Framework for Discussion: U.S. foreign policy & international issues

The U.S. today remains a global superpower. It has the most powerful military in the world and spends as much on the military as the next 11 countries combined. The U.S. military has well over 1,000 military bases and installations abroad and continues to operate as the self-appointed world police force.

Of course war and militarism is driven in the first place by profit motive. As capitalist ideologue Thomas Friedman famously argued:

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." - A Manifesto for the Fast World, NY Times

U.S. military spending make up 57% of U.S. federal discretionary spending and does not include the massive ongoing bill for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Militarism has distorted the U.S. economy and shifted priorities from human needs and services to weapons and wars.

Therefore it is no surprise then that U.S. foreign policy is central to any understanding of capitalism in our country today. Issues of war and peace, militarism and its impact internationally and domestically, new developments in diplomacy and military strategy, are all part of understanding modern imperialism. The ongoing U.S. wars are perhaps the most obvious evidence of U.S. foreign policy, but just as relevant to our understanding of the U.S. role in the world are diplomacy, international trade agreements, military alliances, covert action, regional relationships and global public opinion.

The U.S. is still actively involved in the war in Afghanistan - the longest military conflict in U.S. history - reduced operations in Iraq and simultaneously is waging "drone war" in Yemen, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Recent military action in Libya and threats of action against Syria. The so-called "Global War on Terror" continues with U.S. troops and trainers being stationed across the globe in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.

U.S. movements for peace and justice and in solidarity with the peoples of the world have always developed in response to U.S. imperialism and military aggression. The anti-nuke movement of the 1980s and the massive movement against the war in Iraq show that these movements can even be decisive in U.S. politics.The influence of the "military-industrial complex," which President Eisenhower warned against in 1961, is now increasingly questioned by the U.S. public.

Massive political and social developments around the world including the emergence of the BRICS alliance, the eruption of the Arab Spring, the ALBA alliance in Latin America, show that the U.S. is not always the driving force of global developments. The socialist countries of Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, China and those moving toward socialist development also show an alternative to capitalism.

We encourage a wide variety of submissions around all these topics and more. Some possible questions to address in this topic:

What is the condition of the U.S. peace movement after the high-mark of the movement against the Iraq War? Are there new campaigns, issues or policies the various peace organizations are moving now? What are the main demands and goals of the movement now? What is the current strength and health of the movements?

How can the party work to influence the broadest sections of the U.S. population that another kind of foreign policy is needed? What are the attitudes of the U.S. public towards the different aspects of foreign policy? on national security?

After 12 years of the war on terror, what are the attitudes towards that overarching concept? The president made a speech that signaled a dialing down on the war on terror; how can we utilize that opening for a much more robust discussion on these issues at the grassroots?

New movements to move the money from military spending to human needs and services have developed in the years since the economic crisis of 2008. What have been the messages and tactics of these movements? Can we help take advantage of new positive developments in international labor solidarity to encourage a new approach to foreign policy in the labor movement?

What about the various solidarity movements that oppose intervention and aggression against specific countries (Palestine, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Philippines, Syria, Egypt, etc.) and regions (Latin America, Asia, Africa, etc.)?

There is growing bilateral support for cutting military spending in Washington for a variety of reasons. Is this an opportunity for the anti-militarism movement? Is there an opportunity today for real peacetime conversion of industries?

What are new developments in war making? Drones have been the most dramatic and visible new tool in the U.S. arsenal, but what else is implied by a non-conventional "leaner" military strategy (including reduced number of soldiers, increased use of cyberwarfare, special forces and high-tech weaponry)? What will 21st Century wars look like and what are its implications for imperialism and working people?

The Obama administration has talked about a foreign policy and military "pivot to Asia" away from the Middle East. What does this shift mean, what is driving it and what does it mean for issues of peace and war? What is our estimate of the Obama administration's foreign policy? Is he just another Bush, like some suggest? Are there important changes and if so what are they?

What global developments have had the biggest impact on U.S. foreign policy and military?

How goes the "Bolivarian" process in Latin America over the last decade, including the repeated election of progressive coalition governments in Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador? What has the U.S. done to regain ground in the region? What are the recent accomplishments and setbacks? Has the process managed transitions in leadership in various countries?

What is the current state of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? What is the impact on the countries themselves? On the U.S. working people? How has public sentiment about the conflicts shifted? What is the path out of the ongoing conflicts?

What is the status of the many colonies and territories controlled by the U.S. (including Guam, Virgin Islands, etc.)? Puerto Rico is the largest and most populated U.S. colony. What is the status of Puerto Rico today and how has it changed? What is the state of the Puerto Rican popular movements and unions? What is the popular sentiment towards independence, statehood and status quo on the island?

What happened to the "Arab Spring"? Is the process continuing? Has the process been progressive or not? Has it been a success or is it too early to say?

What are recent developments in the European Union? What are the implications of a "united Europe" and potential conflict between the European states and the U.S.? What is the Treaty of Lisbon and what does it mean for Europe?

Take a close look at bilateral relations between the U.S. and significant allies or adversaries, including but not limited to Russia, China, Germany, Mexico, Cuba, Turkey, Japan, Egypt, etc.

NATO recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. What is the current state of this aggressive military alliance? Does the U.S. remain the dominant force? Is its power contested by other NATO powers? What about eh experience with the military action against Libya and the ongoing Afghanistan conflict on the NATO alliance? Is there possibility of weakening or dismantling NATO?

Given the recent revelations of NSA spying around the world (as well as in the U.S.), how has that had an impact on foreign policy? What is the importance and role of the U.S. foreign intelligence agencies (e.g., CIA, NSA, DIA, military intelligence agencies, etc.) in pursuing U.S. government interests abroad? How has this changed over time?


This document was developed to help provide a framework for the discussion of the 30th Convention of the Communist Party USA. These framing documents are not intended to limit the discussion in any way, but are meant as ways to generate ideas and questions to be addressed. The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

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  • Militarism is only a part of imperialism. Why avoid attacking imperialism? The ruling class uses the military to enhance its financial and corporate control of the world. But the military is not its only tool. Does "militarism" include assassinations of political or other leaders? Does it include the overthrow of sovereign governments? How does "militarism" convey what the U.S. did to overthrow Ukraine's democratically elected government, or is doing to destabilize Venezuela, or to recolonizing Africa, or to U.S. support of the Israeli Apartheid state? Can "militarism" explain building gas and oil pipelines, or manipulating national currencies? Indeed, "militarism" let's McDonald's off the hook.

    Posted by HenryCT, 06/07/2014 6:41am (5 months ago)

  • I believe the key to addressing foreign policy is to go the the root of the problem. The foreign policy of the US has been consistent across administrations. This is because it is not run from the White house. It is run by the CIA in the interest of the global corporatocracy. The decades old brutal global war against working people has come home as the Snowden revelations make clear. Obama has escalated domestic surveillance and tightened the reins on the Press. We need to confront the growth of an all-powerful Fourth Wing of government -- the National Security State. It is the foundation of fascism replete with wiretapping, drones, hit squads (JSOC) and kill lists. We must demand the dismantling of the National Security State as a basic to building People's democracy.

    Posted by Al, 04/14/2014 1:08pm (6 months ago)

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