Toward a New Foreign Policy

By Shorrock, Tim | Foreign Policy in Focus, July 12, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Toward a New Foreign Policy

Shorrock, Tim, Foreign Policy in Focus

The vast U.S. military infrastructure in Northeast Asia is a remnant of the cold war. But it also supports U.S. economic interests like multinational corporations and banks--the primary forces behind globalization. Those interests were neatly defined in the 1997 DOD study, A National Security Strategy for a New Century. In its global security policies, the Pentagon said that the U.S. seeks "a climate where the global economy and open trade are growing." "The overall health of the international economic environment directly affects our security, just as stability enhances the prospects for prosperity," the Pentagon contended. "This prosperity, a goal in itself, also ensures that we are able to sustain our military forces, foreign initiatives and global influence," it added.

Over the past several years, trade unionists, human rights organizations, students, and religious groups have built a movement to create an alternative to globalization by ending labor exploitation and imposing rules to protect workers and the environment. Instead of promoting positive change, these critics say, globalization is a destabilizing force.

While laying bare the implications of corporate domination of trade, however, the center-left coalition of U.S. groups opposing free trade has focused almost exclusively on the socioeconomic implications of globalization, ignoring its military aspects. In other words, the nexus between economic globalization and military globalization has not been identified and exposed--in fact, it has hardly been criticized.

But it is clear from recent events in Asia that U.S. military strategy further destabilizes affected regions as it seeks to "shape" the world in its interests, suppressing expressions of instability by employing nuclear deterrence, selective armed intervention, economic sanctions, and diplomatic pressures.

In a post-cold war world--where peace is being negotiated in Korea and the U.S. has the capability of bombing Kosovo with warplanes from Missouri air bases--the military logic of keeping tens of thousands of U.S. Marine, Army, Air Force, and Navy personnel on mainland Japan and South Korea is quickly disappearing. And despite talk of missile threats from both China and North Korea, the U.S. retains an enormous arsenal of atomic and conventional weapons that could overwhelm both countries. In any case, even if there were a missile threat in this region, the Third Marine Division in Okinawa would be helpless to prevent it.

Washington should rethink U.S. policies in Asia, analyze the relationship between economic and military globalization, and devise new definitions of security. As a first step, the U.S. should use the peace process now underway in Korea to begin reducing the U.

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