John Edwards' essay for Foreign Affairs - Reengaging with the World - is the sixth in BritainAndAmerica's series of summaries of the worldviews of leading presidential candidates.
The Iraq war was one of the greatest strategic failures in US history: "We must move beyond the wreckage created by one of the greatest strategic failures in U.S. history: the war in Iraq. Rather than alienating the rest of the world through assertions of infallibility and demands of obedience, as the current administration has done, U.S. foreign policy must be driven by a strategy of reengagement."
America must reverse its low standing in the world: "A recent Pew survey showed the United States' approval ratings plummeting throughout the world between 2000 and 2006. This decline was especially worrisome in Muslim countries of strategic importance to the United States, such as Indonesia, where approval dropped from 75 percent to 30 percent, and Turkey, where it fell from 52 percent to 12 percent. Perceptions of America's efforts to promote democracy have suffered as well. In 33 of the 47 countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center, majorities or pluralities expressed dislike for American ideas of democracy. We need a new path, one that will lead to reengagement with the world and restoration of the United States' moral authority in the community of nations... There was a time when a president did not speak just to Americans -- he spoke to the world. People thousands of miles away would gather to listen to someone they called, without irony, "the leader of the free world." Men and women in Nazi-occupied Europe would huddle around shortwave radios to listen to President Franklin Roosevelt. Millions cheered in Berlin when President John F. Kennedy stood with them and said, "Ich bin ein Berliner." Millions of people imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain silently cheered the day President Reagan declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Even if these ordinary men and women did not always agree with our policies, they looked to our president and saw a person -- and a nation -- they could trust. Today, under the current administration, this is no longer the case. At the dawn of a new century, it is vital that we win the war of ideas in the world."
We should stop using the 'war on terror' expression: "From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, the "war on terror" has tragically become the recruitment poster al Qaeda wanted. Instead of reengaging with the peoples of the world, we have driven too many into the terrorists' arms. In fact, defining the current struggle against radical Islamists as a war minimizes the challenge we face by suggesting that the fight against Islamist extremism can be won on the battlefield alone. For these reasons, many generals and national security experts have criticized the president's "war on terror" approach. Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni has said that the "war on terror" is a counterproductive doctrine. So has the government of one of our closest allies; the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has distanced himself from the term. Admiral William Fallon -- President George W. Bush's new chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) -- has instructed his staff to stop saying that we are in a "long war." These leaders know that we need substance, not slogans."
All combat troops must be withdrawn from Iraq: "Iraq's problems are deep and dangerous, but they cannot be solved by the U.S. military. For over a year, I have argued for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. combat troops from Iraq, followed by an orderly and complete withdrawal of all combat troops. Once we are out of Iraq, the United States must retain sufficient forces in the region to prevent a genocide, a regional spillover of the civil war, or the establishment of an al Qaeda safe haven. We will most likely need to retain quick-reaction forces in Kuwait and a significant naval presence in the Persian Gulf. We will also need some security capabilities in Baghdad, inside the Green Zone, to protect the U.S. embassy and U.S. personnel. Finally, we will need a diplomatic offensive to engage the rest of the world -- including Middle Eastern nations and our allies in Europe -- in working to secure Iraq's future. All of these measures will finally allow us to close this terrible chapter and move on to the broader challenges of the new century."
America must provide moral leadership on Darfur: "NATO must establish a no-fly zone over the region to cut off supplies to the brutal Janjaweed militias and end the Sudanese government's bombing of civilians in Darfur. NATO member states should also impose a new round of multilateral sanctions on the Sudanese government and freeze the foreign assets of individuals complicit in the genocide. The United States must make a decisive new commitment to employ the extraordinary assets of the U.S. military -- our airlift capabilities, logistical support, and intelligence systems -- to assist UN and African Union peacekeeping efforts in Darfur. And we must continue to pressure other countries with influence in the region, such as China, to meet their own responsibilities to help end this conflict."
America should negotiate directly with Iran to stop it becoming a nuclear power: "Every major U.S. ally agrees that the advent of a nuclear Iran would be a threat to global security. We should continue to work with other great powers to offer Tehran economic incentives for good behavior. At the same time, we must use much more serious economic sanctions to deter Ahmadinejad's government when it refuses to cooperate. To do this, we will have to deal with Iran directly. Such diplomacy is not a gift, nor is it a concession. The current administration recently managed to have one single-issue meeting with Iran to discuss Iraq. It simply makes no sense for the administration to engage Iran on this subject alone and avoid one as consequential as nuclear proliferation."
China, Russia and India: "The U.S.-Chinese relationship is a delicate one, which has not been well managed by the current administration. In the coming years, China's influence and importance will only continue to grow. On issues such as trade, climate change, and human rights, our overarching goal must be to get China to commit to the rules that govern the conduct of nations... Our most important goal is to draw Russia into the Western political mainstream through continued engagement and, when necessary, diplomatic and economic pressure... I have seen for myself that India is one of the world's richest treasures. With its great history, tremendous people, and rich culture, India has truly overwhelming potential. The United States is fortunate to count India as a partner, and we must cultivate our friendship to advance our common values. India is a country that knows both the positive and the negative aspects of our globalized world. It has achieved remarkable economic growth, benefiting from access to technology and information. Yet the nation also grapples with threats that refuse to respect borders -- the AIDS pandemic, extreme poverty, and terrorists, such as those who struck New Delhi late in 2005. The United States and India are natural allies, and the U.S.-Indian strategic partnership will help shape the twenty-first century. We must therefore strengthen our relationship using both national and international tools: reforming the UN so that there is a place for India on the Security Council and working with India to help it achieve a credible and transparent plan to permanently separate its civilian and military nuclear programs."
No commitment on defence expenditure but a rebalancing of capabilities and missions must occur: "Some have fallen right in line behind President Bush's recent proposal to add 92,000 troops between now and 2012, giving little rationale for exactly why we need this many men and women, particularly with a likely withdrawal from Iraq. But the problem of our force structure is not best dealt with by a numbers game. We must be more thoughtful about what the troops would actually be used for. Any troops we add now would take a number of years to recruit and train, and they would therefore not help us today in Iraq. As president, I will rebalance our forces to ensure that the size and capabilities of our military match its missions."
More emphasis on international development: "As president, I will create a new cabinet-level position to coordinate global development policies across the government. I will also replace Kennedy's Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a Global Development Act to modernize and consolidate development assistance, and I will ask Congress to improve its oversight and revamp its committee structure so that it can be a more effective partner in this effort. With measures like these, we can reclaim our historic role as a moral leader of the world while at the same time making the world safer and more secure for the United States."