On Rationalizing U.S. Foreign Policy: No More ‘Whack-a-Mole’
This is a goal which will demand patience of a historically impatient people, compromise from a nation with deeply religious and uncompromising roots, teamwork and alliance burden-sharing from a nation convinced of its unmatched power and its ability to lead in all circumstances, and a dedicated mix of resources, emphasizing economic, diplomatic, scientific, artistic and social. This is a goal that will require reserving the use of military force for protecting truly vital national interests, and as a last, not first, resort.
In moving toward the achievement of that national objective, we can do no better than to recall the warnings and advice of the architect of America’s Cold War foreign policy of containment, George F. Kennan. He argued that in order to win the Cold War and prevent World War III, America must not allow itself to be internally divided. Instead, it must work with its allies while listening to its adversaries (the Trump administration does neither), and must, above all, never cease in the education of its young people in order to enable informed policymakers to be politically rewarded for wise policy, whether foreign or domestic.
Endless military interventions and the American people’s lack of basic literacy in military and foreign affairs have become clear and present dangers to the national security, and prosperity, of the United States of America.
Monica Duffy Toft is a professor of international politics and the director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Government, Tufts University.