Author Topic: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?  (Read 300 times)

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Offline SuperColinBlow

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What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« on: June 05, 2019, 04:27:25 pm »
What I have noticed about foreign policy in the U.S. is that it's quite fluid. You make an agreement with the U.S. and it has a maximum shelf-life of 4 years, 8 if you're lucky. In other words, the life of one particular administration.

During the Cold War there was a "bipartisan consensus" on most foreign policy issues. But the Cold War is over, and the parties today disagree on what to do about just about everything in the world.

The U.S. government is notoriously short-sighted. We think in terms of the next midterm election, the next few years, the next fiscal quarter.

I think we'd **** a lot less people off if we were a little more consistent, and honored agreements in the long term instead of having them more or less expire every time a new bunch gets in the white house. The lesson other countries would learn from this is, "don't make an agreement with the Americans, the next president won't honor it."

I admit that I'm not an IR professor or anything like that, but it's something I've just noticed over the years.

Thoughts?
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Offline wilber

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2019, 07:25:13 pm »
The change is that with Trump, you have to wonder what it will be tomorrow, not four years from now.
"Never trust a man without a single redeeming vice" WSC
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Offline MH

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2019, 05:54:38 am »
Pre-Trump it vacillated between self-iinterest and altruism, as famously explained in Kissinger's great book 'World Order'

That was bad enough... and you would get switches from term to term or even within one term... then you get Trump.

Offline waldo

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2019, 10:36:23 am »
What I have noticed about foreign policy in the U.S. is that it's quite fluid. You make an agreement with the U.S. and it has a maximum shelf-life of 4 years, 8 if you're lucky. In other words, the life of one particular administration.

During the Cold War there was a "bipartisan consensus" on most foreign policy issues. But the Cold War is over, and the parties today disagree on what to do about just about everything in the world.

The U.S. government is notoriously short-sighted. We think in terms of the next midterm election, the next few years, the next fiscal quarter.

I think we'd **** a lot less people off if we were a little more consistent, and honored agreements in the long term instead of having them more or less expire every time a new bunch gets in the white house. The lesson other countries would learn from this is, "don't make an agreement with the Americans, the next president won't honor it."

I admit that I'm not an IR professor or anything like that, but it's something I've just noticed over the years.

Thoughts?

you mean all the stupid shyte the U.S. does around the world... failed nation-state building... presuming to extend upon self-serving agenda-driven "American/western values"... oil security couched in "regime change", failing to honour agreements it does sign, bullying NATO to extend upon so-called American foreign-policy, strutting around the world in the name of self-proclaimed American exceptionalism......... like that? Is that what you call, as you say, "fluid"?

and then there's Trump! Paris Climate agreement - scratch! Iran nuclear deal - scratch! TPP - scratch! You know, cause Obama!!! As much as Canada is quite obviously influenced on so many fronts by American intrusion into Canada (overt and subtle), Trump raised the profile on that to the nth degree. Nothing said it clearer than the U.S./Trump admin imposing tariffs on Canadian steel/aluminum... claiming Canada as a national security threat to the U.S.!

PM {Pierre} Trudeau captured it most succinctly in 1969:

Offline MH

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2019, 05:52:31 am »
Waldo, you must have *some counter examples ?

Offline segnosaur

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2019, 12:11:39 pm »
What I have noticed about foreign policy in the U.S. is that it's quite fluid. You make an agreement with the U.S. and it has a maximum shelf-life of 4 years, 8 if you're lucky. In other words, the life of one particular administration.
I don't know if its quite as fluid as you are making it out to be.

For example, some trade deals (e.g. NAFTA) have ~25 years (through both Democratic and republican administrations). NATO hasn't really changed much. It kept its isolationist policies against Cuba for decades. It still abides by various arms control treaties (such as various nuclear test ban agreements). And the US still follows the Munroe doctrine.

Granted, Trump has been an absolute wrecking ball (pulling out of NAFTA,TPP and the Paris accords), harming America's standing in the world and showing itself to be completely untrustworthy. But he seems to be the exception. Usually most presidents don't made radical changes because they are either willing to stick with what works, or if they make changes will do so slowly over time.

Offline SuperColinBlow

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2019, 04:20:30 pm »
You all mention Trump quite often; not taking up for him (I don't approve of his foreign policy mistakes either) but it pre-dates him, and it will post-date him as well.
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Offline SuperColinBlow

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2019, 04:23:00 pm »
I don't know if its quite as fluid as you are making it out to be.

For example, some trade deals (e.g. NAFTA) have ~25 years (through both Democratic and republican administrations). NATO hasn't really changed much. It kept its isolationist policies against Cuba for decades. It still abides by various arms control treaties (such as various nuclear test ban agreements). And the US still follows the Munroe doctrine.

Granted, Trump has been an absolute wrecking ball (pulling out of NAFTA,TPP and the Paris accords), harming America's standing in the world and showing itself to be completely untrustworthy. But he seems to be the exception. Usually most presidents don't made radical changes because they are either willing to stick with what works, or if they make changes will do so slowly over time.

The things that we are consistent on are still there because they continue to suit us (or we assume they still suit us).
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Offline SuperColinBlow

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2019, 04:26:08 pm »
you mean all the stupid shyte the U.S. does around the world... failed nation-state building... presuming to extend upon self-serving agenda-driven "American/western values"... oil security couched in "regime change", failing to honour agreements it does sign, bullying NATO to extend upon so-called American foreign-policy, strutting around the world in the name of self-proclaimed American exceptionalism......... like that? Is that what you call, as you say, "fluid"?

yes it is what I call fluid. It's f***** up for other reasons, but fluidity is one of them.

perhaps if Congress had more oversight on matters of foreign policy, particularly the Senate, it wouldn't be as wishy-washy.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 04:27:58 pm by SuperColinBlow »
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Offline Rue

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2019, 07:12:06 am »
yes it is what I call fluid. It's f***** up for other reasons, but fluidity is one of them.

perhaps if Congress had more oversight on matters of foreign policy, particularly the Senate, it wouldn't be as wishy-washy.

The Congress already does. This "wish washy" is as a result of dead lock. The US system as you well know basically creates 3 decision making centres, one in the House of Reps, one in the Senate, and then POTUS (office of the Prez). The three are supposed to check and balance each other to prevent any one of those 3 from being an absolute dictator. So it can and does cause that wishy washiness you say absolutely-its a stalemate as  many opinions bog down and everyone scrambles to find neutral words to seek compromise to push stuff through as law. You are right it can cause indecision and grid lock as elected reps preoccupied with special interest groups who lobby (bribe) them and their own cnstituents meander all over the place deciding where to stand on any issue . It can make a dog's breakfast of watered down pablum laws at times.  Our system does the same thing in a different way. Politics in a demoractic system is about wishy washy compromise. Its either that or you get dictators who impose. I will put up with the wishy washiness before dictators.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 06:46:44 pm by Rue »
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Offline SuperColinBlow

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2019, 03:37:26 pm »
Well, that is more with domestic politics. Don't forget that, over time, the use of "executive agreements" has increased. This is a get-out-of-jail-free card for presidential foreign policy where the president can say "Oh, it's not a real treaty, just an executive agreement" and thus bypass senatorial consent. Senators stay longer than 4-8 years, typically. Presidents come and go.

The rough draft of the constitution (Aug. 6, 1787 "Report of the Committee of Detail") described a really weak presidency and most of the power over foreign policy was delegated to the senators.

Not saying we should go that route precisely, but a return to the classic "advice and consent" over all international agreements between the U.S. and another country would probably do us good.
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Offline segnosaur

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2019, 04:56:34 pm »
You all mention Trump quite often; not taking up for him (I don't approve of his foreign policy mistakes either) but it pre-dates him, and it will post-date him as well.
That's the thing... it doesn't really pre-date him. As I said, most presidents tend to continue agreements that the previous president had started. Obama maintained Troops in Afghanistan and continued the Iraqi withdrawl according to Bush's plans. Bill Clinton didn't pull out of NAFTA because it was negotiated by a republican. There have been over a dozen weapons treaties that have lasted more than a decade through multiple administrations.

Its only been Trump who has decided to be a complete and utter jerk by abandoning agreements. Not that changes didn't happen in the past, but they tended to be the exception rather than the rule.

And yes, Trump is mentioned quite often... basically because he is an outlier and needs to be addressed separately from other presidents.



Offline Omni

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2019, 06:42:47 pm »
That's the thing... it doesn't really pre-date him. As I said, most presidents tend to continue agreements that the previous president had started. Obama maintained Troops in Afghanistan and continued the Iraqi withdrawl according to Bush's plans. Bill Clinton didn't pull out of NAFTA because it was negotiated by a republican. There have been over a dozen weapons treaties that have lasted more than a decade through multiple administrations.

Its only been Trump who has decided to be a complete and utter jerk by abandoning agreements. Not that changes didn't happen in the past, but they tended to be the exception rather than the rule.

And yes, Trump is mentioned quite often... basically because he is an outlier and needs to be addressed separately from other presidents.

Especially after he made his statement today that he wouldn't have used Fat Kims half brother as an asset who was willing to provide info. to the CIA as to NK's plans for weapons nuclearization. He seems to forget the guy who he "fell in love" with is a murderous dictator. Oh but he got yet another "beautiful letter" from him today so all is well!

Offline Rue

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2019, 06:48:57 pm »
Well, that is more with domestic politics. Don't forget that, over time, the use of "executive agreements" has increased. This is a get-out-of-jail-free card for presidential foreign policy where the president can say "Oh, it's not a real treaty, just an executive agreement" and thus bypass senatorial consent. Senators stay longer than 4-8 years, typically. Presidents come and go.

The rough draft of the constitution (Aug. 6, 1787 "Report of the Committee of Detail") described a really weak presidency and most of the power over foreign policy was delegated to the senators.

Not saying we should go that route precisely, but a return to the classic "advice and consent" over all international agreements between the U.S. and another country would probably do us good.

Good point. We see how many Presidents started wars without getting the Congress/Senate  to declare war. I will defer to your point on Defence policy for sure and where it ends and foreign policy picks up oh hell I don't know does anyone?  The US foreign and defence policies are so closely aligned. Its a fine line.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 06:50:37 pm by Rue »
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Online ?Impact

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Re: What's wrong with U.S. foreign policy?
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2019, 06:53:48 pm »
We see how many Presidents started wars without getting the Congress/Senate  to declare war.

Congress hasn't declared war since 1942.