June 3, 2019


A Middle East Peace Plan Built on Un-American Principles (Kori Schake, 6/02/19,  The Atlantic)

The Trump administration's Middle East peace plan sounds more like Chinese foreign policy than it does American foreign policy. American policy invokes the principle our Founders enshrined in our culture: that people have inherent rights and loan them in limited ways to governments for agreed purposes. We fail often to uphold this principle, but it is a genuine departure for an American administration not to even acknowledge it.

Moreover, other nations are less wary of our power because of our values. By tapping into the universal aspiration for human dignity and political liberty, American policy has been cheaper and easier to advance, because it works with the grain of positive political change. Our successes are seen as the advancement of a cause, not just the advancement of our interests.

China's policy, domestic and foreign, is based on the premise that the government will create conditions for prosperity and in return people must forsake political liberty. They prioritize "an emphasis on economic rights over individual political rights in the development of global norms," as Michael Swaine has argued, and want an international "community of common destiny for mankind" on Chinese terms.

China would erase the truths we hold to be self-evident that all people are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights by betting that their citizens, the citizens of developing countries--and even the cosseted rich of the liberal West--will accept incursions on their liberty in order to have greater prosperity or affordability.

China's defense minister, General Wei Fenghe, outright said so at the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore last weekend, justifying the forcible internment of more than a million Uygur people by arguing, "the living standard of the local people has improved."

Jared Kushner and the rest of the Trump administration appear deaf to Benjamin Franklin's warning that "those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." But the Palestinians, Jordanians, and others with hard experience of difficult trade-offs can hear it, which is why the administration's Middle East peace plan is both dead on arrival and also bad American foreign policy.

Posted by at June 3, 2019 1:33 PM


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