Foreign policy is an interesting animal. Get a group of political analysts in a room and you could set the tone for an endless debate over the rights and wrongs, virtues and vices of any foreign policy. In Utah, foreign policy barely makes the evening news, right up there with Dixie College football or environmental objections to hunting. Here is a simple fact. In 2014 there are 247 separate countries and sovereignties across the globe. Of those countries, 93 have population of roughly 10 million or more and 43 countries exceed 30 million in identifiable census. Among these countries are a great diversity of political, social and religious philosophies that dominate their national policies. It is quite a jigsaw puzzle of international intrigue.
But among these many diverse nations, only about a dozen military or economic powers arguably determine the shape of global geopolitics. Of those twelve, nine are nuclear powers with Iran likely to join the list soon. The United States has been, at least since 1945, THE preeminent determiner of global stability, military power and democratic principle. In other words, since we defeated the Axis powers that sought unrighteous domination of the globe three quarters of a century ago, the world has naturally looked to us to keep such things from reoccurring. Like it or not, the United States has been unofficially elected as the global police force. If you have never sat down with one of the few remaining World War Two veterans here in Utah, try it sometime; see how their world view and consternations have changed since that definitive era.
This role has been understood by past administrations and utilized, more or less, to forward certain interests globally that both benefited our country and allowed other countries to have a clearer say in their own destiny versus autocratic or oppressive rule. In some cases we have been successful, in other cases we have failed both strategically and politically. But at no time in our history does our foreign policy, in combination with our own domestic instability, leave us more vulnerable than the present. More, America’s vulnerability translates into global unrest and instability. Just as in any major city, if the police are no longer patrolling the streets, criminals can rove unchecked. Such is the emerging state of geopolitics today. Though it seems like something far removed from our daily routines, the cumulative impact of these complex decisions may affect our way of life in the future.
The global denizens of expansionist autocracy are moving about with few legitimate threats to check them these days. Russia is moving forward with its military plans unabashedly in the Ukraine and the Baltics may be next. Iran is stonewalling the U.S and the rest of the west in their development of nuclear capability. ISIL is brutally re-defining Middle Eastern political borders. China, though beset by their own internal problems, is expanding militarily at a mind bending pace. And here at home, our leadership is looking at this with the attitude of “Can’t we all just talk about things and get along?”
It has come to the point where the states have seen fit to try and check some of the imbalances Washington is imposing. Utah just joined 16 other states in suing President Obama over his executive action on immigration. But while the states may impact internal domestic policy in a positive way, they will have little or no impact on foreign policy decisions and the implications and repercussions poor foreign policy may have on every state and every citizen in time.
The seeming ignorance of the Obama Administration and everyone connected to it regarding the real state of affairs across the globe is mind boggling. In a recent speech at Georgetown University, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently implored the need to show respect, empathize more with our enemies and try to see things from their point of view. I wonder how ISIL militants must feel about such overtures right before they behead another western hostage.
America has gained predominance in the world through three avenues. Our military strength, our economic progress and our moral imperative to spread principles of liberty. If anyone should understand both the use and misuse of such vehicles of democracy throughout history, Utahns with a pioneer history certainly should. All three of these foundations have well utilized, been under attack, misused or abused from time to time. But at no time have these cornerstones been more fragile than with the Obama Administration.
Despotism will always be with us. Just ask the citizens of Russia, China, Syria, Angola, El Salvador or Cuba how that has worked out for them. In every case, wise and hopeful individuals with the resources to do so have fled such regimes in large numbers. Most often, they flee to countries with more opportunity to regulate their own lives such as the United States, Canada or Australia.
What will the world look like in another ten or twenty years if the United States does not reassert leadership across the globe? And have we devastated ourselves through the toll of economic irresponsibility to the point that we are not strong enough to stand as the world’s undisputed authority? Perhaps our own state’s blossoming economic relationship with mainland China should be expanded. We may need the idiosyncratic credits in time if America continues to weaken. If our leaders in Washington cannot maintain a global equilibrium, every sovereign state will be faced with difficult decisions should national weaknesses further deteriorate the country economically and politically.
This should not be an issue of party politics, for if the issue is examined carefully there is plenty of blame on both sides of the aisle in Washington. But it is clear that the leadership that should begin and emanate from White House that is missing in action. If the trend is not reversed soon, it could spell disaster for many unsuspecting citizens across the globe. Where the leadership to resolve these complex issues can be found, or if these issues are indeed solvable, should be at the forefront of every voter and their elected representative’s minds. Our very way of life may hang in the balance.