After criticizing past Presidents’ foreign policy efforts as nothing more than “nation building” during his first campaign, President Bush promised the world a new American foreign policy once elected. Seven years later, we have seen the results of his approach – of his insistence on preemptive military strikes instead of diplomacy, of brash unilateral arrogance as opposed to respect for the international organizations. I am certainly not alone in recognizing the foreign policy of this Administration as nothing but a total and abject failure.Yet President Bush’s failures point to a larger problem in American foreign policy – a continued focus on accumulating, and exerting, “hard” power, be it military or economic, as the only tools of achieving our foreign policy goals. Not only is this approach outdated, but more importantly it is completely ineffective and hinders our ability to safeguard our nation’s interests.
For much of the last century the U.S. has led the world, not solely with our military might, but with the power of our ideals. Just as the proliferation of “American values” coupled with the creativity and intelligence of workers led to record economic growth following World War Two, our commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance and embrace of democratic principles brought the Cold War to a peaceful end.
That’s why I have proposed a plan called SMART Security – Sensible, Multilateral American Response to Terrorism. This is a new paradigm for American foreign policy, one that treats war as an absolute last resort, to be pursued only after every peaceful and diplomatic solution has been exhausted. SMART recognizes that traditional military might is no longer the most effective means of guaranteeing our own national security, never mind protecting our interests abroad:
SMART Security defends America by relying on our capacity for global leadership, our compassion for the people of the world, and our commitment to peace and freedom.
SMART is tough on terrorists by using stronger intelligence and multilateral partnerships while respecting human and civil rights.
SMART attacks the root causes of terrorism by investing in the development of impoverished nations, giving their people the hope and opportunity they need to reject a life of violence and hatred.
SMART controls the spread of weapons of mass destruction with a renewed commitment to inspections and nonproliferation.
SMART reduces our dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable energy sources.
History shows that we are at the height of our power, as a nation, when we bring all of resources to bear for peaceful resolutions and prevention, refrain from making the grave miscalculation that we can, and will, achieve our goals through military haste and by turning a blind eye to our alliances around the globe. These lessons are the basis for SMART Security, and lessons that I hope that this Administration will some day learn.