#37 – American Foreign Policy: Grand Strategies or Grand Blunders?

For the last 16 years a seminar has been taught at Yale by a number of professors around a theme they call “The Grand Strategy.” Past American grand strategies during the 20th century have resulted in the winning of two World Wars and the Cold War. “In contrast, the often arrogant neglect of grand strategic thinking has led to postwar quagmires, stalemates and the assorted misadventures that often drained American resources for either impossible or irrelevant aims, while tearing the country apart over the last 70 years.” (1)

The terms “grand strategy” and “foreign policy” are indistinguishable when defined by academics, politicians, militarists and other mostly unconscious community leaders. It usually means when a nation or empire uses its military, economic, political and cultural resources to further its own interest. Have U.S. policy makers even known what American long-term interests have been throughout our history?

Of course, the goal of creating a sustainable American community would have to involve a successful foreign policy, but we also have to learn to accommodate our neighbors on this planet. Our record in this respect is not admirable. First, we are dealing with our ever-present paranoia. In Current Events essay #20 we introduced the illusion of the other which explains why many of us are fearful of not only “foreigners” but even many of our fellow Americans. A successful foreign policy and indeed a sustainable community will involve synthesizing the rationalism of the West with the mysticism of the East to lay the foundation for a new narrative and a new identity transcending the illusion of the old paradigm and our ego-centered identity.

Secondly, most members of our species on the planet, despite religious precepts, still worship the god Mammon, that is to say, we are greedy and covet our neighbors’ “stuff”, whatever that may be.

In Current Events essay # 21 we made the case that American foreign policy seems to be unable to prevent our getting entrapped in wars. We clearly have not had throughout our history any foreign policy plans worthy of the label “Grand Strategies.” Any strategic thinking on the part of Americans will have to involve becoming much more aware of the structure of human consciousness or, in other words, why people behave the way they do.

What insights would a viable grand strategy have to contain today to alter the catastrophic destiny awaiting the peoples of the Global Village? Don’t look to Ivy League seminars for guidance of any kind unless you believe that bananas grow in the Negev. Nor can we look to human history for rational grand strategies. “The generals who led the Athenian expedition to Sicily, Julius Caesar poised at the Rubicon, Alexander the Great at the Indus, Napoleon and Hitler at the border of Russia and Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam all equated past tactical success with assured future strategic dominance, lied to themselves that the material or spiritual advantages were all theirs and so ended up dead, humiliated or defeated.” (1)

To repeat, our academics, politicians, militarists and other mostly unconscious community leaders have been delusional. One such current delusion is the so-called “American Exceptionalism.” The Current Events essays are designed to explore these delusions in some detail. To continue that exploration click on the link below.

 

Insight # 37:  “It is the vogue of this doctrine or dogma [American Exceptionalism] that presents the strongest barrier to the effective formation of an international mind which alone agrees with the moving forces of present day labor, commerce, science, art, and religion.”    John Dewey

Links:

  • Nationalism in The ABCs of Simple Reality, in print and on this blog, by Roy Charles Henry, 2018.

References:

  1. Hanson, Victor Davis. “Think Globally.” The New York Times Book Review. April 22, 2018, page 12.

 

 

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