Authored by William Robert Barber
When one recalls the foreign policy actions of this nation over the last sixty-five years or more, documentation suggests that the policies enacted or attempted to be enacted resulted in a discombobulated maelstrom of more befuddlement than sensibility. Starting with allowing the Russians to attack Berlin during WWII and then ceding Stalin Eastern Europe, the preceding policies up to the present were naïve, even silly, with a mêlée of slapdash governess added just for hue.
As the architects of our own foreign policy design we were and are all over the board of probabilities to possibilities. Often our efforts seem rudderless. At times we have more sail on our ship of state than the objective would require; at other times, despite the palpable of purpose and all through the wind is at our fantail the pinions are bare. I do wonder how we could do so much stupid all the while remain the richest, most powerful, and acclaimed nation on earth. I can only assume that the other nations on earth are worse and/or that our reign of the most powerful is coming to an end.
We have Americans’ blood literally gushed and spread all over the world while this nation’s taxpayers are indirectly and directly giving away billions of dollars in foreign aid. We actually have given aid to our enemies; some policy implementers believe we are presently aiding the very Philistines that only want to do us harm. And what do we receive in return? The recipients clamor for more cash as they treat us with disaffect and disgust. Now, who exactly are the designers of this sort of befuddled foreign policy format?
This nation’s foreign policymakers lack the will to steadfastly point true north; we meander about in the afternoon trying to put out fires started in the morning, we are defending and reacting instead of anticipating and invoking. The elected and appointed bandy with prideful assurance meaningless verbiage, mistaking such nonsense as statecraft.
I suggest a meaningful realignment of underwriting criteria when analyzing risk to this nation’s interest. I would start with reassessing the prompts that effectuate an administration’s response to a particular international cause or incident. The response should be guided by a predetermined strategy. This strategy, at a minimum, must envelope tactical flexibility, a constancy of prudent processing, as well as achieving a consensus derived course of action so to enable a policy of oneness and conclusiveness.
The art and science of creating and implementing such a predetermined strategy is founded on objective principles of engagement. This strategy must infuse behavioral sensitivity to the challenge of an ever changing terrain and situation; therefore, the merit of a viable strategy is founded, in part, on its inherent flexibility.
Clearly, information gathering is a critical max factor in the extraction of intelligence and good actionable intelligence is critical when forming policy. But solid-timely intelligence, though imperative to success, will always fall short if our foreign policy initiatives are bungled because of poor management. Bungling is the fault of leadership. This fault of leadership is traced to leadership’s inability to define, much less uphold, any basis of substantive principles. Our rhetoric does not match our conduct. Our deeds are subject to murky interpretation and inexplicable clarification; and we wonder why our counter parties are miffed.
One of the reasons leadership poorly manages the affairs of foreign policy in form and implementation is that leadership lacks a basis of and for substantive principles. The administration talks of American-like values while operating to the contrary. A part of our continuum of blundering resides in the hyper-fluidity of our virtues; our inability to steadfastly adhere to the values and convictions expressed in our founding documents. It is our suppleness that erodes our conviction to objective principles. Over time such degeneration of belief in our founding principles abate the behavioral acceptance of what heretofore was the mores of norm.
Could it be that the textual of our policy is synonymous and guided by amoral Machiavellian persuasion? After all, Machiavelli did advise the prince to use hypocrisy whenever expedient to gain and maintain power. When the differing between the façade of moral intangibles are confronted by the amoral reality of application, there is no contest. The bureaucratic procedure of favoring precedents mandates amorality as its reality, and morality sits on the wayside, awaiting another opportunity to deceive.
This country’s foreign policy has taken the course of many powerful nations. Wherein leaders have forgotten the basis of their raison d’être, their founding a priori has been perverted, redirected, and possibly abandoned. Befuddlement and oral discombobulating are the result of such straying from the founding values that are encased within The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of The United States, the Federalist Papers, and the tradition of American ethos.
I suggest this nation returns to our founding principles and utilizes such as the basis of our foreign policy.