Why it’s Time to Rethink American Foreign Policy

Jai Kasera, Contributing Writer

Courtesy of The Nation

Have you ever wondered who actually controls American foreign policy? Though to the public it might appear that the President handles foreign affairs, the Foreign Policy Establishment, an influential group of people including members of think tanks as well as government officials in the State Department, CIA, National Security Council, and the military, are actually behind many of America’s international policies. This highly secretive group takes pride in being the guardians of American ideals across the world. 

Over the last 70 years, the Foreign Policy Establishment has executed an expansionist strategy, spreading American influence in policy and economics around the world. For example, America has stationed troops in a number of countries to exercise military influence if needed. According to Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the establishment’s mission has been a resounding success as their efforts have prevented World War III and have led to an era of peace and tranquility. More recently, however, the Trump administration has upended past foreign policy by favoring isolationism, with Trump himself even stating that

the Foreign Policy Establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.”

— Donald Trump

Consequently, the current administration has received pushback against its new goals from the Foreign Policy Establishment, as the two bodies clash over their different beliefs.

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The Foreign Policy Establishment, however, has also made some grave mistakes in the last few years that should be reflected upon. Their role in invading Iraq under the false pretext of possessing weapons of mass destruction resulted in the loss of countless lives and a cost of over 2.4 trillion dollars. In another instance, the Foreign Policy Establishment welcomed China to the World Trade Organization, a decision that has proven detrimental. Almost all the experts in the organization were ignorant of China’s unfair trade practices in the WTO. Additionally, this decision led to China being characterized as a developing nation in the WTO, regardless of the fact that it has the second largest economy in the world. 

All in all, the Foreign Policy Establishment typically works in the best interest of America, but the cost of carrying out such a foreign policy strategy is great and must be considered. For example, America actively supported the mujahideen in their war against Russia in Afghanistan by providing them with military and financial aid. At the height of the Cold War, the goal was to stop Russia from spreading communism and creating more dictatorships. However, once Russia was defeated, America left the mujahideen to themselves, and they slowly morphed into the modern day Taliban. Worse still, one iconic mujahid was Osama Bin Laden, a name that will forever live in infamy due to 9/11. The situation shows the perils of unintended consequences when America inserts itself into a foreign affair. As such, the country needs to instead invest in its own economy and its own people who currently suffer from crippling education costs, expensive medical coverage, and subpar infrastructure.

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It may seem to us PDS students that America’s foreign policy does not affect our day-to-day lives. However, every single person that pays taxes in America has spent over $3 trillion in the last 20 years fighting never-ending wars. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the outstanding student loan debt in the United States lies between $902 billion and $1 trillion. Imagine if we used that $3 trillion to instead fund these student loans and schools. The cost of going to a university or school would be significantly minimized. Paying back student debt would be a much smaller burden.

It is time to rethink American foreign policy. Just because it has stayed the same for the past 70 years does not mean that it must continue doing so. As needs of America have changed, it is the duty of the Foreign Policy Establishment to evolve with it. 

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