Sunday, September 16, 2012

Like Little Kids in a Sandbox

Foreign policy has been in the news lately because of the attacks on US embassies in the Middle East and with Governor Romney's visit to the London Olympics. Having lived abroad (in Japan, for 14 years) I think I may have a different take on foreign policy than the average American. Read what I have to say and let me know if you agree or not.

In general I find that when it comes to foreign policy, most US politicians behave like only-children at a kindergarten playground. They are so used to being The Only Child at home that when they have to deal with other children on a relatively equal basis they don't know how to do it. European countries, in contrast, have had hundreds of years of dealing with each other. They tried killing each other off, but because that didn't work,  they're committed to working together. The US is so used to doing things unilaterally that when we face criticism or objections from the global community we take it personally. I hate hearing Americans say things like, "Those Socialist bastards in the UN!" or what have you. News flash, people: the UN represents the rest of the world that isn't us; in other words, more than 6 billion people. Do you really want to argue with 6 billion people, or would you rather try to understand their point of view and try to get along?

I DO think the majority of US citizens want to get along with the rest of the world. How many times have you thought, "Why can't we all just get along?" Let's face it, there will always be rogue countries like North Korea and competitor-rivals like China and Russia. But even if we're all friends or friendly, that doesn't mean we all have to agree on everything. Think of your own friends: won't they tell you if you are wearing stripes with plaid? Friends are not just there to stand with you when you're right, they're there to pull you aside and tell you when you're wrong. Another news flash: we're not always right, and neither are our allies. Do we "owe" Israel blind allegiance, such as when they unilaterally and controversially claim Jerusalem as their capital? Or do we attempt to negotiate with their neighbor states and the Palestinians to try to reach some sort of compromise that we can all live with?

I am not out to make this The United States of Earth. I doubt most Americans are. I am also against creating some sort of United Nations-run world government until/unless aliens come to Earth and want to deal with one single governing body. :-)  What I *am* suggesting is that we work on more respect between sovereign nations and less on "America First" arrogance. In that regard, President W. Bush got better over time, and President Obama seems capable (as a Senator he had a modicum of experience before becoming President). Governor Romney has no foreign policy experience at all. This isn't to say he could not learn "on the job," but the initial feeling I have is that he is one step behind on this issue. He certainly hasn't shown any particular aptitude for foreign relations yet, but obviously, if he is elected President he will have to get with it pretty quickly.

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