Press "Enter" to skip to content

The President’s Greatest Power Lies in Foreign Policy…and the Media Makes Sure Not to Talk About It

In November, during the inane corporate product known as the 5th Democratic Debate, hardly a mention was made of foreign policy. In fact, the subject has been anathema during all these so-called debates (I took a debate class in college, and there is zero similarity), which might seem strange given that the arena where the President has the most unilateral power is precisely in foreign policy.

The President of the United States can — theoretically, on day one — reverse every executive order issued by the man-child Trump. The POTUS can issue executive orders that are binding on all federal agencies. The POTUS can appoint up to 6,000 federal positions, issue pardons and commutations, and declare emergency powers . . . all at home. That same POTUS can levy and withdraw tariffs, negotiate treaties (though Congress has to approve them), appoint the Secretary of State and hundreds of ambassadors and consuls, enter into executive agreements with other heads of state (no Congressional approval needed), and deploy or redeploy United States Armed Forces.

 If I were President-for-a-day

I could re-staff every Embassy with anti-neoliberals and order them to cooperate with anti-neoliberal forces inside that country to the extent legally possible. I could cut off funding to USAID, dramatically limit CIA activity, and close the door between the Embassies and government-not-government NGOs whose missions are to destabilize the host nation’s governments.

I could refuse to recognize the coup-makers in Bolivia and freeze their U.S. bank accounts. I could terminate the sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. I could order the phased withdrawal of all U.S. Armed Forces around the world. I could terminate military cooperation programs between the U.S. and neoliberal regimes. I could close the School of the Americas aka Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

I could recognize Palestine and open communications with Palestinian leaders, while issuing the stick to Israel’s intransigent and racist leadership. I could start to thaw relations between Iran and the U.S. I could end drone strikes, expose black sites and their operators, and leave them to the tender mercies of the law. I could declassify information.

You can have your own fantasies but, for someone taking on the presidency, this could all be the case. For my own part, I’m a Sanders guy, but this would apply to anyone who beats the man-child.

Odd, isn’t it, that we don’t put foreign policy front and center? I understand that there are bread-and-butter issues that come first, but that’s not why foreign policy is avoided by the servants of capital in the media. It’s avoided because there is a kind of consensus between cruise-missile conservatives and cruise-missile liberals that America is the exception, the world’s cop, the basis of all that is ordered and good. In our technocratic world of incessant manipulation, that box is left unopened to the masses.

More to the point, in this election, when DNC ventriloquist-dummies like MSNBC are trying to promote non-starters like Pete Buttigieg as the final rampart of the anti-left, the last thing they want to do is highlight the differences between progressive politicians like Sanders and the rest of the pack.

Bernie may not be ready to be Fantasy Me as POTUS-for-a-day, but as an actual potential POTUS, he would start a lot closer to that fantasy than any of the other contenders, including Elizabeth Warren, whose foreign policy ideas appear to track right down the middle of the Democratic American-Exceptionalist Party.

Stan Goff

Stan Goff

Stan Goff is a writer and activist whose first career was in Army Special Operations. He lives in rural Southeast Michigan with his partner Sherry and writes what he calls "gonzo social criticism," which includes books like Hideous Dream, Full Spectrum Disorder, Borderline, Mammon's Ecology, Smitten Gate, and Tough Gynes. A practicing, if heterodox, Catholic, he draws on that tradition as well as feminism, Marxism, Black nationalism, and deep ecology as interpretive frameworks. He is committed to nonviolence.
Stan Goff

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

%d bloggers like this: