Thursday, July 18, 2019

Change Foreign Policy to Win the War on Terrorism :: Politics Political Essays

There are many advocacy groups that have long been doing important good works in the international arena, but on issues that have not officially been seen as being a proper part of foreign policy: the environment, human rights, women's rights, the condition of children, labor, international public health issues (e.g., AIDS in Africa), sustainable development, refugees, international education, and so on. The metaphors that foreign policy experts have used to define what foreign policy is rules out these important concerns. Those metaphors involve self-interest (e.g., the Rational Actor Model), stability (a physics metaphor), industrialization (unindustrialized nations are "underdeveloped"), and trade (freedom is free trade). I would like to propose an alternative way of thinking about foreign policy under which all these issues would become a natural part of what foreign policy is about. The premise is that, when international relations work smoothly, it is because certain moral norms of the international community are being followed. This mostly goes unnoticed, since those norms are usually followed. We notice problems when those norms are breached. Given this, it makes sense that foreign policy should be centered around those norms. The moral norms I suggest come out of what I called in Moral Politics "nurturant morality." It is a view of ethical behavior that centers on (a) empathy and (b) responsibility (for both yourself and others needing your help). Many things follow from these central principles: fairness, minimal violence (e.g., justice without vengeance), an ethic of care, protection of those needing it, a recognition of interdependence, cooperation for the common good, the building of community, mutual respect, and so on. When applied to foreign policy, nurturant moral norms would lead the American government to uphold the ABM treaty, sign the Kyoto accords, engage in a form of globalization governed by an ethics of care-and it would automatically make all the concerns listed above (e.g., the environment, women's rights) part of our foreign policy. This, of course, implies (a) multilateralism, (b) interdependence, and (c) international cooperation. But these three principles, without nurturant norms, can equally well apply to the Bush administration's continuance of its foreign policy. Bush's foreign policy, as he announced in the election campaign, has been one of self-interest ("what's in the best interest of the United States")-if not outright hegemony (the Cheney/Rumsfeld position). The Democratic leaders incorrectly criticized Bush for being isolationist and unilateralist, on issues like the Kyoto accords and the ABM Treaty.

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