Today, February 18th 2015, we heard from Presidential candidate Jeb Bush on foreign policy. In a talk eerily familiar to the neo-con fear machine of his brother, George W. Bush’s administration; we heard how much a failure the current administration has been in the arena of international relations. Bush hammered away at the false premise that through weakness our enemies are stronger.
We heard how if only we had stayed in Iraq things would be different. Jeb Bush, in essence blamed President Obama for ISIS. He may attempt to change history but the fact is that if we had not gone into Iraq and destabilized the region ISIS would not exist. We went into Iraq based upon the lie of weapons of mass destruction.
The former Governor of Florida spoke about how Iran’s nuclear program is a danger to Israel and to the world. The drums of war could be heard in each paragraph of his speech. If we were to listen seriously to the doctrine of preemption we would always be at war. A whole lot of countries could be potential enemies to the United States.
Both Israel’s Prime Minister and the right wing of the Republican Party seem to be anxious for a war with Iran. What a wrong headed approach to repudiate diplomacy before it has had its chance to bring a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. The war camps seem quite determined to sabotage any effort to have peace. War may seem to be an easy answer but if we have learned anything in the last twenty years is that if you start a war it is damn hard to end it.
The other extreme in foreign affairs is to do nothing, to be isolationists. Isolationists basically believe that the United States should stay out of any foreign entanglements and let the disputes be resolved by the parties involved.
There is a middle ground where you choose to be involved in the problems that truly affect the world and if the world community does not take action either through diplomacy or by any means necessary to deal with the problem, things would get worse.
These are the three approaches to foreign policy that are in dispute on how to deal with ISIS.
It was amazing to hear the reaction to a spokesperson from the State Department, Marie Harf. Pertaining to ISIS, she made the profoundly true statement that you can not kill all of your enemy. She went on to say that you have to address the underlying causes of why ISIS exist. The derision was so blatant one would think that there are actually leaders of the Republican Party who would like to have a war with the Muslim world. It is almost too frightening to contemplate the reason behind the mocking of Marie Harf. Perhaps the far right has deluded themselves into believing that anyone could win a war against a religion or that you could kill all of your enemies.
It would be wise of all of us to find a way to remove the underlying causes of why young men are willing to volunteer and die for ISIS. We need to replace hopelessness with hope for those young men who are willing to give up their lives for an empty promise. The promise of a greater Arabia based upon a false reading of the Koran can only lead to the death of thousands.
In these dangerous times we need a calm approach to the problems that we face. We need a rationale foreign policy that depends on all of the tools in the diplomat’s tool box. War should be the last tool to use not the first.