Source:The New Democrat
From Senator Elizabeth Warren Foreign Affairs Magazine
“ENDING ENDLESS WAR
A foreign policy that works for all Americans must also be driven by honest assessments of the full costs and risks associated with going to war. All three of my brothers served in the military, and I know our service members and their families are smart, tough, and resourceful. But having a strong military doesn’t mean we need to constantly use it. An effective deterrent also means showing the good judgment to exercise appropriate restraint.
Over the past two decades, the United States has been mired in a series of wars that have sapped its strength. The human cost of these wars has been staggering: more than 6,900 killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, another 52,000 wounded, and many more who live every day with the invisible scars of war. By financing these conflicts while cutting taxes, the country has essentially charged the costs of war to a collective credit card for future generations to pay, diverting money that could have been invested in critical domestic priorities. This burden will create a drag on the economy that will last for generations.
The costs have been extraordinarily high, but these wars have not succeeded even on their own terms. We’ve “turned the corner” in Afghanistan so many times that it seems we’re now going in circles. After years of constant war, Afghanistan hardly resembles a functioning state, and both poppy production and the Taliban are again on the rise. The invasion of Iraq destabilized and fragmented the Middle East, creating enormous suffering and precipitating the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The region remains a tangled mess—the promise of the Arab Spring crushed, Iran emboldened, Syria devastated, the Islamic State (or ISIS) and its offshoots stubbornly resilient, and a massive refugee crisis threatening to destabilize Europe. Neither military nor civilian policymakers seem capable of defining success, but surely this is not it.
U.S. troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, July 2017
OMAR SOBHANI / REUTERS
U.S. troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, July 2017
A singular focus on counterterrorism, meanwhile, has dangerously distorted U.S. policies. Here at home, we have allowed an imperial presidency to stretch the Constitution beyond recognition to justify the use of force, with little oversight from Congress. The government has at times defended tactics, such as torture, that are antithetical to American values. Washington has partnered with countries that share neither its goals nor its ideals. Counterterrorism efforts have often undermined other foreign policy priorities, such as reinforcing civilian governance, the rule of law, and human rights abroad. And in some cases, as with U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s proxy war in Yemen, U.S. policies risk generating even more extremism.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have seen up close how 17 years of conflict have degraded equipment, sapped forces’ readiness, and forced the postponement of investment in critical military capabilities. It has distracted Washington from growing dangers in other parts of the world: a long-term struggle for power in Asia, a revanchist Russia that threatens Europe, and looming unrest in the Western Hemisphere, including a collapsing state in Venezuela that threatens to disrupt its neighbors. Would-be rivals, for their part, have watched and learned, and they are hard at work developing technologies and tactics to leapfrog the United States, investing heavily in such areas as robotics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and quantum computing. China is making massive bets in these and other areas in an effort to surpass the United States as a global technological power. Whether the United States will maintain its edge and harness these technologies for good remains an open question.
It is the job of the U.S. government to do what is necessary to protect Americans, but it is long past time to start asking what truly makes the country safer—and what does not. Military efforts alone will never fully succeed at ending terrorism, because it is not possible to fight one’s way out of extremism. Some challenges, such as cyberattacks and nuclear proliferation, require much more than a strong military to combat. And other dangers, such as climate change and the spread of infectious diseases, cannot be solved through military action at all. The United States will spend more than $700 billion on defense in the 2018–19 fiscal year alone. That is more in real terms than was spent under President Ronald Reagan during the Cold War and more than all the rest of the country’s discretionary budget put together. But even as Washington spends more and more, U.S. military leaders point out that funding a muscular military without robust diplomacy, economic statecraft, support for civil society, and development assistance only hamstrings American national power and undercuts any military gains.
It’s time to seriously review the country’s military commitments overseas.
As a candidate, Trump promised to bring U.S. troops home. As president, he has sent more troops into Afghanistan. On the campaign trail, Trump claimed he did not want to police the world. As president, he has expanded the United States’ military footprint around the globe, from doubling the number of U.S. air strikes in Somalia to establishing a drone base in Niger. As a candidate, Trump promised to rebuild the military, but as president, he has gutted the diplomatic corps on which the Pentagon relies. He promised to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, but he has undermined a successful nuclear deal with Iran, has failed to roll back the North Korean nuclear program, and seems intent on spurring a new nuclear arms race with Russia.
These actions do not make Americans safer. It’s time to seriously review the country’s military commitments overseas, and that includes bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. They have fought with honor, but additional American blood spilled will not halt the violence or result in a functioning democratic government in either place.
Defense spending should be set at sustainable levels, and the money saved should be used to fund other forms of international engagement and critical domestic programs. The Pentagon’s budget has been too large for too long. It is long overdue for an audit that would allow Congress to identify which programs actually benefit American security and which merely line the pockets of defense contractors. Rather than mindlessly buying more of yesterday’s equipment and allowing foreign countries to dominate the development of critical new technologies, we should recommit to investing in cutting-edge science and technology capabilities at home. When it comes to nonproliferation, we should replace the current bluster and hostility toward nuclear diplomacy with a reinvestment in multilateral arms control and nonproliferation efforts for the twenty-first century, recommitting the United States to being a leader in the fight to create a world without nuclear weapons.
To achieve all these goals, it will be essential to reprioritize diplomacy and reinvest in the State Department and the development agencies; foreign policy should not be run out of the Pentagon alone. The United States spends only about one percent of its federal budget on foreign aid. Some Americans struggling to make ends meet understandably question the value of U.S. commitments and contributions abroad, and certainly we should expect our partners to pay their fair share. But diplomacy is not about charity; it is about advancing U.S. interests and preventing problems from morphing into costly wars. Similarly, alliances are not exclusively about principles; they are about safety in numbers. The world is a big, complicated place, and not even the strongest nation can solve everything on its own. As we face down antidemocratic forces around the world, we will need our allies on our side.”
A “foreign policy for all”, I guess has a real hipster ring to it, similar to Medicare For All or whatever example you want to use, but like most catch phrases whether they’re pop culture or political, when you actually get into them the first question is always, “what does that mean?” What do you mean by that? As much as President Donald Trump’s presidency contradicts this, the President of the United States and American government more broadly are actually serious things meant for serious people. This is not a reality TV show or some movie or hip sitcom or anything else. This is real-life where real decisions are made everyday effecting real people. “A foreign policy for all” might have a catch ring to it, but what does that mean and what is in that foreign policy.
So when Senator Elizabeth Warren, argues that it’s time to bring our troops home, the first obvious question is, “bring them home from where?” If you’re talking about bringing them home from Iraq and Afghanistan, then the next question would be, “what would happen instead after America is out of those two countries?”
Senator Warren, also argues that America spends too much on national defense, OK where would you cut the defense budget? It’s hard to get official numbers from the U.S. Defense Department on this, but we’re currently somewhere between 50-100 billion dollars on the defense of Europe in NATO. We currently make up just as one country 70% of the entire NATO defense budget. Would asking or demanding that Germany, France, Italy and other European states spend more on their own defense and take a good chunk of that revenue out of our own defense budget since Europe is now spending more on their own defense? America could do a lot with 50-100 billion dollars a year that it wouldn’t have to spend on defense.
From Senator Elizabeth Warren
“FOREIGN POLICY STARTS AT HOME
President John F. Kennedy, whose seat in the U.S. Senate I now hold, once wrote that “a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home.” With American power increasingly challenged from within and without, we can no longer afford to think of our domestic agenda as separate from our foreign policy. A stronger economy, a healthier democracy, and a united people—these are the engines that power the nation and will project American strength and values throughout the world.
Every day, shortsighted domestic policies weaken American national strength. The United States is in the midst of a reverse-Sputnik moment, reducing investments in education and scientific research even as potential adversaries expand them. At a time when growing inequality stifles economic growth, Congress’ response has been a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans. Life expectancy in the United States is falling as overdose deaths skyrocket, and the country’s health-care system remains ill equipped to respond. Climate change poses a threat to our survival, but the government is gutting environmental regulations and subsidizing fossil fuels at the bidding of wealthy campaign donors. The educational opportunity gap is widening, while politicians starve schools of resources and saddle an entire generation with crippling student debt. And in a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable reckoning, the president seems bent on keeping Americans frightened and divided.
Investments at home strengthen the economy, but they also serve national security. A twenty-first-century industrial policy, for example, would produce good jobs that provide dignity, respect, and a living wage, and it would reinforce U.S. international economic might. When workers and families are more secure in their livelihoods, the country is stronger on the world stage.
The needs for investment are many: Infrastructure projects to increase connectivity and expand opportunity across the United States. Educational and job-training policies to produce skilled workers, encourage entrepreneurship, and grow the talent base. Immigration policies to yield a more robust economy and a more diversified work force. Higher education to equip the coming generations for the future without crushing them with debt. High-quality, affordable health care to ensure security and productivity for every person. An economy that is fair and open to entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes. A progressive tax system that requires the wealthy to pay their fair share. A government that is not for sale to the highest bidder.
Underlying it all, we need to remain vigilant against threats to American democratic norms and processes. The 2016 election raised the alarm, reminding us that democracy is not a self-sustaining machine. We must fight for it every single day. That means protecting the electoral process and making clear that there will be severe consequences for anyone, foreign or domestic, who meddles with it.
Our democratic norms also require us to renew our commitment to justice. Fractures in society—racial injustice, political polarization, economic inequality—damage us from within, leaving us vulnerable to a toxic stew of hatred and fear. Hateful rhetoric fuels domestic terrorism of all kinds, whether in Charleston or Orlando, Charlottesville or Pittsburgh. And we must strengthen our determination to ensure that every American has equal access to opportunity in society and equal justice and protection under the law. We must do that because it is morally right—and because it is essential to our national strength.”
I agree with Senator Warren, that a strong foreign policy starts at home. A country is only as strong as it’s economy is. North Korea, is a nuclear power with a large and expensive military, but the reason why they’re not much if at all even a regional military power is because they’re one of the poorest countries in the world where most of their population that’s not affiliated with their Communist regime lives in fourth-world poverty, not even third-world. You want to even be a regional power, you have to be an economic power as well where most of your population can not only work, but has good jobs. Where instead importing a lot of goods and services like food from other countries to survive, you’re exporting a lot of what your country produces to other countries.
I think where I would disagree with Senator Warren on this is how best to go about creating a stronger American economy. The idea that you would randomly cut the defense budget to spend more on social programs, doesn’t fly with me. You want to cut defense, you need to be strategic about it. You want to spend more on social programs or defense programs as well, you need to know what you’re spending more on first, what you intend to get out of this additional investments, who they’re serving, and what they cost first and then decide it that’s the best approach or not.
“A foreign policy for all”, might have a catchy pop culture as well as political ring to it, but to paraphrase Walter Mondale in 1984 when he was running against Gary Hart for president in the Democratic primaries when Vice President Mondale was talking about Senator Hart’s new ideas for a new generation agenda, “where’s the beef?” Meaning what does that mean. Senator Hart, was good with political slogans, but tended to come up what short when it got to the meat and potatoes of public policy. And I see a lot of that in Senator Elizabeth Warren’s foreign policy here as well.