The prolonged campaign for the White House shows why the US finds it so difficult to pursue a rational foreign policy in a world of unprecedented complexity. Articulating foreign policy in the heat of an election produces an irresistible temptation to proclaim simplistic remedies to complicated foreign challenges.
Hence the hasty public declarations that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad must go even before a realistic US policy to achieve that goal had been formulated. And hence the deference shown to the fevered pleas of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, for an ultimatum to Iran and the repeated references to the eventual use of US military power, without much consideration for potential regional or even global consequences. Hence, also, the pledge by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, to announce that on day one of his presidency – without any prior negotiations – he would take punitive steps against China’s “currency manipulations”, irrespective of likely retaliation.
Alas, such a foreign policy – derived from politically expedient, short-term commitments – risks setting in motion dynamics that ultimately lead to international chaos....
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© 2013 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.
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