The time has come for the US Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy!
Amidst the chaos of so many dire domestic issues in America, international relations can at times be passed off as of secondary importance. Yet as we know from our contributors here at Everyday Ambassador, and as I recently penned in an Op-Ed for the Christian Science Monitor, living in a globalized and digitized world means our interactions with non-Americans (on- and off-line) are deeply consequential! International affairs matter. Because for better or for worse,“Ambassadorship is no longer a position reserved for elite citizens in the highest political echelons. It is a sacred responsibility that you and I hold in our hands every moment of every day. In this role, we are meant to build bridges – not burn them.”
And yet the foreign policy discourse so far from our candidates about has been painfully short-sighted. Cracking down on China, to protect American innovation. Increased security at Middle East embassies, to protect American diplomats. Bringing troops home from Afghanistan (or keeping them just a bit longer), to preserve an American defense budget (or to counter more anti-American terrorism).
Understandably, campaigns and timed debates do not lend themselves to the deep and nuanced discussion each of these issues deserves, when we think about other countries not as enemies but as fellow citizens. Shouldn’t we be seeking partnership, not stoking tension, with growing global powers like China? Have we not fueled anti-American sentiment from past Middle East policies, and how can we form stronger relationships with the majority of Muslims who are not extremists? How could US troops play a transformational role in remedying our tarnished image in war zones abroad?
Further, the pressure to spar in sound bytes means that volumes of creative, highly-effective strategies will probably go unspoken tonight as well: the kinds of solutions that our contributors here talk about every week. Education in rural communities, women’s empowerment in war zones, preserving music and culture in modernizing societies. These are the kinds of grassroots diplomacy that leads to global impact.
So in advance of tonight’s debate, I ask our community to leave a post with their opinion and link to their website/blog so readers can learn more. Let us know: what foreign policy issue(s) will probably go undiscussed tonight, but matter deeply to creating a better world? What issue are you shining your light on, and how would more investment in your work create a more peaceful, healthy, stable world, for Americans, and for all global citizens?
(You never know who might take note!)