US FOREIGN POLICY: Successful policies for America and the world
Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell
Any policy is only as good as the information used in its formation. This is more so today than ever before, given our world's staggering diversity and complexity.

The American government spends fortunes on gathering information from around the globe, through official channels, news organizations and intelligence networks, and seeks to shape its policies based on this information. How successful is it?

US foreign policy is successful to the extent that it serves American interests in the world, but in the present world order, in which America is the sole superpower, the real challenge is to determine how serving the interests of other nations is the most effective way of serving real American interests.

For example, if America dominates trade with a particular country, and that country is consequently unable to grow economically, it will not develop into a larger, stronger market, and hence will be limited in its ultimate value to US exporters. The short-term benefits of the trade policy might well be obvious, but it is the long-term benefits that should determine policy.

The real challenge to Washington decision-makers is to devise policies that have the greatest possible benefit for the largest possible portion of humanity. American success and further development are limited by underdevelopment elsewhere in the world. Or, put another way, America's greatest success will come from the greatest success of the whole world.

This view should underpin all policy formation, whether in the area of security, trade or cultural interchange.

Undoubtedly, the real world tries to dictate this requirement, because policies conducted in the name of American self-interest but oblivious to the interests of others are bound to fail in the long term. Whether it be a wrong-headed protection of military power, or a lob-sided trade agreement, the results will not ultimately be those desired by Washington.

Looking back at American history, its greatest policy successes have been acts of international generosity, such as the reconstruction of post-war Europe and Japan. And for those who object to American military activity abroad, it should be remembered that the rebuilding of these vital regions of the world was only possible after American soldiers had vanquished destructive regimes, and helped virtuous governments into power.

For Washington today, the greatest foreign policy challenge is how to export the virtues of the very successful American system to those parts of the world that could undoubtedly benefit from it. America is undoubtedly the global beacon of freedom, democracy and free markets, but in many parts of the world the wealthy giant has to learn to tread with care if it to be welcomed.

America has received much from the world, through immigration, trade, alliances, and the like, but there is always much more that it can learn from the rest of the world, and it can always improve in how it communicates with others.

This is the primary purpose for this web site: to provide a forum for leaders from around the world to exchange ideas with American policy makers and experts on the issues that are important to our world today. There are not sufficient fora for this type of exchange, and in particular the voices of national envoys to Washington deserve a greater hearing. We hope you will contribute to this vital debate.