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Toward a new foreign policy.

U.S. foreign policy under the stewardship of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld has been based on unilateralism and militarism. The condition of continuous, worldwide war has created an operational tempo for the military that the U.S. cannot afford and the Pentagon cannot endure. With so many "boots on the ground," the U.S. has triggered a series of diplomatic and political problems with both allies and adversaries. Moreover, the U.S. doctrine of preemptive war has set a dangerous precedent for other nations, validating the first Israeli attack against Syria in thirty years in October 2003 and perhaps justifying an Indian attack against Pakistan in the not-too-distant future. The radicalism of this doctrine is indicated by the spectrum of its opponents; in August 2002, for example, Henry Kissinger pointed out that "It is not in the American national interest to establish pre-emption as a universal principle available to every nation."

The major international problems that the U.S. faces today, particularly international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) cannot be addressed unilaterally and cannot be resolved by the use of force. The same can be said for nontraditional security issues dealing with demographics, the environment, and AIDS. All of these problems require multilateral involvement and solutions.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, nation-building and peacemaking must be internationalized under civilian--not military control--as quickly as possible. The Bush administration has commandeered more than half of America's ground forces to pacify Afghanistan and Iraq, and the U.S. is spending $5 billion a month in this effort with no end in sight. Neither the U.S. government nor the American people are prepared for the burdens of empire; U.S. military forces are overextended and are in no position to deal with emergencies that may arise, such as the a genuine crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

The United Nations and non-government organizations (NGOs) must be involved far more extensively in order to share the burden of governance and elicit collective resources for the job of reconstruction. Many countries most experienced in the field of peacemaking are prepared to commit troops and treasure, but only if Washington is willing to yield its domination of the transition process. The U.S. must participate with both the UN and NATO as group member--not hegemonic power. As Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) put it: "America needs more humility than hubris in the applications of American military power and the recognition that our interests are best served through alliances and consensus."

International diplomacy, not military action, must be the first option in crisis management. The Bush administration has down-played the role of international diplomacy in all crisis situations, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the North Korean and Iranian nuclear challenges. In the Middle East, our aim should be the creation of a viable Palestinian state and security for Israel. This is probably best pursued by insisting that Israel abandon settlements in the occupied territories and by fostering Israeli acceptance of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. The U.S. should also insist on an end to terrorism against Israelis, support of such a policy by members of the Arab League, and diplomatic recognition of Israel. In North Korea and Iran, the U.S. must establish or reestablish diplomatic relations, offer a combination of security guarantees and economic arrangements, and forge regional alignments to end the isolation of Pyongyang and Tehran. And Washington will need the cooperation of Iran and Syria to find a workable solution to the Iraqi crisis.

Intelligence and law enforcement must be the first options against terrorism; military force should be the last. West Europeans had to deal with terrorist organizations throughout the 1980s, and they did so effectively with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Now that the terrorism problem is international, close relations with intelligence bodies are essential, as are knowledge of languages and regional studies in key areas. In the post 9/11 period, there have been no arrests or captures of key al Qaeda leaders that have not been relied on liaison intelligence and support. Cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies--not the application of unilateral force--is the key to success.

The U.S. must support arms control and disarmament in order to stop the proliferation of WMDs. The White House must preserve and enhance an effective arms control regime, not dismantle it. This means adhering to outstanding agreements, not abrogating treaties that previous administrations have signed. And it means desisting from actions that compromise agreements or open new areas for competition.

A militarized foreign policy offers Americans a country on a perpetual war footing, but not one that is more secure. The U.S. must return to the ABM Treaty, end the deployment of national missile defense, and abide by Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to end underground testing. U.S. support for arms control could end nuclear testing worldwide and even attract India and Pakistan to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The current administration must commit itself to the agendas of Bush I and Bill Clinton to significantly reduce nuclear weapons and embrace international conventions on chemical and biological weapons. Washington must also end its development of low-yield nuclear weapons, such as bunker busters, and must prevent the weaponizing of outer space in order to return to the high moral ground in the quest for disarmament.

Melvin A. Goodman is senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and co-author of the forthcoming Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk (Prometheus Books, March 2004).

Key Recommendations

* International diplomacy, not military action, must be the first option in crisis management.

* Intelligence and law enforcement must be the first line of defense against terrorism; military force must be the last resort.

* Arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation must be restored as priorities of U.S. foreign policy.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Bush administration's policies
Author:Goodman, Melvin A.
Publication:Foreign Policy in Focus
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 8, 2004
Words:972
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