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Oct 5, 2014

Shopping for a New Foreign Policy

Given the results of the current administration’s foreign policy, people are now asking what kind of foreign policy the US should implement.  The current administration seems to like to talk loudly and send in a few air strikes and some drones while announcing that we won’t put boots on the ground or stay longer than the next significant election.  The previous administration’s efforts at nation building ended up to be beyond what the country was willing to spend in both lives and money.  So what’s next?
For a start, I would like to suggest a few new rules of thumb to guide future foreign policy decisions.  I would recommend a foreign policy that arms our friends so they can defend themselves. There should be no reason that the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq should have to retreat because they are out of ammunition, leaving Yazidis running for the hills to escape ISIS. There should be no reason that the President of the Ukraine should have to come to Washington to beg for weapons after Russia seized pieces of his country. Even worse, the Ukraine still didn't get the weapons, even though the US guaranteed the territorial integrity of the Ukraine in exchange for their surrender of Soviet Era nuclear weapons. If the US guarantees your territorial integrity, it should mean we will give you weapons so at least you can fight for yourself. We should also decide that the borders drawn by colonial powers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East often contribute to instability because they group together tribal and religious groups who would be better off separated.  In particular, if arming the Kurds means that the Turks are nervous, that’s too bad.  It’s not like they let us use our own airbase in Incerlik, Turkey, for air strikes against ISIS.
If the US admits you to NATO, it should mean we are ready to help defend you, but you have to make a big boots on the ground contribution yourself. This might mean a small professional military with a large conscripted national guard. It should not mean that you get your defense for free at the expense of US taxpayers.
While we're talking about NATO, there is no reason that US forces should be stationed in Germany instead of Poland. The Russians have violated their side of the agreement that kept NATO forces out of former Warsaw Pact Countries. At the very least, there should combat aircraft stationed in Poland so they could slow down any Russian aggression against NATO members, like the Baltic States.
We need to get away from keeping our friends weak and dependent and then having to send US ground combat troops to bail them out. Being a friend of the US should mean you've got enough guns and ammo to make attacks against you very costly. It should also mean the US Special Forces have trained you how to use your weapons very effectively.

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