. Remember 9/11? Security threats known and unknown still exist so the United States must take the lead and effectively deal with them. The world is willing to work with us and I feel we will rise to the challenge and effectively lead in seeking greater global cooperation and security.