US Foreign Policy.
What should our foreign policy look like?
First we should take stock. We have done well. We have many strengths of which we should be proud. In our hearts we believe in Chritsianity and Cristian values but we will happily accept others with differing beliefs so long as tthey do not threaten our’s. We believe in a fair shot for everyone and despite vigorous internal debate our education, health care and welfare syatems work more or less well. We believe in the american dream as being genuinely aspirational. We are not a nation given to wars – we have never been invaded – but we recognise that Europe, Asia and Africa have suffered very different experiences over the last 500 years.
Above all we reconise two other facts:
- we have for most of our existence operated like an island cut off geographically, socially, culturally and economically from the rest of the world;
- we have lately assumed a status so great that any decision we take does have an impact, often an unanticipated impact, elsewhere in the world. We can no longer act as an island. This generalised summary is not intended to avoid specific often justified criticisms but to create a general understanding of where we are and provide a context for approaching an otherwise fiercely complex debate. Our strategy can be founded on our understanding that our system stands as the most successful in history. So whilst we need to make it more adaptive, more evolutionary and more self critical, we can with some pride use it as a benchmark of best practice. We can be dissatified by an average per capita gdp of $62000 whilst being aware that that of Russia and China are around $11000.
We can build on this to decide those alliances we would like to cultivate immediately on a long term basis with nations that hold similar beliefs and operate at something like a simiilar economic level. Europe, especially, those nations to the west and north of the continent, immediately spring to mind as do Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We need Europe to prosper becuase they are potential partners in our relation building with other parts of the world as well as forming a massive and benign market for trade. The EU today with a population of 520 million is already 50% larger than the US.
We can no less identify nations or clusters of nations where any relations will be on a less than equal footing. Eurasia is one such continent, Africa is another, and a third would be South America.
In each our overall policy would be a tolerant one – we already have the wealth and the technological lead. We seek to take no part of another nation’s sovereignty. But that is not enough. In all three areas we need to establish and demonstrate our beliefs, values, our way of doing things becuase if we do not there is a danger these nations will not catch up fast enough and there will not be the build up in eonomic opportunity which will underpin global growth.
Eurasia’n policy centres on China and its likely ascendancy to taking over as the world’s superpower unless we can resolve our differences and turn competition into collaboration. We have to come to terms with this in a peaceful manner and we can. The most pressing problem facing us is Climate Change and that provides the opportunity for global collaboration.. That program alone, once defined and agreed, can provide the platform for moving from antagonism to partnerships on other global issus such as poverty, health care and education. A buoyant China as a benign partner with the US and EU is probably the first essential to ensuring the future of world civilisation.
The western edge of Eurasia is an altogether different challenge. At risk economies, mostly formerly part of the USSR are, like Russia, run by despots and are in the process of polarising politics and breaking away from the EU and its western rules of law, its cultures and beliefs. Turkey here is a key transition state, the bridge between the West and Russia’s ambitions in Europe and North Africa.The Ukraine matters because it has become the war frontier with Russia. It is vital the EU succeeds, that step by step, law by law, Poland , Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Turkey come to share the winning ways of America and her allies, if only because their move towards Russia’s compass will encourage what amounts to the world’s most dangerous rogue state.
Africa is still another dimension of challenge. The continent is vast and it is in jeopardy. Just take two indicators for a handful of nations – gdp per capita and population. Nigeria, Ehiopia and the Congo have together a population equal to tthat of the US. But their gdp per capita ranges from $857 to $251! If we have Christiam beliefs, if we are confident in ourselves then we have to help these peoples. If we are looking for economic growtth just think of the trade potential of supplying such a population as it grows. If we want to avoid the grotesque prospect of vast movements of populations northwards then we have to help these nations succeed.
South america is our backyard. Also vast, it is one of the corner stones to our response to Climate Change. It is a store house of commodities that will be essential to global growth and it is suffering as an aftermath of the 2008 crash here in the US in a way that may set it back for generations. This note has already touchd on the potential for knock on trade from mutually supportive partnerships. The potential for knock on catastrophe is no less great. As first the US then the rest of the world economies suffered a slow down so their demand for commodities produced in South America fell. Demand for crude oil, wheat, corn, and soybeans, iron ore and gold have all halved. The region is at a breaking point exacerbated by the deliterious effect of Climate Change. The last two months have seen the cancellation of economic reforms in Ecuador; constitutional change in Chile and a presidential resignation in Bolivia. Argntina now has a polulist president, Brazil’s former president has just been released from jail and Venezuala has collapsed.
Each of these nations, and all the others of the world have their own histories, cultures and languages. If the US foreign policy looks therefore simple in concept , its implementation on the ground will be anything but. But each step wil be straight forward. The US needs experienced diplomats in each and every country – the practice of rewarding wealthy political donors must stop – it would be laughable were it not so egregious. Currently 44 nations have no ambassadorial representation, moral is low, many posts are unfilled and we need to reinstate not just the discipline but also the pride in how we do things, in our clear and devolved chain of command from Political and National leadership to the separate day to day implementation on the ground.
In sum it is not hard to approach a program for the furtherance of US foreign policy. Success would lead to our being sought out as the enormously powerful technocracy and pillar of freedom that we are. We would be seen as a benign and sophisticated superpower looking after the good of its own immediately and in the longer term by fostering mutually benefical trade and partnerships to deal with the towering global challnges we all face.
Have a good day, James