In less than three years, the neo-cons in the Bush administration-Wolfowitz,
Perle, Cheney and Rumsfeld-have thoroughly degraded America's relationship
with the world. Any potential successor to President Bush will have a good
deal of his or her work plan dictated by this indisputable fact. The Bush
administration has dragged our country and the world down a path of "might
makes right." The next US President must implement a new foreign policy to
take us off this dangerous course and remedy the damage done.
In the areas of arms control, multi-lateral security, global warming,
terrorism, world health-all aspects of foreign policy-a new president would
need to offer strong leadership and a compelling vision. Yet, with a few
notable exceptions, the Democratic presidential challengers have been loath
to articulate how they would approach this work. This shows the profound
lack of leadership that the voters perceived in the last election (and we
know how that turned out) and given the grave state of world affairs, it is
The Bush foreign policy has not worked. The goodwill that the world held for
the U.S. after September 11th has been squandered by Bush's pre-emptive
attack policy and his takeover of Iraq. The introduction of a Pew Charitable
Research Center poll released in June states, "The war [in Iraq] has widened
the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the
Muslim world, softened support for the war on terrorism, and significantly
weakened global public support for the pillars of the post-World War II era
- the U.N. and the North Atlantic alliance." Many Muslim nations fear that
they might be next on Bush's hit list.
The Bush administration's foreign policy shoots first and asks questions
later. The results are not pretty.
Everyday it seems that another American is killed in occupied Iraq by a
resentful people whose country's transition to a promised representative
government seems to have been indefinitely put off. Meanwhile back in
Afghanistan, (remember Afghanistan?) our troops oversee an increasingly
lawless country that is ruled once again by warlords and drug smugglers.
In order to gain support for wars and empire building, the President has
wasted our country's resources providing arms and military training to
governments that abuse human rights. According to the Federation of
American Scientists, these countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia,
Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines,
Tajikistan, and Uzebekistan.
Proving that security is secondary to loyalty when it comes to weapons
makers, the administration has put us on a road toward reviving the arms
race through its plans for new breeds of nuclear weapons and Star Wars
missile defense. Along the way, a host of international agreements have been
thrown out the window and international institutions, such as the UN, that
promote non-violent conflict resolution and international cooperation, have
The Bush administration has turned our country into the rogue nation. The
Bush administration extorts other nations into giving them what they want
while using an increasingly heavy hand to quash dissent here at home.
Our country is still a world leader. Unfortunately, given the
administration's foreign policy, it's not the kind that we can be proud of.
Recently, Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz contradicted months of
deception coming out of the White House spin machine about the threat posed
by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. In a moment of candor in an
interview in the July issue of Vanity Fair he stated, "For bureaucratic
reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was
the one reason that everyone could agree on."
Bureaucratic agreement, based on a lie, might be nice if you're a right wing
hawk in Washington who's pushing war. However, if you are a U.S. soldier
stuck in Iraq, an Iraqi child maimed or killed by "shock and awe" or an
American citizen duped by your government, you may not be so blithe about
If the administration's self-perpetuating war is allowed to dominate the
political landscape, other issues that matter to us such as the sorry state
of the economy, health care, the environment, education, civil liberties,
and real security will not be addressed.
We can't allow this to go on. For the sake of our country, and for the sake
of a world dangerously destabilized by the administration's unilateral
attack policy, we need a new foreign policy based on core democratic values
and the rule of law.
Anyone who runs for president in 2004 must understand this.
We need leaders that will pursue a better vision of our country's role in
the world; a vision that upholds human rights and democracy by ending arms
sales to dictators; a vision that will lead us to a new era free from the
threat of weapons of mass destruction; a vision that cherishes international
cooperation as both the means and the end.
This is an absolutely crucial time to demonstrate to all presidential
candidates that millions of Americans demand a better direction for our
country. We want positive, constructive leadership toward a foreign policy
that isn't foreign to our values.
This is no time to be silent. Anyone who runs for President must advocate a
new foreign policy if they want our support.
Kevin Martin is the Executive Director of Peace Action and the Peace Action
Education Fund. As part of Peace Action's Campaign for a New Foreign Policy,
you can sign a petition and automatically email the presidential candidates
to show your support for a foreign policy better aligned with American