It seems to me that there are a few simple foreign policy ideas that, if accepted by government and applied through policy implementation, would dramatically change the future for all of us. By all, I mean humanity. These ideas are presented not in any priority, though some surely follow from others. Some of these “ideas” are basic principles, some are more value generalizations, but all, I believe would work. The only thing wrong with basing a foreign policy upon idealism is that we have rarely tried it! The Marshall Plan, the League of Nations, and the Peace Corps being positive exceptions though they were all over 40 years ago.
One, we (the USA) should not peremptorily drop bombs on other peoples. It does not win friends, influence people, or build democracy. Wars of almost all kinds represent the final step of failed diplomacy.
Two, we should export medicine, books, food, water, clothing, and shelter, but not guns and arms. Even the most ardent military men would admit that guns and arms sometimes wind up in the hands of our “enemy of the month.”
Three, we should help other countries provide better education, health, and general well-being for all their people. This would reduce terrorism, would help reduce over-population, and would improve the lot of women all over the globe. This policy has the merit of being ethical and moral. Again, ethics and morality as a basis of foreign policy is not naïve; it is simply not generally applied.
Four, we should help other nations to grow crops they need, not crops that we need. If they can, for example, farm for their own sustenance with our support, they would not chop down the rain forests the action of which, ultimately, harms us all.
Five, we should clean up, dispose of, and bury our own garbage. It is unconscionable to sell it to poor countries knowing that its toxicity will harm the poor in other nations. This is a shameful and immoral practice. If we can’t deal with the refuse of our over-consumption of material goods, then we should cut down on our consumption.
Six, we should gradually dismantle our 1,000 military bases all over the globe. (See: Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis, The Last Days of the American Republic) Besides being hideously expensive, this is surely a blatant advertisement of our imperialistic ambitions. The savings of cutting these bases by 75% (still leaving us with a greater military presence than any other country) could then be applied to humanitarian ends which would earn us friends rather than the enemies our imperialism engenders.
Seven, we should cut our overall defense budget by at least 50% –which would still give us a greater defense budget than any other country. Guns, bombers, rockets, tanks, etc., are not positive, remunerative investments (except for the “defense” industry). They leave no one better off after their expenditures – in general, only the profiteers benefit.
Eight, we should join with the rest of the world in signing treaties regarding global warming, children’s rights, human rights, environmental protectionism, and so on. Over and over we have seen the USA refuse to do so because of our arrogant protectionism of greed. Our standing apart form the rest of the world time and time again renders our self-congratulatory rhetoric about our virtues impotent and even hypocritical and ludicrous. We expose ourselves not as team players but as exclusive, selfish, and bumptious. President Obama has taken the initial corrective steps, but we have miles to go before we sleep.
So to review: We conduct preemptory wars, we are the world’s leading arms merchants, we interfere in others’ economies to benefit us and not them, we ship our garbage off to other poor countries, we operate more than 1000 military bases around the globe, our defense budget is greater than all other nations combined, we set ourselves off from other countries by refusing to sign cooperative treaties.
And, all the while many politicians brag that the United States is a Christian nation. A nation dedicated to propagation of democracy. Physician, heal thyself.