From the Left



What's Left 9: Foreign Policy Under the Left

: Ted Rall on

Every country needs a coherent foreign policy. And it's impossible to overstate the importance of the United States' military and diplomatic posture.

The U.S. has the world's second-largest and most sophisticated nuclear arsenal, exclusive, comprehensive command over the oceans, perfect strategic geography, nearly a thousand military bases overseas and is by far the biggest dealer of weapons and ammunition. And it uses them a lot: We have been at war throughout nearly all of our history since independence from Britain.

Backed by this "hard" power, which is used to disrupt and overthrow governments, destroy infrastructure and economies, and generally wreak havoc and mayhem, the U.S. deploys formidable "soft power" via its cultural and linguistic hegemony, which has established English as the world's lingua franca. It determines whether up-and-coming nations are "permitted" to join the "nuclear club" or whether they can be recognized as sovereign countries. It controls a vast array of intelligence operations (including those purporting to work for other countries) and non-governmental organizations that pull the strings of foreign-based media outlets. The U.S. even hosts the United Nations.

Our military, economic, cultural and diplomatic power is incalculably formidable --and our reach is infinite.

We have an awesome duty to exercise our massive power responsibly, intelligently, with restraint and in service of the greater global good; sadly, the opposite has been true more often than not.

When the Left takes control of the nuclear missile silos, the defense budgets and the embassies circling the globe, everything must change radically.


President Jimmy Carter hinted at what is possible when he promised to prioritize human rights in foreign policy. Though he fell woefully short of his self-professed ideal, propping up brutal dictatorships like the Shah's torture regime in Iran and arming the far-right anti-Soviet jihadis in Afghanistan, the U.S. did not launch any wars or proxy conflicts during the late 1970s.

First and foremost, the U.S. must adopt a fully defensive military posture. Troops may only be deployed, and then aggressively, in the event of an invasion or armed incursion -- or imminent threat thereof, as defined under international law -- of U.S. soil.

The U.S. must never enter into any treaty or mutual-defense arrangement under which it might be legally or otherwise obligated to assist or intervene as the result of a conflict to which it is not a party. For example, we should cancel our membership in NATO, a mutual-defense pact whose member states treat an attack on one as an attack on all, Three Musketeers-style. As the lead state that created NATO, we should encourage its dissolution as the type of dangerous interlocking alliance that triggered World War I.

A defense-only defense policy will allow the "defense" budget to shrink to a small fraction of current levels, freeing up trillions of dollars to attend to urgent yet long-neglected domestic needs like fighting poverty and improving our schools. It will eliminate such misbegotten foreign adventurism as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, covert participation in regime-change "color revolutions," backing coups such as those that transformed Libya and Honduras into failed states, and the current doomed proxy war against Russia in Ukraine as well as our support of Israel's war against the Palestinians. Countless lives will be saved and improved as a result. We will acquire fewer enemies, thus reducing the possibility of future terrorist attacks. Here at home as well, we will see fewer hate crimes directed as those who seem to somehow be affiliated or related to whatever nation-state or ethnicity we happen to be designating as our enemy at any given time.


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