Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Foreign Policy and Our Reputation Abroad, by Natalie

Foreign Policy/Our Reputation Abroad
The United States is currently marred by the Bush-Cheney approach to foreign relations, an approach that 1) is based in a unilateralist approach 2) believes the only way to “get tough” is to blow things up and 3) relies on a dangerous refusal to talk to leaders we dislike. These approaches have made the United States, amongst other things, less safe and have brought down our moral standing in the international community. McCain and Palin offer a foreign policy strategy that is unnervingly similar.

• According to several reports, including research from the State Department, the war in Iraq has harmed security in America and has left the nation more at risk. A survey of more than 100 foreign policy experts, conducted in February 2008 by Foreign Policy magazine, found that three-quarters believed that the United States was losing the war on terror. Cleary the Bush/Cheney strategy has not worked.

• McCain staked out anew his position on Iraq, staunchly defending his support for a continued U.S. military mission as the war enters its sixth year and the U.S. death toll tops 4,000. He derided calls by Clinton and Obama for withdrawal.

A coherent foreign policy must be comprised of several tools, including strategic military use and diplomatic efforts. Obama gets this! He is nuanced and understands the complexities of the world we live in today. He understands the need to engage the international community; he also understands that diplomatic pressures are often more effective than military intervention. However, the military is an important tool for Obama, as well: Obama and Biden fully understand the importance of a strong and fortified military and the need to deploy it when all else fails.

• Obama’s foreign policy focuses on ending the politics of fear and emphasizes the need to move beyond a hollow "democracy promotion" agenda to one that promotes dignity. This approach aims to “fix the conditions of misery that breed anti-Americanism in the first place and prevent liberty, justice, and prosperity from taking root.” An inextricable part of that doctrine is a relentless and thorough destruction of al-Qaeda.

“When considering any presidential hopeful's foreign-policy promises, it's important to remember that what candidates say is, at best, an imperfect guide to their actions in office. What proves to be a more reliable indicator of presidential behavior is a candidate's roster of advisers. (If the press had paid better attention, the country would have seen through Bush's pitch about a humble foreign policy and realized that many of his advisers, including Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, were conspiracy-minded warmongers.) Obama's foreign-policy advisers come from diverse backgrounds. They are former aides to Democratic mandarins like Tom Daschle and Lee Hamilton (Denis McDonough and Ben Rhodes, respectively); veterans of the Clinton administration's left flank (Tony Lake and Susan Rice); a human-rights advocate who helped write the Army's and Marine Corps' much-lauded counterinsurgency field manual (Sarah Sewall); and a retired general who helped run the air war during the invasion of Iraq (Scott Gration) Yet they form a committed, intellectually coherent, and surprisingly united foreign-affairs team.” (The Obama Doctorine)

• Obama and Biden will convene a bipartisan Consultative Group of leading members of Congress to foster better executive-legislative relations and bipartisan unity on foreign policy. This group will be comprised of the congressional leadership of both political parties, and the chair and ranking members of the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, and Appropriations Committees. This group will meet with the president once a month to review foreign policy priorities, and will be consulted in advance of military action.

• McCain’s foreign policy has been derided as “schizophrenic” and “out of touch,” a “policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers.” A foreign policy expert and revered academic warned that McCain’s plan “would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating [Russia and China] into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.”

• McCain’s website does not have a section coherently detailing his foreign policy approach.

For more information on Obama’s and McCain’s foreign policy, visit:
The Obama Doctorine
McCain vs. McCain
Obama website on foreign policy foreign policy brain trusts

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