THE BLOG

What Should Our New Foreign Policy Be?

Let us stop this interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Let us stop overthrowing the heads of other governments and attempting to dictate who their leaders should be: or what form of government they should adopt. We have no moral or legal right to inflict our views on them. It seems senseless to do so when the result is their hatred and terrorist attacks on us. We cannot be the world's policemen.

We expressed a different view of military force as a solution to political problems in 2002 when India and Pakistan amassed one million troops along their common border. There was an obvious possibility of war between these two nations, both of whom possessed nuclear weapons. The threat of nuclear catastrophe at the time overshadowed our attempts to catch Osama bin Laden and prevent another attack here in this country, President Bush urged both India and Pakistan to negotiate about their differences instead of resorting to force, saying his administration was "...making it very clear to both parties that there is no benefit of a war; there's no benefit of a clash that would eventually lead to a broader war."

If there is no benefit to war and countries should negotiate before fighting, why do we not apply that sound advice to our own actions? Is there one rule for others and a different rule for us because we are so powerful and have such an overwhelming military advantage over others? Does that give us the right to break international law and attack other countries at will?

We cannot be proud we have commenced a policy of preemptive wars against other countries. War means that diplomacy has failed. We need to move in a new direction in our foreign policy. We need a new and more imaginative policy. This policy should be that our national survival is our first priority. This is not isolationism. We should continue to cooperate as an active member of the United Nations and in other multilateral efforts to ensure peace and stability and to prevent aggression by one country against another. We should intervene and play a diplomatic role, and a military one if necessary, when we are truly threatened with destruction by or subservience to a foreign power. Of course, we also should take vigorous steps when our economic interests are at stake.

The fact is there is no country or power on earth at the present time which can pose any real danger to us. There are evil governments and tyrants whose people would be much better off if their leaders were deposed. However, we do not have the financial or military resources to be the world's policeman and to right all wrongs in the world. Our new foreign policy should focus on working as a leading partner in a multilateral effort with our allies in the United Nations and elsewhere to work for collective security of all the countries in the world. This is the only true security for us. Extensive sampling of public opinion by reputable researchers on American attitudes in politics indicate that it is the desired policy of a majority of Americans.

It would seem prudent to spend more money to improve our rather pathetic intelligence abilities around the world. We have been unable to predict many major developments in the world -- the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the September 11 attacks, the Arab Spring uprisings, etc. etc. Our intelligence about Iraq and its "weapons of mass destruction" was wrong. (If it was accurate, our government lied to us.) We need to spend money on our intelligence capabilities to improve them, not on more military equipment. We need to recruit foreigners to work in their own countries. We need the cooperation of other nations and Muslim leaders around the world. We need agents who can infiltrate terrorist groups and other enemies and report accurately on their intentions. It is important to counter the views and arguments against us in foreign countries with native spokesmen to publicize our good intentions. We have relied too much, particularly in Iraq, upon disgruntled exiles who have a grudge against their old government and want us to overthrow it. It will be critical to enlist the cooperation of other governments to work with us to identify potential terrorists and other enemies and counter their actions against us. This will require a multilateral effort. Support of the moderate Islamic world is absolutely essential to this effort to improve our intelligence.

Our government is reluctant to make drastic reductions in military forces because there are powerful interests who benefit from a huge taxpayer-financed defense contractor industry. Military contractors have a powerful incentive to continue an activist, internationalist, imperialistic foreign policy with huge military forces, They make billions of dollars in profits and are willing to invest millions in campaign contributions to see that our foreign policy benefits them.

We should remember and heed the parting words of President Dwight Eisenhower, who certainly knew the military establishment quite well, when he left office. He said: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

Excerpted from the foreign policy chapter of "What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012)" (Polimedia Publishing, $4.95) a study of voter alienation and a manifesto for political change.

About the Author

John F. Kimberling is the author of What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012, www.whatthiscountryneeds.net). Kimberling is widely known as a leading U.S. litigation specialist, a charter member of the ABA section on litigation, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a veteran of two wars, and at various times served in leadership positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was once hailed by The American Lawyer as the "one of the top trial lawyers in the country" and led a panel as moderator on a C-SPAN discussion titled "Is It Time for a New Political Party?"