THE STATE OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
The American Opportunity/Free Congress Foundation Viewpoint: Part 1
We are now an entire year into the new Trump administration and the shape of American foreign policy and the changes from the past are becoming clearer. In fact, a written foreign policy document has been published by the Administration. This article is the first in a series of observations to give our readers our perspective here at American Opportunity/Free Congress Foundation.
First we should identify the several approaches Americans have traditionally taken toward foreign affairs, with an acknowledgement to Professor Henry Nau of George Washington University who is a senior fellow here at American Opportunity Foundation. In his book, “Conservative Internationalism”, Professor Nau discusses these historical approaches American leaders have often taken.
One such approach is Liberal Internationalism (LI). Generally this doctrine believes that everyone in the world can share our American belief in democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. This approach relies on international organizations, like the United Nations, to interact with other countries to advance the goals of democracy. Economic cooperation, through organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO), advances the cause of world peace and the betterment of mankind. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama espoused this approach, which stands for diplomacy and mutual cooperation first to achieve mutual and consistent goals.
A second approach is Realism. This approach was followed by President Nixon and Henry Kissinger, and recognizes power as the key to all international relations. This approach does not seek to convert authoritarian countries to democracy, but to stabilize the international system to avoid conflict and war. This approach was applied when it appeared the Soviet Union was permanent, and the goal was to avoid a world war. It relies on a “balance of power” to keep the peace. President Trump has referred to “realism” as a definition of his policy.
A third approach is Nationalism. This sounds a lot like “America First” but differs in significant ways. In the technical definition of the term, the goal here is to look after American interests first and foremost while refusing to surrender American national sovereignty to the “New International Order”. It can sometimes be defined as isolationist when it rejects the interests of other countries, or can be a belief that American hegemony should dominate a sphere of interest. This may sound a lot like President Trump, but not entirely. President Washington was best defined as a nationalist in his time. So too, perhaps, was Teddy Roosevelt.
The fourth tradition, according to Dr. Nau and American Opportunity/Free Congress Foundation, is Conservative Internationalism (CI). This doctrine believes that American interests are served by the advancement of democracy and American values, but rejects the neo-conservative ideas of aggressive use of military force to “nation build”, as President George W. Bush attempted to do in Iraq. CI advances democracy, but uses diplomacy and the threat and use of force in tandem to achieve the American national interest. President Ronald Reagan arguably used this approach to collapse the Soviet Union, bring down the Berlin Wall, and win the Cold War. Professor Nau also includes Presidents Jefferson, Polk and Truman is this tradition.
Tomorrow, I will discuss the Trump foreign policy, making references to the major addresses President Trump has made, as well as the speeches and writings of Secretary Tillerson. We take the position that the Trump foreign policy is very cohesive, consistent, and understandable, and is serving the national interest of the United States better than those who came before him. In the days ahead we will make the case that President Trump uses CI, as part of his new foreign policy approach.
We will also address the behavior and goals of our potential adversaries, and how critical good foreign policy is in this time of potential and actual conflict. America is in a battle for the future of mankind, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. Naturally, I welcome our members and readers to react and comment on this commentary, and those coming in the days ahead. We are certainly open to further ideas, opinions, corrections and disagreements. Part 2 will be forthcoming tomorrow evening.
More after the jump. . .