Beyond Labels

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March 25: Is U.S. Foreign Policy Effective?

This coming Monday, we will discuss the question: “Is the U.S. still effective in influencing global events?”

As supplied by one of our regular participants:

We have discussed various individual conflicts and touched on potential political differences in approach to some of the situations like NATO, Russia, China and the Middle East.  Regardless of politics over the years, the U.S. foreign policy has held a remarkably uniform consensus.  The Executive and Legislative branch implements foreign policy, but what are the determinants of U.S. foreign policy – the Council on Foreign Relations, State Department bureaucracy, established think tanks, international corporations, academic establishment, “military-industrial complex”, global elites (Davos)?often discuss U.S. foreign policy in the context of a specific world event or challenge—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the war in Gaza, U.S. strategy toward China’s various initiatives.

If not, is U.S. effectiveness diminished because of lack of will, competence, loss of economic and military power, international status, or just the inevitability of the multipolar international forces.  What should be the response – disengagement or reengagement – or another paradigm?

Thank you to Richard for the above topic. Here’s an Op-Ed piece with one person’s view to get us started. Richard notes the obvious…that there are plenty of other perspectives, sources, and pundits with a view. We have six days before the next meeting to curate our favorites.

3/11: Nuclear Weapons

In recent years, the threat of nuclear weapons being used has become an increasing concern. Treaties limiting weapons stockpiles have lapsed, a “shooting war” (involving nuclear-capable Russia) is underway, and there is an increasing rift between two major groups of countries (US/Europe leading one side, Russia/China leading the other) that make “tolerance” of increased nuclear capabilities seem acceptable to both factions. Even “Oppenheimer” (the movie) has helped raise this topic as one the general public is focused on.

Given these developments (and probably many more) The New York Times has recently been publishing a series of articles about the nuclear threat. While they’re still writing articles, it’s probably a good time to revisit this topic as a Beyond Labels discussion.

Question: What, realistically, can be done to reduce or manage the threat of nuclear war, while still maintaining and protecting our own strategic national interests?

For those who do have NYT subscriptions, there are some interactive graphics articles on the subject published over the last few weeks. (They have lots of good material, but the interactive nature of the articles mean they do not print well.)

For those who do not, here are some print articles from the Times:

Opinion: An Introduction: It’s Time to Protest Nuclear War Again
Select Sources From ‘The Brink’
Opinion: Should Either of These People Have the Power to End the World?
Biden’s Armageddon Moment: When Nuclear Detonation Seemed Possible in Ukraine
Opinion: ‘Oppenheimer’ Is the Origin Story. These Three Movies Reveal Our Nuclear Present

And from the Washington Post:

Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight amid nuclear and AI threats
Putin threatens nuclear response to NATO troops if they go to Ukraine
Opinion: Biden needs to prevent Trump from having unlimited control over nuclear weapons
Opinion: Why the U.S. should start telling the whole truth about Israeli nukes

I don’t expect everyone to read every article but, hey, it’s a rainy, blustery Sunday, so…

Jan 22: Trump? or Gaza? or DeSantis?

When we last met several weeks ago (lots of holidays in between), we had planned to discuss Trump’s legal issues and their impact on his candidacy.

Another regular member of the group has suggested that we discuss the genocide allegations against Israel in connection with its activities in Gaza. Here’s his suggestion:

NYT/Stephens: The Genocide Charge

ICJ Case Files 1
ICJ Case Files 2
ICJ Case Files 3

With Ron DeSantis dropping out of the Republican primary race, my guess is that we’ll have plenty to discuss.

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