I have taught Advanced Placement World History for 10 years. Each year I discuss how our world has developed to where it is today. I investigate with my students the reasons for revolution and discovery. We contemplate the human experience and why people make the choices they have made in the past and in the present. As a nation, we need to be aware of the history of the people we share the earth with and their lives today to inform us as we work toward a peaceful and hopeful existence for us all.The safety of the US, both economically and politically, means being aware of all world players and their goals. Below are a few of the situations that are most pressing to our nation.
- We have been at odds with the government of Russia since 1918 when Woodrow Wilson sent US troops to support the White Russian army against the Red Russian army in hopes they would rejoin the WWI effort. But the Red Army won the revolution leaving the US in direct opposition to the new Russian government. Not much has changed since then, even though we worked together during WWII.
- The Russian economy has continually lagged behind the US and they have struggled with creating a democracy after the failure of the Communist regime. Unfortunately, that regime has been replaced by an oligarchy led by Vladimir Putin who is a relic of the Russian ideals of the Cold War. Putin and Russia’s political leadership stand in direct contrast to democracy and freedom. The more our democratic norms are threatened internally, the more it boosts their claims to legitimacy. The current Russian leadership will undermine our democracy every chance they get. There are plenty of articles about this on the Foreign Policy Research Institute website. (fpri.org) We need to take firm, clear, and immediate action to prevent meddling in our elections, our democracy, and our society.
- China is our economic competitor and their leadership will continually look for a way to gain the upper hand. This battle is unlike Russia in that China’s interest is about raising their economy to the pre-colonial era of the early 1800’s when they dominated world trade, which would undermine our economy, not our democracy. Actually, China dominated world trade from as early as the beginning of the Silk Road around 130 B.C. until the 1800’s when they missed out on the Industrial Revolution that set Europe on a course for global dominance.
- China’s oligarchy will use whatever resources they have to get ahead in the global economy. If the US wants to stay competitive with them, we need to be on the cutting edge of developments such as sustainable energy, IT, and trade. I applaud current attempts to keep China from stealing US technology and developments. This is a step in the right direction, but investing in government sponsored cutting edge research and encouraging companies to do the same can keep the US at the top of our game in the competition with China. As a teacher, a website I often refer to for information about China and other Asian issues is the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. (nctasia.org)
- European nations and Canada are our allies. We need to work with other nations that share our passion for democracy and humanitarian causes to address injustice around the world and to safeguard against actions by nations that seek to undermine those ideas for their own benefit. I am not suggesting that we be the watchdog for the world, rather that when issues arise that demand a response, we have allies to stand with instead of acting alone.
- NATO is still necessary as long as Russia is ruled by a dictator or oligarchy. Their aggression in the Ukraine is evidence of the need for such opposition. Russian aggression in the Crimean region has been part of their history since 1768. Every time an opportunity arises for them to take advantage of the weaker state, they have made a play for it. It happened in the Crimean War in the 1850’s and again before WWII with the inclusion of Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union in 1922. If any other nation in the region were to be as vulnerable, they would take advantage of them also.
- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BILATERAL NEGOTIATIONS IN FOREIGN POLICY. Whether we like it or not, we are globally connected to every other nation on earth. When we negotiate a trade deal with one country, other countries calculate how they can benefit from it. Our economies have become inextricably connected. Just looking at the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak make this fact obvious. Foreign policy negotiations can not be reactionary or based on personal relationships between two leaders, it must be based on long-term goals and consistent actions that address the underlying issues of disputes.
- Because of the fact that no negotiations are bilateral we must be involved in the Middle East. It is important because of the chess match being played over its resources. In this non-bilateral negotiation world, every decision made about the Middle East must be carefully weighed in regards to what effects it could bring to the region or the US. We can not create democratic states in the Middle East. They must do that for themselves. Our role is to help establish enough peace for them to work that out for themselves without interference from Russia or China or other players that have an interest in controlling the resources of the region. The US must work toward becoming less dependent on their resources so that we are not one of the players vying for control and become peacemakers enabling them to establish governments that offer basic human rights even if they are not exactly what we would prefer.
- North Korea is a threat and our policy with it can not be based on personal relationships or social media. I applaud efforts of this administration to open talks with Kim Jong Un, but we need consistent policy to restrict its leaders from gaining materials that could jeopardize the safety of our allies in the Pacific. That policy needs to include continual policing of the region by our military combined with continual efforts with other nations to block their importation of resources that could aid in their development of weapons that might be used against their neighbors.
Government Intelligence Agencies
- I trust the information provided by our intelligence community. The CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security are filled with responsible career professionals and are reliable information sources. While their employees are entitled to their own opinions, they are patriots who are rarely recognized for the sacrifices they make for our nation. Their goal is NOT to make the evening news or any social media, but to keep Americans safe. Oversight of these institutions should be done by Congress.