In anticipation of the much awaited final presidential debate I thought I would throw this out for Mitt Romney because I’m a helper. Also for the others who may not be fully aware of what is at stake regarding which man takes the reigns of Foreign Policy for this country for the next four years.
The United States Constitution divides the foreign policy powers between the President and Congress so that both share in the making of foreign policy. They both play important roles that overlap.
There are 12 basic ways to make U.S. foreign policy. The Executive branch via the President and State Department can make policy through:
1) Response to foreign events.
2) Proposals for Legislation.
3) Negotiation of International Agreements.
4) Policy Statements.
5) Policy Implementation
6) Independent Action.
In nearly all of these circumstances, Congress can either support the President’s approach or seek to change it. For instance, all legislative policies and foreign treaties must pass Congress before implementation. Congress can make foreign policy through:
1) Resolutions and Policy Statements.
2) Legislative directives.
3) Legislative pressure.
4) Legislative restrictions/funding denials.
5) Informal advice.
6) Congressional Oversight.
According to Edward S. Corwin, “What the Constitution does, and all that is does is to confer on the President certain powers capable of affecting our foreign relations, and certain other powers of the same general kind on the Senate, and still other such powers on Congress; but which of these organs shall have the decisive and final voice in determining the course of the American nation is left for events to resolve.”
“…actual practice under the Constitution has shown that, while the President is usually in a position to propose, the Senate and the Congress are often in a technical position at least to dispose. The verdict of history, in short, is that the power to determine the substantive content of American foreign policy is a divided power, with the lion’s share falling usually, though by no means always, to the President.”
So even though the President selects a person to become Secretary of State, it’s up to the Senate to affirm that appointment. Even if the Secretary of State and the President negotiates a trade agreement or treaty with a foreign power, it’s up to the Senate to affirm that treaty or trade agreement.
If the Senate is of the mind to block or filibuster the policies of the President and/or Congress refuses to fund the requests of the State Department to enhance the security of Embassies or Consulates on foreign soil, there is very little the President can do about it.
From “The Hill”:
A partisan House and Senate hell-bent to make sure a President is limited to only one term can certainly do things to block or sabotage foreign policy to make that President seem inept. But what kind of American would even contemplate saying or doing that? (Insert your own sarcastic tone here)
From The Ed Show 2010:
Currently, there are 195 Independent States (to include Vatican City and Kosovo) in the World. Of them we have diplomatic relations with 191 (Cuba, Iran, and North Korea excluded). There are 193 member states of the United Nations (Vatican City and Kosovo excluded).
As a common sense point of sociology and psychology. Most of the people in these nations have the same pride of their nation states as we do with ours. All have a sense of national sovereignty. None of them are in any way required to look upon the United States with awe and allegiance, nor should they.
With 195 separate Independent States, it’s important to understand that diplomacy, in order to keep the peace, has a high priority for all concerned. That diplomacy can translate to:
1) Financial and material aid or threat of withholding that aid
2) Military alliances or threats.
3) Or simply talking.
Citizens of the United States supposedly have sovereignty over ourselves, but not the world. We can be concerned about our own national security, as the other countries are with theirs, but to impose any undue intrusion into their national borders or influence their self-determination is by definition of international law, an act of War.
The United States is one of 195 Independent States;
Our population represents 4.52% of the World’s Population.
We are the third largest country (behind Russia and China), making up 6.15% of the world’s total land mass (Visualizing maps and globes can be deceptive).
We consume 30% of the World’s resources.
We consume 24% of the World’s energy supplies.
Despite the current recession, this country remains one of the wealthiest nations in history. The only problem is that most of that wealth is held by the 1% and corporations and banks.
You can understand why the remaining 95% of the World’s population might have issues with our country controlling and using most of the world’s resources and energy while only having a fraction of the population and land mass.
We also have the most expensive and deadliest military in the World. We have the largest nuclear arsenal in the World. However, we are not alone in military might and nuclear deterrent. We are one of nine nations who have nuclear weapons and only one of five who have ICBM capabilities (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China). India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel round off the remaining “known” nuclear states.
So in this kind of world, what makes the best kind of diplomat?
According to Sir Harold Nicholson, Diplomacy “is not the art of amicable conversation but the technique of exchanging documents in ratifiable form…an agreement which is committed to writing is likely to prove more dependable in future than any agreement which rests upon the variable interpretation of spoken assent.” Breaking down its definition, a diplomat represents the state while harmonizing relations with other nations through effective, clear and persuasive communication. However the ability to communicate effectively must be married with diplomats acute sense of analysis and observation, which can make a difference between success and failure or even life and death in hostile environments. Diplomacy is a process therefore those who negotiate cannot expect to control every element of the process. Flexibility is crucial and when Plan A fails, the diplomat must have already prepared Plan B, C and D in the nature of failure within a given framework.
Another way to look at this is to simply look at our own nation. We are composed of 50 States. It remains true that people in each of those states have their own pride and their own sense of entitlement to resources, especially when dealing with the federal government. I’m a fourth generation native-born citizen of the State of Arizona, a “Zonie,” and despite our state’s leadership (most of whom are not native Zonies) I’m very proud of my state and her people. I think our state is better than most. Arizona is battling California, Nevada and Colorado for water rights from the Colorado River. State governments actually do have to deal with each other on a diplomatic sense.
Now multiply that situation exponentially and add in the factors of generational hostilities between ethnic groups, religions, rights to resources, politics, racism and religion and then try to figure out what a professional diplomat, or leader of a nation has to convey to effectively deal with foreign policy on the world stage.
In the 20th Century, we had three Presidents almost universally praised as the most effective “Foreign Policy” presidents.
The best was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He helped create and maintain the largest coalition of nations to deal with the threat of the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) during World War II and helped draw the post war world.
Then there is Dwight David Eisenhower who using his experience as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II knew already how to effectively work with other nations and nationalities.
Finally, and this may be a surprise to many of you, is George Herbert Walker Bush. He was a former ambassador to China and had an excellent understanding of foreign affairs and did build a coalition of nations to deal with Saddam Hussein in the first Iraq War.
Sadly, his son did not start the 21st Century for U.S. Diplomacy in a good way. Despite having the sympathy and anger of nearly the entire world after 9-11, he squandered it because he allowed NeoCons, who through Project for A New American Century (PNAC) convinced him to push for American superiority around the world and not to give a damn what other nations may think. They pushed for military interventions to secure resources for our nation with little regard for those who live there. They pushed for nation building.
They see the planet as ours, and all other nations must pay homage to us because we deserve it. Well, that’s when American popularity around the world began to seriously wane and lo and behold, we started to have problems with other nations, long time allies, being willing to work with us for our national interests. European favorability for the United States hit an all time low, as it did elsewhere in the world.
Now President Obama has been working on repairing that relationship and rebuild the trust generations of previous presidents helped create prior to Bush Jr. With Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, our credibility has been significantly improving. People are more willing to work with us as opposed to being forced to work for us as PNAC would have.
Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisers come from the Bush administration. Many of them are from the same PNAC group who destroyed our reputation and ability to work with other nations for everyone’s best interests. Further, Mitt Romney has shown himself not to be so adept with others when he’s out of the country:
Mitt Romney European Misadventure:
Mitt Romney National Lampoon’s European Vacation:
Europe Does Not Want Mitt to Win:
Mitt Romney Insults Russia:
Mitt Romney on Iran and Israel at secret fundraiser:
Mitt Romney and Benghazi at the Debate:
Being President of the most powerful nation in the world requires tact, intelligence, empathy and understanding of how anything said at any time can impact others thousands of miles away. Every word counts. Gaffes can balloon to international incidents. It’s a job for diplomats, not CEOs who expect to have everything their way.