Monday, November 5, 2012

America's Decision

What are the implications of the looming U.S. election? Is it difficult to be an American citizen and go to the ballot box thinking that a single suffrage has a direct repercussion in the whole world? Are the manifest destiny, the Monroe doctrine and the thesis of exceptionalism still in place? What are the options for the Americans? On the one side we have a believer of the State as a social construct and not only a referee that imposes rules in order to make interaction among entities possible. In addition, diplomacy and dialogue are the main tenets of this administration. The withdrawal of the armed forces was a step towards demilitarization and a sign that the world order can no longer be controlled by “hard power”.

Asking for forgiveness in Egypt was not, as seen by many, a signal of weakness and retreat, on the contrary, it was an unequivocal gesture of how the interdependence and global reciprocity must be carried out. Enemies of the past are fading and the face of the U.S. has to be modified in order to adapt to the new circumstances of the world. For this reason the U.S. must question or reevaluate their traditional military deployment approach to foreign policy. One of the recurrent thoughts that Americans must have is “do I want a stronger internal America or do I want a gradual weakening of the U.S. by its interference in every single world affair?”

The Roman Empire’s downfall was the cause of the paradox of success and systematic involvement in state issues. Nonetheless, if the foreign policy of the U.S. is not modified, the internal social fiber might continue to get worn out not only by the deficiencies of their representatives but also by the latent threat that their alleged peaceful encroachments pose. The aforementioned could continue to grow and exacerbate. The way Americans see the world has not changed substantially and many of their leaders still believe that preventive force is always more functional than reactive diplomacy, still conceive law and justice as means of the powerful to impose their interests on the majorities, as Plato displayed in the “Thrasymachus” dialogue.

Mitt Romney is on this side of the fence, less state and more market, more rules and less commitment, more accumulation and less solidarity. Assertions made through his campaign corroborate its stance on many issues in which many outside the U.S. are involved. The unconditional increment in the armed forces budget is a plain proof of how sticks work better –at least for him and his followers- than the carrots, that weapons and missiles provide a better understanding of the “others” where culture, tolerance and co-responsibility are old fashioned, at the end of the day the powerful does not have to appear weak and as the motto says “the king never does anything wrong”.

Is this intended to be an invective against Romney or a defense of Obama, the answer is categorical, no. what it is intended is to portray how a shift in the mentality of Americans and their leaders is fundamental to re-arrange the world in a more prosperous and peaceful fashion, where respect for the interests of other countries does not mean a threat to the interest of the U.S. Once in a while, Americans must understand that the necessities and requirements of other countries do not align with their own, and this is not an ultimatum or a war declaration, it is just sovereignty.

Is this the view of the oppressed and defeated? I believe it is not, since many people within the U.S. borders share the same opinion. That is indeed a threat to the mainstream beliefs and political culture that has impregnated the social thinking of the Americans. Today the ballot box does not only represent continuity or change, the dichotomy of how the world can incline towards a renewed view of the U.S. and its commitment to the world is at stake, the other choice is to go back to business as usual for the crumbling giant.

Roberto Mendoza Gonzalez, MA in Public Policy and Governance at the University of Sheffield UK and research associate of FDA.

Question for Readers:

Do Americans have to re-assess their foreign policy initiatives and if so, of the two main presidential candidates which proposes an appropriate alternative?

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