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Fri Feb 5, 2016, 02:16 PM

The Leader Our Foreign Policy Deserves


As president, Bernie Sanders might tweak the Pentagon budget by eliminating a few billion dollars of waste. He might scale back on U.S. interventions. But he would more likely continue in the direction in which he has started moving as candidate: demonstrating that he can wield power just like the big boys

Itís often said that, in democracies, we get the leaders that we deserve. In the current slugfest masquerading as a presidential race, it looks as though weíre getting the leader that our foreign policy deserves. The results of the first round of the 2016 presidential election in Iowa, with narrow victories by Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, only underscore this point.

Let me explain.

The Obama administration has engaged in several successful ventures in diplomacy, from negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran and reestablishing relations with Cuba to working with the international community to address climate change. As presidents go, Obama has acted with aplomb as the diplomat-in-chief.

But still, U.S. foreign policy is predicated on violence. We can measure this violence in a variety of ways:

The United States spends over $600 billion on the military. Thatís three times more than what China spends. Thatís also as much as the next seven spenders combined.
The U.S. military conducted operations in 147 countries in 2015.
The Obama administration is still directly engaged in active wars in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Outside these war zones, the United States engages in drone attacks and targeted assassinations in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia that have killed nearly 2,500 people since Obama took office.
The United States remains the leading arms merchant in the world. It controls roughly half the market. In 2014 alone, it boosted sales by 35 percent.
The United States has 7,200 nuclear weapons in its arsenal. It is spending $1 trillion over the next 30 years on modernizing a force that President Obama, in a celebrated speech in Prague in 2009, pledged to eliminate (though obviously not in the next 30 years).

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