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A Proposal for a Non-Partisan "Commission on U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II"

September 19, 2001

The lock-step mantra thundering from the Bush administration and most politicians and commentators is that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon targeted the United States because they hate our freedom and are jealous of our prosperity. 

A few public figures -- not many, but perhaps a slowly growing number -- have dared to delve deeper into the issue. 

All of these public figures rightly condemn without equivocation the terrorist attacks, and lay 100% of the moral responsibility for these outrageous acts on the perpetrators.

That being understood, an acknowledgement is made that there are concrete, specific issues involved, not just irrational hatred and jealousy:

[I]n the Arab and wider Muslim worlds... bitter political grievances abound, among them: the United States' support of Israel; its troop presence in the "holy land" of the Arabian peninsula; its military encirclement and economic strangulation of Iraq; and its alliances with governments across the Middle East and Asia that are widely perceived as corrupt.
[John Burns, The New York Times, September 16, 2001]

Similarly, James Robison, a well-known evangelist and host of "Life Today," a Christian television program, speaks of our "sins" of

arrogance in relationships with Third World and foreign countries, plundering other countries for resources while supporting their despots, and indifference to others' poverty and pain.
[The New York Times, September 15. 2001]

Even arch-conservative Patrick J. Buchanan asks:

What motivates that kind of hatred?  Why did they do it?  Why do they hate us so much?

How can all our meddling not fail to spark some horrible retribution?
[on Hannity & Colmes, September 19, 2001]

Where should our asking these questions lead us?  Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) provides a clue:

Mr. Kerrey, a combat veteran of Vietnam, also pointed out the psychological challenge for leaders and a public that have been quick to denounce the attacks as the work of cowards or madmen.

"I condemn it morally, and I do think it was cowardly," Mr. Kerrey said. "But physically, it was the opposite of cowardly, and if you don't understand that, then you don't understand the intensity of the cause and then you're papering over one of the most important things. There is hatred out there against the United States, and yes, we have to deal with terrorism in a zero-tolerance fashion. But there is anger, too, and they ought to have a place for a hearing on that anger, in the International Court or wherever we give them a hearing."
[The New York Times, September 15, 2001]

Following those last words of Sen. Kerrey, I propose that at an appropriate time -- not immediately, but soon after the immediate threat of bin Laden and associates has been taken care of -- a non-partisan "Commission on United States Foreign Policy After World War II"  be established.

I say non-partisan as opposed to bi-partisan, because a far greater spectrum of input would be appropriate than just from the Democratic and Republican parties.

All elements of the U.S. political spectrum should be invited to present their facts and analysis on a country-by-country basis.  And it shouldn't end there.

In a manner similar to that of certain commissions which have been set up in Third World countries after internal strife has ended, citizens of other countries who feel they have been victims of U.S. foreign policy should be invited to present their testimony and data.

The mandate of the commission I am advocating would be not only to try to come to a consensus on where U.S. foreign policy in the last 56 years has gone right and where it has gone wrong, but also, to make recommendations for the future.

Would Congress ever set up such a commission? 

If not, who could?

By what process would commission members be chosen?

How could the number of individuals and groups desiring to present evidence be kept to a manageable number?

All of these questions and a myriad of other concerns must be addressed.

I make this proposal here in only the most rudimentary form, in an attempt to start making something positive come out of an event last week so tragic.

In that spirit, all suggestions for how such a commission could be set up and operate would be most welcome.  They will be incorporated into future writings on this proposal.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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