Foreign Policy

General – Our national identity is as world leader. We need to develop the notion domestically that a prerequisite for leading is to have our act together at home.  We need to set a good international example by living up to and practicing our ideals. Gradually, we want to change our image from global cop to global first responder with humanitarian aid.  The US does not intend to be a peacekeeper, nation builder, or colonial power.  But we should maintain an active interventionist role to combat genocide/ethnic cleansing, terrorists, pirates, drug runners, and slave traders.  We will continue to pursue Al-Qaida, their off-shoots and our other enemies..  We will follow them wherever they may be found, regardless of boundaries.

The US values its allies.  It appreciates stable governments and peacefully encourage democratic reforms.  We will work to improve Third World health (includes clean water/air and soil conservation), education, micro-financing, particularly for women, and possibly infrastructure development. We need to exhibit green energy policy leadership.  Traditional US government sponsored foreign economic development should be relegated to a secondary priority.

Israel-Palestine - I favor pushing for peace by essentially moving forward with the terms proposed by Ehud Barak to Yassar Arafat at Clinton's Camp David Summit in 2000. Main terms: recognition of Israel's right to exist, a single Palestinian state made up of Gaza and a major portion of the West Bank (boundaries already defined), land swap so that Jewish settlements remain as is, monetary reparations for Palestinians with right to return, assurances from both parties to not break the peace and to punish those of its citizens who do. At the outset, declare Jerusalem an international city under the control of the UN or other agreed to party until such time as Israel and Palestine can come to a separate agreement on this subject. This last provision is to not let this be a stumbling block to the broader agreement. I believe that the US should provide incentives for treaty acceptance.  Ultimately, it will cost us less. I believe that solving this problem would go a long way to resolving tensions throughout the entire Middle East.

Afghanistan – I disagree with President Obama’s timetable (phased until 2014) for finishing our mission in Afghanistan.  I don’t disagree with setting limits on any of our commitments.  I believe that except for special forces, drone attachments and support elements, we should withdraw our other forces ASAP.  We have a case here of trying to put a square peg in a round hole.  It doesn’t matter how long we stay, the Afghanis are just not going to adopt a western style of government, institutions and approaches. The government is corrupt     with little likelihood that it will change.  President Karzai is unappreciative of US efforts.  We have already been there ten years, allegedly training their security forces most of that time.  If they haven’t gotten it yet, they never will.  Culturally, they are in a different place.  It is up to them to make a go of it without massive amounts of US aid and personnel.  Give them some notice and let’s get the hell out. The likelihood of a significant terrorist threat re-developing there is low and it can be counteracted by special operations groups and drones. We should support a legitimate political peace process if it presents itself.  For a considerable period, we should support non-sectarian schools. Before going, we should make it 100% clear that growing opium crops is unacceptable and we intend to recommend an alternative crop or we will follow through on the program described in the “War on drugs” section. If you want to make a significant change in Afghanistan, perhaps you should train and arm the women.  But Afghanistan holds little of importance to the US. We should honor our military for doing that which was asked of them by their government.

Pakistan – Right now we are at a low point with our relations with Pakistan.  They are upset about our violations of their country’s sovereignty and the regrettable ‘friendly fire’ deaths of 24 of their soldiers.  Hopefully, this is a temporary bump in the road.  Do we need to remind them that we are a significant trading partner (16% of exports), their best buffer against India usurping Indus River water and that they did not do all they could to expose terrorists in their midst.  We want to have good relations with Pakistan.  We want to insure that they protect their nuclear weapons.  Naturally, we want continued supply lines into Afghanistan.  We need to nurture this relationship.  But they also have to realize that harboring foreign militant groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network are against their own best interests.

We need to encourage them to peacefully settle the Kashmir impasse with India.  We should underwrite non-sectarian schools to counterbalance madrasses.  We should also encourage them to take charge of the tribal areas in the north and subdue the Taliban and Al-Qaida elements there.

China – China has been a good trading partner with the US.  It can be argued that they are a more responsible citizen of the world than the US as they limit their military indiscretions to their neighborhood. Indeed our excessive militarism has provided them with foreign investment opportunities with countries who question our practices.  If we have complaints with China’s trade practices, we should follow the remedies specified in the GATT.  We should continue to press them on our complaints about currency manipulations.  But we should do this in concert with the other members of the G20.  China must be shown that ultimately it is in their best interest to conform to monetary practices.  We should continue to encourage them to abandon human rights violations.  We can only do this if we set a good example.

But we should also continue to enlist China’s aid in dealing with North Korea.  They are the country to whom North Korea is most likely to listen.

India – India is an excellent trading partner.  It is the home of many of our business call centers.  Many US companies have software development centers there.  The biggest concern with India is their strained relations with Pakistan.   Because they felt that they had to counterbalance nuclear threats from Pakistan and China, India developed their own weapons and did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  As such, they developed their own nuclear power solutions.  Overall, India is very responsible.  But we need to walk a fine line in dealing with them on nuclear issues.  The potential flash points are Indus River water rights and Kashmir.  We need to take the position that the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty is still in effect and that Indian dams that divert water are in violation.  If Kashmir continues to be an issue, then the US should consider offering to pay for relocation of Hindis to Indian territory and Muslims to Pakistani territory.  The right of Hindu pilgrimages in that area needs to be ensured.

North Korea – North Korea continues to be problematic.  They are still at war with South Korea and the United States.  The country is highly militarized and has devoted its scant resources to increasingly sophisticated technology and special operations units.  An attack on an American fleet or Japan is not out of the question.  The US position has been containment and negotiation with the help of China.  The containment policy is based on the hope that the current leader Kim Jong-Il will succumb to his illness within the next five years and that a power struggle will ensue when his son and successor Kim Jong-Un takes over.  Today Un has the support of only one of the nation’s power centers where is father currently controls all three.  I feel that we need to enlist China to step up negotiations.  On the side, I think that we should make overtures to the leadership asking them if they would like to be really rich on the condition that they make peace and cede control to the South Koreans. That is buy them out with an initial cash payment and exclusive business licensing right to various regions of North Korea for a ten year period.  In any event, North Korea requires close monitoring.  We are right to retain or military forces in South Korea.

Indonesia – The US should underwrite non-sectarian schools in Indonesia.  We should push for preservation of rain forests, which are being decimated for bio-diesel and ethanol production.

Brazil – Brazil is a rapidly developing country and expanding economy.  I believe that the US would benefit by Brazil taking a larger role in leading South America forward.  At the same time, we want them to take steps to protect the rain forest.  It is currently being threatened by deforestation for farming and raising crops, such as sugar cane, for ethane production.  Unfortunately, the world probably needs this to continue until thorium reactors (see ‘Thousand Year Energy Plan’ become prevalent., at which point it should be discouraged.  But protection of the rain forest should be paramount.  It is a unique resource that the world can’t afford to lose.  The US and other developed countries should provide whatever assistance is needed for its preservation.

Cuba – I think we should work to normalization of relations.

Africa – The US should continue President Bush’s highly successful HIV/AIDs drug program. We should continue to focus on health and education issues, and micro-financing.

Russia – I think we can assume that Putin will be back in power after the next presidential election.  The other candidate, Mikhail Prokhorov, should be friendly to the US since he owns the New Jersey Nets.  Putin is a known quantity and unlikely to shift policy. One of his main concerns was the anti-missile base being built in Poland, which President Obama cancelled.  He is probably concerned with our/Nato’s decision to deploy mobile missile interceptors based on the Aegis technology by 2018.  We had assured the Russians all along that our efforts are pointed towards Iran, not Russia.  This will require some finessing. We need to make clear to Russia that our primary interests in the former SSRs are business and their continued sovereignty.  President Obama’s signing and Senate ratification of the New Start Treaty was a major step forward in relations.  We need to extend this treaty long before it runs out to draw down the number of long range nukes to even lower levels.  We are extremely pleased with Russia’s help in acquiring stray nuclear material and in stock piling it.  Our deal with Russia to sell us nuclear material from decommissioned missiles for our power plants should be extended but with allowing the price to float at market values rather than the previous fixed price.  We want Russia to counterbalance China and help us with Iran.  Russia has agreed to take Iranian nuclear materials, send it to France for enrichment to 20% and then ship it back to Iran.  Some point to this as proof that Iran does not intend to develop nuclear weapons.  And this is not contradicted by the IAEA in its recent report of 11/8/11.  We need to ask Russia to be our eyes and ears on the validity of this assertion.  Lastly, we need to work with Russia on an international treaty on future developments and safeguards in the Arctic.

Iran – For quite some time, European nations carried the water on monitoring Iran’s nuclear intentions.  More recently, the US has taken a more active role in formulating greater sanctions.  I do not favor any military intervention in Iran unless we have solid evidence that indeed they are developing nuclear weapons.  The IAEA has not so stated in their 11/18/11 report, but it does suggest that Iran is not telling the whole truth..  I say we should adopt a wait and see attitude before being drawn into another war.  Again, NATO nations should take prime responsibility for assessing the situation. In the meantime, I believe that we should support democratic elements within Iran.  We should make it known that we are always ready for discussion.  There probably needs to be a change in government or a significant change in attitude before there can be an easing of relations.

Arab Spring – This year has seen a change in government in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and perhaps soon in Syria.  This all happened with minimal US participation, though NATO was deeply involved in Libya. But we can no longer sit on the sidelines. We need to actively work to make sure that these countries reap the fruits of democracy. Now is the time for diplomacy at its best.

NATO – The role of NATO continues to change in this post Cold War period with the demise of the Soviet Union. But certain things seem clear. The likelihood of nuclear war between the US and Russia is greatly diminished. The likely of a land invasion from Russia into western Europe is also unlikely since it is the major market for Russian oil and natural gas.  It is bad for business. So NATO’s focus has changed to anti-terrorism, regional stability, and perhaps new threats, such as Iran. This second reason explains NATO’s involvement in Libya.  But increasingly, NATO needs to shoulder its own burden.  In these economic times, the US cannot provide a blank check.  We need to fund less and less. The US should still maintain some military bases in Europe for training, stockpiling equipment and jumping off points for other global operations.

United Nations – Whether we like it or not the US is interconnected and co-dependent with many countries around the global.  As a result, the UN and UN programs are going to play a larger part in US foreign policy.  We should pay our dues.  The US should seriously consider UN programs, such as Agenda 21 on sustainable development and others, but to follow them only to the extend that it is in the US’s best interests.  If we ever want to get to a position where the US and the UN can take rapid action in a crisis, like we didn’t do in Dafur, we may have to amend the UN charter such that the major powers no longer have veto power on the UN Security Council.

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