The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 3, 2012

Our View: Foreign policy

From staff reports

— A penetrating debate over the underlying principles of American foreign policy is entirely appropriate during a presidential election campaign.

The absence of such a debate in fact is rarely if ever seen in such campaigns as well. American voters need to clearly understand how any candidate will try to promote American interests and values around the world.

President Barack Obama clearly established his approach to American foreign policy in his 2009 speech in Cairo. In essence, he said that the ties that bind people in the Middle East and America are much stronger than the forces that divide such people and nations. His approach would be to emphasize those binding human goals and to not promote dividing forces in American foreign policy under his administration.

Such a new approach to American foreign policy was of course far different from that of the previous administration in reaction to the attacks of Sept. 11. We launched a War on Terror soon after those attacks. The new president’s goals were to extricate ourselves from two wars as soon as possible.

Clearly that is exactly what American voters wanted to see happen during the election in 2008. Americans do not want to threaten or use force, particularly military force, anywhere in the world. Some Americans even call for not enforcing tough economic sanctions on Iran today, as just an example.

President Obama has established a foreign policy around the world that meets the demands of American popular opinion. Whether he is re-elected is up to the voters.

Has that underlying approach in foreign policy effectively promoted American interests and values in the Middle East? That, in our view, is the ultimate purpose of any nation’s foreign policy, the acceptance of a nation’s interests and values around the world.

Watch the turmoil in at least 22 countries around the world against American interests and values. Then ask how well is the president’s approach to foreign affairs working for America today? What are our alternatives?

We would like to hear some of those alternatives. Perhaps we will tonight during the presidential debates. We should all consider alternative ways to achieve our goals as well and listen carefully.