by Brett S. Morris
April 05, 2018

from Medium Website




Five steps to end

the North American hegemony...


What kind of foreign policy should the left be promoting?


In the wake of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign and Donald Trump's victory in 2016, public awareness and activism on multiple domestic issues, such as health care, taxes, and immigration, have dominated the conversation.

There needs to be a similar conversation on foreign policy.


The problem, however, is that Democrats have no foreign policy ideas. Most Democrats simply offer a slightly less belligerent form of the same militarism Republicans like.


The 2020 presidential campaign will get underway after the 2018 midterms.


Below, I outline five steps, or ideas, that could become a part of the conversation on foreign policy during the 2020 campaign:



1. Substantially reduce military spending, and instead invest in massive infrastructure programs to fight climate change


The United States spent $611 billion on its military in 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.


U.S. military spending is the highest in the world and accounts for 36 percent of the world's total military spending. The country spends more than the next eight highest spenders combined.


Congress recently agreed to increase the Pentagon's budget to $716 billion.


This increase is justified on the grounds of "rising threats" from Russia and China  -  but the truth is the United States could cut its military spending in half and still spend more than Russia and China combined.


(In 2016, China spent $215 billion, while Russia spent $69 billion.)



Credit: SIPRI



This massive military spending is designed for the United States to maintain its hegemony throughout the globe and make sure profits keep flowing to defense contractors and other corporations.


While some of this spending benefits the general population in the form of jobs and technological development, there's no reason these benefits could not be redirected to more socially useful programs, such as infrastructure projects, renewable energy programs, research in science and technology, education, and welfare measures.


Preventing the looming environmental catastrophe is where we should be allocating our resources, not getting ready to fight wars with other nation-states that aren't a threat.





2. Close most overseas military bases and bring the troops home  -  from everywhere


Drastically reducing the military budget will necessitate closing most overseas U.S. military bases, which will be a good thing.


According to the Defense Department's last available Base Structure Report, the Pentagon maintains 587 "sites" across 42 foreign countries, with another 114 in seven U.S. territories (which are essentially American colonies).


There are more than 215,000 active-duty military personnel located overseas, according to the Defense Department's latest data.


Each of the following foreign countries or territories has at least 100 or more U.S. military personnel located there:

Afghanistan, American Samoa, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, British Indian Ocean Territory, Canada, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea (South), Kosovo, Kuwait, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.


Credit: Base Nation



This sprawling military network undermines democracy and local self-determination, breeds violence, and largely makes the United States less secure.


Indefinite military occupations and campaigns in the Middle East produce blowback.


The military bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa are detested by the local population for the noise and environmental pollution they bring. Cuba has been demanding the United States return the territory of Guantanamo Bay to it since 1959.


And so on...





3. Cease most arms exports and military aid


The United States exports more arms than any other country in the world.


According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms exports account for 34 percent of the world's total. The United States sends almost half of its arms (49 percent) to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia being its top client.


Proponents of sending arms all over the world to various countries say it is a way of gaining influence and leverage over these countries. The two problems with this argument:

  1. It can just as often be not true as it is true


  2. Once weapons are exported, there's no way of knowing what they will be used for or whose hands they may end up in

So, for example, U.S. arms exports to Saudi Arabia and Israel are supposed to give the United States "leverage" over those countries.


But they both ignore the United States whenever it issues mild protests over those countries' human rights abuses. (The United States then rewards them by concluding record arms deals with them.)


A lot of the weapons the United States sends to the Middle East just end up in "the wrong hands."


Jihadists in Iraq, Syria, and Libya have used weapons the United States sent to those countries, only to see them end up being used against the United States and its allied forces.


Even in the "right hands," however, they are used for nefarious purposes  -  Saudi Arabia and Israel routinely use American weapons to slaughter civilians.


The fact that half of U.S. arms exports go to the Middle East and that the Middle East is a hellscape of violence and destruction are not two unrelated facts.


Here's a radical idea: Let's stop giving people the means to continue killing each other.





4. Abolish nuclear weapons


The risk of nuclear war is growing.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently updated its "Doomsday Clock" to two minutes to midnight, meaning the world is very close to global catastrophe, either from nuclear conflict, climate change, or emerging dangerous technologies.


It is the closest to midnight the Bulletin scientists have ever rated their clock, except in 1953, when it was also rated two minutes to midnight, due to the testing of hydrogen bombs by the United States and Soviet Union.


The primary reason the scientists moved their clock closer to midnight in 2018 was the "nuclear landscape."

"Major nuclear actors are on the cusp of a new arms race, one that will be very expensive and will increase the likelihood of accidents and misperceptions," their report notes.

The scientists explain that,

"hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions" between the United States and North Korea have "increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation," while the United States and Russia "remained at odds" by "upgrading their nuclear arsenals, and eschewing arms control negotiations."

Since Donald Trump's rise to the presidency, there has been,

"a breakdown in the international order," leading the world to a state of "extraordinary danger."

Fortunately, there is a solution to the threat of nuclear weapons:

abolish them.

In 2017, a majority of the world's countries voted at the United Nations General Assembly in favor of a new treaty banning nuclear weapons.


The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the disarmament group that organized the treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.


The world's nine nuclear powers:

  • the United States

  • Russia

  • China

  • the United Kingdom

  • France

  • Israel

  • India

  • Pakistan

  • North Korea,

...all boycotted the treaty negotiations.



Credit: Arms Control Association



The United States should consider signing this treaty and begin dismantling its nuclear weapons program.


Currently, the United States has about 6,800 nuclear weapons.


This stockpile could be reduced to just 311 nuclear weapons while still maintaining a strong deterrent, as Gary Schaub Jr., an assistant professor of strategy at the Air War College, and James Forsyth Jr., a professor of strategy at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, wrote in 2010.


Ward Wilson, author of Five Myths about Nuclear Weapons, has argued persuasively that nuclear weapons just aren't very useful:

They're not effective at winning wars or deterring enemies.

They provide a false sense of security.

"The real value of nuclear bombs," Wilson writes, "is as status symbols, not as practical weapons."

We should be working toward getting rid of these weapons, not modernizing them, as the Obama and Trump administrations have planned.





5. Commit to engagement and diplomacy rather than aggression and domination


When the United States emerged victorious from World Ward II as the richest and most powerful country in world history, it chose a path of violence and aggression to maintain global hegemony.


It's time for a change...


The United States should work with other countries as equals to solve the world's most pressing problems, such as climate change and global poverty.


Donald Trump is taking the United States in the wrong direction.


Global public opinion of the United States has plummeted since his election. Since announcing the United States will leave the Paris climate accord, Trump has ensured that the United States will soon become literally the only country in the world to not be part of the pact.


Becoming a responsible member of the international community should be part of the Democratic nominee's platform in 2020.


This should include rejoining the Paris climate accord, signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as joining a host of other international treaties that the United States is isolated in rejecting (for example, the United States is the only country in the world that hasn't joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child).


The United States should commit to having better relationships with its "enemies" in order to solve outstanding disputes by trying to see things from their perspective.


For example, as I have written in this series, the current crises with Russia and North Korea have their roots in history, such as the expansion of NATO to Russia's borders and North Korea's experience during the Korean War.


Following these steps will put the United States on a path toward real prosperity both for its own people and the people of the world.


It's time to end pointless and destructive conflict and instead create a world based on solidarity, peace, and ecological harmony.