Sunday, November 12, 2006

One Principle for a Progressive Foreign Policy

Okay, call me psychotic, lock me up, put me away for the duration: I have a thoroughly unoriginal suggestion for a fundamental principle of progressive foreign policy. Of course, in this 'Christian nation' I fully expect to be scorned for this extremely peculiar suggestion; I guess I'm just a simple-minded, old-fashioned kind of guy who doesn't appreciate the immense moral complexities of modern international relations. And what, you might ask, is this thoroughly odd, unsophisticated principle?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Okay, I told you I was crazy. I warned you didn't I? Clearly this is a thoroughly inappropriate suggestion given the exceedingly complex modern world of international relations, the moral nature of which I obviously don't appreciate. Didn't Henry Kissinger already carefully instruct us on this issue: "The average person thinks that morality can be applied as directly to the conduct of states to each other as it can to human relations. That is not always the case because sometimes statesmen have to choose between evils." Well, now I feel thoroughly straightened out on that issue: clearly individual persons in their dealing with one another never have to choose between the lesser of two evils, only our great 'statesmen' face this unique moral dilemma. And, confronting the 'statesmen's' dilemma, it is rather obvious that faced with a Salvador Allende, a SOCIALIST (shudder) who was democratically elected by the people of Chile, it becomes rather simple to decide that a CIA-supported military coup which brings General Augusto Pinochet to power is a morally superior choice given the 'statesmen's' moral calculus. Never mind that "on October 30, 2006, Pinochet was charged with 36 counts of kidnapping, 23 counts of torture, and one of murder for the torture and disappearance of opponents of his regime at Villa Grimaldi." These indiscretions are inappropriately judged by the morality of statesmanship; by the latter morality Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's judgment is more appropriate: "Former Prime Minister Thatcher... thanked the General for 'bringing democracy to Chile'. "

This "do unto others" principle perhaps lacks sufficiently broad endorsement by the world's religions; it seems only Judiasm, Christianity, Confucianism and Islam see it as a basic moral rule. Apparently the Zoroastrians have yet to be heard from on this issue. Here's what the Wikipedia article of November 12, 2006 had to say about this principle:

"The ethic of reciprocity or 'The Golden Rule' is a fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions, which simply means 'treat others as you would like to be treated.' It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of Human Rights. Principal philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways:

'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Moses (ca. 1525-1405 BCE), in the Torah; Leviticus 19:18)

'What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.' (Confucius (ca. 551–479 BCE))

'What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.' (Hillel the Elder (ca. 50 BCE-10 CE))

'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' (Jesus (ca. 5 BCE—33 CE) in the Gospels, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27 (affirming of Moses), Matthew 7:12)

'Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." Muhammad' (c. 571 – 632 CE) in The Farewell Sermon)."

It is quite clear that this morality of individuals cannot be applied to the relations between nations, where only the morality of 'statesmen' is applicable. Well, back to the drawing board. I hope soon to be able to find some appropriate principle as the basis for a progressive foreign policy. (See my What is a Progressive Foreign Policy? and Why "Democracy Promotion" Should NOT Be the Basis of Progressive Foreign Policy.)

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