Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has a new column out titled, "The global political awakening." He gives some fairly specific recommendations for the direction of U.S. foreign policy. Let's examine some of them:
1. "re-establish a shared sense of purpose between America and Europe." This is pretty vague, but essentially he's calling for the U.S. to work closer with European allies and make them feel like they have a role in U.S. foreign policy decisions. I'm not sure how we accomplish that, but it appears to be a worthy goal.
2. "A regular personal dialogue...between the U.S. president and the Chinese leader." Brzezinski wants more engagement with China to develop "a shared sense of responsibility." This is a realist approach that recognizes that we need Chinese cooperation on various issues. It seems like a reasonable proposal. We can't afford to ignore China.
3. Diplomatic efforts toward Russia, in conjunction with Europe, to "seek agreements that enhance global stability, promote nuclear weapons reduction and deal with such regional problems as Iran." Unfortunately such efforts assume that Russia is willing to cooperate. There haven't been many signs of that lately. He writes that the U.S. and Europe have to
find a way of reaffirming their commitment to the integrity of Ukraine and Georgia while conveying to Russia that their interest in these two states relates to the gradual construction of a larger democratic Europe and is not designed to threaten Russia itself.
Good luck with that.
4. "The Israeli-Palestinian peace process needs to be a priority." Here I strongly disagree. As a realist, Brezinski should understand that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is an unsolvable problem. The best thing we can do is to try to keep it from escalating. Wasting our time trying to come up with new agreements is pointless. We should also stop pretending to be some sort of honest broker and recognize that Israel is our ally, the Palestinians are hostile, and act accordingly.
5. "undertake seriously reciprocal negotiations with Iran." Useless and counterproductive. Our only negotiations with Iran should be in the form of clear, unmistakable threats -- ie. deterrence. The current Iranian regime cannot be trusted. Making some sort of deal with Iran, which they will then break -- either openly or secretly -- is a terrible idea.
6. "America's strategy regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan needs a basic reassessment." Here he argues for a shift in Afghanistan toward a policy aimed at trying to separate the Taliban from Al Qaeda -- more diplomacy and less military action. I think we should definitely consider such a strategy. He does not elaborate with regard to Pakistan.
The entire article is definitely worth reading, even though I disagree with some of his assumptions and recommendations.