Foreign Policy

We must evolve our understanding of what foreign policy is and transform US foreign policy to the needs of our modern world.
— Molly Sheehan

For far too long our foreign policy has been dominated from a perspective of military strength and intervention in order to assert American interests abroad, whether to facilitate business or under the guise of imposing democracy on nations thought to pose a threat to our sovereignty. In doing so we have wasted trillions of dollars meddling in the affairs of other nations and propped up unjust and totalitarian regimes which have caused irreparable disruption and damage to once civil societies and caused an endless cycle of blowback and unrest that ultimately leads to further military intervention and chaos. Quite often, as in Iraq our demonstrations of American force of power only lead to unintended consequences and instability, and ultimately reveal the limits of our power.

U.S. foreign policy over the past sixty years has failed us miserably.  It has exacerbated many of the problems we face and led to a less secure world and damaged the reputation of the U.S. and jeopardized our ability to protect the security of our citizens from war and tyranny. Further, our past militaristic focus and behavior has cost us the opportunity to provide for the safety and welfare of our citizens because of the trillions of dollars we have spent on wars and the weapons to fight them. Interventionist and imperialist policies have callously sacrificed the lives of soldiers and civilians. Budgets are moral documents, and we must focus investment in the American people, not foreign interventions.

Our democracy for too long as prioritized the growth of The Military Industrial Complex over American infrastructure and vital programs. This corruption of priorities is fueled by our Campaign Industrial Complex, in which campaign contributions drive policy more than the needs of the people. Our military endeavors have cost us the opportunity to adequately feed, house and educate our population, maintain and modernize our infrastructure, and implement a single-payer health insurance system. If we are at all concerned with the safety and welfare of our citizens we can no longer appropriate three-quarters of a trillion dollars per year to our military.

 

Moving Forward as a Global Leader

Our foreign policy must focus on international relations. In the future we must conduct our foreign affairs with statesmanship and diplomacy. If we truly want to protect the security and welfare of our citizens, and our standing in world affairs then we must lead by an example of how we treat our citizens at home and in how we treat the peoples of foreign nations.  We must not act unilaterally to impose our will but rather work in a multilateral fashion, in cooperation with other nations, to address the challenges and problems that confront us in a modern world.

At home we must work to take care of the welfare of our own by protecting both their economic rights and political liberties.  We must reform our democratic institutions to ensure that powerful special interests no longer dominate our economic and political systems leading to the inequitable budgeting priorities under which they have suffered. We can hardly suggest that we are the paragon of democratic civil societies when we continue to show disregard for the safety and welfare of our own citizens and when we allow the interests of the 1% to ignore the needs and interests of the vast majority of the population.  We must also work to curtail the exploitative practices of international corporate conglomerates who pursue increased profits no matter the expense to humanity. Foreign governments will be more dependable allies when they are accountable to the needs of their people.

 

American Global Citizenship

Cooperation Abroad. The goal of for foreign policy should be to build strong global partnerships, not dominance. From Climate Change to the continuing War on Terror the people of the world will be best served by nations who worked together to address these issues.  American security and global stability will only be attained through international cooperation. We must as well seek to develop cooperative relationships with not just the governments of other nations but more importantly the people of other nations.  In doing so we undertake valuable cultural interactions that lead to the understanding of one another and the development of a shared sense of humanity. A shared sense of humanity amongst the people of the world will ultimately shield us from war and tyranny, at home and abroad.

Climate Change. The most pervasive threat to our national security is climate change, and we must act on reducing our carbon emissions now. Not only are severe storms a problem at home, but a changing environment leads to shifting food sources and temperatures abroad, leading to instability, as we have seen in Darfur. We are all beneficiaries of a stable climate, and reducing carbon use and environmental concerns should be a major part of every trade deal. We can no longer import products that are made or shipped with high carbon footprints.

Scientific Discovery. Scientific research is also essential to assuring long term national security. All research is connected, so investments in fundamental breakthroughs which we have not properly invested in since the 1970s are critical. Scientific discoveries for energy production can help relieve our reliance upon carbon, and more investment is necessary in basic physiology and medicine. Not only is it beneficial in and of itself for medical purposes, but the threats of tomorrow will not look like those of the past, and we should be prepared to defend ourselves against chemical and biological weapons of the future, as well as disease epidemics. While we have continued to fund research that leads quickly to new medicines, cutbacks in funding have severely reduced foundational basic research, which will prevent keeping pace in future discoveries and adapting to new threats. I would dramatically expand NSF, NIH and DOE funding to these achieve these aims.