Op-Ed

US foreign policy should reflect Americans’ values of democracy, fairness and peace

Glen Anderson
Glen Anderson sbloom@theolympian.com

U.S. foreign policy has serious implications for us.

Venezuela

President Trump and the U.S. government have escalated economic sanctions and military threats against Venezuela, a sovereign democracy.

Trump is continuing the bi-partisan U.S. belligerence that has occurred ever since Venezuela elected Hugo Chavez president in 1998. He was re-elected twice and invested Venezuela’s oil wealth to improve nutrition, health, education, and housing before he died in 2013.

A few rich people have been hurting the majority poor population. Chavez’s “socialism” angered economic elites, who did not want to lose their economic and political privileges.

The U.S. supported the 2002 coup that overthrew Venezuela’s democracy and removed Chavez. But overwhelming public support for Chavez restored him to the presidency after just 47 hours.

Global and historical context

The U.S. has often used military, political and economic power to support other nations’ elites and suppress people’s grassroots movements for democracy and fairness. The U.S. has funded death squads, military coups, dictatorships, and so forth.

Especially since World War II, the U.S. has been bullying other nations, interfering with elections, overthrowing democracies (e.g., Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, and Honduras in 2009).

After Nixon, Kissinger and their CIA destabilized the economy of Chile (Latin America’s oldest democracy since the 1800s), they supported a military coup because Chile’s people had elected a “socialist.” Kissinger said, “The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” The coup installed General Augusto Pinochet as one of the world’s most brutal dictators.

The problem is thoroughly bi-partisan.

Our best values should guide our foreign policy

Ordinary Americans support democracy, peace, and fairness. Our personal values are much better than our arrogant, cruel foreign policy.

The U.S. violates the Golden Rule, which says, “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.” The U.S. has a double-standard. We do things to other countries that we would not want to have done to us.

The U.S. has overthrown other nations’ governments (even democracies) because we accused their leaders of doing bad things. U.S. leaders do bad things too, so should other nations overthrow our government? For example:

  • Big money has corrupted U.S. elections. We have the lowest voter turnout among modern democracies. Would that justify a nation with a better democracy in overthrowing the U.S. government?
  • U.S. oil companies and government have contributed to the climate crisis that seriously endangers the rest of the world with droughts, storms, and rising sea levels. The climate crisis will flood much of Bangladesh, so is Bangladesh entitled to overthrow the U.S. and dismantle American oil companies to survive?

  • President Clinton’s 1996 de-regulation of banks led to our 2007-2008 economic crash. President Obama wouldn’t prosecute any of the bank executives who broke laws that led to the crash. In contrast, Iceland convicted and imprisoned dozens of its corrupt bankers. Should Iceland overthrow the U.S. government because our government mismanaged our economy?

When “the shoe is on the other foot,” we can see the hypocrisy that the U.S. uses to justify overthrowing other nations’ governments.

Our ‘vital national interests’ are a slippery slope

The U.S. has installed nearly 800 military bases in nearly 180 nations to “protect vital national interests.” Often this means extending American business tentacles to enforce access to raw materials or control markets. Two examples show this is a slippery slope:

  • Russia has bought wheat from Eastern Washington. Should Russia install military bases there?

  • China buys computer technology from Redmond and Silicon Valley. Should China install military bases there?

Would our government to allow other nations with “vital national interests” in the U.S. to install military bases throughout the U.S., as we do to other nations?

Let’s respect the sovereignty of all other nations

Our best values would prevent any U.S. harm to Venezuela’s economy or sovereignty. This principle should pertain worldwide.

We must live by our best values and be good neighbors in our global community.

Solving problems requires stepping out of narrow egos and seeing other people’s viewpoints.

Glen Anderson has spent much of his adult life to working as a volunteer for peace, nonviolence, and social justice. He has lived in Puget Sound all of his life, and he has lived in Lacey since 1975. Reach him at glenanderson@integra.net.
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