Posts Tagged Middle East

What should be the US foreign policy in the new administration?

New US president will be elected on November 4th when American voters will elect their 44th president for next four years. Other than economic recession the challenge faced by the new administration will be realignment of foreign policy with war in Iraq at the center of the debate. US foreign policy is largely driven by three main interests. First, US believe that ideals of human liberty and freedom should be promoted around the world in the form of democracy and free markets. Second, US want to maintain the economic life style of its people by ensuring access to markets, supply of energy and natural resources from around the world. Third, US believe that the security of its people and homeland is important by engaging in preemptive actions around the world including non-state organizations like Al Qaida.

Ideals of human liberty and freedom are not political objectives but rather values that are promoted by all religions including Christianity and Islam. This means that these noble ideas are the basic premise of creation and makes it a mainstay of human society. This could mean that societies around the world should be eager to participate and join hands with USA. But this can only be achieved if US is able to attain the respect of a true leader without strong bias in its own favor or favorites. Accepting Palestinian right of return and abandoning the support of autocratic rulers would be two important steps in this direction. Similarly, bringing change within a society requires patience and perseverance rather than adoption quick fix through military intervention to introduce abrupt change by removing an autocratic regime at the cost of innocent lives as collateral damage. It would be wise for US to adopt the policy of engagement and negotiation to promote ideals and resolve issues. This will earn it the respect it deserves as bastion of liberty, freedom and equal rights.

The exponential rise of oil prices and its negative impact on the US society has driven the point home that energy security is extremely important for US economy. Sending militaries in Middle East to ensure steady supply of oil can not solve this issue in the long run especially when most of these countries are run by autocratic rulers. China and India with close proximity to Middle Eastern countries are as eager to out bid USA for this resource. On the other hand Russia is playing this card to its advantage by exerting influence on energy rich central Asian states. US should realize that they can solve their energy problem by adjusting their lives giving up on gas guzzling SUVs for smaller cars while at the same time making investment in research and development of alternate greener energy source.

The most important element of US foreign policy for the last eight years has been the security of American lives and property from the terrorist threats. US have natural barriers in the form of Atlantic and Pacific Ocean to prevent any direct military threat to its home land. To further augment this natural barrier US formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with its Western allies. This cold war era edifice could also become a new flash point with reemerging Russia if US is too eager to allow Soviet states of Ukraine and Georgia to become members. Russia which still feels insecure after its break up in 1991 needs a neutral buffer between its bounders and Western Europe with which it fought many wars over centuries. The expansion of NATO should be reconsidered by the new administration if they would want to avoid another cold war with Russia. This NATO expansion would force Russia to reinvigorate their long forgotten WARSAW pact with some new friends and allies.

The other important corner stone of the new US administration should be to reestablish credibility of international platforms like United Nations to resolve issues. It has become apparent that ignoring UN to pressure Saddam regime was a foreign policy mistake resulting in tremendous loss of goodwill, treasure and lives. US should redouble its efforts to help reform UN so that it becomes an effective organization in solving international issues. One such step would be reconstitution of the Security Council, to represent the new world realities, by awarding an observer status to Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and adding more permanent members to the council.

US also need to redefine its meaning of a terrorist by removing the emphasis that somehow Islamic faith has religious support for inhuman acts. A faith can not attain a global acceptance if it is not driven by truth and human values. A terrorist is a criminal with no real understanding of Islam or any other faith. The recent monk movement in Burma shows that it is not the religion but political injustice that forces peaceful people to take an extreme position. Redefining terrorist will not only help US regain its lost respect in the Muslim world but will also inspire governments around the world to cooperate in this fight without fearing a backlash from masses. By labeling terrorists as Islamic terrorist implicate the whole Muslim world as suspects until proven guilty. Any bomb going off anywhere in the world is immediately labeled as Islamic terrorism without carefully considering the evidence. This negative perception of a large innocent majority creates a moral dilemma for people which ultimately results in sympathizing with an underdog that is looking for a popular support. A terrorist in most situations is a product of poor governance and bad politics.

Resolution of Arab-Israel conflict, Kashmir struggle, Iraq war and removal of NATO forces from Afghanistan would help improve the US image and contribute towards world peace. US strategy to send military forces around the world creates an impression of imperialism that turns the popular opinion against them. US is probably the only country with military presence around the world including Germany, Korea, Japan, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Use of soft power through economic, cultural and political relations would go a long way in ensuring security for US people.

If the prime reason for a governments existence is to provide a good life for its community then US government is failing miserably. The economic meltdown can be partly blamed on foreign policy. It is now apparent that US could have avoided invasion of Iraq as it took away valuable resources from the local economy. It will be a mistake for the new president to change the label of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan. Instead objectives of eradicating terrorist could be achieved by supporting local governments to fight through indigenous efforts.

US is the last best hope for humanity to achieve peace. The stakes are too high for the world. We can all hope that sensibility will overcome emotion and a new approach will be adopted. Comedian Jon Stewart said it all when he commented on one of his programs that America will always have 19 people, referring to 911 hijackers, who want to commit harm but in eradicating those 19 it can not have an unfavorable opinion among the rest of the world.

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