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America’s Fear-Based Foreign Policy Needs to Go

June 10, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Skeptics Tags: Foreign PolicyNational SecurityMiddle EastTerrorismWar

America’s Fear-Based Foreign Policy Needs to Go

Since 9/11, fear has become the basis for most of America's foreign policy—and the lives of its citizens are worse because of it.

China: Beijing is a rising economic and defensive military power. In addition to economic opportunity, it seeks elbow room in its own backyard and security from external attack. Its “A2/AD”—anti-access, area denial—military investments are expressly designed to defend the Chinese mainland from attack. They pose no offensive threat to its neighbors, let alone the United States. Like the United States, China shares an interest in avoiding war. We do hundreds of billions in trade with China each year, and with firm but fair diplomatic engagement, we have the potential to increase economic opportunity for American business.

The path is open to us to abandon the destructive, reactionary strategy of fearism and replace it with a stronger, more effective alternative: constructive realism. The security and economic vitality of our nation may lie in the balance: either maintain the fear-based foreign policy that has served us so poorly since 9/11 or adjust our grand strategy to match today’s world and today’s security challenges—U.S. prosperity awaits.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

Image: Reuters