Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zunes' article on Georgia highlights key aspects of US foriegn policy

The Huffington Post has an interesting article that provides a good outline of the current Foreign Policy of the US Government. This should not be mistaken as a purely Bush Administration policy because the following principals of US foreign policy have broad bipartisan support and should be a concern of anybody is truly concerned with freedom and democracy.

The Washington principals which are evident in the Zunes article are as follows:

1. To Washington prodemocratic governments mean pro Washington. A government can be as autocratic as it pleases, close opposition newspapers, suppress non-violent demonstrations, nullify election results etc.. as long as it does not oppose US economic interests in it's territory it is by Washington's standards "Democratic".

2, Take advantage of any truly "Pro Democracy" revolts by the people of any given country any where in the world to push for radical "free market" ideological reforms. It should be noted that these reforms are not what the people of the country were demanding when they revolted and that subsequent revolts against the "free market" reforms are violently suppressed by the Washington supported democratic governments. The difficulty in clarifying these events is partly because the both the Movements in the various countries, and Washington, claim to be demanding democratic reforms. We must start realizing that people of the world are fighting for democracy not the "free market". Washington is fighting for the "free market" with or without the trappings of democracy. Democracy and the "free market" are not the same thing. Your work place is part of the "free market" but when was the last time you had a vote on any policy your company pursued.

3. Push all governments that rise out of a popular revolts to invest heavily in US military equipment. (Military equipment is heavily subsidized at first, but later completely paid for by loans from the US or by the World Bank) This makes the new government, which may if left to it's own devices pursue policies the US does not like, dependent on US support for it's survival and quickly creates additional massive debts which further diminishes the policy options of the new government and creates the need for future support from the US.

4. This particular conflict also highlights the dangers of the NATO expansion being pushed into the former USSR satellite states. This policy has strong support form Washington Democrats and Republicans alike. Imaging what would be happening now, if Georgia was a full NATO member. The saber rattling is reaching a fevered pitch on US media outlets even without full membership. The policy of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe if continued has the high likelihood of resulting in a direct military conflict between the world's two largest nuclear powers. No sane person would pursue such a policy and yet most of Washington does.
We who oppose the Militarization of our country must oppose our country's foreign policy. We should support the "pro democracy" movements around the world. But, once the movements have been successful in taking power in their countries, we should respect their right to self determination and allow them to pursue their own objectives.

The world as a whole faces large challenges in the future. But, the biggest challenge we face is defeating the idea that the US has all the answers. We don't, and as the last several years have shown our government will obstruct solutions if Washington believes that the proposed solutions will harm their short term economic interests.

The above statement goes sharply against American Exceptionalism which is beaten into all of us from birth to grave and will be met with strong Pro Nationalist resistance. But, we must face up to our responsibility for the state of our world. The US has been the strongest force in the world for the past fifty years and our foreign policy has effected every country at some point in the past fifty years. I am not suggesting that we are responsible for every thing that is wrong with the world. But, I am stating plainly that our governments' blind pursuit of the very narrow interest of a very small but powerful elite is doing more harm than good. (At one time, the elite Washington served was made up of US nationals, but that does not appear to be a requirement any longer.)

This is important because respecting another countries right to self determination is impossible for us in the US, given the core belief in American Exceptionalism held by most US citizens. We cannot have a more sensible foreign policy until we decide it is OK to let countries go their own way. As long as we believe that the world has no interests which are not the same as our interests, we will continue to fight wars to enforce our ideas on the rest of the world. That is, until it escalates to nuclear conflict, then it is all over.

I dream of the day when the US realizes that it is OK to live in a world of equal Nations and Peoples and that it does not have to dominate the world to continue to prosper. When that day comes, peace will be a possibility, our standard of living will most likely suffer, but the fulfillment of the desire of every person throughout the world (including here in the US) to live in peace will be well worth our sacrifice.