A New Approach To Foreign Policy For The Post-Cold War World

by John Hawkins | December 28, 2006 1:09 pm

As we approach the New Year, many of us will be planning for the year ahead and coming up with New Year’s resolutions. Well, our country should do the same thing when it comes to foreign policy. In many respects, we treat our foreign policy the same way that we did back in the Cold War era even though the world has been completely transformed since then.

Although the UN has never been a model of efficiency, today it’s completely non-functional. NATO, which was once a fearsome military alliance on the planet, is today a hollow shell that can’t even muster up enough troops to adequately garrison Afghanistan. Without the threat of the Soviet Union to keep them honest, most of Western Europe has become militarily weak and lapsed into anti-Americanism.

Moreover, because the US has been such a benevolent giant, our help is now taken for granted. In South Korea, they want our troops to stay in the country to protect them from the Norks while “Americans Are Not Welcome Here”[1] go up in their restaurants. Nations in Africa regularly bad mouth us and vote against us at the UN even as we funnel hundreds of millions of dollars of aid into their country. Middle-Eastern nations like Egypt take billions of dollars in aid from the US, even as their state controlled media trashes us day in and day out. And if you really want to see how bad it can get, look to Afghanistan, where the people were only avoiding starvation with our help while simultaneously, Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda plotted 9/11. Meanwhile, nations like Iran and Syria are being allowed to get away with supporting insurgents that are killing American soldiers, even though we’re fully capable of putting an end to their entire civilizations from the air, if we so desired.

These are the new realities of the post-Cold War world we live in, but we’re not adjusting to them. However, that can change.

We could build an organization of democracies outside of the United Nations and could gradually start going to them, instead of the UN, with key problems. Then, over time, we could devote more money and resources to the new organization and allow the UN to wither on the vine.

The Geneva Conventions are an outdated, unworkable set of rules for wars of a sort, between gentlemanly Western nations, that seldom seem to happen anymore. Why not write our own rules of conduct that apply to the sort of conflicts we face today and pull out of an agreement that only seems to apply to us anyway?

NATO is fast becoming obsolete because most of its members don’t have the will or military capability to make a significant contribution during a war. So, let’s start signing treaties with key countries that supersede NATO and do a better job of spelling out the obligations each country has in the event of a conflict. Do you want the military support of the world’s only Super Power? Well, great, the next time we head into a country like Iraq, what are they willing to do for us?

It’s also time to end “no strings attached” aid to other countries, other than perhaps after some terrible natural disaster. We don’t have to receive a dollar for dollar payback for helping another country, but voting our way at the UN, cooperating with us militarily, or giving preferences to American companies would be appreciated. At a minimum, we shouldn’t be giving money to nations with state run presses that are telling their people that we’re evil. Put another way, our new philosophy when it comes to doling out foreign aid should be, “If we don’t get credit for it, we’re not doing it.” After all, it’s not as if there is any shortage of nations that needs our help. Since that’s the case, why not at least get help from nations that are willing to show their appreciation?

This isn’t the same world that it was 20 years ago, when Western Europe was a strong, reliable ally and allegiances across the world were split between us and the Soviets, but our thinking on foreign policy, in most respects, hasn’t adapted to the new reality. That needs to change.

  1. “Americans Are Not Welcome Here”: https://rightwingnews.com/archives/week_2002_12_01.PHP#000427

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