It's been clear for some time that when it comes to approaches to security and foreign policy, the people are way ahead of the Inside-the-Beltway politicians and pundits in believing there's a need for real change.
Now, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and its Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) network of progressive experts have released a new report —Just Security — that offers an alternative framework that is more sane and effective than the stunted vision and failed policies supported by so-called moderates in both parties.
One important departure from bipartisan conventional wisdom in the report is the call for a reduction of $213 billion in US military spending, which amounts to about one-third of the total defense budget. Even with this cut the US would retain the largest military in the world and spend over eight times more than any of the next largest militaries.
"This new foreign policy approach is more in line with public opinion than the US Congress, which recently backed additional money for the Iraq War," said John Feffer, co-director of FPIF. "Leading presidential candidates and the foreign policy establishment are being overly cautious. There's virtually no debate about freezing, let alone reducing, military spending, which has soared to unprecedented levels."
Other areas addressed by the report include: climate policy, nuclear disarmament, overall health and economic wellbeing, conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and counterterrorism, as well as security spending. This kind of bold and comprehensive approach is exactly what is needed in these times, as Feffer recently wrote: "Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed US foreign policy with his big picture Good Neighbor policy of the 1930s. When they dramatically reoriented the US approach to the world, neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. BushÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ approached the matter piecemeal. They offered a large-scale, comprehensive foreign policy vision (Peace Through Strength, Global War on Terror). Those who oppose the current administration's foreign policy should take this lesson to heart. We should be thinking not just about Iraq or about cutting one or two old Cold War weapons systems. Judicious retrenchment, judging from the elections and the polls, is not what Americans want. We should be aiming high. We should be aiming for a Just Security program."
Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.
© 2007 The Nation