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Posted by on Dec 18, 2006 in At TMV | 4 comments

A Theory of Everything

In a stimulating article in the Washington Post, Daniel Drezner outlines the challenge of creating a modern conception for US Foreign Affairs. He surveys classic policies such as Kennan’s containment of Communism and newer attempts, such as the Princeton Project, to account for a flatter and more competitive world. What is needed he says, in essence, is a unified theory of everything.

Here are some nuggets:

…Ethical realists do not disdain democracy or human rights, but think that Americans should promote these goals by building a stronger democracy at home and thus leading by example, not by hectoring others to be more like us… By economizing on other forms of power projection, ethical realism potentially frees up resources to cushion the domestic costs of globalization….Ethical realism is not isolationist… economic interdependence will help spread peace

…The best channel for U.S. power…through the ability of the United States to shape international institutions” such as the United Nations and NATO, thus offering Washington the velvet glove of multilateral legitimacy.

…”ours is a world lacking a single organizing principle for foreign policy,” with “many present dangers, several long-term challenges and countless opportunities.” Multiple threats call for multiple responses. This includes using international law and institutions to channel and augment U.S. power and influence; creating a “concert of democracies”; and advocating the peaceful promotion of popular, accountable and “rights-regarding” governments.

…all stress the importance of fostering open markets to advance economic development and U.S. power.

…The grand strategy that wins out in the end may be the one that — regardless of specific positions on Iraq or terrorism — convinces Americans that it is possible to have free and fair trade at the same time.

For the sake of argument and as a point of departure, I think that the new and emerging foreign policy could be referred to as “Raising all boats.”

All of our relationships would share the theme of increasing quality of life, reducing threats, increasing goodwill and winning hearts and minds, reducing obstacles, and expanding customers. This encompasses economics, security, and environment. It would include wide distribution of humanitarian supplies, renewable energy and water systems, and telecommunication equipment. The aim would be for the US to be inextricably linked to an improving quality of life.

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