July 24, 2014 – American foreign policy has essentially become a parody of peace through strength. The concept of peace through strength is said to have started under Roman Emperor Hadrian; however, Hadrian’s full description of the concept was, “peace through strength, or failing that peace through threat.” The full descriptive is a far more honest portrayal of American foreign policy today. It certainly makes one wonder, have we actually implemented a foreign policy predicated on the one utilized by an imploding empire? I’ll leave that for you to decide. But let’s examine American foreign policy beyond the quaint catch phrases that attempt to rationalize the ugliness of the policy objective; and let’s be clear the objective of such a policy is not peace.
According to its website, the Department of State’s, mission indicates that America’s foreign policy is set to, “shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.”
Although that sounds lovely enough to be a beauty pageant contestant’s response, it is neither realistic nor appropriate. Particularly, is shaping the world to mimic our own set of values and sovereign structure a commissioned mandate of our nation? What if all nations had a similar foreign policy of forcing their standards around the globe? Suppose we look to the founding fathers for some advice. What did they have to say regarding America’s international ambitions? We know that Thomas Jefferson was not shy in offering an opinion on the matter of foreign policy so let’s look there. In a dialogue with Gouverneur Morris in 1793, Jefferson offered: “We surely cannot deny to any nation that right whereon our own government is founded, that every one may govern itself according to whatever form it pleases and change these forms at its own will, and that it may transact its business with foreign nations through whatever organ it thinks proper, whether king, convention, assembly, committee, president, or anything else it may choose. The will of the nation is the only thing essential to be regarded.”
Later, in an 1823 dialogue with James Monroe, Jefferson further explained, “the presumption of dictating to an independent nation the form of its government is so arrogant, so atrocious, that indignation as well as moral sentiment enlists all our partialities and prayers in favor of one and our equal execrations against the other.”
It is clear that Jefferson felt all nations need to respect the rights of other nations to choose their own sovereign structure and value systems. Specifically, that the US should not concern itself with “shaping” the rest of the world. His opinion is in direct opposition to the Department of State’s current defined mission.
At the heart of Jefferson’s perspective on foreign policy, America has and shall always expect its domestic matters be left to the will of its own people. And so it should provide the same consideration to other nations. Simply put, let’s do unto others as we would have them do unto us—otherwise known as the Golden Rule. Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, which essentially argues from a moral and ethical basis that the Golden Rule is categorically imperative. Now despite its simplicity of promoting peace through peace, the Golden Rule is a far less expensive, less malignant and less convoluted policy than peace through force. The key to understanding policies is to understand the objectives of the policymakers and the truth will lie therein. America’s current foreign policy has very little to do with sustained peace and prosperity for all.
Given the Golden Rule is so simple and beneficial and ubiquitously accepted around the world as good behavior, how is it that we arrive at a foreign policy of imposing our values on to the rest of the world? In 1996, Richard Perle was asked to draft a report by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Strategies (IASPS), an Israeli sponsored think tank, to design proposals that would, in effect, strengthen the Israeli position in the Middle East. A few of the proposals that came out of that 1996 report were:
• Weaken, contain and roll back of the state Syria
• Remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq
• Promote the implementation of US missile defense systems around the globe
The report also seems to focus on how to get an American buy-in, as it goes on to say:
“To anticipate U.S. reactions and plan ways to manage and constrain those reactions, Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel. If Israel wants to test certain propositions that require a benign American reaction, then the best time to do so is before November, 1996.”
Then, in 2000, the newly formed Project for a New American Century, a think tank chaired by William Kristol (renowned as one of the principals of the neocon movement in the US), and funded by The Olin Foundation (the foundation of the munitions and chemical giant Olin Corp) and Bradley Foundation (tied to Olin Foundation through Michael Joyce who acted as president of both foundations), published a report in September of 2000 as a follow-up to Perle’s 1996 project. The latter report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” detailed several key findings, including the establishment of the following four core military missions:
• Defend the American homeland
• Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars
• Perform the “constabulary” duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions
• Transform U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs”
These four core missions, in addition to the several proposals from the 1996 report, seem to have garnered some attention from the U.S. foreign and military policy decision makers. These missions foreshadowed quite precisely the subsequent two decades. In July of 2001, Richard Perle, who chaired the 1996 project, was appointed to chair the Defense Policy Board under President George Bush. There appears to be plenty of evidence of lobbying efforts from very influential diplomats recommending the very same actions that seem to have shaped our foreign policy of the past fifteen years.
Above is a clip from Stephen Colbert’s the The Colbert Report, which does about as good a job as one could hope of not only exposing the true objective of these lobbyists, but also showing how uncomfortable they get when confronted about the respective policies in a public arena.