Foreign Policy

Return to Common Sense

November 30, 2019

Section: Foreign – Policy

Republicans seek to craft and nourish allies with common interests in foreign relationships, while Democrats seek alliances sacrificing American interests in the process.

The purpose of foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments of hope or indignation; it is to shape real events in a real world.” John F. Kennedy


Philosophy (Background, Issues, Objectives):

America is the lone remaining superpower.

o   Communist States remain in power in China, North Korea, and Cuba.

o   The isolationist impulse in the US is what caused the US to enter both world wars years after they began.

o   It is what has propelled much of the anti-war sentiment on the far Left and the far Right alike since Sept.11.

§  The far Left argues the US should withdraw from world leadership because the US is evil.

§  The far Right argues that the US should withdraw from world leadership because the world is evil.

o   The Wilsonian view embraces the notion that if given a chance to make their sentiments known, most people will choose liberal democracy over any other form of government.

o   Bedrock of foreign policy is the belief that freedom is the desire of every human heart.

§  American democratization projects have had mixed success after World War II.

§  There is a direct relationship between economic freedom and freedom and democracy.

Department of State is tasked to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world:

o   Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) take an oath to serve their country anywhere in the world.

o   Unfortunately about one-third of all US ambassadorships go to "noncareer" appointees (i.e. mega-rich campaign donors, fishing buddies, and retired politicians) instead of trained foreign-service officers, who normally are posted to popular spots like Europe, South America, and the Caribbean

o   U.S. arms transfers to third parties are regulated by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), which provides export licenses only in cases that "will strengthen U.S. national security, promote foreign policy goals, or foster world peace.  

o   U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) receives guidance from Department of State.

o   An ideal U.S. ambassador is one who has diplomatic skill, understanding of the host country, and policy depth while also being a confidant of the American president.

o   About half of the ambassadorial posts are reserved for career foreign-service officers.

o   Career foreign-service officers as ambassadors can be highly effective in promoting American interests when interacting peer-to-peer with the career government bureaucracies of their host governments.

o   The permanent foreign service was created in a kind of imitation of the British colonial bureaucracy, which they admired.

o   The career foreign service has its own labor union.

o   Virtually everything that is prescribed by law and custom concerning personnel and the chain of authority in the rest of the government is turned upside down.

Modern Presidents have also increasingly empowered and expanded the size of the National Security Council (NSC).

Presidents have also felt the need at times to appoint personal confidants or representatives to address pressing issues.

American national interests is the best rule of thumb for determining which world problems we get involved in.  

o   We do not have the resources to stop evil everywhere on earth, fights that other regional nations should deal with.

Anti-Americanism is not only opposition to what the U.S. does, but extends to what the U.S. is.

·         Some countries have a legacy of hate, while others envy and others are irrational.

·         U.S. stands for individualism, political freedom, economic freedom, & religious freedom.

·         Hegemonism is a doctrine where every American action be examined for evil intent.

·         Mainstream Media leftist bias is alive and well outside the United States.

o   Newspapers: UK Telegraph and Guardian are notoriously biased.

o   Television: BBC and Reuters are leftist oriented.

o   BBC own controller of editorial policy found the real perception of ‘bias of omission.”

o   Al Jazeera (1996) is a Qatar based media outlet for Arab propaganda stories.

o   Western Europe leftist media hates America, while the people generally admire the U.S.

o   The further south in Latin America, the greater anti-American bias is perpetuated.

o   Foreign press displays a leftist bias, reinforcing Democrat ideas and politicians.



American statecraft has been morally and philosophically grounded in principles:

A number of great ideas are the basis for the superiority of Western values:

·         Rationalism.

·         Self-criticism.

·         Disinterested search for truth.

·         Separation of church and state.

·         Rule of law and equality under the law.

·         Freedom of thought and expression.

·         Human rights.

·         Liberal democracy.

Provide global leadership in domestic and foreign affairs.

Protect America’s ability to act as necessary to protect its own interests.

o   Interventionalist – activist nation, spreader of political liberty.

o   Observationalist – friend of liberty everywhere, but guarantor only of our own.

o   Isolationist – focused only on our safety and security.

James A. Baker III has outlined ten maxims for pragmatic policymakers:

·         United States must be comfortable with using its power.

·         United States power is limited.

·         Be prepared to act unilaterally when the situation requires it.

·         Appreciate the importance of allies.

·         Use all the means at our disposal to achieve our objectives.

·         When a course of action is not producing results, be prepared to change direction if necessary.

·         Recognize and accept the U.S. will sometimes have to deal with authoritarian regimes.

·         Be prepared to talk with our enemies.

·         Be mindful that values are important, but not he only thing that should guide our policy.

·         Domestic support is vital to any successful foreign policy.

Conservative Internationalism in based on four key tenets:



Short Term, Develop a coherent integrated foreign policy strategy that reflects American national interests.

o   Ensure all candidates for an ambassadorial appointment are qualified.

o   Appoint excellent career foreign-service officers to ambassadorships.

o   Increase foreign service assignments from three to five years.

o   De-certify the foreign-service public-sector employee union.

o   Cooperate with other nations diplomatically, in our own interests.

o   Establish doctrinal principles to explain public diplomacy mission.

§  Create planning, clearing, and assessing processes across agency boundaries.

o   Ensure diplomatic and military efforts are coordinated and consistent.

o   Terminate FSOs who put their personal or political needs in front of their country needs.

o   Return the Policy Planning Staff to its original purpose, or eliminate it.

o   Curtail the use of special envoys and special representatives (“czars”).

o   Target desired audiences with appropriate dialogue approaches and channels.

o   Exploit the use of all international broadcasting vehicles like VOA to educate listeners on freedom and democracy.

Long Term, State Department assume ownership of the nation building and reconstruction mission.

Integrate Stability Operations Force post-conflict/post-disaster stabilization and nation building and reconstruction missions.

o   Recruit Foreign Service experienced professionals for senior leadership positions.

o   Recruit people with language and technical skills to stand by in reserve.

o   Recruit expertise in engineering, medicine, and policing available for deployment.

o   Augment non-security resources with experienced civilian contractors.



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