Foreign policy is one area that is not easily divided between left and right wings. At one extreme are those who believe foreign policy should have very limited goals – the protection of core national interests. At the other extreme are those who believe foreign policy is an opportunity to spread a national philosophy internationally (or perhaps enhance national power, money and glory ). Somewhere in the middle are those who believe that humanitarian interventions join core national interests as legitimate reasons to act internationally.
Each of these approaches has its challenges. Ideologies cannot easily be spread through imposition or even the support of revolutions against competing ideologies. Countries that have successfully transitioned through revolutions tend to have had pre-existing social infrastructures that were in line with the political system they shifted to. Those without those structures either returned to their prior paths or devolved into civil war and chaos.
Those who would support only core national interests all too often abandon those in need to massively destructive forces. This sort of approach gives an open checkbook to killers. Long-term their ideologies tend to metastasize and pose significant threats to others. By that point, however, the cost of intervention is far higher.
Finally, those who intervene for humanitarian reasons often find their intervention is counter-productive. Like entitlements, these sorts of rescues can prolong and even encourage social and political sickness in the societies being helped. It enables those societies to have a free pass instead of forcing them to confront their core problems.
The Potentialist Party believes that foreign policy should defend core national interests. But obligations extend beyond that core in a number of ways.
First, wherever possible cities of refuge should be established – to allow the innocent victims of conflict to flee. The cities would have laws that embody the Potentialist platform, with a single core difference: The cities would be administered – without normal political freedoms – by the nation that establishes them. The people who are fleeing are fleeing broken societies and political systems – they need practice in a functioning society before they can govern one. Hong Kong was such a city of refuge.
Second, the Potentialist society is obligated to spread its philosophy in order to help others achieve their potential. Specifically, there is an obligation to attack those regimes that actively reduce human potential. There are many methods to accomplish this. Among them: university exchange programs, ideological attacks (including mockery), education programs and even the cities of refuge themselves – where people from the troubled culture can build something stronger and then reinject it into their prior society.
Third, if there is a society which already embodies the Potentialist social and legal scheme, then limited military force would be supported to free it from tyrannical governance or prevent its domination by an aggressive neighbor.
Fourth, the Potentialist Party would support the defense of allies. Ultimately, human potential is built on relationships. Abandoning national relationships would undermine the fabric necessary for international order. The failure of that order would severely damage efforts to realize human potential as well as national interests. However, allies must be chosen carefully. Ideally those allies would substantially share the Potentialist ideology (even if not this specific platform). Societies which embody this ideology (and there are many) don’t war with one another. War wastes too much potential.
Fifth, sanctions would not be supported, they have never worked except as a lead-in to (or element of) full military intervention. They punish civil society without changing regimes.
Finally, the Potentialist Party realizes that almost nothing is more destructive than actual armed conflict. Certain steps must be taken to reduce the possibility of such conflicts.
A Potentialist Nation must adhere to particular traits to ensure their involvement in military conflict is minimal. Among them: pleasure, money and military glory cannot be considered legitimate reasons for war; external borders must be respected; there must be a commitment to resolving disputes through procedure. If these guidelines are followed, wars that do come will be initiated by others who do not share these moral constraints.
In order to minimize those conflicts, the Potentialist Party supports a powerful military response. Those who attack a society that upholds these values must be made an example of. A strong military, and its application, will dissuade others who are motivated by money, pleasure or glory from attack. It will reinforce the value of borders and the commitment to procedural dispute resolution.
When faced with something like the Syrian civil war, the Potentialist Party would recommend:
- Establishing a city of refuge along a border area.
- Providing military support to Kurdish and other possibly self-governing areas that demonstrate an existing social attachment to a creative and protective society.
- Applying relentless propaganda to undermine the IS and Assad camps as well as their foreign sponsors.
- Defending long-time allies (which differ based on which country is acting).
Prior to World War II, the protocol would have recommended for the United States:
- Establishing a city of refuge along a border area.
- Providing military support to neighboring states that demonstrated an existing social attachment to the creative and protective society.
- Applying relentless propaganda to undermine the Nazi camps as well as their foreign sponsors.
- Defending long-time allies such as the U.K.
Obviously, once full-scale conflicts erupt, the recommended course of action will change in line with the above guidelines.
If we are willing to intervene early, in a clear fashion dedicated to preserving human potential, we can thread the line between watching slaughter and engaging in full-scale conflicts to help the victims of evil.