Hoping for a change in American foreign policy


OCALA, Fla., January 31, 2014 —  American foreign policy is caught in a serious rut.

Russia, which until just recently was considered a fallen superpower, is coming to dominate Middle Eastern power plays. All the while, our nation is left with thousands dead and staggering debts as a result of not only the Iraq War, but prolonged involvement in Afghanistan.

It can be no secret that the U.S. needs a change. The question is what this change should entail. 

John Mearsheimer has some tough answers. A longtime professor at the University of Chicago, his scholarly work has made him world famous. His ideas have generated ample praise and controversy.  

Much of the hullabaloo can be summed up in a single word: Israel. There is far more to Dr. Mearsheimer’s views than one country, however.

If one thing could be done to restructure American foreign policy, what would he suggest that it be?

“I would fundamentally alter our Middle East policy, which would mean abandoning our special relationship with Israel and treating it like a normal country, as well as going back to an offshore balancing strategy in the region,” Dr. Mearsheimer explains to Communities Digital News. “In other words, I would keep most American military forces tasked with protecting our interests in the Persian Gulf offshore and over the horizon, and I would not use force there unless one country threatened to dominate the others.”

John Bolton is a man with very different opinions. He served in several Republican administrations, holding the posts of assistant attorney general and undersecretary of state. By far, though, he found most prominence as ambassador to the United Nations, a position secured for him by George W. Bush.

Last January, Ambassador Bolton told this journalist that America ought to “(g)et a new President. The 2016 election cannot come soon enough. Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy was based on the theory of ‘peace through strength,’ whereas Obama’s seems to be almost precisely the opposite.

“The past four years were bad enough, but every prospect is that the next four will be worse. Our adversaries worldwide have sized up Barack Obama, and they see he is weak and inattentive, concentrating on national security issues only when he has no alternative but to put his obsession with domestic efforts to ‘fundamentally transform’ America (his phrase form the 2008 campaign).” 

Economic globalization is now a fact of life. How might the U.S. craft a diplomatic policy that deals with this in a constructive fashion?

“The key is for American leaders to foster economic and political deals with countries all across the globe that maximize the prospects the United States will remain the wealthiest country on the planet,” Dr. Mearsheimer says. “Economic globalization has had and will continue to have a profound effect on the global balance of power.  The United States has a deep-seated interest in making sure that it remains the most powerful state in the international system.”

Ambassador Bolton claimed that “(s)ustained American prosperity at home depends on keeping the globalized economy operating freely. The plain if sometimes unwelcome reality is that whatever order and stability there is in the world is provided by U.S. strength, and the strength of our alliance partners.

“It is certainly true that others benefit from our efforts, and almost none of them contribute their fair share of the costs and burdens of that stability, but let’s be clear: We are doing this for ourselves, not for the others. And if we continue to reduce our role and our willpower, either disorder will spread or others who do not have our best interests at heart will step in. We should not shirk our role, because without it our own way of life would be at risk.”

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