Last week, for the first time since World War II, German airplanes flew combat missions in Europe as part of NATO’s Operation Allied Force. Fifty years ago, no one would have fathomed that in the 1990s, the Germans would be our military allies. We live in a world in which today’s enemies may turn out to be tomorrow’s allies. As in 1945, America’s foreign policy is entering a renewal phase.
Containment and “New World Order” strategies are no longer feasible. Every day we hear how the world is getting smaller and how much every country has become intertwined. But Americans still insist on isolationism as their best foreign policy. The attitude is: we won the Cold War, we don’t have to be involved any more.
People lambaste Clinton, saying his foreign policy is not based on U.S. national interests. I disagree. I believe that as long as our country bases itself on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is in our best interest to provide that for other people in the world who want it too.
The United States is the world’s only great power. This decade has been rampant with reports of genocide in Africa and elsewhere. The United States and NATO should be going to these areas and halt genocide. It is our responsibility as a people who believe in the freedom of mankind.
Someone once said that evil triumphs when good people do nothing. Many of my family members were killed in the Holocaust because people stood by and did nothing. The United States and its allies can’t afford to make the same mistake. NATO can and should be used to make peace. If this means leaving troops in Bosnia and Kosovo until all those who made war have died out, then so be it.
NATO should also keep expanding its membership to create an international effort to bring about peace, not just an American effort. We must not fall back into the pit of isolationism that engulfed our country in the 1930s. American foreign policy in the new millennium should be one of cooperative attainment. At the 1945 Yalta Conference, Franklin Roosevelt said that the structure of world peace cannot be the work of one individual, one party or one nation; it must be a peace that rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.
It is the responsibility of this generation to carry the torch passed down to us by those who fought for our freedom. Only through this righteous engagement will we reach our “rendezvous with destiny.”
-The writer is a junior majoring in international affairs.
This article appeared in the March 29, 1999 issue of the Hatchet.