After listening to so much bluster (and idiocy) from The Donald on how he would solve the ISIS problem, it was really refreshing to read William R. Polk’s second essay on foreign policy. The essay
is long, but I think well worth reading. His analysis reflects his experience and knowledge of history and U.S. foreign policy.
What most people miss in their deliberations on how the US should act in the world is any consideration for how other peoples see us and our actions. For a long time I have thought that one of the major flaws in our Realpoltik foreign policy has been its shortsightedness. We have been stoking hatred and desires for revenge for a long time and we’re paying the price for it now. In the short-term, Realpoltik may have served us, but in the long-term it has made us less safe. This strategy has also undermined our moral standing in the world, and exposed us as hypocrites. We have failed to live up to our own principles! I could go on, but I think Polk did an excellent job laying out some of my own grievances. I hope you read the entire essay, but if not I have put a few excerpts below that will hopefully provoke your interest, or at least provide food for thought.
“The “pacification” that counterinsurgency advocates claim is precisely what did not happen; rather anger intensified and desire for revenge grew. Such activities are not only self-defeating but also are self-propagating: strikes breed revenge which justify further strikes. War becomes unending.”
“As I pointed out in the previous essay, Americans have carried out hundreds of military actions in other countries over the course of our history and in just the last 25 years have engaged in an average of six a year. To Americans, such statistics mean something different from what they mean to others. Leave aside such issues as legality, nationalism and purpose and consider only war itself. The last time Americans personally suffered its reality – the destruction, the hunger, the draining fear – was the Civil War in the 1860s. So when we read that we were complicit in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, uncounted injured and the “stunting” of a whole generation of children, they are just statistics. We cannot emotionally relate to them. Many other peoples, of course, do relate to them. For some, the memories are fresh, intimate and painful.”
“Since they assumed and hoped that we would live in a republic where the opinion of citizens has some ability to control government decision making, they believed, that to have a chance to combine liberty and responsibility, citizens needed to be educated. Enhancing the intellectual quality of our citizenry thus became essential in securing of “\’The Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.’”
“In conclusion, we must come to terms with the reality that we live in a multicultural, multinational world. Our assertion of uniqueness, of unipower domination and of military power has been enormously expensive and has created a world reaction against us; in the period ahead it will become unsustainable and is likely to lead precisely to what we should not want to happen — armed conflict. Moderation, peace-seeking and open-mindedness need to become our national mottos.”
History News Network | Toward a National Strategy to Cope With a New World: Part 2.