Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 8 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/13/21

A Forever Foreign Policy Debate

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   3 comments
Become a Premium Member Would you like to know how many people have read this article? Or how reputable the author is? Simply sign up for a Advocate premium membership and you'll automatically see this data on every article. Plus a lot more, too.
Author 79840
Message Lawrence Davidson
Become a Fan
  (16 fans)

From To The Point Analyses

Blah, Blah, Blah
Blah, Blah, Blah
(Image by outtacontext from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

Part I -- An Insider Debate

It was predictable. As America's longest war -- the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan -- wound down, a debate over the nation's foreign policy wound up. One might assume that is just what the country needs: a thorough public examination of its doings abroad, the motives behind them, and the results realized. Unfortunately, this debate is a more restricted affair. As James Dorsey, an always insightful scholar and analyst, puts it, the debate consists of "a series of reports published by Washington-based think tanks populated by former government officials as well as prominent United States scholars." Not a lot of this is likely to reach, much less grab the attention of, a public whose interest in foreign policy is minimal at best. Yet amongst the public is where a debate is most needed. After all, the way things have gone over the past 50 years, U.S. foreign policy has produced a lot of killing fields -- and among the dead are Americans.

Nonetheless, it is important to look at this debate just because it is going on among those to whom policy makers pay attention. And, through such an examination, to realize that any exchange at this level of insiders is unlikely to get at the core problems of U.S. foreign policy.

Part II -- Parameters of the Insider Debate

The debate is between two different schools of thought concerning the country's commitments to foreign states and regions, especially the Middle East. The questions raised go something like this: Should such commitments be maintained in terms of the U.S. as an equal partner of allies, or should the nation pursue a "world policeman" approach? What are the comparative roles of military force and diplomacy? What are the comparative merits of anti-terrorism operations (going after Al Qaida) and anti-insurgency ones (going after the Taliban)?

Please note that these questions are mostly about tactics. There are no isolationists here, no challenges to powerful special interests like the corporations making up the military-industrial complex, no challenges to the influence of ethnic or religious special interests pressing for war with Cuba or Iran, no questioning of the current list of friends and enemies, and no questioning of American exceptionalism and world leadership.

Currently the so-called liberal side of this debate is represented by a relatively new (2019) research center named the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI). It is to be noted that this institute is funded by two very rich and very different men -- George Soros and Charles Koch.

QI argues that the United States should not be the world's policeman, nor should it be in the business of "nation building." The recent case of Afghanistan, to say nothing of Vietnam, shows that such approaches are not sustainable. Thus, the U.S. should emphasize "military restraint and diplomatic engagement and cooperation with other nations" rather than "policies that prioritize the maintenance of US global dominance through force." The one exception here is protecting the U.S. and its allies through selective "counter-terrorism operations." Finally, QI asserts that moving away from "dominance through force" should not be taken as a sign of U.S. "weakness and decline."

The rival position, which has been dominant over the last two decades, is represented by such organizations as the Atlantic Council and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as well as ex-government officials, some of whom worked for the Bush Jr. administration and advocated for the invasion of Iraq. Their position can be summed up as follows: the ability and willingness to project military force is necessary to promote "national interests"; the world is primarily made up of friends and enemies; the U.S. must be seen as a reliable ally by one's friends (in the Middle East this means Israel) and implacably hostile by one's enemies (e.g., Iran); the withdrawal from Afghanistan (which over 20 years turned into an anti-insurgency campaign to protect an American installed-government), and before that the abandonment of "longtime allies" such as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, sends the message to others that the United States is not a dependable partner; this, in turn strengthens "Russian and Chinese portrayals of the US as a decaying power that cannot be relied upon.

Part III -- A Prescient Warning Goes Unheeded

Again, this is an insider debate. And, for most of those on the inside, their debating points are the only points that are real and relevant. In the process, much is left unexamined. Some of what is left out is indicated above, but encapsulating it all is the fact that the debaters never define "national interests," nor do they pay attention to who might decide what those interests are. Doing so would lead them into a realm of special interests too entrenched and too powerful for "in-house" people to critique. Such challenges can only be made from outside the debaters' "thought collective" (a variant of the groupthink phenomenon).

There are many other places readers can go for alternative, out-of-the-box, points of view. However, under current circumstances, one has to be careful to avoid conspiracy theories, fake news, and other forms of propaganda. My preference is for news and opinion found on the rational Left: AlterNet, Counterpunch, Op-Ed News, The Intercept, Consortium News, Daily Kos, and Democracy Now, as well as Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye.

This being said, one might be surprised to learn that one of the early, prescient warnings of an evolving special interest capable of skewing both foreign and domestic policy to fit parochial interests came from an insider tsPresident Dwight Eisenhower. On 17 January 1961 Eisenhower delivered his "farewell address." In part it went as follows:

There is a "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry...The total influence [of which]economic, political, even spiritualists felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Therefore, he continues, "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Lawrence Davidson Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Where Is Joe Biden?

Domestic Terrorism American Style -- An Analysis

Nationalism vs. Capitalism: Guess Which One Wins?

Who is Right in Syria?

Australia and the Fight for Justice in Palestine

More On Savage Israel -- An Analysis

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   


You can enter 2000 characters.
Become a Premium Member Would you like to be able to enter longer comments? You can enter 10,000 characters with Leader Membership. Simply sign up for your Premium Membership and you can say much more. Plus you'll be able to do a lot more, too.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 

Username
Password
Show Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments  Post Comment


John Rachel

Become a Fan
Author 66223
Follow Me on Twitter (Member since Jun 2, 2011), 43 fans, 100 articles, 4333 comments, 2 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Not paid member although Facebook page url on login Profile is filled in Not paid member although Twitter page url on login Profile is filled in Not paid member although Linkedin page url on login Profile is filled in Not paid member although Instagram page url on login Profile is filled in

  New Content

This is an astonishingly insightful assessment of the ongoing discussion about the direction of U.S. foreign policy. It is a highly restricted discussion which never gets to the heart of the problems or anywhere near the solutions. And an honest but not very encouraging prognosis.

"Under such circumstances the observation of diplomats that the United States has failed to create 'defining, overarching policy' toward the Middle East and elsewhere and instead 'operates on a patchwork of ideas and assumptions created at home" is accurate. And, it will stay that way, seemingly forever, despite the latest insider debate.'"

It's hard to think outside the box when you don't even know you're in one. I'd love to be able to pick Professor Davidson's brain to see if he has any suggestions for how we break this cerebral gridlock.

Submitted on Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021 at 8:23:39 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (1+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?

Michael Dewey

Become a Fan
Author 11470
Follow Me on Twitter (Member since Feb 15, 2008), 18 fans, 23 articles, 7 quicklinks, 4409 comments, 17 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)

"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
       -- Tom Paine

Facebook Page Twitter Page Linked In Page Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

I have high hopes that these current wars will run their course leading towards Nations beating swords into plowshares (Feeding people with year of Jubilee party of Isaiah 25, when veil is lifted from all Nations' eyes understanding what they have never heard before, which has to be the times at end of Isaiah 52.) and never training for war again. For a Country claiming to trust in god, with every buck spent, it really is the only option,,,or its ends a god forsaken land.

I believe in this year 2021 of 21st Century, that we just stumbled into the 21 days of Daniel 10, with the Prince of Greece soon to come being the Democracies of the West. Our future is not yet written. I wonder about Daniel 10 saying Daniel alone saw the vision but all with him were full of fear. I also will say that the 1-6-21 riot on the Capital (Babylon thrown down with violence for all the wrong reasons.) was the appointed time of Daniel 11:45. Am very hopeful if that is the worst that was, that them with insight of these times happening in the flesh, will shine brightly in lost Jewel of Daniel 12:3 and lead the world towards Brotherhood and Peace.

This Blue Grass Nashville Saints getting people marching in the streets for Peace & Brotherhood would be how I'd throw Babylon down.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 15, 2021 at 5:35:27 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
Indent

Michael Dewey

Become a Fan
Author 11470
Follow Me on Twitter (Member since Feb 15, 2008), 18 fans, 23 articles, 7 quicklinks, 4409 comments, 17 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)

"When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive...when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government."~ Thomas Paine"
       -- Tom Paine

Facebook Page Twitter Page Linked In Page Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to Michael Dewey:   New Content

Edit skip of mind. The Prince of Greece to so come, comes to stand with The Prince of Persia who one was left standing with for 21 days.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 15, 2021 at 6:22:06 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment