Issues 2004 - Foriegn Policy

Jeff is killing me with the frequency of his Issues 2004 posts. I told him I’d try to keep up with him. But I’ve got a day job and the no child left behind due to blogging act is still in force in my family.

But I also can’t let myself get more than a couple posts behind Jeff or I am toast.

So with that said, here goes my take on foriegn policy, in response to Jeff’s excellent post on the same topic.

The US is the sole superpower in the world today. I do not believe we will hold that position for very long, though. I think China will catch us and probably surpass us in either my lifetime or my kid’s lifetime.

So acting like the king of the world isn’t too smart. It pisses people off.

We need to be willing to live with reality that the rest of the world won’t always see things the way we do. In that case, we have two choices; do what we want and not worry about the impact or work with the rest of the world to get them to see things our way. I prefer the latter. I do not agree with Jeff when he says, “we cannot set that as the standard or else we find ourselves hostage to the French et al.”

I think the Bush’s doctrine of preemption is extremely dangerous and it is the primary reason that I feel very vulnerable with him as the leader of our country. This doctrine is based on unilateralism and U.S. international military dominance. I already stated that the former isn’t my prefered way to operate and the latter isn’t something that will always be the case. We may have the technological and economic advantage for now, but just go visit China and you’ll realize that these advantages are not going to last forever.

For these reasons, I want the US to be a consultative leader. It’s true that terrorism is a scourge in our world and we need to fight it. It’s true that weapons of mass destruction are more available than ever and are in the hands of bad people (unfortunately its Kim Chong-il, not Sadaam that has them). It’s true that there are lots of tyrants opressing their people. It’s true that there’s genocide going on in the world today. And it’s true that the middle east remains a very volatile place.

Our role needs to be the leader in a world wide effort to deal with these problems.

Our role should not be to solve them all unilaterally.

The former approach (consultative leader) is frustrating in the short term but endears us to the rest of the world. It’s democracy on a world scale.

The latter (preemptive unilateralist) is satisfying in the short run but ultimately ineffective (look at what’s really going on in Iraq) and also extremely dangerous.

So that’s my world view. Now on to Jeff’s three ending statments and my responses, marked with >>

1. We must support the growth and strength of democracy.
>> Yes. But only with the aid of our democratic partners. We can’t be the democracy police. It gives democracy a bad name in the world when its forced unilaterally on people.

2. We must protect our citizens.
>> Absolutely. A strong defense of our country is the primary reason that the american public support the enormous amount of money we invest in “defense” spending. When we use these resources offensively, it puts us at more risk, not less. The “best defense is a strong offense” approach may work in football, but not in foriegn policy. It didn’t work for Hitler, Napoleon, The Romans, The Greeks, and it won’t work for us either.

3. We must respond to human suffering under tyrannical regimes.
>> Maybe. But as Jeff correctly points out, “Who plays God? Who’s the devil? Which tyrants do you choose to take out? Shouldn’t we liberate North Korea? Shouldn’t we be shuttling to Africa when wars and tragedy break out? Is Saudi Arabia oppressive enough to liberate? And isn’t there a danger — a history — of using this doctrine not to liberate but to overturn for political convenience?”

I realize that I am going to get slammed by Hector, Hey, and a host others for my “weak, soft, pathetic, stupid, idiotic” views on foriegn policy. I don’t really care. Because I know I am right on this one.