Looking toward a new foreign policy

by Jose

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist countries of Eastern Europe has brought great changes in the balance of power, and has provided the United States with tremendous opportunity to reduce international tensions and mold the world to more humanitarian and ethical principles. The end of the USSR meant that after over 50 years, the Cold War was over.
For the first time since World War II, the United States may have the luxury of reducing military expenditures and taking serious steps to balance the budget. While there are many places where tensions are high, and others where ethnic or religious rivalries have led to attempts to create a new map of the world, the constraints on our foreign policy have been greatly decreased, and we may be able to reorient our foreign policy to pursue the following goals:
1. Peace. The American public is divided on nearly every issue, but we all want peace. With the elimination of the Soviet threat, the United States is in a unique position to establish peace in the world. This goal, of course, requires that major players in international politics be taken into account, that local conflicts be resolved through negotiation or multilateral intervention and that a great effort be made to help the development of Third World economies.
2. Reduction of nuclear weapons. Thousands of operative nuclear weapons remain. While the stated goal of American foreign policy should be the total elimination of nuclear weapons, this is not realistic for the immediate future. However, continued negotiations should be established with all countries possessing atomic weapons, including many of the republics that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Third World countries with the capacity or the potential to develop atomic weapons (such as Israel, South Africa, North Korea, India, Brazil, etc.) should be invited to participate in these multilateral negotiations, and their new status should be recognized by the international community.
3. Reduction of military expenditures. The reduction of nuclear weapons and the decrease of tensions gives the United States the opportunity to reduce military expenditures, balance the budget, strengthen internal social programs to guarantee an improvement in the standard of living for all Americans and increase participation in regional or global efforts to promote peace and stability.
The peace dividend has not materialized yet, but should materialize now that the Soviet Union no longer exists. The Pentagon’s budget has remained high, especially after the Republicans took control of Congress in the 1994 elections. The United States cannot become the only policeman of the world. We should encourage other nations to form a police patrol, and we should make our contribution to this international force like everybody else.
4. Strengthening the United Nations and other international bodies. The United Nations, not the United States, should police the world. These efforts will still require substantial participation on the part of the United States, which now pays a significant part of the cost of the world organization. These monetary contributions should be temporary and should come down in the future. The United Nations should become more efficient and less costly. The Security Council should be expanded to recognize the new status of Germany and Japan, countries that should help bear the economic burden of maintaining the world organization. The United States should propose that national contributions to the United Nations should be made based on trade or GNP; that will allow the emerging nations to increase their contributions as their economies improve. Our country should readjust from the notion of global leadership to the possibility of global partnership.
Local conflicts are not going to disappear, but a stronger United Nations can help resolve them. The United States should also decide where it stands on the issue of nationalism. The principle of self-determination should become central in the solution of all territorial, religious or ethnic issues. The United States should advocate negotiation and multilateral intervention if absolutely necessary to maintain international order through the forum of the United Nations.
5. Pursue the economic development of the Third World. Peace in the world cannot be accomplished as long as people are dying of hunger and curable diseases all over the world. In 1992, 40,000 children died every day of malnourishment or sicknesses that could have been prevented by vaccination; and the following year the World Food Council reported that 45 million people faced imminent starvation. The United States should orchestrate a plan to help those countries in the Third World that fulfill the minimum requirements for a democratic government and respect for human rights. These transfers to the developing world should be in the form of low-interest loans financed by international financial organizations and private banks all over the world. These international debts should be guaranteed by the United Nations, which should implement the plan. The developed countries of Western Europe, Canada and Japan should be encouraged to participate in this endeavor, as well as international non-state organizations (INGOs).
The United States should encourage the “North” to help the “South.” In addition to the economic development of the Third World, this is a wonderful opportunity to resolve problems that affect most of the world. Disputes over navigation and fishing rights have divided nations for generations. The United States should promote international agreements in areas such as the rights to free navigation, free fishing (except maybe within a narrow three or 12 mile jurisdictional limit) and free commerce without tariffs or barriers, and protection of the environment, concern about the problems of population and overpopulation and the definitive settlement of boundaries between nations that create, from time to time, conflicts.
6. Open the world to free trade. Economists agree almost unanimously that unrestricted free trade is the best policy that a nation can follow. Free trade will promote economic development, specialization and the exploitation of resources based on the characteristics of each country.
7. Coordinate international policies in relation to research and development. The United States should use its muscle to promote international cooperation in medical and biological research for the discovery and development of new medicines, processes and technologies to improve human life and preserve the environment.
As we look toward the 21st century, the foreign policy of the United States should aim at abandoning our role as main policeman of the world while still playing a crucial and decisive role in preserving peace and encouraging economic cooperation and development.
Jose G. Gomez is a doctoral candidate in Educational Policy and Administration.