My having long been fascinated by geopolitics, and being a historian, have both conspired to make this perhaps the most difficult issue to boil down to essentials… though one that often has little relevance to voters, sadly. I decided the best way to go about it was to lay out a few core principles, and then address a small handful of global issues. Anyone interested in hearing more of my views on anything here, or on any other issue of global concern, will not have to ask twice!
I refer to myself as a principled non-interventionist, since in the main I favor leaving other countries to their business, but am willing to take moral stands when needed or support requests for foreign aid. On some issues my position is quite strict — as examples, I opposed the invasion of Panama, the 1991 Gulf War, the intervention in Somalia, the bombing of Sudan, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the drone bombings in Pakistan and Yemen. But I supported the no-fly zones over Iraq that stopped Saddam’s butchery, I supported intervention in Bosnia to end the massacres, I had hoped for an intervention in Rwanda to stop the genocide, and I supported NATO’s effort to protect the rebellion against Gaddafi.
One of the biggest red lines for me in our foreign relations involve our long-standing support for murderous regimes. The United States should not be in the business of selling weapons of war to countries which use them against their neighbors or their own people. I would cut off arms sales to governments with poor human rights records, as I consider it deeply hypocritical that we, e.g., call out Iran for its abuses, but ignore the crimes of Saudi Arabia. If our values as Americans are to mean anything, they should compel us to support human freedom and dignity, not arm those who would take it away.
I also have severe reservations about our practice of basing troops in numerous foreign locales. These bases cost the taxpayer untold billions, antagonize local populations, and increase the likelihood of expensive foreign conflicts. We should not retreat from the world – I am not an isolationist. But our involvement should be multilateral, consensual, and with force as a last resort. The hostile powers of the world should know that the United States is ready to act when need be, and we should retain the ability to do so, but it is a sad fact that we have maintained a war-time defense budget and an aggressive posture since the end of World War II, and that misallocation of funds and talent has had a mostly negative impact for American citizens. The rôle of the Defense Department needs to be the defense of the US and its interests, not the pursuit of global military hegemony. The personnel and resources currently invested in the defense establishment should be redirected, through slow and sensible, incremental policy shifts, to occupations that benefit the American economy, society, and environment, not the pocketbooks of defense contractors.
On a number of hot-button issues, I take highly nuanced positions that cannot easily be summed up in a few words, but here are a few attempts. I oppose Turkey’s war on the Kurds and support their right to self-determination. I believe in a just settlement in Israel/Palestine which respects the rights of all to live in peace and security. I support an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, so that the violent Troubles do not resume. I support diplomatic engagement with geostrategic foes like Iran and China, to reduce tensions and work toward common goals, in the former case with the goal of ending our estrangement and reestablishing ties. I believe that Russia must be held strictly to account for its interference in Europe and the US, but understand why its leaders feel threatened and would seek changes in our own interference in their affairs.
Photo by Tom Page, Courtesy Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 2.0