How not to conduct foreign policy:
Just follow the example of Donald J. Trump in all aspects of dealing with other sovereign nations, as follows:
• Step one. Change the direction of your policy statements every day, based upon the opinion of the last person you speak to before retiring to bed, and leave the rest of the world in a state of confusion.
• Step two. Limit your policy statements to 280 characters (the limit that Twitter sets); in case you need to go over that limit, post as many tweets as necessary.
• Step three. Bully world leaders with threats of economic sanctions, tariffs, and withholding of foreign aid.
• Step four. Threaten “fire and fury” against any sovereign nation in case step three does not produce favorable results.
• Step five. Back off from the brink if brinksmanship results in unpopularity at home; wait until you become popular again before raging against the “thems” of the world.
Our accidental president will not play a hand unless he holds all of the high cards in the deck. Even if only one high card is missing from his hand, he will walk away from the table. He will then posture and pout, rant and rave, and/or express insincere regrets. And, he will ignore any criticism, either domestic or international, as so much “fake news.” In his mind, a good deal is one where he gets everything he wants and the other parties get a pat on the head. “Compromise” is not in his dictionary.
To be fair about it, The Donald is not alone in his conduct of foreign policy. America’s dealings with the rest of the world have been consistently selfish, self-righteous, and sanctimonious since the late 19th Century. Once upon a time, the United States had a coherent foreign policy. It was called “neutrality.” Following the advice of president George Washington in his farewell address to the Nation, the U.S. did not enter into any military alliances with other countries; neither did it meddle in other countries’ affairs, political or martial. The one exception was the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 which forbade the colonial powers of the Old World from further colonization in the New World and which freed the U.S. to embark upon its own colonization activities in the New World. By the late 19th Century, having gathered the whole of the Western Hemisphere into its pocket, America received an “epiphany” and forsook neutrality. It defeated a weak Spanish Empire in 1898, seized all of its overseas territories, notably Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Philippines, and thus became an empire. The defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II turned the U.S. into a “super-power” (along the lines of the Roman Empire and the British Empire), enabling it to dictate to or bribe lesser nations into adopting the American way of doing things. Where ordinary persuasion failed, the Marines were dispatched to bolster the argument.
The Donald is just using a well-worn playbook, albeit adding his own unique refinements to the mix.
Nevertheless, the real art of the deal entails a completely different structure. Each party makes its demands known at the outset; each party negotiates to the point whereby it gets a little of what it wants and gives to the other a little of what it wants. At no time does true deal-making involve an all-or-nothing approach. Once an agreement is made, future negotiations can build upon it, each party getting/giving a little, until such time as the ultimate goals are reached. Patience is the watchword here, but this president doesn’t demonstrate he has patience.
How to conduct meaningful foreign policy, the Coddington Agenda recommends the following:
• Repudiate “gunship diplomacy,” except where American lives or property are threatened.
• Renounce the use of covert activities, sabotage, assassination, and espionage, against any nation.
• Resume a policy of neutrality in all instances of warfare, international or civil, unless America is attacked by an identifiable foe, and offer diplomatic mediation to all aggrieved parties.
• Establish a consistent approach to all diplomatic efforts and cease identifying other nations as “friend” or “foe.”
• Withdraw all economic and military assistance, save humanitarian aid, from any nation controlled by a despot or a military junta; cancel all trade agreements with it; close down all of its consulates and reduce its embassy staff members to the bare minimum; and restrict all movement of its embassy staff to travel to and from an international airport and the United Nations secretariat. Restore full relations when democracy is restored.
• Appoint career diplomats, instead of political cronies to ambassadorships and prohibit diplomatic staff members from engaging in political affairs, either physically or materially.
With this approach, America’s good name will be rehabilitated, its moral credit restored, and its influence readily accepted.
Just a thought.
How not to conduct foreign policy: