Amending US Foreign Policy
As mentioned in the last post which you can read here, US foreign policy is flawed in several ways. The first is the lack of consistency in policy and interpretation of goals between administrations. The second is that the policies themselves are flawed and unproductive. How to fix the problems facing grand US strategy abroad include codifying principles, establishing consistent and achievable goals, passing pragmatic and realistic policy, and have a system of observation, analysis, and amendments to keep everything running.
Codifying Foreign Policy Principles
Currently, there are no principles guiding US foreign policy; there are vague goals that generally remain the same throughout differing administrations, but those are not principles. A principle is a reciprocation concept that guides international relations. For example, Americans don’t like the idea of foreign governments interfering in their elections or trying to persuade Americans into supporting one political ideology over another. Americans value foreign countries respecting their national sovereignty. If the US actually held this principle of respect mutually, most of our current foreign policy would disappear since it includes interfering with the domestic affairs of foreign nations.
I propose the following set of principles. The United States recognizes and respects the national sovereignty of all countries regardless of differences in culture, government structure, geography, natural resources, and legal protections of its citizens. The US should not interfere with any of these national differences unless provoked into conflict by that nation. The United States should remain out of alliances and treaties that alienate other nations but work towards ending universal threats such as nuclear proliferation. The United States should be interested in expanding American values and rights abroad but should do so through popular sovereignty and not through military or economic force.
Establishing Principled Goals
Appropriate goals can be set after principles are agreed upon. National security, advancing human rights, nuclear non-proliferation, even advancing democracy are all goals that can and should remain with the given principles above. The issue is that specific policies passed turned out to be detrimental to US international relations.
Policy is always tricky because of unintended consequences, changing interest groups, and incomplete information. Current US policy isn’t taking us closer to the goals set by the Department of State.
The source of these problems is US entanglement in overlapping foreign affairs. For example, the US is collaborating with Turkey and the Kurds; the Kurds are an unofficial nation split up between several nations including Turkey. If Turkey gets what they want then the Kurds will be harmed; if the Kurds get what they want then that will build animosity and violence between the two groups. The photo below from the BBC shows the land claimed by the Kurds which is in conflict with several nations we are working with and working against. This is the Thucydides trap where alliances don’t prevent conflict but only exacerbate them by dragging in nations that have nothing to do with the conflict itself.
I will write in-depth about an appropriate foreign policy that would address these issues in future blogs. A prelude includes dividing foreign policy into two branches the first called Pacificus and the second called Amicitia Americae.
No grand strategy is complete, accurate, or long-lasting and so as the world changes so should policy. The constant cycle of observation, analysis, and amendments is the cycle to maintain appropriate legislation. This will be successful with well-funded research institutions to gather information about those changing environments. The willingness to adapt to changing circumstances by lawmakers is also essential to maintaining a well-regulated foreign policy.