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A Way Forward on Foreign Policy

 A Way Forward on Foreign Policy

Presidential candidates Obama and Romney are competing with one
another on how reckless U.S. foreign policy will be in 2013-16. What can we do about this now? How can we push back? And what can we do in coming years to turn our country away from its aggressive foreign policy? Here are seven suggestions for the long haul that we face. Plenty of work for everyone, plenty of room for every skill!

1) Foreign policy and current wars should be front and center at the August 26th Ron Paul rally in Tampa, in platform fights, and--if we get that far--in the nominating speech for Dr. Paul. Those efforts can stress: a) the horrendous casualties and suffering, both civilian and military, caused by our current wars, b) the way that military adventurism is bankrupting our country, and c) the dangers of the push for war with Iran. The message must be loud and clear. The Romney campaign, the GOP establishment, and the whole country really need to hear it.

2) We can urge political reporters--especially those who will question Romney and Obama during the fall debates--to ask them about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, U.S. drone warfare in Pakistan and elsewhere, why they keep threatening Iran, and how they expect to pay for perpetual warfare. There should be strong antiwar protests at the debates and at the two candidates’ other appearances during the fall campaign. Again, the message must be loud and clear, and we should remember that Romney and Obama do respond to pressure. No matter which one wins in November, the message must continue over the next four years.

3) We can support antiwar candidates at the congressional level this year. We can also attend events of their pro-war opponents and keep asking them why they advocate so much violence. We can do the same thing in the 2014 congressional elections.

4) Dr. Paul’s coming retirement from Congress doesn’t necessarily mean full-stop. Certainly, we should encourage him to keep writing and speaking about foreign policy and other great issues of the day. Many others should speak out, too; but his voice is irreplaceable.

5) We can work on long-range strategies--for example, challenging the establishment think-tank folks who have such influence in Washington and who keep pushing for intervention abroad. I hope many Paul supporters, especially those now in college, will gain the deep knowledge and the academic credentials that will help them challenge the interventionists at every level. Some excellent thinkers and writers do this already (for example, see http://www.Antiwar.com), but we need more. We need them in academia, the think tanks, the media, congressional staffs, and the White House staff.

6) We can call for repeal of the 1947 National Security Act, which imposed on the country a Cold-War structure that looks upon every problem in the world as a potential threat to the U.S. We should get rid of the National Security Council and its staff; make the State Department once again the key foreign-policy player; and find a Secretary of State with the wisdom and restraint of our first one--Thomas Jefferson.

Repealing the National Security Act would also abolish the CIA. Many would insist that we need the CIA’s intelligence-gathering work. Actually, many other agencies duplicate that work. Can’t we get the number down to one? In any case, the CIA’s covert-action function should be abolished entirely. That’s the one that makes it the President’s private army. It’s the one that has led to overthrow of other people’s governments, much “blowback,” and many wars. Ending covert action can prevent severe problems down the road.

7) We can tackle the false but widespread idea that patriotism means militarism and the idea that everyone should follow the flag no matter where it goes. Those ideas are rooted deep in our culture. We can challenge them with two proposals that could start a healthy debate. First, dethrone the “Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. It’s a battle song--and one with notes so high that many citizens can’t sing it. (Many professional singers mangle it even more than laypeople do.) Replace it with the first verse of the peaceful “My Country ‘tis of Thee,” a lovely song that salutes our “sweet land of liberty.” Second, repeal the federal law that recognizes the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. That pledge indoctrinates people into something that borders on flag worship. It encourages a reflexive “follow the flag” response when interventionists get us into war. If we’re going to have any pledge, it should be one to the Constitution or to each other. But people show their love of our country by trying to make it live up to its ideals, not by taking pledges.

This should do for starters. I’m sure others can think of many more laws that should be repealed and treaties that should be ended. We need a truly profound change in foreign policy. Let’s keep going until we get it.

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