Naive Foreign Policy

So the US proposed to back a resolution basically reaffirming what it should not have affirmed in 1979 about the legitimacy of settlements, though a weaker version. The current reported proposal would only condemn “continued” settlement building, something that hardly declares Jerusalem to be Palestinian territory. The proposed resolution had no chance of getting Arab backing. It would even have condemned Palestinian efforts to obtain support for statehood or recognition of borders! Meanwhile, I think that it probably ticked off a few supporters of Israel out there!!!

This political blunder comes on the heels of what amounts to disgraceful incompetence in the foreign intelligence arena, with the DNI arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood is “a largely secular organization!” And of course, that after this administration appears to have been completely blindsided by the events in Tunisia and Egypt. Let’s not forget whole host of issues related to Iran. There are certainly many more issues that could be raised.

Why does this administration seem to be blindly blundering in the Middle East?

My own answer to this question is that this administration is full of people who feel that a certain type of foreign policy had never been given a real chance, namely reaching out to the Arab world as a friend instead of as a power. Further, that in spite of the dismal failure of this policy thus far, the administration is being urged to go “all in” by its proponents.

To answer my question specifically, people in this administration understand that traditional foreign policy has not brought them what they wish for, which is peaceful coexistence (something they actually deeply down believe is possible). In their minds, traditional foreign policy has promoted hatred of the United States as exceptional (which of course it is).

Their goal with what I would call “Naive Foreign Policy” (literally a foreign policy lacking in experience) is to experiment with alternatives to the tried and true. This is a generation whose actions throughout life have been sheltered by parents and by society. They’ve been able to experiment with drugs. They went through the sexual revolution. They treat religions like they do their cars, trading them in for new ones when they go out of style. And for all of their experiments, they have suffered very little that they can see. Thus, they see no real problem in experimenting with new foreign policies. What real harm can be done? We can always trade it in for a new model later. Worse, they believe not only in microwaving food, but in microwaving societal transformations and even global ones. They actually believe that peace is possible tomorrow, if only the necessary actions were done today.

Reason and rationality are not the basis of this foreign policy. Hope in the common humanity of their fellow men and women is the basis.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one in which both sides violate this utopian ideal. Historical fact violates this ideal and we therefore cannot use history as the basis of our actions now. The President has not used those exact words, but he might as well have. Remember what President Obama said in his speech to the UNGA in September of 2009? I will never forget it:

The time has come to realize that the old habits, the old arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people. They lead nations to act in opposition to the very goals that they claim to pursue and to vote, often in this body, against the interests of their own people.

They build up walls between us and the future that our people seek. And the time has come for those walls to come down. Together, we must build new coalitions that bridge old divides, coalitions of different faiths and creeds, of northern and south, east, west, black, white, and brown.

The choice is ours. We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of 20th century into the 21st, that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, failed to keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what we were for. Or we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common interests of human beings and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in the nation given to this institution, the United Nations.

That is the future America wants; a future of peace and prosperity that we can only reach if we recognize that all nations have rights but all nations have responsibilities as well. That is the bargain that makes this work. That must be the guiding principle of international cooperation.

We have a foreign policy in which history is irrelevant. Anyone find that frightening?

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One Response to Naive Foreign Policy

  1. Licorne Negro says:

    Just quoting out of context, but…
    “This is a generation whose actions throughout life have been sheltered by parents and by society. They’ve been able to experiment with drugs. They went through the sexual revolution. They treat religions like they do their cars, trading them in for new ones when they go out of style. And for all of their experiments, they have suffered very little that they can see. [...] What real harm can be done? We can always trade it in for a new model later. Worse, they believe not only in microwaving food, but in microwaving societal transformations and even global ones.”
    It’s the most pure and true affirmation I have seen in years!
    Congratulations Rabbi Kaufman!

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