Mark Hatfield on Beyond Containment: A New Vision for Superpower Relations
This article originally appeared in Christianity Today on June 18, 1990.
President George Bush has articulated a dramatic shift in the essential U.S. strategic doctrine of the past 40 years—containment. We want to move, as he says, "beyond containment, to seek to integrate the Soviets into the community of nations, to help them share the rewards of international cooperation."
The big question, however, is precisely what "beyond containment" might ultimately mean for our nation's foreign policy, since such a change will have far-reaching consequences. To answer it, President Bush has invited the American people and Congress to join him in a dialogue to inform and enlighten the difficult decisions that our nation must make.
As an evangelical, I believe Christians should join this dialogue. Just as we send our sons and daughters as missionaries and give our dollars to aid impoverished children around the world, we should not neglect our nation's foreign policy, with its powerful influence on the peoples of the world.
The President has correctly noted that we can embark on such a necessary enterprise only by looking beyond containment. We urgently need to take a close look at our world and refocus our attention on a new agenda—an agenda for global reconciliation.
Reconciling the planet
As "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ" through the Cross, we are accountable to continue that reconciliation: person to person and nation to nation. Our modern world is crying out for such a balm.
This century, more than most before it, has seen terrible wars waged on the backs of the innocent. Since World War II there have been more than 140 wars, with all but one occurring in the developing world. Superpower involvement in many of these conflicts has been to some degree a substitute for World War III—which would have been infinitely worse. That grim fact notwithstanding, the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden of the Third World—God's creatures—deserve better than to serve as cannon fodder in bloody and protracted conflicts.
Fortunately, recent events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have brought new opportunities as well as new challenges. Clearly, the diminishing potency of communism makes containment, superpower competition, and the resulting Third World carnage an increasingly unworthy battle. Instead of military competition, both superpowers must carry their wars to the front lines of global poverty—where guerrillas are created every day who are either too young or too poor ever to have read Marx or Lenin.
"The numbers stand in long rows," writes Ruth Sivard, "like tombstones, monuments to lives lost to neglect: 100 million people have no shelter whatsoever, 770 million do not get enough food for an active working life, 500 million suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, 1.3 billion do not have safe water to drink, 800 million live in absolute poverty, 880 million adults cannot read or write, 10 million babies are born malnourished every year and 14 million children die of hunger."
A compelling postcontainment vision for the Bush administration, therefore, is to formulate a national security strategy that engages the Soviet Union in constructive undertakings in the Third World. In other words, moving "beyond containment" should ultimately mean energizing America's leadership in a global effort toward reconciliation. I cannot think of a more practical expression or a more noble aspiration for a Bush Doctrine.