President Obama has often been criticized for weak and ineffective foreign policy. His Secretary of State, first Hilary Clinton, now John Kerry, is supposed to help him with that. So, what should foreign policy look like? I’ll take a stab at it. It isn’t easy, in my opinion.
The objective of American foreign policy is to achieve goals set by the president. Such goals should include:
1. Protection of American interests. (Such as: welfare of American travelers; ability of American firms to conduct business overseas without being victimized by other governments; protection of American assets overseas; observance of existing treaties by all parties; fair trade practices between America and foreign countries.)
2. Benign and peaceful government. We don’t want other countries being aggressive and causing or sponsoring wars and terrorism against other countries or America. We don’t want terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, or the Taliban seizing control of any government.
3. Friendly relations and mutual respect. It’s a lot more fun working with other countries if they are friendly. If not friends, at least there should be mutual respect. In fact, without one or the other, we shouldn’t work with them at all or even maintain an embassy, in my opinion. If we don’t maintain an embassy in another country, we shouldn’t allow their embassy in our country.
4. Understanding of other countries. This is really what the State Department and the CIA are for. We should know enough about other countries: traditions, objectives, capabilities, etc. so that we can work with them and avoid offending them. This works both ways; we want them to understand us. We should know their leaders. If friendly, we should meet with them at the highest possible level frequently.
5. Trade. If we want to trade with a country, commercial agreements are important. If they are in place, it’s essential that both sides observe them. These include fishing rights, tariffs, air, sea, patent, communications, extradition, visa, and other considerations.
6. Balance of power. We don’t want to allow nuclear weapons in the hands of countries which hate us. We don’t want to allow one country to dominate others.
7. Human rights. We should favor democracies over theocracies, socialist, and communist countries. Dictatorships are always a problem, and must be handled with great care. They may be tolerated if stable and friendly. In general, we should promote personal freedom and well being in other countries.
8. Health. We should strive to eliminate disease in the world.
9. Travel/tourism. We should encourage mutual travel with friendly countries, but block it with unfriendly ones. I wouldn’t allow any travel with countries like Iran, Palestine, Syria, or other unfriendly countries. I would carefully control entry into the US from all Islamic countries.
Every American interaction with another country should be consistent with those goals. We shouldn’t have to buy the friendship of other countries – we should give foreign aid sparingly, and should stop it immediately if the other country disparages us or doesn’t cooperate.
The State Department and the CIA should maintain an up-to-date assessment of each other country with regard to the goals listed above.
Right now, IMO, Russia and China are marginal allies. It would take very little for either to become unfriendly. We should have contingency plans to stop diplomatic relations with them.
How would I rate the Obama foreign policy? Generally, poor. He began by diminishing respect for America by apologizing for our past actions. He gives away too much money. He pulled out of Iran without doing anything to assist future peace there. He drew a line in the sand in Syria, then moved the line back after they crossed it by using poison gas. I’m not sure he has a well-defined foreign policy.
Correction on last Friday’s post: I speculated that George Zimmerman, had he carried his automatic in the usual, safe way, would have needed two hands to put a round in the chamber, cock it, and remove the safety. Of course, he could have had it loaded, cocked, and safety off, which would be dangerous for him too.
Or, he may have had a Glock. A friend who is very knowledgeable in firearms explained the Glock (and similar style automatics) to me: the safety is in the tricky double trigger – not a lever on the side, and the gun has a spring loaded firing pin which is cocked any time there’s a round in the chamber. He said many policemen use them and carry them with a chambered round. They can be pulled and fired with one hand a la quick draw. So, don’t mess with policemen.
He actually had a Kel-Tek PF-9 automatic. It seems to have no safety, and uses a double action trigger, which means the hidden hammer is cocked during the somewhat harder trigger pull. With a round in the chamber, it’s a draw and fire weapon, which can be done with only one hand.