Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee is making waves with his odd foreign policy proposals hes put forth a daring plan to Wage Peace. The plan is daring only because its so rare for an American presidential candidate to make unconditional peace the cornerstone of his foreign policy.
On Rhode Island Public Radio this week, one local politico said that Chafees desire to wage peace sounds nice but one wonders how long we can maintain that position. In other words, war is inescapable for whoever is elected President. Its terrifying that this has become the default political position in the United States.
Chafee has gone so far as to say he would look to return Americans civil liberties, ban drones, bring Edward Snowden home, and end capital punishment (yes, this too is part of peace). Chafees platform went one step too far, however, when he said hed consider talking to ISIS. This last idea is supposedly the one that proves everyones longstanding suspicion that Chafee is a few cards short of a full deck.
If talking to ISIS is a crazy idea, throw me in the insane asylum. Chafees suggestion that hed explore rapprochement should give Americans hope that at least one public official, somewhere, is not seeking to become the next Murderer-in-Chief. Instead of blindly continuing his predecessors failed War on Terror, Chafee would make diplomacy Americas first option.
If Chafees Wage Peace slogan seems barely tolerable to the political class, his elaboration of the policy namely, speaking to ISIS is entirely taboo. ISIS is just too ghastly to listen to. They cannot be reasoned with. Unfortunately, this attitude is one that a vast majority of Americans embrace. Its hard to understand what is so dreadful about the prospect of a talk-first, shoot-second mentality. Have government diplomats become so ineffective that talking to their enemies before bombing them is simply not open for debate?
I, for one, would love to hear what ISIS, or any of our other alleged enemies have to say for themselves. Im interested in their underlying motives. And Im not at all satisfied with having them explained to me by the United States government. The last time Americans allowed their government to explain to them the modus operandi of a foreign people, we learned Saddam Hussein was hell-bent on using his weapons of mass destruction and that al Qaeda hates Americans for their freedom.
I dont suspect ISIS underlying motivation is benevolent. But Id nonetheless like to know how much of their existence is thanks to American foreign policy. Al Qaeda has unequivocally stated that American military intervention in Arab lands was a primary reason for the 9/11 attacks. Of course, this was never explained to Americans by anyone in power, nor will it ever be. It shines too much light on American imperialism. Is ISIS also partially a creature of Americas own making?
We may never have good answers. The government recognizes that when the public learns too much about its activities, they generally dont support them. Just look at how quickly they turned on government mass surveillance after Edward Snowden exposed its dark details.
Diplomacy-at-all-costs is key ending the War on Terror. Not because we desire the government to speak for us, or act on our behalves overseas. To the contrary, nothing the government has done should give us any confidence that they are capable of doing so. Rather, diplomacy is necessary to concluding the War on Terror because it allows Americans to hear from their governments boogeymen. We just might learn that theyre not as irrational or scary as the state portrays them. The states war machine cant function nearly as effectively when its propaganda is discredited. Informed decision-making its not a lot to ask for.
Chad is a Fellow at C4SS and an editor at Antiwar.com. He considers himself one of the world’s biggest Pearl Jam fans despite their blind obedience to the Obama administration. Follow him on Twitter @cnels43. Reprinted with permission from C4SS.