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    Middle East
     Jun 21, 2007
Appeal for a 'Just Security' US policy
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Insisting that US foreign policy of the past six years has clearly failed, a left-leaning Washington think-tank is calling for the adoption of a comprehensive new approach to international relations called "Just Security" in which the US would act "as a global partner, not a global boss".

Among other features, "Just Security" calls for reducing US military spending by a third, or some US$213 billion; carrying out a "rapid" withdrawal of US forces from Iraq; and seeking sharp



cuts in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals as a first step toward realizing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's goal of banning nuclear weapons.

The new approach, laid out in a 69-page report released in Washington on Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies' Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) program, also calls for sustained and generous US engagement in multilateral institutions, particularly those aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and enhance the abilities of poor countries to curb the spread of deadly diseases.

"This new foreign-policy approach is more in line with public opinion than Congress, which recently backed additional money for the Iraq war," said John Feffer, who led a team of 14 contributors affiliated with program.

"Leading [US] presidential candidates and the foreign-policy establishment are being overly cautious. There's virtually no debate about freezing, let alone reducing, military spending, which has soared to unprecedented levels," he said, pointing to recent opinion polls by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that suggest strong US public support for sharply cutting defense budgets and increasing foreign assistance.

Indeed, since George W Bush became president in 2001, US military spending has increased to more than $600 billion, an amount that is roughly equivalent to the combined military budgets of the rest of the world's countries. At the same time, Washington has used its "global war on terror" to increase its military presence around the world and its sales of arms to other countries.

Yet according to the report "Just Security: An Alternative Foreign Policy Framework", these measures have actually undermined, rather than enhanced, global security.

"US military interventions, directly or through proxies, have thrown entire regions into a downward spiral of conflict," the report asserts. "In the Middle East and Africa, in particular, the emphasis on military rather than diplomatic solutions has prevented regional peacemaking from moving forward.

"With its emphasis on fighting wars, the Bush administration has insisted on focusing just on security," according to the report. "We must focus instead on a just security, because there can be no real security without justice."

To that end, the report calls for Washington to move "from a unipolar system presided over by the United States to a secure, multipolar system that is held in place by a latticework of international institutions and laws".

In that respect, it calls for Washington to pay far more respect to international law by abiding by the Geneva Conventions and other human-rights treaties, upholding the core standards of the International Labor Organization, and supporting new international institutions, such as the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol that have been rejected by the Bush administration.

"We are entering a new 'multipolar moment'. The most aggressive unilateralist phase in US policy is receding, and new centers of power are emerging," says the report, which notes that Washington must come to terms with China's ascendancy, Russia's "petropolitik", India's economic heft, a "new generation of Latin American leadership", and international civil society, or "the other superpower".

The report examines five critical challenges faced by the US and the rest of the world - climate change, global poverty, nuclear weapons, terrorism and military conflict - that it says can only be addressed through multilateral cooperation and that are subject to misconceptions, often shared by both Democrats and Republicans, that get in the way of rational policy responses.

Free trade and free-market policies are widely believed to help the poor, according to the report. But as implemented over the past two decades, neo-liberal policies have actually contributed to poverty and the growing divide between rich and poor both among and within countries, it asserts.

Similarly, the notion that Washington needs to spend more than $600 billion a year to keep the peace - an idea endorsed by all of the leading Republican and Democratic hopefuls for next year's presidential election - is also faulty, according to the report.

"The United States has taken on the role of the world's policeman, but the world is not calling [an emergency telephone number] for our services," it notes, adding that Washington "is currently spending more now on an annual basis than at any time since World War II" despite the absence of a credible rival.

The report, which is clearly aimed at influencing the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, in particular, calls for a return by the party and the country to the "principled internationalism" of the late president Franklin D Roosevelt, as opposed to his more hawkish successor, Harry Truman, who presided over the birth of the Cold War and the doctrine of "containment" of Soviet and later Chinese influence.

A "new and improved" containment to be deployed against transnational terrorism, threatening regimes and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as promoted by "liberal hawks" who identify themselves with Truman's legacy - while an improvement "on the schoolyard-bully stance of the Bush administration" - fails to recognize new global realities, according to the report, particularly the necessity to build multilateral mechanisms needed to confront critical global problems.

"This rehabilitation of Henry Truman's foreign-policy record is an attempt to pump up the Democratic Party with steroids lest it appear weak on the military on the military or terrorism," says the report. "It is close to the same Bush foreign policy, minus the more flagrant human-rights violations.

"As president Franklin Delano Roosevelt realized more than 60 years ago, the future of the United States depends on our becoming a more responsible member of the global neighborhood ... We will not feel secure until we all feel secure."

(Inter Press Service)


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(24 hours to 11.59pm ET, June 19, 2007)

 
 



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