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.
Realism, idealism, and reconciliation
Indeed, the time is right for a new agenda, but the journey to a better tomorrow is hindered by the intellectual baggage of yesterday. In the foreign policy realm, the two schools of thought that still dominate the discussion on how best to attain peace might candidly be described as "realism" and "idealism." Both approaches fail to recognize the truth of God's revelation concerning the creation, and thus fall short of prescribing an adequate foreign-policy approach.
Followers of the traditional realist school of international politics assert that states seek to enhance their power at the expense of others unless or until stopped by sufficient counterpower. For the realist, the credible and mutual threat of destruction is what holds violence in check. This approach could hardly be called peacemaking, however. It perpetuates the conflict of the powerful and transfers their violence to the powerless. And it can never bring about reconciliation.
In addition, realism has become so intertwined with the need to maintain credible military force that it has contributed to making the acquisition of advanced and expensive weaponry an end unto itself. We must remember that preparedness to wage war is not the sine qua non of a nation's security—it is merely the most expensive component.
The traditional idealist school, on the other hand, tries to escape the militaristic trap by focusing on the world community rather than the multistate system, and it strives to uncover a common purpose for all mankind. Its goal is to eliminate the discrepancy between what is and what ought to be. But idealism fails because it inaccurately describes the world; it is blind to the corrupted creation—the fallen nature of man and institutions that frustrate the best intentions.
The Bush administration can formulate a compelling postcontainment vision only as it recognizes that the intellectual force and political utility of both realism and idealism are exhausted. In their place, I propose a practical approach to engage our nation: a global enterprise of reconciliation, one that faithfully conforms to the redemptive work of Christ.
As a Christian and a politician, however, I do not presume to speak for God or, for that matter, other Christians. I profess no Higher wisdom, offer no new revelations. Rather, I am motivated by the conviction that all governments are held accountable for their ordained responsibility, recognized or not, to preserve order and justice. And I am convinced, as William Stringfellow aptly phrased it, that practical politics "intrinsically concerns the sovereignty of God in history and within that dominion the fulfillment of Jesus Christ's work as Lord in this age."
Until now, the superpowers have been drawn into the torture chambers, trenches, barricades, and rice paddies by willing and self-serving clients. The unhappy consequence has been that nearly all Third World conflicts have been more costly, in both human and financial terms, than they might have otherwise been. To bring such tragedies to an end, or at least to reduce the possibility that such conflicts will escalate into superpower proxy wars, our foreign policy should be based on the biblical principles of seeking righteousness, mercy, justice, and reconciliation. Only then can the blessings of peace be received.
But if our nation and world are to find that peace, then we as citizens and patriots must work to make our governments conform to the transcendent purposes to which all nations are held accountable. For whenever peoples and nations are reconciled in conformity to the will of Christ, evil is defeated. And only in the common purpose of defeating evil can there be peace between the kingdom of God and human kingdoms. As Christians, we are called to mediate that peace.
My hope and prayer is that the citizens of all nations living "beyond containment" will have discernment and courage: discernment to soberly assess these issues and to know when' duty calls them to work to achieve better alternatives, and courage to seek the blessings of "peace on Earth, good will toward men."
The accelerating shift from a bipolar to a multipolar world provides opportunity to take a fresh, hard look at international reconciliation as a part of our faithful response to Christ's work in the world. That is, we need to initiate and explore new opportunities for peace and reconciliation.
But any "beyond containment" strategy that can adequately respond to the scriptural mandate for reconciliation will do so only if it corresponds closely to contemporary realities: confronting a more complex world and placing priority on lessening the underlying causes of instability and revolution.
We must cease to view Third World events through the distorting lenses of superpower rivalry, which have always shortchanged American initiative, making us reactive to Soviet initiative and snaring us in the Soviets' own self-deception. A faithful response also must vigorously challenge America to use its full imagination and moral fiber, as well as its economic, military, and political strength to chart a more reconciling course for both superpowers.
This new approach—a prudent partnership— transcends the containment doctrine in three ways. First, it shifts emphasis away from an overriding need to confront the Soviet "evil empire" in favor of increased joint attention to growing global problems.
Second, whereas the containment doctrine placed relatively greater priority on the enhancement of allied military instruments, prudent partnership emphasizes the need to strengthen global economic relationships and democratic institutions.
Third, prudent partnership seeks to reorient the axis of contemporary international relations away from tension and conflict between the superpowers and turn it in a direction rnost likely to strengthen practical cooperation between the developed and developing nations.
Perhaps the best way to see the need for prudent partnership would be to focus on such common threats to global stability as the rising production, accumulation, and use of high-tech arms in the Third World. Evidence includes the Chinese sale of ballistic missiles to Iran and Saudi Arabia; the growth in Brazilian, Chilean, South African, and North Korean arms exports; the Indian, South African, Israeli, and Pakistani ability to produce nuclear warheads; the Libyan intention to produce chemical weapons; the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on its Kurdish minority.
If these trends continue, security will only decrease as the world grows smaller, more volatile, and less manageable. Consequently, strategic arms reductions in the arsenals of both superpowers and conventional arms reductions among their clients would help to establish moral credibility for a prudent partnership endeavor to constrain the proliferation of sophisticated weaponry in the Third World.
In place of the containment doctrine's reliance on military instruments of statecraft, we now need to strengthen economic relationships and democratic institutions. This will prove to be a formidable task. For example, in the present international economic environment, America labors under unprecedented budget and trade deficits, the Soviet Union struggles to restructure an antiquated and colossally inefficient economic system, and the Third World struggles with a debt burden repayable only through extraordinary (and probably unobtainable) trade surpluses. Both superpowers and the Third World will be the certain losers unless these economic problems are resolved. From the most sober-minded view of U.S. national security, these economic contradictions are the Achilles' heel of our nation's welfare.
As evidence of their potency, these very same economic conditions have been among the factors leading to the recent collapse of totalitarian and authoritarian govemments. I believe, however, that it is folly to assume economic crises will generally bolster democratic ideals in the long run. Would we even want that to happen? Rather, we must work to strengthen democratic institutions. An uncompromising stance in support of basic human rights, individual liberty, and democratic processes reflects America's identification with freedom and democracy and does, in fact, greatly enhance our own security. Only by remaining true to the values that made America free can she expect to stay free, because the core of those values represents the common aspirations of all mankind. These are the truths our Founding Fathers deemed to be "self evident."
Consequently, to support the restructuring of the Soviet economy, to call for an end to the arms trade, to urge relief for the Third World's indebted poor, or to insist that human-rights issues in any country are of vital interest to all Americans, can no longer be dismissed as an admirable but impractical point of view. Rather, these concerns are matters of hard, cold reality that must be addressed in our nation's foreign policy strategy.
What's more, war in the Third World, while posing mutual security risks to the superpowers, also heightens the level of apprehension debtridden Third World governments face. This, in tum, forces them to acquire increasingly expensive weaponry from both superpowers (e.g., global military spending has increased sixfold since 1960), and thus divert resources from development. The lack of development, in turn, hinders the Third World's ability to repay international debt or to purchase, for example, U.S. manufactured products. Moreover, history shows that as we have strengthened the various Third World militaries, democracy has tended to suffer. In sum, prudent partnership is a compassionate expression of practical necessity.
Toward a new Bush Doctrine
A new national security strategy—whereby a potential Bush Doctrine of prudent partnership supersedes the doctrine of containment—would have practical consequences. Specifically, the strategy proposed herein has three practical components: an agenda in support of global reconciliation to be initiated at subsequent Bush-Gorbachev summits; a series of proposals for superpower cooperation in support of a "no drugs, no thugs, humanitarian" theme; and a call to utilize our nation's Special Operations Forces in a symbolic as well as practical capacity. The most immediate opportunity to pursue a prudent partnership strategy is in the inevitable negotiations and discussion that will follow last month's U.S.-Soviet summit. The Bush administration should concentrate on accomplishing several things. First, it should attempt to formalize an agreement with the Soviets that Third World conflict is detrimental to the interests of both nations.
Second, President Bush should join with President Gorbachev in publicly stating what interests the two superpowers share. In particular, we share a common interest in defeating the growing scourge of intemational drug trafficking and drug dependence, in coming to grips with the global aspects of AIDS, in seeking to stop the senseless killing by international terrorist groups, in moderating poverty and suffering that result from exploitation and lead to violence, and in improving our mutual understanding of the importance of environmental issues (such as the greenhouse effect).
Third, the President should continue to solicit Soviet agreement regarding reciprocal efforts to reduce military expenditure and transition to domestic investment priorities.
Fourth, he should work with the Soviets to eliminate both superpowers' military exports to the Third World, including especially military assistance to insurrectionist groups, and encourage other parties to do the same.
Finally, President Bush and President Gorbachev should issue a joint declaration to the effect that although the world is growing more technologically advanced, human suffering is nevertheless increasing; but the goal of both social systems, whatever their differences, is the enhancement of human development.
Through the five measures suggested above, my strong conviction is that such a shared strategy would finally reflect the fact that human affairs have become so interdependent that the superpowers cannot involve themselves in regional conflicts without undermining each nation's respective interest. In other words, the scriptural norm for reconciliation provides a basis for global prudent partnership in respecting the true, especially long-term, interests of the nations of this world, and it serves as a beacon of hope for the common welfare of all.
No drugs, no thugs
To firmly consolidate this new relationship "beyond containment," we should also focus on some foreign-policy concerns that the superpowers share in each of the four Third World regions: Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In these four regions, a doctrine of prudent partnership could take practical steps toward reconciliation by adopting a "no drugs, no thugs, humanitarian" foreign-policy theme.
First, to eliminate the menace posed to North and South American welfare by the increasingly powerful Latin American drug cartels, we should solicit both Soviet and Latin American support. Specifically, we could offer to facilitate substantial improvements in U.S.-Soviet trade relations, contingent on a Soviet agreement to reduce its support of Cuba. Simultaneously, we would offer to Fidel Castro a partial-to-complete lifting of all U.S. trade embargoes against Cuba and normalize diplomatic relations as that regime demonstrates its full cooperation (through its substantial Latin American intelligence networks) in apprehending the drug cartels' leadership and eliminating their activities. Soviet leverage with the Cubans would very likely go far in the success of a "no drugs" agenda. The Soviets would reap an economic windfall by ending Cuba's dependence for aid (roughly $5 billion annually), and both America and Cuba would slowly begin to experience a long-overdue reconciliation, especially if a more open Cuba can take steps toward democracy.
Second, we must overcome the menace to human decency posed by international terrorism emanating from the Middle East. Consequently, we should also tie these improvements in U.S.-Soviet economic relations to KGB-CIA cooperation in apprehending or otherwise restricting international terrorist activities and leadership. In particular, we should solicit KGB efforts to detain for U.S. criminal prosecution the noted international terrorist Abu Nidal. Soviet efforts in this regard will inevitably mean that Libya and Syria can no longer provide safe haven for such terrorists. A "no thugs" agreement would foster a spirit of reconciliation in the Middle East by demonstrating superpower cooperation in support of basic human rights.
Third, to signal the end of U.S.-Soviet competition in the Third World and herald the beginning of a new humanitarian era, President Bush should do two things. He should propose to Gorbachev that both superpowers suspend military assistance to countries engaged in internal conflict, and henceforth cut off superpower assistance to any country that transfers previously supplied superpower resources to a warring faction. For example, U.S. assistance to the Afghan, Angolan, and Cambodian resistance movements would end. In return, the Soviet Union would suspend military aid to the same governments and would also suspend military aid to Cuba if it provided aid to guerrillas in El Salvador. Additionally, both superpowers would emphasize democratic elections and rely on the United Nations Security Council in facilitating dispute settlements.
The President also should move beyond the Reagan Doctrine of support for anti-Communist insurrection to a new era of joint humanitarian assistance. Specifically, he should propose to Gorbachev the formation and dispatch of joint U.S.-Soviet medical and engineering battalions to war- and famine-stricken countries of Africa. Such humanitarian assistance efforts would be accomplished at the request of the recipient nations and implemented under the auspices of the World Health Organization. U.S. and Soviet participation in such an endeavor would afford both low-cost, high-visibility prestige in the Third World, and yet not be destabilizing or disruptive to either nation's interests. As cooperation between the superpowers grows, such joint humanitarian endeavors might usefully be employed in other Third World regions. In summary, full Soviet cooperation in implementing a "no drugs, no thugs, humanitarian" theme would both serve U.S. interests and allow the Soviets a way to support their domestic reform efforts while retaining stature as a global superpower.
We also would re-establish our nation's position in world leadership. By promoting Third World development, cultivating a keener appreciation for global environmental and health-related issues, fostering cooperation through multilateral institutions, and promoting respect for human rights by bringing healing to war-tom lands, America could once again capture the world's imagination and inspiration.
All that stands in the way is ideological obscurantism, where policies strained to amass power are erroneously viewed as the manifestation of strength, while reconciliation is erroneously dismissed as naivete and weakness. In an increasingly interdependent world, the scriptural mandate of reconciliation is our best hope for finding the path to security "beyond containment."
Finally, I propose that the Bush administration appropriate a symbol for the doctrine of prudent partnership by rehabilitating an old symbol that already has currency concerning America's role in the Third World. The U.S. Army's Special Forces, more commonly known as "Green Berets," have mirrored America's sense of identity—both good and evil. For example, John Wayne, in the film The Green Berets, chose to play the role of a Special Forces colonel in Vietnam to convey the political message of
America as a white knight in the Third World. Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now used the same role to portray America depraved. During the Reagan years, we witnessed the truly pathetic Green Beret veteran, "Rambo," become yet another expression of our nation's role in the world. The time has come for George Bush to establish for himself what America should stand for.
Building on a precedent set by John Kennedy, we should once again that the U.S. Army's Special Forces complement the Peace Corps as one of our nation's key instruments in the Third World in the fight to preserve liberty in the face of hunger and oppression.
Following the "no drugs, no thugs, humanitarian" foreign policy theme, the Special Forces should become a key element of a concerted U.S. effort to aid in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts; train foreign military and police forces to actively interdict international criminal narcotics trafficking; aid multilateral efforts to apprehend terrorists; and lend a helping hand to the tortured, the hungry, and the oppressed.
A new path to global leadership
At the beginning of this essay, I raised the proposition that Christians could usefully contribute to the search for a proper framework for international peacemaking "beyond containment." I have argued that too many wars are waged on the backs of the innocent, including America's proxy wars with the Soviet Union. Moreover, our participation in these wars has made us hostage to the whims of various Third World foes and allies, thus implicating America before God and the world in the suffering and death of those who were not likely our enemies.
Although this essay is an interpretation based on faith, the prescriptions offered herein are not uniquely Christian. Reconciliation is something that is freely available to all peoples everywhere. To my knowledge, however, no one has ever before seriously suggested that reconciliation be made the foundation of our U.S. national security strategy. Indeed, for those schooled in pragmatism and realpolitik, the entire notion may smack of weakness. In truth, however, it takes raw courage, bold imagination, and active leadership to fashion a peace based on something greater than the simple threat of violence. Reconciliation requires great strength, and in a sinful world it can be accomplished only by dedicated peacemakers.
Therefore, in proposing a strategic doctrine of prudent partnership in the service of global reconciliation, I have sought to fill the void created by those who are presently proclaiming the triumph of Western values over communism and arrogantly declaring the "end of history." In offering a five-part agenda for future superpower summits, a "no drugs, no thugs, humanitarian" foreign-policy theme, and a symbolic, humanitarian role for the Green Berets, I seek to go beyond containment by remaking the confrontational tools of our foreign policy into instruments of reconciliation.
A Bush Doctrine based on prudent partnership and global reconciliation offers America a new path to global leadership, the path beyond containment. All Americans should join in the essential task of turning the current opportunities for beneficial change into reality: opportunities to reach higher, build stronger, and respond vigorously to the scriptural norm for reconciliation. A faithful witness to the biblical vision of the kingdom of God demands no less. The political hope for a kinder, gentler, and more secure America nurtures no other. I
Mark O. Hatfield, a Republican, is the senior senator from Oregon. Senator Hatfield wishes to thank Walter Christman for his role in the preparation of this article.
This article originally appeared in Christianity Today on June 18, 1990.
Copyright © 1990 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Christianity Today interviewed Mark Hatfield for a 1982 cover story
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