Judge for yourselves if fierce critics of American foreign policy over the last several decades (that is, aside from the tenure of George W. Bush) would endorse the following paragraph:
“It has been the strategy of the United States to lean on the shoulders of dictators in order to guarantee both order and stability. We depended on the Shah of Iran, on the autocratic governors of Egypt, on the generals of Pakistan, on the Saudi Royal Family and, of course, on Saddam Hussein for some time (…). The dictators attacked with considerable repression (hence the current turmoil in the Islamic world), at the same time that they were helping, surreptitiously, Islamic radicalism abroad in the hope that they would not become its victims (…). We can no longer afford to fall into the error of believing that supporting these dictators is our best bet. They do not offer any lasting stability, merely the appearance of it”.
Or take this quote, which speaks to how the United States ought to act as the world’s leading superpower:
"Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies."
And what about this: “We cannot torture or treat inhumanely the suspected terrorists that we have captured. We must close the detention facility at Guantánamo and come to a common international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control”.
And how does he go about convincing the world of following rigorously the norms for nuclear weapons nonproliferation? “We must begin to reduce our own nuclear arsenal…we should lead a global movement of disarmament…we do not need all the weapons we currently have”.
The above-mentioned quotes were taken yesterday (3/26) from a speech given by Republican candidate to the White House, John McCain. It is a lengthy text, and a transcription is available at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/. These statements can be taken as his foreign policy platform, and they attracted the attention of the Brazilian press (and with good reason) when he suggested excluding Russia from the G-8 in favor of Brazil and India.
Reading the text, it is quite clear what core idea connects the varied suggestions made in his speech: that the US should form a sort of “international league” in conjunction with other world democracies. In a part of the text, he proposes the creation of unspecified “institutions” to tackle issues such as global warming (which McCain treats as a top priority) with the help of emerging nations. In this respect, Brazil received two mentions.
It is still difficult at this time to compare a “Republican,” and a “Democratic” platform, since Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are still preoccupied with destroying each other. McCain’s ideas, on the other hand, are quite a break from what neoconservatives and Bush have put to practice during the last 8 years. It is not just a matter of abandoning multilateralism, a preventative war, or of imposing American values on the rest of the world. McCain is far from proposing a new type of “isolationism”.
From the Brazilian interests point of view, the Republican candidate’s speech is attractive: encouragement of commercial agreements, devising a plan to combat global warming, participation in the G-8, the growing importance of Latin America to the “destiny of the US”, as McCain wrote. All that is needed now is for either Democratic candidate to follow McCain’s example and explain what they intend to do on the foreign policy front.
Only then will it be possible for us to determine which of them is better from our point of view.