Foreign Policy


""The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode," writees Kinzer. "It was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons" (Amitabh Pal. "From the Halls of Montezuma..." The Progressive, Sep 2006: 41-44).


"Unilateralism, he points out, is a venerable tradition in US foreign policy. Until World War I, George Washington's doctrine of no "permanent alliances" governed America's relationships with the outside world. Woodrow Wilson broke the habit of going it alone when he sought to pin the nation's security to a powerful League of Nations. But his own unbending moralism sabotaged the enterprise, and it wasn't revived until the 1940s, when the more pragmatic FDR converted a wartime alliance into the United Nations, and Harry Truman mobilized the anti-Soviet governments of Europe into NATO.

"In contrast, George W. Bush harks back to those nineteenth-century Presidents who believed America should act only by itself and for itself" (Michael Kazin. "In Dubious Battle." The Nation, Oct. 11, 2004: 42).


"At a time when terrorist threats come from groups of INDIVIDUALS rather than states, when wars occur within nations, when "free markets" exist without freedom, when overpopulation threatens stability, when intolerant cultures limit freedom and promote violence, when transnational corporations act like oppressive governments, and when the oil economy threatens the planet's future, the central problems in today's world cannot be solved by state-level approaches.

"The state-level part of the answer is to recognize global interdependence and focus foreign policy on diplomacy, alliances, international institutions and strong defensive and peacekeeping forces, with war as a last resort.

"But what is needed even more is a new kind of moral foreign policy, one that realizes that America can only be a better America if the world is a better world. America must become a moral leader using fundamental human values: caring and responsibility carried out with strength to respond to the world's problems.

"IN a values-based foreign policy, issues that were not previously seen as part of foreign policy become central. Women's education is the best way to alleviate overpopulation and promote development. Renewable energy could make the world oil-independent. Food, water, health, ecology, and corporate reform are foreign policy issues, as are rights: rights of women, children, workers, prisoners, refugees, and political minorities" (63).

Elsewhere, he argues that radical terrorists come out of the hopeless conditions in which they live and well as the beliefs they are taught. If you change the condition of their lives, you make it hard to teach them radical ideas.

"One of the central metaphors in our foreign policy is that a nation is a person... "Saddam is a tyrant. He must be stopped." What the metaphor hides, of course, is that the three thousand bombs to be dropped in the first two days will not be dropped on that one person. They will kill many thousands of [innocent] people hidden by the metaphor, people that we are, according to the metaphor, NOT going to war against (George Lakoff. Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: 69).


"However Ukraine's crisis is resolved, it is clear that interference by Russia and the United States has been massive... "In short, intervening in foreign elections under the guise of an impartial interest in helping civil society has become the run-up to the postmodern coup d'etat, the CIA-sponsored Third World uprising of cold war days adapted to post-Soviet conditions. Even if conducted impartially around the world, this heavy use of money in another country's elections (which would be illegal in the United States and most Western countries) raises serious questions...

"Like "humanitarian interventionism," which has been used more than once recently as a cover for going to war, "electoral interventionism" has become a tool in Washington's arsenal for overseas manipulation" ("Ukraine's Untold Story." The Nation, Dec. 20, 2004: 4-6).


"...Ward Churchill, a prof at the University of Colorado... making the simple point... that "if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned"

"That piece was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens... Churchill wrote recently, "it is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center... converted the Trade Center itself into a 'legitimate' target"...

"...infamous bombing of the Amariya civilian shelter in Baghdad in January 1991, with 400 deaths, almost all women and children, all subsequently identified and named by the Iraqis. To this day the US government says it was an OK target.

"Churchill concludes, "If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these 'standards' when they are routinely applied to other people, they should not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them... According to Pentagon logic, [they] were simply part of the collateral damage...

"Why should Churchill apologize for anything? Is it a crime to say that chickens can come home to roost and that the way to protect American lives from terrorism is to respect international law?" (Alexander Cockburn. "Ward Churchill and the Mad Dogs of the Right." The Nation, Feb. 21, 2005: 9).


""He may be a sone of a bitch," a U.S. president is said to have commented about one brutal dictator or another, "but he's our sone of a bitch." The fact that on the world-wide web the line is attributed to no fewer than five presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, speaks volumes about 20th-century U.S. foreign policy.

"Over the last decade, a new dictator, Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, has taken the "our son of a bitch" place. U.S. Support for this Central Asian tyrant suggests a degree of hyprocrisy in a foreign policy that claims democracy, freedom and human rights as its core values. It also invites serious back-lash against the United States in the future and has led to immense suffering for the Uzbek people now" (Eric Stoner. "Islam Karimov: Uzbekistan Dictator, U.S. Ally." Nonviolent Activist, Winter 2005: 12).


"...Bono talks to Republicans as they like to see themselves: not as administrators of a diminishing public sphere they despise but as CEOs of a powerful private corporation called America. "Brand USA is in trouble... it's a problem for usiness," Bono warned at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The solution is "to re-describe ourselves to a world that is unsure of our values."

"The Bush Administration wholeheartedly agrees, as evidenced by the orgy of redescription that now passes for American foreign policy. Faced with an Arab world enraged by its occuptaion of Iraq and its blind support for Israel, the US solution is not to change these brutal policies; it is, in the pseudo-academic language of corporate branding, to "change the story"" (Naomi Klein. "Can Democracy Survive Bush's Embrace?" The Nation, March 28, 2005: 11).


"...the runaway train that is the Bush Administration...

"Nowhere is that train more dangerous than in foreign policy. Both in his inaugural address and in his State of the Union, Bush spoke in the crusading language that he's so fond of, saying his goal was "ending tyranny in our world."

"But Bush supports tyranny around the world: from Equatorial Guinea to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Egypt all the way to Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. And the Bush Administration has eagerly fomented coups against democratically elected governments in Haiti and Venezuela" ...

"This is heady stuff. And when you believe you're driving God's car, and when you believe He's giving you global positioning, and whn you believe He's right there in the back seat blurting out directions, you don't care so much if you run people over in the process, lots of people, even your own people.... George Bush is an extraordinarily dangerous President" ("Bush's Bitter Deal." The Progressive, March 2005: 9).


Country Indicators for Foreign Policy "geopolitical database developed by the Canadian Department of National Defence in 1991... covered a wide range of political, economic, social, military, and environmental indicators through the medium of a rating system" Shows USA to be the 7th most militarized country in the world; Nigeria is no. 1


"The American occupation of Iraq is something new, but the fundamental error of the United States has a long pedigree. It is the imprisonment of the human mind in ideology backed by violence. The classic example is Stalin's Russia, under which decades of misrule were rationalized as a "stage" on the way to the radiant future of true communism. As for the miserable present, it was amusingly called "actually existing communism." The future, when it came, of course was not communism at all but the disintegration of the whole enterprise. All the "stages" turned out to lead nowhere" (Jonathan Schell. "The Exception is the Rule." The Nation, July 4, 2005: 9).


This is a review of Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, by Philippe Sands.

"By far the most important body of international law concersn trade and overseas investment... It is these laws--secretive, hidden from view and above all binding--that have underpinned the neoliberal globalization project. The chapters on trade and investment reveal how biased these rules are in favour of the West, and how they are made and exercised in institutional recesses that are unaccountable, even to cabinets, let alone parliaments, and utterly invisible to the public eye. This is the nexus of corporate, bureaucratic and judicial power...

"He argues, moreover, that international law-making, even in the economic arena, is slowly being prised open and thereby subject to influence by a growing number of actors, including developing countries and NGOs. He recognizes that international law is opaque and largely undemocratic, but believes, perhaps too optimistically, that the processes and institutions are being opened up, albeit slowly.

"The nub of the book, however, concerns the way in which the United States, since the Bush presidency, has decided to opt out of international treaties" (Allen Lane. "A law unto themselves." Guardian Weekly, April 8, 2005: 27).


"To improve its influence and image in the world, the US should refrain from building new nuclear weapons, scrap the Bush doctrine of preventive war and regime change, break its climate-changing oil habit, and recommit to international rule-making organizations such as the UN.

"The musings of a leftwing think-tank? Not a bit of it. These proposals come from Richard Haass, a leading light in the US foreign policy establishment and former official in the Clinton and Bush administrations...

"Mr. Haass's new "integration doctrine" is being taken seriously. Henry Kissinger, hardly a radical, is a fan...

"...set out in Mr. Haass's latest book, The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course..." (Simon Tisdall. "A new credo for the hyperpower." Guardian Weekly, Aug. 12, 2005: 6).


"For this was not just an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, it was an Israeli-American invasion.

"Israel is the largest recipient of US aid, and has been so for decades. From 2001 to 2005, "Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing--the Pentagon's biggest military aid program--and $6.3 billion in US arms deliveries," Frida Berrigan and William Hartung of the World Policy Institute wrote. "The bulk of Israel's current arsenal is composed of equipment supplied under US military aid programs."

"Beyond supplying Israel, the United States put itself foursquare behind the invasions of Gaza and Lebanon. "Let the Palestinians sweat a little," one senior Administration official said after Israel went back into Gaza. The assault on Hezbollah has been a longtime objective of the Bush Administration" (Matthew Rothschild. "The Israeli-American Invasion." The Progressive, Sep. 2006: 8-10).


Colby Glass, MLIS