Shared Security: New Vision for U.S. Foreign Policy

The following article appears in MAPA’s spring newsletter

Shared Security: New Vision for U.S. Foreign Policy

At the Annual Meeting, a question was posed to Andrew Bacevich and Barney Frank: We have considered the two extremes of global dominance vs. isolationism. What other options are there?

We seem to jump from one end of that continuum to the other. Perhaps the answer is not behind a door along that narrow corridor, but outside of it. The working paper “Shared Security” (Shared was developed by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), to spark thinking and action around directing U.S. foreign policy towards a new vision – achieving sustainable world peace by supporting human dignity and global cooperation, on a path to peaceful conflict resolution and coexistence.

The concept of “shared security” here means ensuring that the fundamental human needs of every world citizen are met, along with the assurance of self-determination and social justice, within the context of dramatic environmental change. The paper envisions the U.S. as providing leadership in addressing not only the needs of our own people, but in defining ourselves as merely a subset of the global community, as we indeed are. The document’s vision has  a firm basis in the reality of today’s world, but projects a much different outcome than today’s reality.

Shared Security succinctly reassesses the dynamics of today’s world, and builds from there by leveraging communication, information, budget reallocation and of course, diplomacy.

Current U.S. foreign policy is cemented in a top-down flow that begins with the nation-state, and trickles down. Our engagement with the global community is an almost separate, isolated process. A foreign policy based on shared security would suggest that we reverse the flow of power, starting instead from the individual, and flowing up towards the nation-state and ultimately, the world community. It suggests that we consider not only our own citizens as the source, but all world citizens alongside us.

Andrew Bacevich noted that current policy is “motivated by selfishness, self-preservation.” Instead of fighting for short-term and provincial gain, we can enlist the human instinct for cooperation, and create a global movement for the greater good.

How can we better understand how our survival, success and prosperity depend on lifting us all as opposed to lifting only our few? To make change we need to make it relevant to all people’s ability to feed themselves and their families, provide shelter and protection from harm, and empower them with their right to self-determination. It can be done with vision and action.

As Barney Frank said at the Annual Meeting, we need “global citizenship,” as opposed to global domination.