Is It Time To Redefine American Foreign Policy?

It is not missed by any politician – particularly Barack Obama – that the American public has soured on using America’s superior military strength abroad. So, The Economist asks, for what is the US willing to fight?

The editors note that what Obama hears as caution, the world hears “reluctance” and an unwillingness to fight.

“Admittedly, deterrence always has some element of doubt. Between the certainty that any president will defend America’s own territory and the strong belief that America would not fight Russia over Ukraine lies an infinite combination of possibilities. A lot depends on how each incident unfolds. But doubt has spread quickly in that middle ground—and it risks making the world a more dangerous, nastier place,” contend the editors.

With US foreign policy seemingly adrift in recent years, Henry Nau says it is time for conservatives to define a new internationalism. For decades American foreign policy was been akin to a pendulum swinging from nationalism to realism and back again. Therefore, Nau argues, it is time to develop a third way.

“It combines the best of the existing approaches and leaves the worst on the cutting-room floor. It seeks to improve the world system and spread freedom, as liberal internationalism does; it uses, but disciplines, force with priorities and compromise, as realism does; and it does not surrender control to international institutions but preserves American sovereignty, as nationalism does. It is an internationalist approach but with conservative brakes—a conservative rather than a liberal internationalism,” posits Nau.

While not asserting the US should step off the global stage, Sarwar Kashmeri has a unique remedy to the apparent weakness of NATO, which has been highlighted during the crisis in Ukraine.

“Irrespective of what the spin from NATO’s Brussels headquarters is, it is obvious that the vital national interests of NATO members no longer converge as they did when NATO was set up more than six decades ago,” he writes in US News and World Report.

Kashmeri suggests a rather radical refocusing of NATO’s mission and organization – shifting leadership from the US to the European Union.

“My suggestion is economically feasible because the EU, which now holds a larger share of global gross domestic product than the United States, spends more than $280 billion collectively on its defense — what the U.S. defense budget used to spend prior to 9/11. This is a lot of money for countries that have little interest in policing the world, as America does. My suggestion also leverages NATO’s real achievement in its 64-year existence: the standardization of equipment and procedures to permit its members to operate together.”


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