American foreign policy should reflect our democratic values and principles, but it should not tether us to unrealistic idealism. Today the United States faces a myriad of global issues that cannot be undone or remedied in one generation alone. The Middle East lays in ruin after nearly two decades of unending war. Africa is emerging as a global powerhouse, yet the majority of the continent still does not have clean water and usable electricity for their cities. Historical grievances and economic interests are creating a tense situation between our Asian allies and our largest trading partner, China. Our European allies are becoming divided against each other, and creeping nationalism is beginning to jeopardize American interests. The world needs the United States now more than ever, and our traditional approach of “shoot first, ask questions later” is not the answer.
- Peace in the Middle East Now, Not Later. American foreign policy is plagued with the hypocrisy that is often mistaken as the result of other nefarious intentions. Well, enough is enough. The U.S. must pursue a political settlement in Afghanistan, supported by regional powers such as Pakistan, between the Afghan government and the Taliban, with assurances from all parties that Afghanistan will never again be a breeding ground for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups who will threaten the U.S. Meanwhile, we should continue to assist the Afghan government in stabilizing the country while also focusing on our bilateral relationship with Pakistan.
- Prioritize Soft Power Over Hard Power. When foreigners think of the United States, there is an image of John Wayne gunning down outlaws in some dusty town in the Southwest. This stereotype is because our foreign policy often reflects this hard headed position. Refugee programs, diplomatic missions, and economic policies are more reliable, and cheaper alternatives to our traditional “might makes right” doctrine. We can lead the world through other means, and as we know, violence only perpetuates more disorder and anti-American sentiment across the globe.
- Reign in the Authorized Use Of Military Force and Pass an Updated AUMF. For too long, Presidents from Bush to Trump, have abused the war-making powers of the AUMF. The original AUMF passed after 9/11 is abused and misused. The interpretation of the bill exceeds the original intent to fight those responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I don’t believe we are fighting the same war that emerged 17 years ago. The AUMF provided the president the ability to act unilaterally to strike any country at any time. We have seen the disastrous effects of the AUMF in action. Tomahawk missile strikes in Syria, heightened aggression on the Korean peninsula, and the ordered deaths of two Americans in Yemen. We cannot know peace until the AUMF is officially repealed and replaced with a more specific piece of legislation.