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  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005

    Default Where is the serious foreign policy debate?

    Hit tip to SWJ news roundup for the link to a National Interest article on the need to restore our foreign policy debate at the strategic level, not the mindless debates over tactical missteps that little more than debates intended to embarrass the opposing political party. Strategy starts with policy, and based on the ongoing arguments on the blog over retrenchments and a new off set strategy it is probably worth starting a thread on foreign policy debate.

    Restoring America’s Foreign-Policy Debate

    United States can move forward by answering three sets of questions.
    First, what should its foreign-policy priorities be [?]
    Second, what should its basic foreign-policy goals and objectives be?
    And third, what tools should the United States rely on when conducting its foreign policy?
    Too many U.S. leaders, warned Simes, often fail to talk about predictable consequences, particularly when dealing with distasteful opponents. “We are not asking the most basic question,” said Simes, “not where we are going to be after we make our move,” but “where we are going to be after the bad guys...respond. If we think that they’re bad guys,” stated Simes, “we should assume that they would be prepared to respond in ways which we will find disagreeable.”
    Foreign Policy by Bumper Sticker

    With victory in the Cold War and absent a rival superpower to limit and shape U.S. choices, America’s new foreign-policy establishment has adopted a simplistic, moralistic and triumphalist mind-set: foreign policy by bumper sticker. This mind-set abandons traditional foreign-policy analysis, which emphasizes establishing a hierarchy of priorities, making difficult decisions over trade-offs and considering the unintended consequences of U.S. actions. It also ignores the fact that America’s political system has consistently failed to sustain costly international interventions when vital national interests are not at stake. Prominent voices dismiss those raising such concerns as cynical realists, isolationists or, more recently, unpatriotic Putin apologists. Many tacitly accept this form of intimidation by interventionists who substitute chest-thumping for coherent and serious, historically grounded arguments.
    Members of Congress generally ignore more fundamental questions, such as why the United States decided to overthrow a nasty tyrant like Muammar el-Qaddafi, who did not particularly threaten the United States, without even thinking about the likely aftermath of his ouster. Congress no longer seems to convene serious hearings on big issues in America’s relationship with Russia, the only country with the military capability to destroy the United States, or managing China’s rise as a global superpower, perhaps the central challenge confronting the United States in the twenty-first century. Hearings that do take place typically degenerate into partisan posturing over peripheral matters.
    And while fashionable as a measure of impact, Twitter is an inherently poor vehicle for any serious conversation. What truly important issue can be distilled into 140 characters or fewer? Or, for that matter, into a fifteen-second sound bite?
    IT IS disturbing that our ability to think and talk seriously about international affairs is deteriorating as the world is becoming more complex.
    The article goes on to argue that our short sighted views on Russia may well push them into an undesired alliance with China and all that portends. Concur or non-concur with the authors' specific views, it is hard to deny we fail to look at the big picture and probable second order effects of our tactical actions. After 9/11 we lost our ability to think strategically as a nation, and labeled those who wanted to debate the wisdom of our choices as non-patriotic. We can do better than this.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 03-06-2016 at 02:54 AM. Reason: spelling error

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