From the Left



What's Left 9: Foreign Policy Under the Left

: Ted Rall on

A key part of a comprehensive swords-to-plowshares strategy is to close all of our hundreds of military bases around the planet and bring our troops home where they belong. This will end the perverse practice of stationing soldiers in a place where they are likely to provoke an attack only to then double and triple down on our presence to protect the previous force. Smarter not to station them there in the first place.

When a foreign crisis or conflict seems to call for military intervention to restore law and order, as may be the case currently in Haiti, to stop genocide as we saw in Rwanda in the 1990s, or for some other benevolent reason free of self-interest, U.S. involvement should be reluctant and carefully considered, then voted upon directly by the people rather than our elected representatives. Then, should we choose to be involved, any such action must be coordinated by the U.N. in conjunction with a coalition of other member states. The U.S. is neither the world's police nor its mob enforcer; it ought not to pretend otherwise.

As the world's foremost arms developer, dealer and distributor, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to initiate and organize a bold new era of arms control and de-escalation. A leftist U.S. will unilaterally point the way forward by methodically dismantling its nuclear stockpile while encouraging others to do the same. Many countries, like China, Russia and North Korea, spend money they don't have to build nukes for fear of a U.S. first strike; they would welcome a statement from U.S. that we would never fire nuclear weapons first and that they no longer need to try to keep up with us. We should join the international treaty banning the use of landmines. Similarly, we should forswear the manufacture, deployment and use of unmanned drone weapons, and ask the world to join us in a global convention prohibiting assassination drones.

A Left country prioritizes peace. Thus, it is absolutely imperative that a Left-governed U.S. establish and maintain full and, to the fullest extent possible, friendly diplomatic relations with every other country, no matter what. Because we value and respect each nation's right to self-determination, it is not the place of the State Department to attempt to pressure or influence the political orientation or style of government of any other country. Whether or not we agree with a foreign state's ideological, economic, religious or cultural attitudes is irrelevant; a leftist diplomatic corps is always willing to talk to anyone about anything and remain available to assist U.S. nationals traveling or living in other countries. In keeping with this open-minded approach, the U.S. will end all sanctions, economic and otherwise, against all foreign governments, promising never to deploy them in the future for any reason whatsoever, no matter how seemingly justified. Sanctions are coercive gangsterism. As the socialist government of Cuba plainly proves, they don't work anyway. And sanctions only affect ordinary people, never the elites.

The U.S. should never wield trade policy as a cudgel, e.g., imposing tariffs against imports from one producer but not another. While trade policy should always prioritize protection of American companies and workers, tariffs and regulations should be applied uniformly to all imported goods without favor or disfavor to one or any group of producers.


To the world, we say: We wish to be your friends. And if we cannot be friends, we will at least do everything in our power not to turn ourselves, as we have done so often in the past, into your enemy.

Next time, what the Left should do about law, order, policing and punishment.


Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

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