- Local News
--By Warren Isleib on --
Trade with other countries is an “inconvenient truth” that has the biggest impact on America’s foreign policies. It’s about the economy; no question. The loftier ideals of democracy and peace in the world are just that; ideals to work toward but never quite accomplished.
There are two extreme views of what America’s role in the world should be. One would have us involved as a stabilizing force in any conflict, and manipulating other countries’ governments to our benefit. The other is an isolationist’s view where we keep to ourselves and trade with whoever ends up in power. Both have benefits and consequences, some which can last for centuries.
America is relatively unique. It is a representative republic with freedom of speech, religion and enterprise at its core. We try to maintain a balance of capitalist and socialist values. Both are required for a healthy competitive society. There’s plenty of talk over “free market” business, but don’t kid yourself. “Liberty and justice for all” is a socialist ideal. Some countries have great difficulty understanding how this is possible, they don’t believe it. All they’ve ever known is direct and complete control over their business and religious beliefs.
A most recent example is Muslim “outrage” toward America over a malicious bit of video, put out by a nasty piece of humanity. Most of the outraged people believe that if it happens in this country, it is authorized by the government. That’s the only system they’ve ever known. This is more common than you think, unless you’ve travelled and seen it for yourself. The murderous violence is the result of militant groups using any opportunity to grab power and influence. That brings us back to “Should we be there at all?”
America pulled back following WWI. We were tired of the fighting, death and costs; wanting only to maintain vital trade and strengthen our own economy. That worked for one decade. Problem was that other countries were not doing the same. They were trying to expand and strengthen their own countries’ economies by controlling the resources they depended on. Germany needed oil, Japan needed a lot of things, but rubber was a big one. As they were securing their control over supplies, these goods were not as available to America and costs were quickly rising. Germany was not an immediate threat because we had oil of our own and didn’t need to import. Our efforts to keep Japan down just forced them to go all military on us; we would have done the same. All of this brought us into WWII.
We are dependent on some imports, and cannot control those costs; oil is the big one now but there are others. Even if we could tap every available American oil deposit, we would only cut imports 10-20 percent. Anyone that was driving in the 1970s knows that foreign powers can easily raise the price of oil over 20 percent. Do you still want to stay uninvolved? It has happened before and could again. Perhaps a better question would be “How and where do we stay involved?”
The power grabbers and bullies of the world change over time and location. America must adjust and make best use its influence and resources. This is the role of the State Department in cooperation with business. They deal with very difficult decisions every day. If you are truly concerned, study and apply for a position doing this work. We think we see the problems, but I challenge you to actually find solutions that work for America. Consider this when rating the president’s foreign policies.