Sunday, October 9, 2016

"We need a foreign policy guided by principle"

My Foreign Policy Vision | The National Interest - Gary Johnson:

October 7, 2016 - "Although President Obama ran for office in 2008 on a promise to get America out of Middle Eastern wars, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his administration continued a series of policies of regime changes, particularly in Syria and Libya....

"The president’s first and most solemn responsibility is to keep us and our freedoms safe, especially from foreign attack.... Keeping us safe means having a military capability that is unquestionably second to none....

"Where the debate comes into play is what we expect our military to do. The best word to describe my approach to military interventions abroad is that I am a skeptic. As president, I would not need to be talked out of dropping bombs and sending young men and women into harm’s way. I would be the president who would have to be convinced it is absolutely necessary to protect the American people or clear U.S. interests. I will be the skeptic in the room.

"And there is good reason for skepticism. Just look at the past fifteen years. I supported going into Afghanistan after 9/11 to deal with Al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts.... But ... We’re still there.... Today, too many lives and too many dollars later, the Taliban is returning to Afghanistan. And if we were to mount another surge, remove them, and stay there another fifteen years, the same thing would happen as soon as we left....

"Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. No question about it. But are the Iraqi people better off today because we decided to take him out? Are we safer here in America? No....

"Libya. Same song, different verse. We used our military to help overthrow Qaddafi. Again, a bad guy and, by most standards, a war criminal. But what took his place? Did we have a plan? Did we consider the potential consequences, with which we are living today?...

"Our foreign policy, or lack of it, over the past fifteen years, has been a series of erratic chess moves, and the match isn’t going well. We need a chess player in the White House. More important, we need a policy guided by principle, not politics.

"The first and overriding principle is that our foreign policy and military actions must support clear U.S. interests.... Our interests are our lives, our property and our freedom. They are not necessarily a desire to shape the world in our own image or to pick winners and losers in civil wars on the other side of the globe....

"The second principle is that we must expect and demand that other nations shoulder the responsibility for their own defense and economic well-being. We are broke. We cannot any longer subsidize the national defense and economies of other nations. Yes, we will honor our commitments to NATO and other agreements, but other countries around the world have grown too dependent upon U.S. military power.

"Third, we must not ask our military to engage in conflicts without a clear mission and clear authorization. In Afghanistan and Iraq, what were our objectives? When could we possibly know when 'mission accomplished' arrived?.... As for authorization, whatever happened to the constitutional notion that Congress should declare wars?.... Congress has ... allowed the president to conduct 'executive wars' while avoiding their responsibility to place a check — or an approval — on those wars. Yes, they have continued to fund them, but as far as casting the tough votes to drop bombs or deploy our young men and women, Congress has been AWOL.

"We need to honor the War Powers Act and force both Congress and the president to only engage in war with a clear authorization from both the Executive and Legislative Branches. As president, I will honor the War Powers Act, without hiding behind dubious legal opinions from my own lawyers.

"If we adopt and follow these basic principles, the politically sensitive idea of reducing military spending becomes realistic. We must balance the federal budget, and it is fallacy to believe we can do so without being smarter and more focused in our military spending. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission has regularly concluded that we have excess capacity in military bases of more than 20 percent. We have tens of thousands of troops stationed in places like Japan and Europe — for what purpose? We have weapons systems the military doesn’t even want, and yes, we are subsidizing the national defense of too many other nations with our own troops, equipment and deployments.

"With defined missions [and] a focus on defense rather than intervention, regime change and nation-building, we can gain significant military savings while, in fact, better securing our safety here at home."

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