Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Making Policy in the New Administration

Shoshana Bryen,

image (not from article) from
The Trump White House continues to receive advice – solicited and unsolicited, in letters to the editor, op-eds, essays, and policy papers – as to what its foreign policy priorities should be. It is tempting to presume that problems called “priorities” can be resolved with just a little more savvy or a little more will. But if they could have been, they would have been. Instead, the administration might consider priorities for American behavior – political, economic, and military.
First, there are three questions to be asked:
What should the United States do to ensure that allies feel secure and adversaries don’t?
How can America encourage countries that are neither allies nor adversaries to cooperate on issues of importance?
How can Washington encourage countries to want to be “more like us” (politically and economically free with more transparent government) and “less like them” (totalitarian, communist, jihadist, and less transparent)? ...
As the military and diplomatic objectives are formulated, the second priority is“public diplomacy,” stressing what made/makes America what it has been and should be – a beacon of hope for people around the world. Individual freedoms including rights to property and to profit from one’s creativity and work; constraints on government enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the checks and balances of the system; free expression, including the right to criticize the government; and opportunity for all resulting in (at least relative) prosperity for most are what people admire.
This should not be confused with “democracy promotion” – a failed concept. The U.S. should promote and advance specific human rights and freedoms for citizens without trying to determine the nature of the political system of any country.
Messaging is a two-way street. On the one hand, the United States should be clear and vocal about what it does support, and on the other hand, it must be clear about threats to the American body politic contained in the messages of radical Islamist-jihadist ideology. The U.S. must develop strategy to discredit and defeat Islamic triumphalism that includes clarifying the expansionist-totalitarian nature of jihadism. ...
This is a reasonable place to consider Israel, a country that fits squarely among U.S. allies. The U.S.-Israel alliance should be understood within the context of Israel’s essential contribution as an innovative, experienced, and successful front-line fighter against Islamic radicalism. Most important, Israel, unlike other “helpers” in the region, is impregnable politically to Islamism and its insidious influence. The same cannot be said of a single E.U. country. ...
Washington can build a de facto alliance of democracies, starting with Anglo-democracies – the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand – and building outward to others: India, South Korea, Israel, Poland, Japan, the Baltic states, etc. This should be done at first informally, but publicly for public diplomacy purposes, security consultations on terrorism, migrant flows and crises, mutual assistance planning for natural disasters, mutual defense, and cultural exchanges and promotions. ...

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