Foreign Policy

The U.S. needs to be engaged internationally, but in a constructive manner -- quite the opposite of our nation's conduct, particularly since 9/11. We should make clear what the U.S. once made clear (but has apparently forgotten or ignored) in the Kellogg-Briand Pact (and again at the Nuremberg Tribunal, then again in the U.N. Charter): wars of aggression (attacks on other nations that have not attacked the U.S. or which are not about to attack the U.S.) are illegal and strictly prohibited. Also, all wars since WWII have been in violation of the War Powers Clause of our Constitution. Even though Congress has sought, in certain instances (but not with respect to Libya, Pakistan or several other nations where the President has unilaterally ordered or allowed lethal attacks), to delegate to the President its power to declare war, such asserted delegations of power (e.g. the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the Resolution purporting to give Bush the authority to decide to go to war against Iraq) are wholly unconstitutional. Whenever challenges have been raised in federal courts, the courts have dodged the issue on the basis of the political question doctrine -- an outrageous abrogation of the judiciary's responsibility to decide constitutional questions.

I would ask Congress to repeal the War Powers Resolution and substitute in its place legislation making it clear that the President is prohibited from sending armed forces into combat without a specific direction from Congress, following its determination, based on contemporaneous facts, that armed hostilities are justified -- except in cases of actual or imminent attack against the United States. For a brilliant analysis of this issue, I highly recommend the book, To Chain the Dog of War, by my former professor Francis Wormuth and my great friend Ed Firmage.

I reject the call by neo-conservatives (including the notorious Elliott Abrams, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Dan Quayle, and Donald Rumsfeld), in the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century, for U.S. domination of the world for the next century. Our invasions and occupations of other nations, particularly in the Muslim world, have engendered tremendous hatred and resentment that will last for generations, seriously endangering the security of the United States.

Our interference in other nations (except in cases of genuine massive human rights atrocities, as in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan) almost always results in significant damage to U.S. interests. The overthrow by the U.S. of the democratically governments in Iran and Guatemala are clear examples. We must act in a principled fashion in our dealings with other nations, rather than simply acting in the short-term economic interests of corporations that can profit from our wars and alliances with dictators. The UN's primary purpose is to peaceably resolve disputes among its members and to prevent major human rights abuses, particularly genocide. It has a miserable record in that regard (see Romeo Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil), but it should be supported and improved, rather than undermined.

The U.S. should pay its outstanding debt to the U.N. and be a constructive force for positive change. I would strive in every way possible to reaffirm the illegality of wars of aggression and to do what is necessary to hold every nation, and everyone acting on behalf of every nation, accountable under the laws prohibiting aggressive war. I would also utilize the U.N. to pursue an aggressive initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons throughout the world.

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published this page in Issues and Solutions 2012-01-16 03:42:38 -0700
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