A U.S. Foreign Policy Fit for the 21st Century
By Pramila Jayapal, the U.S. representative for Washingtons 7th Congressional District and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Barbara Lee, the U.S. representative for Californias 13th Congressional District and chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
January 24, 2022
Across the country, Americans are mourning the losses of their loved ones to a pandemic that has taken more lives than the Civil War. Millions are struggling to make ends meet as they are burdened with debt, skyrocketing housing costs, and exploitative jobs. Others are enjoying a short reprieve between the hurricane and wildfire seasons that annually turn everyday life into a fight for survival.
Meanwhile, our fellow members of Congress finished the year by authorizing the largest war-making budget in U.S. history since World War IIand they did so in the name of security.
Excerpt: The greatest threats to Americas securitypandemics, climate change, economic inequality, authoritarianismcannot be defeated at the barrel of a gun. Its time to stop relying on the same old playbook and instead forge a foreign policy that works for everyday people. (Thats why we have introduced the Foreign Policy for the 21st Century Resolution.)
The resolution sets out a new vision for the United States role in the world. It takes as its starting point a few simple truths. Todays greatest security challenges cannot be solved through military adventurism. International cooperation, diplomacy, development, and peacebuildingnot bombsmust be the foreign-policy tools the country reaches for first. Global problems require global solutions. Justice and security go hand in hand. The United States cannot play by a different set of rules than it expects of the rest of the world. Foreign policy must be made not for the self-interest of the few but by and for the people, centering the working class and impacted and marginalized communities at home and abroad.
( Long overdue. )
More of the same is a recipe for failure. In the years after the tragic events of 9/11, the United States went to war not once, not twice, but many times, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya to Pakistan, and beyond. The price of this military adventurism has been unfathomable. According to Brown Universitys Costs of War project, the post-9/11 wars have cost $8 trillion, displaced 38 million people around the world, directly killed more than 900,000 people, and, through the inevitable reverberations of war, caused the suffering and deaths of many times more.
As the events of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan made all too clear, 20 years of military occupation were utterly incapable of meeting their stated aims. War was, in fact, not the answerunless the question was how to turn a profit for the arms industry.
But while policymakers have increasingly recognized that full-scale invasions are too politically costly, many have deepened their reliance on alternative forms of warfare instead. Arms sales empower human rights abusers from Saudi Arabia to the Philippines. Broad-based sanctions suffocate entire populations while rallying support for the very governments theyre intended to punish. Drone strikes kill civilians with impunity while serving as recruitment propaganda for violent nonstate actors. Though less visible to the public eye, these alternative forms of warfare are equally ineffective and often just as destructive. Rather than assessing the failures of the endless war era and advancing a new approach, weve simply pushed warfare into the shadows.
While the status quo does little for the security of everyday people, it does wonders for elites and corporate interests. Nearly half of the $14 trillion spent on the Pentagon since 2001 went directly to private contractorsand about a third of all contracts to just five corporations. These corporations thrive on the idea that the world is littered with existential threats to the U.S. public that can only be solved with more violence. With an army of lobbyists, a war chest of political influence, and a revolving door between top military brass and corporate board seats, this industry maintains its stranglehold on U.S. foreign policyand on Americans safety.
Thanks for the thread BeckyDem