Foreign Policy

“A policy of empathy and humanity”

Our policy of using our enormous hard power as a component of our foreign policy has not shown much in terms of results. We tried and failed to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan in this century and Vietnam in the last. On the other hand, over 250 million people have received their freedom through non-violence—from the former Soviet Union to the Warsaw Pact countries to North Africa. The Soviet bloc came apart, Germany was reunified, and the Arab Spring swept through Egypt and Tunisia, all without the benefit of U.S. military intervention. The Arab Spring of 2012 demonstrates that Facebook and Twitter have more power to change the world than military might, proving once again that in the digital age, the pen—or pixel—is still mightier than the sword—or missile.

We seem to be fixated on the Middle East and its oil and have spent an inordinate amount of time and resources over the last four decades on it. Had we spent that much time and that many resources on finding alternative sources of energy we would have been self-sufficient a long time ago. In this multi- polar world, a smart foreign policy warrants strengthening the international institutions and shared responsibilities among all nations for collective security and prosperity for all people.

When it comes to foreign policy, here is a common-sense question: What can smaller, less powerful nations possibly gain by attacking the most powerful nation in the world? Authoritarian rulers are themselves ruled by a survival instinct that enables them to stay in power, often for decades. Any attack against a nuclear-armed superpower is tantamount to collective suicide. By treating them as renegades, the US sells itself short. This only leads to dangerous practices such as our decade-long quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan and tens of thousands of casualties in Vietnam.

Here is our choice. We can recognize that the world has changed so much in recent decades that we ourselves must change. Or we can stay on a course that will ultimately bankrupt this country. After all, history is full of empires that disintegrated because they persisted in denial and chose to ignore the actual state of their surroundings. Indeed, Afghanistan is often called "the graveyard of empires"—as Alexander the Great, Great Britain, and the Soviets discovered the hard way. "Why do the foreign policy decision-makers continue to make the same mistakes over and over again?" former Defense Secretary McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War, once asked.

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Munir Moon *** The Middle Class