Sunday, February 24, 2008

FOREIGN POLICY QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT ANSWERED BY A COGNITIVIST—NOT A NEO-CON, A NEO-LIBERAL, NOR EXTREME RIGHT/LEFT WINGER

FOREIGN POLICY QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT ANSWERED BY A COGNITIVIST—NOT A NEO-CON, A NEO-LIBERAL, NOR EXTREME RIGHT/LEFT WINGER

By Kevin Stoda, on-line (and tongue & cheek) candidate for Democratic and Republican parties for President of the United States



Last week, 18th of February 2008, I picked up the International Herald Tribune and noticed that the main IHT editorial was entitled: “Foreign Policy Questions for the Next President”. The editorialists wrote:

“President George W. Bush's mismanagement reaches far beyond Iraq. He has torn up international treaties, bullied and alienated old friends, and enabled old and new enemies. Before Americans choose a president they will need to know how he or she plans to rebuild America's military strength and its moral standing and address a host of difficult challenges around the world.” (p.8)

In all, the editorialists posed an in-exhaustive list of 11 questions for the USA presidential candidates.

The major question was obviously how the incoming president plans to handle the disastrous” ongoing war in Iraq.

The other foreign policy questions concern (1) America’s international leadership, (2) China, (3) Russia, (4) Iran, (4) North Korea, (5) the Middle East, (6) defense spending, (7) non-proliferation, (8) terrorism, and (9)American policy on use-of-force in the near future.

Since my campaign is a campaign of ideas and substance, I will try to answer these poignant foreign policy questions from the dining room table of my apartment in Kuwait, which overlooks the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, i.e. where muh of the world’s oil passes through on any one day.

First of all, besides being a progressive evangelical candidate, I need to note that as far as political science and research goes, I am a cognitivist—i.e. not a neo-con, conservative, neo-liberal, liberal, nor extreme left- nor right-winger.

Cognitivists don’t simply define global relations in terms of who has might as realists, neo-cons, conservatives and right wing hawks do.

Nor do cognivists assume the existence of potential creation of a global new order in terms of liberal political-economic theory.

Cognitivists come from both camps as well as the dated camps of dependency and interdependency theory. As well, they look much more at how the rules of the game or perceived rules of the game effect how international affairs are conducted.

In a nutshell, Cognitivists are holistic in how they deal with international affairs and approach domestic politics.


COGNITIVISTS AND REGIME THEORY

Cognitivists define regimes—whether these regimes are a single government, such as the USA or Russia, or an international regime, such as the European Union, NAFTA or the United Nations— not as simply state actors but as regimes consisting of how the rules of the international affairs are played in and cross societies where the regime is present. They also look at the social-civil, economic, developmental, and political forces under lying the actual behaviors of political actors and forces.

This means that regulations and acceptable behavior as defined (and carried out) by participants in a regime have just as much importance as who has the most money, weapons or propaganda instruments on hand.

This means that in terms of leadership on the world stage, any country, such as the United States must recognize what the acceptable rules of the game of international relations are somewhat stable and can usually only be changed or evolved over time.

Second, if change is needed in the regime and how the regime participants function, change is navigated and negotiated—but never demanded in the manner that a 3-year old demands his favorite toy or “desire of the day”. It is this form of U.S. foreign policy of the last decade that America must rid itself permanently. It is simply inappropriate and unhelpful for a superpower to be wandering about like a bull-dozer in a china warehouse.

It is because the George W. Bush Administration and so-called realists, neo-realists, conservative think tanks, and neo-liberals forgot these basic realities of international regime theory that America is where it is today—i.e. quasi isolated and poorer as a nation state, i.e. poorer politically, economically, socially, and spiritually.

American behaviors related to leadership on the global stage need to be underpinned by a recognition that terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon (how horrible they were) do not mean that it is time to throw the baby out with the bathwater on 225 years of American history and social development.

Use of force in Iraq without a good justification for war in 2003 was opposed by a majority of states on the planet—including longtime allies of ours on many continents. This invasion was opposed in the streets by nearly a million Americans and in their hearts by many more—including military personnel.

This invasion was also opposed by a great number of American churchmen who knew the attack on Iraq matched no known concept of Just-War theory taught traditionally in the West.

This invasion was also opposed by the United Nations, Mexico, and many European states, i.e. our closest allies. They, too, claimed that there was neither enough evidence to see Iraq as an imminent threat nor had an invasion much benefit in a war against terrorists like Osama Bin-Laden.

As a whole, American leadership did not listen to those many individuals who knew how the rules of international affairs needed to be played. Like some Bolshevik takeover of Washington, D.C. they steamrolled a vote in Congress on trumped up charges and committed American taxpayers to give some 3-plus trillion dollars in six years to support the War in Iraq and to take care of American soldiers & families when they returned home from such missions.

We did this against the opinion of so many in the international community and against the wishes of tens of millions of Americans.

This is not how a cognitivist government would approach global issues.


FIRST, APOLOGIES ARE IN ORDER

American leadership must apologize for this lack of recognition of the facts, rule-of-law among states, and research on the ground in relation to Iraq & turn our full attention to building real coalitions when moving forward and solving global problems in the 21st and 22nd centuries.

Apologizing is one of the good things that Bill Clinton did as president that brought reconciliation for so many generations. (No. I’m not talking about the apology to America given after his Monica Lewinski lies were uncovered.) I’m talking about his apologies to the thousands of Americans who were misused and treated as human guinea pigs throughout the Cold War.

Bill Clinton was not even president when those Cold War evils done-in-the-name-of-national-security began. Yet, he used his presidential podium to apologize and to seek to atone the victims, including many USA military personnel and their families who had become handicapped, diseased or even died as a result of A-Bomb and H-Bomb testing from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Clinton also apologized for the horrible Tuscaloosa experiments carried out on unsuspecting black males during the same period. In short, a leader needs to be able to get on his knee as the former West German President did in Warsaw after WWII, indicating a great sense of remorse and contrition by the German leadership at what had been done in Auschwitz and on the battlefields of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s under horrible German leadership. .


COINCIDING WITH THE APOLOGIES

Coinciding with the apologies abroad, the next U.S. President (Republican or Democrat or whomever) must apologize also to all Americans for failing to oversee a better development of society and economy of the USA over the several past decades.

The policy or experiment of the Reagan-era to simply spend as much money on defense and cut taxes with no real social- and economic development by the beneficiaries of such cuts is a losing way to lead a country into a progressive era of development. Likewise, it doesn’t serve the USA well to finance war or revolution around the world and not follow through financially.

The spending habits of the current U.S. administration is a horrible model of og-term investment, spending, and savings for individual Americans of all ages.

If big-Papa Government can spend money as though he printed it himself (with little thought for tomorrow), how can the average American be encouraged to save and plan for his future any better than Americans are doing today?

In short, even though Americans don’t really want a paternalistic government who tells them how to save, invest, or spend money, they do want a government that tries at least to reflect some of the best qualities in saving, investment, and spending possible.

Americans hate cynics who say one thing and do another. The end of irresponsible foreign or domestic policies of spending (i.e. as thought there-is-no-tomorrow) must end.

Likewise, the holes in the NAFTA contract are wide open for all Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians to see. These holes in global and regional development must be stopped and better plans and agreements carried out to make North America and South America a powerhouse and bulwark to other regions of the world that are growing together more and more economically

Better and fairer development, in terms of equality and egalitarianism, in both North and South American countries must be demanded and supported through U.S.A. and international initiatives at the World Bank and elsewhere.

In some cases, a keynsian model is helpful. In other cases, a more free market approach may prove beneficial. At other times, a protectionist approach will be permitted for a longer time frame. However, in all cases, the people involved should be asked first how they wish to develop and how they would like their moneys and resources spent.

This is why the United States must support more actively agricultural and labor movements around the globe as well as big businesses in all countries--from north to south.

The more players at the table, the more important and differing voices can be heard. This should be part and parcel of America’s calls for democracy around the world. It is also fully a cognitivist view with an eye to democratic access to government.

In short, the USA cannot simply continue to define democracy in terms of fair elections any more. We need to recognize the salience between elections and freedom of a people to express themselves and steer their government and society towards greater development and prosperity.

If American foreign policy and foreign aid policy had had this two handed approach (rather than a two-fisted militaristic approach), we would be able to withstand most changes in politics in other countries without ever feeling threatened in every single instance (e.g. by Chavezism in Latin America) by unfounded fears of long-term instability in various regions around the globe.

That is, American policy and practices would develop long-term stable friendships by being a stable friend and partner with other state’s peoples directing their own development.


WE COULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING

I’m not going to state that I saw 9-11 coming as it did.

I did have a feeling something like it would happen perhaps on a grander scale some time in the 21st Century. You see, I am a student of international development, world history, and global affairs. Once the fear of the nuclear showdown between the USSR and the USA had ended by the 1990s, the only major fear for our future would be between parts of the world with growing populations one day demanding a bigger part on the global stage.

The booming populations of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, India, and elsewhere made it inevitable that if development didn’t happen more equally soon, there would be a scramble for global resources and dominance of regions.

Sadly, as a lifelong educator, international developer, global traveler, and political scientist, I did note in the 1980s and 1990s that the USA’s approach towards the fastest growing populations on the planet were not heading towards building a more stable future for America and the OECD lands in the 21st Century.

One of the more detrimental facts of the great U.S.A. defense and security buildup of the 1980s was the inevitable crash it brought in the 1990s. All of these groupings from Nicaragua to Russia to Afghanistan and back to Yemen or Africa whom the Reagan and Bush Administration supported were suddenly out of work and without aid in developing their countries as the U.S. not only cut spending on the United Nations, but also cut USAID and other assistance around the globe.

In short, aspirations had risen only to see the U.S. bail out.

Naturally, whomever had the most money and political suasion in these different regions(from Afghanistan to Yemen to Zimbabwe and South America) of the world would take up the spoils when the U.S. washed its hands of the matter as it did of its many long term commitments around 1990 as the Cold War came to a close.

This, in a sense, was a changing of the rules of the game which has had a horrible effect on politics in our current decade.

In the era after Saddam Hussein was pushed out of Iraq, the Middle East’s most conservative and fanatical parties continued to get more and more votes and support from the burgeoning populaces while their autocratic or military leaders sought to put them down.

The same can be said of the masses in Latin America and in Africa today and there searches for an alternative to the same-old-autocrat.

American policymakers were telling the world that American tax payers wanted to keep their monies as a peace dividend or wanted to keep their money to help pay down debts from the 1970s and 1980s (and earlier). This was a good thing in many ways, but the fact is the peace dividend should have been used to build a lasting peace.

This was not happening.

Worse still, America added more duties and countries to its list of places on the planet to station troops—all without getting reciprocal monetary assistance and cooperation from many other major political powers on the planet.

The expansion of USA commitments over the past 15 years has been done at a humongous pace without Americans feeling more secure. In short, it has been partially a big waste of money.

The shooting down of the highly expensive U.S. military satellite last week is symptomatic of a defense budget that is out of control of American policymakers. (The costs of that defunct satellite and its shooting down are certainly in the billions of dollars.)

A strong “NO” must come from the White House at increasing military expenditures. Wise spending decisions and cooperation with other parties on expensive projects must become an absolute prerequisite for the next Commander-in-Chief.



LEADERSHIP STARTS AT CONTROLLING THE HEAT

Worse still, American representatives in the Senate were strongly against one of the major pieces of international legislation of the 1990s. Later the Bush-Cheney Administration took the same track in 2001. This legislation was related to the long-awaited passage of the Kyoto Convention in Global Warming.

I, myself, have a gambling streak. However, I always check up on what the odds of winning or being correct are. Therefore, when in the mid- 1990s, I began to read up on the overwhelming number of mathematical predictions and mathematical models that clearly implied that (1) global warming was a fact and that (2) global warming was a partially man-made phenomena, I couldn’t believe the denial from the U.S. Senate and later President Bush and Cheney.

The odds against their position being correct and that the temperatures were not rising was astronomical.

No investor in the insurance sector or business futurist has had such a luxury to ignore the daunting mathematical odds again them as these ornery Senators and White House personnel have been. By 1997 or 1998, as Kyoto became a signed agreement by much of the developed world, most of the world began to develop emissions trading schemes and insurers began to look at changing global weather phenomena and sea level rise issues..

No American leader can buck the odds any longer. Of all the major OECD nations in 2008, the USA is the only one that does not currently have foresighted and strategic thinkers who are working hand in hand with other states to do a better job of slowing down global warming on this planet.

With the icebergs in Antarctica now melting faster than predicted, the world cannot wait for American global leadership on this issue—but American leadership certainly would help in 2008 and beyond.

Importantly, we should see these climate issues as an opportunity to turn America’s reputation for the better in coming years as we finance energy plans and support energy related and fighting-high-tide projects around the world.


IRAN & IRAQ

I believe that nothing will help cool down the heating planet Earth any faster than to (1) increase the usage of alternative fuels that don’t produce greenhouse gases, (2) recycle what energy we can e recycled by building better and more efficient power plants, and (3) reducing overall usage of greenhouse gas emitting energy sources.

Interestingly, the path to reducing dependence on foreign oil and fuel sources is the same as improving America’s image abroad and investing our tax moneys more wisely on projects that don’t destroy or blow things up (as military investments are targeted to do). This means that America’s investment in such technological leaps will reward us more than two-fold every step of the way.

Investments like these in the energy and development sector should become more appreciated by USA tax payers as well—and by all other peoples on the planet, as they too are stressed out by forecasts of coming global warming changes.

Think about how much money has been spent on wars related to fuels and energy in recent decades and how much the USA has wasted taxpayers savings on end-less wars!!!

An American government that leads to peace more than leads into battle will ensure a stronger America in the 21st Century.

Reinvesting some money from defense would certainly make Americans’ futures look brighter as the pressures from Iraq and Iran on their neighbors are made ever more distant by the lessening demand on foreign fuels from that region.

The fact is, Iran’s economy is a fairly poorly run affair with millions of youth jobless and the government only offering military or government service as an alternative to a few. A threat from Iran in the future is only likely if for some reason it gets its economic and socio-political house in order at home in the next decade. This does not appear likely—inflationary pressures are every where but few Iranis are gaining much from the oil moneys which are sending up the prices for all.

I would advise America to back off the pressure on Iran as a potential enemy and see what can be done to get U.S. military occupation presence in Iraq reduced over the short term. I.e. if Russia doesn’t fear Iran so much and sends it nuclear related materials, why should the USA invest any greater interest in the short and long term when it needs to be focused on getting out of two other wars.

Obviously, getting Iran into a regime with the USA on some negotiating tables at this time is more important than to keep it fairly isolated.


CHINA & NORTH KOREA

Meanwhile, China, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea could certainly benefit from joining the coalition of green house gas fighting nations if they see benefits in terms of technological transfers which also improve their economies.

Moreover, the West under America’s leadership should oversee other technological transfers over the next decades in order to create a safer planet for our children and grandchildren.

It is fairly important to get China on the USA side on international regimes anyways these days. For example, China is a key to settling all issues with North Korea, many issues with Burma-Myanmar, some issues in Darfur, and putting pressure on Russia in the long-term.

Good relations with China will benefit in reduced defense spending by the USA in the Pacific.

On the other hand, more needs to be done to support democratic trends in China and elsewhere in Asia. (Neither should America’s back be turned on democratic Taiwan.)

In short, as energy and development of greenhouse gas reducing technologies are more of a key to peace in the world community, it is quite likely that adversarial relationships between the Iran and Iraq and other nations will be decreased in the future if the USA and other world actors reduce their dependence on fossil fuels from Russia and the Middle East.

Moreover, the deserts of Iran and Iraq can also produce non-petroleum based energy sources. Jordan’s King Hussein recently begged the European Union to invest in its desert lands to produce solar power in the desert kingdom. The USA could step up to the plate where Europe fails to take advantage of the needs of highly populated desert states around the world.

As the nations of the world move off of the fossil fuel addiction of the past 300 years, these peoples and states around the planet need to be transitioning to new fuel and production elements in any case.


RUSSIA

Russia today still has the possibility of returning more fully to the western fold as it sought to do initially some 15 to 20 years ago.

American Shock Doctrinist from the Chicago Schools most radical form of free-market economics helped spin Russia out of the European Union orbit some years ago, but that need not always to be the case.

Meanwhile, Russian leadership appears to be seeking to build up its own international regime of behaviors and underlying rules separate from the West.

In this situation, the West can only generally provide incentives for Russia to look westward once again to strengthen its ties.

Besides the threatening developments in fuel cartels and mafia-like businesses among former KGB actors in Russia today, there is the strong threat of fossil fuel which Russia holds over Europe and most of the rest of the planet.

This means Russia must be taken seriously.

At times, Russia’s aggressive behavior will need to be checked. Sometimes, the USA will support Europeans. At other times, the USA should be prepared to be more neutral or even conciliatory.

For example, when Putin offered to put USA military equipment in the Caucuses last year, the USA should have pursued it in discussions—not simply snubbed the offer.

Why?

As a cognitivist, I believe that building links and precedents for behavior are important for the future steps which can help a regime to evolve or change in a positive manner.

What would it have hurt if America had agreed to place missiles in the Caucuses close to Iran? A new open inspection system would have been opened immediately between the USA and Russia and an adversarial relationship could have been lessened. (By the time the project would be fully implemented, it is likely that the missiles would not be all that necessary or not even very up-to-date in any case.)


SUMMARIZE

In summary, the current administration set out both to replicate the practices of the Reagan administration’s policy’s of (1) cutting social and environmental spending, (2) increasing defense and security spending, and (3) making tax cuts. In the meantime, no major changes in USA infrastructure and development were promised—i.e. no fast train systems to transport people, their cars, and goods from coast to coast as Germany, Japan, France, China and other nations have done in recent decades.

Thanks to these budgetary and poor investment and agrievous spending patterns, the USA is now seen in Europe and elsewhere as the “Sick Man of the Global Economy”. The BBC has reported several times in recent weeks that “whenever the U.S. economy wheezes or sneezes, Europe and the rest of the globe catches a cold.”

This perception of America as a “Sick Man” is a dangerous precedent. Never before in world history has the USA had such an image.

Another global image of America being a “Sick Man” exists in the foreign police and in defense in security—despite the USA having spent trillions of dollars in the last years to improve defense and security.

Most of the world views the American armed forces as overextended and the foreign policy as being very nearsighted in general.

When George W. Bush came into office and began tearing up arms treaties right and left, many Americans failed to take notice or praised the gun-slinger theatrics. The rest of the planet was aghast.
e.g. Why should America put nuclear weapons and other weapons in space when they were banned years ago?

The answers from Washington D.C. have always been inadequate: “We are afraid sometime that someone else will do it first.”

The same thing was said of the ICBM treaty and the conventions on torture, on human rights, & on habeas corpus.

A slippery slope was begun in 2001 and now the U.S. has made such a big mess on the global stage, it will now take decades to rectify the failed attempt by a single USA administration to rewrite all the underlying rules for dozens of regimes, e.g. climate control regimes, nuclear proliferation treaty regimes, arms control regimes, human rights regimes.

The new White House administration must begin by apologizing for this mess and start over with a great focus on building up and not tearing down.

I am willing to do that.

How about Obama, Clinton, Huckabee or McCain?



NOTES

“Foreign Policy Questions for the Next President”, http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/17/opinion/edquestions.php

Mayer, Peter & Rittberger, Volke, REGIME THEORY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, http://www.questia.com/library/book/regime-theory-and-international-relations-by-peter-mayer-volker-rittberger.jsp

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