American foreign policy is nasty, brutish, and short-sighted, but it doesn’t have to be. Policy is a fundamentally mutable thing, and while there are existing structures that will shape and constrain how the United States engages with the world, rarely has so much of of the longtime Beltway foreign policy consensus been up for debate.
Plotting a new path forward in accordance with left values requires left foreign policy leaders to reject the stance of restrained, technocratic stewardship that defines the self-image of the existing national security state. Instead, left leaders must make explicit how the values that inform their domestic platforms can express themselves in the United States’ actions on the world stage. Extending those values outward is a way to reorient the state, to lessen its power for harm, and to urgently answer the call for international cooperation on issues from combating climate change to arms control.
Below, you will find the first three entries of what we hope will be an ongoing project at Fellow Travelers Blog: leading foreign policy thinkers offering up five principles for left foreign policy. Ours is a project of thinking beyond the narrow confines of perpetuating a forever war, managing hegemonic decline, and preparing for a grim war between nuclear-armed nations. The statements of principles below are presented as possible futures, as guideposts and visions for how elected officials on the left might want to steer policy, and for how people should hold those same policy makers accountable when they act against the interests of people across the world.