I had intended this morning to write the second half of my post What Is To Be Done, but the events yesterday compel me to say something about them. Perhaps this afternoon I can return to my two-part post.
I imagine many of you are having some version of the complex feelings I have experienced at the news of Trump’s abrupt decision to pull out of Syria, Mattis’ remarkable resignation, and the word that Trump also intends to pull most of our troops out of Afghanistan. On the one hand, anything that weakens and damages Trump is welcome to me. On the other hand, I am repelled by the virtually universal condemnation of his decisions by those who for decades have advanced an American imperialist policy, most particularly in the Middle East.
But what broad foreign policy do I think the United States ought to pursue? Never mind for the moment whether there is any chance that it will be implemented. What should be America’s relation to the rest of the world? Here are three possibilities. I do not know what I think, so I welcome discussion.
1. America could maintain its enormous and enormously expensive military establishment and deploy it around the world in support of genuinely progressive regimes where they exist. Support Mossadegh, rather than overthrowing him and installing the Shah. Support the Sandanistas, not the Contras. And so forth. This would involve sending American troops into battle, and on occasion getting bogged down in endless local wars between factions no one of which is in any recognizable way progressive or truly socialist, or whatever . In short, America could try to be a good empire rather than a bad empire. Could this possibly happen without first a fundamental change in America’s economy, society, and politics? Good question.
2. America could dramatically reduce its military spending and the size of its military forces, forge close military alliances with Western European nations “like us,” and leave China to fill the void thus created [as it already is trying to do.] Let us not fool ourselves. If we retreat from our imperial stance, someone will take our place. That is the reality of geopolitics. Would the world be better off under Chinese hegemony than under American hegemony? Interesting question.
3. America could adopt what used to be called a Fortress America policy. No entangling alliances, even with England or France, no foreign military bases, a dramatically reduced military budget, and a refusal to be drawn into foreign involvement even when refugees are being slaughtered, small countries are being invaded, ruthless dictatorships are being set up. We protect our borders, threaten to rain destruction on anyone who seeks to breach them, and otherwise leave the rest of the world alone. This is the Rand Paul proposal, as I understand it. It is safe, it does not get Americans killed, and it is uncomplicated. Do we wish to stand by as decent people are enslaved and slaughtered by vile dictators [like us, as some would say]? Also a good question.
What do you think?