OCALA, Fla., January 29, 2014 — American foreign policy is been dominated by two schools of thought.
The first is neoconservatism, which calls for intervention in foreign crises even if the U.S. has no material stake in them. The second is neoliberalism, which calls for intervention in foreign crises even if the U.S. has no material stake in them.
There is no real difference between either philosophy; both easily pull Americas in ideological crusades abroad. Neoconservatives and neoliberals alike believe that it is America’s mission to spread democracy, even if the nations it is brought to really don’t want it.
All the while, pressing matters on the U.S. home front go ignored.
Some intellectuals, but fewer politicians, are trying to change this. Among these is John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago whose work has made him world famous and whose ideas have generated both praise and controversy.
Much of the can be summed up in a single word: Israel. There is far more to Dr. Mearsheimer’s views than Israel, however.
For instance, many think that the United States spends an astronomical amount on its foreign aid programs. Are these programs cost effective?
“The United States does not spend an astronomical amount on foreign aid,” says Dr. Mearsheimer. “In 2012, it spent about .19 percent of GNI on foreign aid, which is a smaller percentage of GNI than other developed countries spend on foreign aid. By contrast, that same year the 27 members of the EU spent .39 percent of their combined GNI on foreign aid.
“Moreover, Afghanistan and Iraq have been big recipients of foreign aid in recent years and that aid, of course, is linked to our wars in those countries.”
He explains that, “(t)he biggest two recipients of foreign aid over the few decades have been Israel and Egypt, and the money given to Egypt is effectively a reward for maintaining friendly relations with Israel. The same is true for U.S. aid to Jordan.
“I don’t know enough about our various foreign aid programs to render a judgment as to whether they are cost-effective. However, I do think the foreign policy that has led Washington to privilege countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel is misguided.”
It has been said that a nation should act in its own self-interest when dealing with international crises. Does that describe American foreign policy?
“The United States has pursued a foolish foreign policy since the Cold War ended in 1989, but especially since the tragic events of September 11,” Dr. Mearsheimer says. “American leaders of both political parties have been committed to a policy of global domination, which calls for the United States not just to be the world’s policeman, but to be involved in the domestic politics of countries all around the world. And this includes countries that are of little strategic importance to the United States.
“Of course, this imperial policy has led to many wars, most of them unsuccessful. Indeed, America has fought six wars since 1989 and has been at war for two out of every three years since the Cold War ended. This is not a smart foreign policy, and thus it is not surprising that public opinion has shifted against Washington’s interventionist policies.”