A new type of foreign policy

Are Americans so bereft of imagination that the only foreign policy they can imagine is one of brutality and horror?

America can do better. American can build a Golden Age -- for itself, for the species, and for the world more generally.

Here are six concrete things America can do immediately to build a different type of foreign policy:

1) Commit to international law and international institutions. This is such an obvious point, but perhaps Americans are so used to acting "unilaterally," i.e., illegally, they don't realize how much of a pariah state America has become. 

How about joining the Paris Agreement, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the anti-land mine treaty for a start?

How about funding the United Nations in the manner befitting a great power, and rejoining UNESCO and the Human Rights Council?

The U.S. has acted like a petulant, spoiled bully on the global stage. How about a foreign policy of decency and respect for other countries?

2) Stop invading other countries. The United States could change the world tomorrow if it just agreed to abide by its obligations under the United Nations Charter and committed to resolving its disputes through peaceful means.

This would mean not providing covert support to rebels in other countries (Syria, Iran), not invading countries illegally (Iraq, Libya), and only using violence consistent with United Nations Security Council authorization, or in legitimate self-defense.

This is a very simple and easy thing to commit to. 

3) Prosecute war criminals wherever they may be, and whoever they may be -- even if American. As President Obama so trivially noted, "We tortured some folks". When Americans commit grave international crimes, they should be prosecuted, either domestically or before the International Criminal Court. Again, see point one about joining the International Criminal Court.

By enforcing the international norms against torture and other crimes, America can set an example, and reinforce the global rule of law. That gives America and American courts the legitimacy to prosecute anyone -- Chinese, Russian, North Korean, and American -- who commits these grave acts. All of a sudden, the U.S. starts to look like a real defender of the rule of law.

4) Commit to stabilizing the climate. Climate change is the greatest threat to the human race that has ever existed. It is a pressing, existential crisis. It will destroy civilization if nothing is done. This is not hyperbole -- a world where temperatures have risen 3-5 degrees Celsius is one where entire cities like Shanghai are literally wiped off the map, subsumed by coastal flooding.

The United States needs to lead in mitigating climate change (switching to renewables and pulling carbon out of the atmosphere) and then taking steps to help the world adapt to various changes, some of which are already locked in.

The U.S. must push for a world where the temperature is set to pre-industrial levels, somewhere around 268-280 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere.

The U.S. must do this immediately.

5) Implement a humane migration policy. Concentration camps on the border are a thing of such brutality and barbarism that there needs to be a legal reckoning at some point to account for the terrible inhumanity that has been caused by this policy. Once some accountability is in place, the U.S. can implement a humane migration policy that is consistent with international law and which permits migrants to come to this country and find opportunity.

There is no shortage of work, land, or opportunity in America.

A humane migration policy must be implemented in tandem with climate efforts, since migration is going to be a fact of life as the world warms dramatically. 

6) Lead the world through human rights and civilization. America acts selfishly, aggressively, and violently on the world stage. Why can't Americans take the lead in building a world based on fundamental human rights, and in building a civilization that is premised on human dignity, freedom, and joy?

We must set our sets higher -- we must build a Golden Age for us and for our descendants. 

Let's enact a different type of U.S. foreign policy so that America can be forever remembered as the nation that helped lead every other nation into an era of peace, prosperity, unity, environmental balance, and human decency.