An easy foreign policy solution: Building peace and sustainability

People are at a loss to describe genuine alternatives to US foreign policy that don’t involve imperialism, war making and conquest.

It’s not hard to describe a better foreign policy for America. A very easy foreign policy vision would be for the US to commit to building peace and sustainability: in the US, and elsewhere.

Here are three elements of that:

(i) A real commitment to avoiding human extinction. Most people have yet to realize how bad the environmental situation really is on this planet. Climate change, resource over-exploitation, and runaway pollution are contributing to the Sixth Great Extinction. There is a real possibility that humanity may not exist in 200 or 300 years.

The US must urgently lead on issues of sustainability. The US must immediately and fully reverse its objection to tackling climate change and must take the lead in working with other countries to stabilize the climate.

This includes moving to an emissions-zero economy and removing over 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.

It also means working with other countries to stabilize the extinction event taking place and implementing a policy of rewilding.  Large tracts of the Earth, both on the ground and on the ocean, have to be left to Nature. Humans are not above Nature, but apart of it -- and we need create and sustain a healthy environment, globally, if humanity wants to survive.

(ii) A real commitment to peace. The US has been in a perpetual war since the events of 9/11/2001. It’s time to end the perpetual war, and engage in diplomacy with great power rivals to build a lasting and perpetual peace.

US wars, including covert action against other governments in order to create “regime change,” are directly responsible for the refugee crises we see today. Truly, people must be blind if they cannot see that people seeking refuge in America are coming from places that the US has destabilized! This is not rocket science.

Instead of war, the US can take a principled and effective foreign policy approach that creates and sustains genuine democracies all over the world, assists them with their own domestic efforts to build peace and sustainability, and creates wealth locally in those countries so that people don’t need to leave to other places.

(iii) A real commitment to human rights. I’m sick and tired of the great powers abusing the phrase “human rights” to just describe things they don’t like about their rivals. When the Chinese, the Russians, the Americans or the French engage in “human rights” criticism, they are typically just trying to gain leverage over a rival.

This is not what human rights is about. Human rights begins as home. In the US, take a look at the racism against people of color and Muslims; economic discrimination against women; lack of meaningful opportunities for the poor; and the crisis of debt that accompanies people seeking to access health care or education. There is a terrible human rights crisis in the US, right this moment!

The US can be a real beacon of freedom to the rest of the world, not by invading countries, but by implementing a genuine human rights agenda in the US. Addressing discrimination, implementing social human rights such as universal health care and universal education, rehabilitating prisoners, and providing equal opportunity to all through sane fiscal and tax policies are a good first step.