RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., October 9, 2014 – What would happen if the world began to accept its joint responsibility for maintaining humanity? What if it were to demand that the United Nations be true to its name and its mission rather than lackadaisically expecting the United States to fulfill that role? What would the consequences be from the United States perspective and how might our Nation recast its role on the global stage?
This is where Part 2 of this series on foreign policy ended and where Part 3, the final chapter, begins.
If the United States were to concentrate on building regional coalitions on a more proactive basis and the United Nations began to host global interventions as aggressively as it hosts diplomatic galas, perhaps many of the world’s greatest threats would begin to diminish.
Pragmatically, it is easier to “hate” the United States and a few of its allies than it is to “hate” the entire world or major regional coalitions. Bullying nations and terrorist organizations are comfortable fighting a single-front “war” (whether that war is literally or figuratively fought). However, when those who choose to threaten civilization are confronted by overwhelming odds in a multi-front theater of war, they most often bow to the inevitable because they essentially have no other choice.
While such an approach would dramatically reduce the expectations and burden that presently weigh upon the United States, our Nation’s involvement with the United Nations and other standing coalitions might actually increase. That actually would be an intelligent “redistribution of wealth” to reframe that phrase.
The United States has enormous military and humanitarian resources. If they were coordinated with the assets of other countries and administered in a way that enhances their effectiveness, the overall demand should actually recede with respect to our Nation.
Currently, the United States acts as The Lone Ranger in many regards without the benefit of a trusted aide-de-camp like Tonto (i.e., well-established regional coalitions and a strong United Nations). It is expected to “ride into town” and drive out the “bad guys” whether they are corrupt regimes, invading forces, terrorists, profound poverty, starvation, illiteracy, or a deadly disease
Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to defeat many of those enemies in our own country let alone throughout the world (with the ever-increasing levels of poverty, hunger, and illiteracy in the United States coming immediately to mind).
By leveraging the resources of other nations and managing them in a concerted effort, the world can benefit and so can the United States. NGOs and other humanitarian aid groups can help administer the humanitarian aspects of such initiatives, and nations can bind together to address those situations that demand military intervention or peacekeeping forces.
It makes far more sense to equip and fund the United Nations and other regional coalitions than it does to continue the time-honored political practice of equipping and funding openly hostile nations. Rather than supporting the next generation of dictators and the inevitable conflict they will cause, we could support an effort to eradicate the problem without directing any associated anger singularly toward our Nation.
To further reduce the targeting of the United States, it is time to enter the twenty-first century with respect to our military and diplomatic liaison activities. Maintaining many of our military bases and diplomatic Embassies, Consulates, Missions, etc. is predicated upon logistics and communications barriers that no longer exist.
When it used to take months to transport people and equipment across the oceans, a brick-and-mortar mentality was fully justified. In today’s world, it is not.
The United States’ global footprint can be significantly reduced. As was suggested in FREEDOM: The need to form a rational foreign policy (Part 1), the starting point is the withdrawal of troops and diplomatic resources from hostile nations. This eliminates the “occupation” justification that has been used by such nations (and other entities) to rationalize attacks against United States citizens and assets.
The stern warning issued in the foreign policy statement of The FREEDOM Process™ puts such nations and entities on notice with respect to the potential consequences of continuing their present courses of conduct. We simply need leadership with the courage to enforce it.
Military bases can be maintained in non-hostile nations particularly if proper multinational coalitions are proactively established. In addition, other military assets (e.g., aircraft carriers, etc.) can be used to create mobile platforms from which the mission of maintaining peace can be launched.
Correspondingly, diplomacy can be predominantly practiced via ever-advancing communication systems. While this may reduce the number of extravagant soirees, which have proven to be of limited importance other than to their attendees, it would allow serious diplomatic relations to be maintained.
The reduction in cost associated with this approach, both in money and lives would be significant. Consider how many of the 900 or so military bases we currently maintain could be closed, how many hard and soft targets could be reduced, and the “green on blue” attacks that could be eliminated. Then, consider how many of our pointless diplomatic outposts could be eliminated along with the Benghazi-like vulnerabilities they inherently create.
The associated money and resources could either be saved (to reduce debt) or intelligently redirected (such as on our own border). Why does this seem to be beyond the comprehension of those who control our decision-making process?
We also need to learn to respond to emerging global issues in a rational way. If a particular issue poses an immediate or impending threat to the United States, the Government’s response should be to consider all options without hesitation as its primary constitutional mandate is to “provide for the common Defence (sic).” All other global issues should follow a more tempered path.
Whenever possible, we should exhaust all diplomatic alternatives in an effort to resolve such issues in a timely manner. If initial diplomatic attempts fail, the next step is to pursue and impose economic and/or other sanctions that are scaled to achieve the desired result within the available time frame.
In the event that other nations choose to provide alternatives that allow a sanctioned country or entity to circumvent such sanctions, we need to deploy cascading sanctions against such enabling nations in a form that would offset any economic (or other) benefit they might otherwise enjoy.
If the issue continues to persist, additional combinations of diplomatic and sanctioning efforts should be tested until the objective is achieved or the issue transitions into an immediate or impending threat to the United States, at which time all other options (including military) must be considered.
Sanctions touch upon foreign policy as it relates to trade as well. The United States needs to establish equitable trade relations that stimulate competition rather than suppress it; a foreign trade policy that rewards innovation and a tax and regulatory environment that does not incentivize businesses to move offshore. Otherwise, our Nation will lose much of the economic leverage it has earned during its relatively brief history.
Consistently applied, this collective approach suggested above would: (1) stabilize our foreign policy in a manner that is actually consistent with our Constitution; (2) work to create more of a global “equilibrium” with respect to economic and political interests; (3) shift the responsibility for “global order” to global entities (such as the U.N.) while maintaining the United States’ prominent involvement; and (4) dramatically reduce the cost of our forays into the affairs of other sovereign countries. With regard to “costs,” let us not limit our awareness to the trillions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent. Let us also acknowledge the greater cost in human lives that has been incurred.
We have lost the lives of roughly 6,800 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and approximately the same number of contractor operators (who are largely unreported by our Government). When the VA stopped releasing public statistics of non-fatal war casualties in March of 2013, the number of service men and women treated at VA hospitals and clinics upon returning from Iraq and Afghanistan was approaching 1 million. According to a Stanford University estimate, approximately 35 percent of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With regard to the latter, we only know that more returning veterans commit suicide each year than are actually killed in combat on foreign soil.
These are all real people. They are not just numbers to be reported at a Congressional Committee hearing or reflected upon by the President on Memorial Day, and the lives of each of these people impact the lives of an exponential number of family members and friends.
Correspondingly, we can only guess how much higher the number is in each category for the citizens of the countries that have hosted the theaters of war. One has to wonder if this and the Administration’s increased use of drones might be fostering even greater foreign animosity toward the United States than even the President’s dreaded Guantanamo.
One thing is certain: A consistent and constitutionally valid foreign policy can have a profound effect on many other facets of our lives and the lives of others. To quote the President, “We can do better.” The real question is: “Why haven’t we?”
(This ends the three-part series on foreign policy. Too often, our elected officials and potential candidates talk about our need to have a foreign policy but never offer one. Perhaps they are afraid to lead… or don’t know how. Now, you have a foreign policy statement you can actually consider. You may agree with the positions offered, disagree with them, or choose to improve upon them. They are only meant to stimulate thinking and to underscore the need for an actual foreign policy rather than just more rhetoric. – Next up: A resource policy that addresses energy and the environment.)
T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.
This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A Civil Assessment, in the Communities Digital News (CDN).
The FREEDOM Process™ is the trademark of T.J. O’Hara. The Freedom Process™ and its acronym components are made available for public use subject only to proper attribution. All rights are otherwise reserved.