another great article in the sojo newsletter... sign up to support or get this newsletter brought to you by jim wallis and folks... as always, i do not necessarily endorse all being said, but it is some interesting stuff... even if it's from a conservative republican!...
U.S. interests vs. global interests
by David Batstone
Clyde Prestowitz is deeply troubled by the foreign relations of the United States. He fears that we are becoming a "rogue nation" that violates international agreements and alliances with scant consideration for the long-term consequences. In short, the U.S. is making the world a more dangerous place, says Prestowitz.
I found his message so compelling that I tracked down a filmed interview with Prestowitz. We offer our SojoMail readers a short cut for your viewing (find the link at the end of the column).
Prestowitz's voice is all the more intriguing given his pedigree. Once a senior counselor to the secretary of commerce in the Reagan administration, Prestowitz is a self-identified "super-patriotic," "conservative," and life-long Republican. He held senior executive posts in major international corporations and wrote an influential book on trade relations between the U.S. and Japan. He currently is president of the Economic Strategy Institute.
Prestowitz is also a born-again Christian and serves as an elder at his evangelical Presbyterian church. He does not turn his deep faith into a divine blessing of partisan politics, however. "Politicians who use God as a prop for their campaigns should remember that God is not mocked," Prestowitz wrote in his book, Rogue Nation. Yet Prestowitz unabashedly says it is his faith in Jesus that informs the way he interprets the world, and the values that guide his actions.
Moral vision. That's what I found missing in the first two presidential debates. Based on the debates, one could not be blamed for thinking that the U.S. and Iraq were the only two nations in the world that mattered (and the latter due only to its tragic bond with the former). Undoubtedly, a debate on foreign policy should include Iraq - how the U.S. military got in there and how it will get out, what sovereignty in Iraq would mean, and whether the U.S. will go it alone in solving the problem or find a significant group of allies (beyond the U.K.) to "win the peace."
But let's put Iraq in proper perspective. Over two debates, I did not hear one question address the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Do we really think that peace will come to the Middle East without resolving that issue? On that note, what has the Bush administration done over the past four years to move a political solution to the West Bank closer to reality? I reckon the policy has been stone-walled...literally.
I heard one question over two debates on Sudan and the genocide taking place there - and the responses of both candidates were terribly tepid and disappointing. Even less attention was given to AIDS and hunger, which loom slightly more extreme on the global suffering scale than what's happening in Iraq. How the U.S. will relate to the looming global superpower, China, also was completely ignored; only passing reference to China was made in connection to a policy toward North Korea. Europe also barely appeared on the debate map; a single question about Russia took care of that continent. Most of the debate kept coming back to two words: Iraq and terrorism.
But my beef goes beyond geopolitical slights. Prestowitz, I believe, is asking the right questions. He morally rejects the idea of a "first strike" by which the U.S. can attack any country that may be perceived to pose a threat to the security of our nation. In a recent interview, he decries the Bush administration's foreign policy as "the kind of slaying of dragons, messianic foreign adventure that traditional conservatives have always been opposed to." In other words, pre-emptive military strikes are immoral. The Pope says so, as do most leaders of Christian churches around the globe.
How telling that during the first debate, Bush believed that he had caught Kerry out when he used the words "global test" as a means to evaluate appropriate foreign policy. The Kerry camp tried to do "damage control," claiming that its candidate indeed would act unilaterally to advance U.S. economic and political interests.
Prestowitz argues that the U.S. once defined its national interests in terms that the whole world could embrace - strong global institutions, due process, and the rule of law. We now make foreign policy on the narrow terms of what is best for America. We once supported international alliances within the U.N. and NATO - we now deem them irrelevant and dangerous to our national interests. We increasingly act alone, without "testing" the wisdom and value of our policy with anyone. This direction for foreign policy should be the subject of moral debate.
You name the foreign policy topic - trade relations, environment, economic aid, energy, agriculture - and the same moral question arises. Do we act justly in consideration of the needs and goals of other nations, or do we blindly follow "America first?" Prestowitz suggests that our leaders have adopted the latter tack, which betrays his deepest Christian values. I cannot agree more.
See an excerpt of the Prestowitz interview made exclusively for SojoMail:
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