한미동맹이 고작 ‘전략자산의 전개’뿐인가?

이래경
다른백년 이사장. 철든 이후 시대와 사건 속에서 정신줄을 놓치지 않으려 노력함. ‘너와 내가 우주이고 역사’라는 생각을 갖고 있음. 서로 만나야 연대가 있고, 진보의 방향으로 다른백년이 시작된다는 믿음으로 활동 중.
【워싱턴=뉴시스】전신 기자 = 문재인 대통령과 도널드 트럼프 미 대통령이 30일(현지시간) 미국 워싱턴 백악관에서 정상회담을 마친 후 공동 언론 발표를 위해 로즈가든으로 입장하고 있다. 2017.07.01. 
photo1006@newsis.com

지난 4월말 전격적으로 사드편대의 일부가 성주에 배치되었을 때부터 필자는 한반도가 해방이후 가장 중요한 절대시점, 즉 민족의 공멸이냐 민족의 재도약이냐 라는 갈림길에 서 있다고 주장해 왔다.

촛불시민혁명과 박근혜 탄핵이라는 감동적 역사의 사건을 배경으로 탄생한 문재인 정부가 들어선 지 반년이 지나는 현재, 북미간 극단적 대결구조나 소통이 철저히 단절된 남북간의 관계로 판단해 볼 때, 불행하게도 앞으로 전개과정은 단지 시점이 남아 있을 뿐 명백히 공멸의 과정 속에 빠져 들고 있다고 판단된다.

문재인 정부,  북한과 미국에 대한 관점과 전략의 일대 전환 필요

따라서 현재는 문재인 정부에게 미국과 북한에 대한 관점과 전략의 일대 전환이 절대적으로 필요한 시기임에 분명하다. 이러한 맥락 속에서 문제인식의 핵심인 한미동맹의 개념을 단순히 관성적이고 포장 수준의 정권적 구호와 군사적 전개가 아닌, 민족에 대한 역사적 성찰과 개혁정부라는 정치적 지향과 한반도와 동북아의 평화를 담보하는 지정학적 판단이라는 상위적 가치의 맥락에서 재조명해야 한다.

국내적 현안에 대해서 국민 대다수의 지지를 받고 있음에도 불구하고 문재인 정부의 미국과 북한문제에 대한 지난 6개월간의 성적은 비참할 정도로 무능하다고 평가할 수밖에 없다. 한반도에서 전쟁이 벌어질 수 있는 긴박한 상황에서, 미국 역사상 최악의 사고라는 평가를 받고 있으며 국제적으로 철저히 외면을 당하고 있는 트럼프 대통령과 호전적 군부인사들로 구성된 현재의 미국 행정부에 매달리어 앵무새처럼 ‘한미동맹만은 확고하다’는 답변을 마치 녹음기처럼 들려주고 있는 형국이다.

한국은 과거 1960년대 경제개발 계획이 수립된 이후, 분단의 원인을 제공한 일차적 책임이 있는 해양세력 국가들의 배후와 지원 하에서 현재의 산업적 기반과 경제적 토대를 이루었다고 분명히 말할 수 있다. 그러나 국제적인 지형과 관계가 급변해 가는 상황 속에서 남북화해와 평화구조를 기초로 하여 유라시아로 뻗어나가야만 새로운 도약의 발판을 이룰 수 있다는 것도 분명한 현재적 조건이다.

【워싱턴=뉴시스】전신 기자 = 문재인 대통령과 도널드 트럼프 미 대통령이 30일(현지시간) 미국 워싱턴 백악관에서 정상회담을 마친 후 공동 언론 발표를 위해 로즈가든으로 입장하고 있다. 2017.07.01.   photo1006@newsis.com
문재인 대통령과 도널드 트럼프 미 대통령이 지난 6월 30일(현지시간) 미국 워싱턴 백악관에서 정상회담을 마친 후 공동 언론 발표를 위해 로즈가든으로 입장하고 있다. (사진 출처: 뉴시스)

아무리 국내적으로 정치적 합의 구조를 만들어 내고 사회경제적 성취를 이루어 간다 해도, 한반도를 둘러싼 지정학적 한계를 뛰어 넘지 못한다면 대한민국의 미래는 보장되지 않는다. 현재로서는 내부적 역량보다는 외부적 조건이 압도적으로 한국사회를 규정하는 형국이다. 자연스레 미국과 관계를 재정립하고, 중국과 러시아 등 유라시아의 관문국가들과 관계를 개선하고 ‘미들 파워’ 국가들과 연대를 강화하고 제3세계로 전진해 가야만 한다. 그런데 문재인 정부는 현재 북핵 문제라는 현안에 단시안적으로 매몰되어, 오로지 관행적 구호뿐인 한미동맹과 미국이 강요하는 한미일 협력체제라는 단세포적인 국제관계에 매달리고 있을 뿐이다.

 

미국의 한반도 시각 ‘트럼프’에 갇히지 말아야

우선 한반도 상황의 핵심적 당사자인 미국이 바라보는 국제정치의 성격과 한반도에 대한 이해와 관점을 살펴본다. 조폭(rogue)과 멍청이(moron)의 합체 수준인 트럼프 행정부를 넘어서서 미국은 기본적으로 다양한 집단과 관점, 그리고 이해가 상충하고 길항하는 다원적 사회이다. 가장 우익적으로는 군산복합체로 구성된 전통적인 네오콘 그룹의 입장과 민주당과 진보그룹의 연대고리로서 확고히 자리를 잡은 상원의원 버니 샌더스적 시각이 상존하고 있는 곳이기도 하다.

네오콘 그룹과 시온주의자 그리고 미국우월주의에 포위된 트럼프의 입장은 9월에 있었던 유엔총회 연설문에 잘 반영되어 있다. 그는 연설을 통해서 제2차대전 이후 현재까지 미국이 국제사회의 질서를 유지시키는 절대적 강자임을 재천명하면서 미국이 지향하는 가치만이 국제적 규범이고 미국이 추구하는 이해관계만이 국제적 실정법임을 선언한다. 미국이 제시한 규범과 실정법을 어긴 국가들, 예를 들어 베네수엘라와 이란을 일방적으로 매도하고 급기야는 핵보복 능력에 도전하고 있는 북한의 2500만 국민을 완전히 제거하겠다(totally destroy)고 폭언하기에 이른다.

이에 대해 일본, 이스라엘 그리고 사우디 연합국가들을 제외한 대부분의 나라들은 트럼프의 연설문 내용이 유엔규정과 국제적 상식을 위반한 범죄적 행위라고 맹렬히 비난을 가했고, 미국의 진보 집단들은 그를 민족박멸범죄자(genocider)라고 규정하기에 이른다. 그럼에도 불구하고 해당민족의 한 축인 한국정부는 침묵으로 일관하면서 트럼프 연설내용을 묵인하고 있고, 참으로 황당하게 자유한국당을 중심으로 한 우익수구 정치집단들은 이를 열렬히 지지하고 나섰다. 아! 한국 현대사는 얼마나 더 이 야만적 상황을 견디어 내야 하는 것인가?

트럼프의 국제적 깡패행위가 유엔 연설내용에만 국한되는 것은 아니다. 인류의 최대과제인 지속가능 유지조건의 핵심인 파리기후변화 협약을 파기한 데 이어, 문화 및 역사 다양성의 보루인 유네스코를 재탈퇴하고, 자신이 주도했던 TPP를 무력화하여 태평양 연안국가들과 신의를 저버리고, 미국의 이해에 반한다고 WTO체제를 무력화시키고 NAFTA와 한미 FTA의 폐기 가능성을 선언하는가 하면, 급기야 미국과 유엔 안보리 이사국 그리고 EU 간의 연대적 노력에 의해 이루어진 ‘이란핵합의’조차 불승인(decertify)하기에 이르렀다. 미국 조야에서는 이제 중동발 세계3차대전이 목전에 이르렀다고 한탄하고 있는 실정이고 미국 변호사협회는 트럼프에게서 전쟁선포권을 박탈해야 한다고 주장하고 나섰다.

집권 6개월의 세월을 보내는 문재인 정부는 초기의 판단 미숙을 인정하고, 이제 트럼프 행정부는 대한민국의 운명과 미래를 함께할 파트너가 못 되는 집단임을 분명하게 깨달아야 한다. 트럼프의 뒤에 숨어 호전적인 집단와 손을 계속 잡고 있는 한, 대한민국은 국제적 미아가 될 운명에 처해질 것이다. ‘전략자산 전개’의 빈도가 높아질수록 한반도의 전쟁 가능성도 높아진다.

 

국제사회와의 협력 역설한 샌더스의 연설

다행히 미국의 합리적 진보를 상징하는 샌더스 상원의원이 트럼프의 유엔 연설이 있던 며칠 후에 웨스트민스터 대학의 그린재단에서 행한 연설은 두 가지 측면에서 매우 주목할 만하다 (그의 연설문 원본은 첨부물 참조).

샌더스

첫 번째는 그린재단이 매년 주요한 정치 지도자들을 초대하여 국제관계와 현안에 대한 미국의 역할에 대한 연설을 매년 시행해오고 있다(the 58th Green Foundation Lecture at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, which year after year invites political leaders to discuss the important issue of foreign policy and America’s role in the world )는 점에서 트럼프 현 행정부에 대한 비판을 겸하여 미국 대외정책의 전환적 필요를 암시하고 있다는 것이며,

두 번째는 트럼프의 되풀이되는 실정으로 백악관 내부와 공화당조차 환멸과 분열적 조짐을 보이는 가운데 차기 대선에 강력한 영향력을 행사할 수 있는 위치에 있는 유력 정치인의 입장이라는 것이다.

그린재단에서 행한 연설은 샌더스 의원이 처음으로 국내문제를 떠나 국제관계와 현안을 본격적으로 다룬 내용을 담고 있다.

매우 긴 그의 연설문 내용을 아래와 같이 요약해본다.

현재 군사복합체가 주도하는 미국의 외교적 정책은 군사적 개입과 행위를 말하며, 그 결과 최근 7천여명의 젊은 군인들이 이라크와 아프카니스탄에서 죽어간 것을 의미한다. 동시에 이는 미국내 빈민층의 궁핍화를 확대시키고, 건강보험예산을 축소시키며, 망가지는 교육시설과 사회간접자본을 방치하면서, 국산복합체를 위해 매년 7000억불(800조)을 지출한다는 것이다. 아이젠하워 대통령은 퇴임을 하면서 미국을 군산복합체의 영향력에서 방어하지 못하면 심각한 위기에 봉착한다고 언명하였다.

미국이 추구해야 하는 대외정책은 자유(freedom), 민주(democracy), 정의(justice)와 관련된 가치를 지켜내는 것으로, 국내외적으로 상호 결합된 형태로 나타나게 된다. 국내에서 상기에 언급한 가치들을 지켜내지 못하면 대외정책 역시 영향을 받게 된다. 또한 제2차 세계대전 승리 이후 처칠이 제시한 대로, 국제적 평화와 안전은 전쟁과 독재 그리고 약탈로부터 국제사회를 보호하는 것이다.

현실적으로 광범위하게 퍼져 있는 테러의 위협과 고립되어 있는 북한독재 정권의 핵무기 개발 등에 대해서는 전면적으로 대응해야 하지만, 더욱 큰 위협은 국제적으로 민주적 제 가치에 대한 기대와 신뢰가 사라져 가는 것이다. 미국은 어떠한 경우에도 민주적 제 가치를 지키기 위해 국제사회와 최대한 협력해야 한다. 그러나 협력의 형태는 일방적 강요나 군사적 대결이 아니라, 상호 존중과 협력 그리고 논쟁을 거치더라도 상호이해를 통해서 이루어야 한다. 미국의 대외정책의 목표는 세계를 지배하는 것이 아니며, 더욱이 ‘미국우선주의’를 내세워 국제적 신뢰와 책임을 저버리는 것이 아니라, 협력과 포용을 통해 미국이 추구하는 가치를 확산시키는 것이다.

미국의 과거 개입정책 실패의 예를 열거해 본다, 1953년 이란의 부패한 독재정부 지원, 1973년 칠레의 군부 쿠데타 지원, 베트남 전쟁의 개입과 확산, 이라크 전쟁과 일방적 중동 개입정책, 현재도 진행중인 예멘사태 등이다. 9·11테러에 대한 일방적 전쟁선포는 사태를 더욱 악화시켰다. 기후협약파기와 궁핍화를 확대시키는 사회경제정책의 확산도 실패의 경우이다.

성공한 대표적인 예는 서유럽, 특히 독일에 대한 지원인 마샬 플랜, 그리고 최근 이루어낸 이란핵에 대한 국제적 합의를 둘 수 있다. 피 한방울 흐리지 않고 큰 재정적 부담이 없이 이루어낸 미국과 동맹간의 협력적 쾌거이었다. 이 과정에서 보여준 오바마의 결단이야말로 바로 진정한 지도력, 진정한 힘 (real leadership, real power)이었다.

최근 점증하는 북핵의 위기에 대한 해법으로 ‘이란핵합의’ 과정은 매우 중요한 사례와 경험을보여 주었다. 미국의 대외 정책은 약자와 빈민들에 대한 지원과 협조, 그리고 정부간 채널과 더불어 시민사회간의 파트너십을 강화하고 추구해 나가는 것이다.

 

한반도 주변 주요국들 입장도  한국 정부 적극 역할 요청

미국의 진보집단을 상징하는 샌더스 의원의 입장과 더불어 한반도를 둘러싼 주요 관계국들의 입장을 살펴 볼 필요가 있다.

우선 남북한과 가장 밀접한 역사와 지정학적 위치에 있는 중국은 매우 일관되고 현실적인 입장을 유지하고 있다. 북한의 핵보유에 대해서는 반대의 입장을 분명히 하면서도 북미간에 쌍중단(双中斷, 한미군사훈련의 중단과 북한의 핵 및 미사일 개발동결)과 쌍궤병진(双軌並進,군사적 대결해소와 평화협정추진, 북한핵무기감축)을 제안하고 있다. 필자는 몇 년 전 처음으로 중국의 이러한 입장을 듣고는 매우 수치스러운 느낌이 들었다. 이러한 제안은 이웃 나라인 중국이 아니라 당사자인 한국 당국이 당연히 먼저 했어야 한다는 생각이 들었기 때문이다. 정확한 논리이다.

러시아는 보다 폭넓게 북한을 이해하고 포용하는 입장을 취하고 있는 것으로 보인다. 한국과 일본은 미국의 핵우산 아래 있는 반면에 일상적으로 미국의 침략 위협에 처해 있는 북한은 현재 중국과 러시아부터 미국의 핵공격에 대한 확실한 안전보장을 받지 못한 상태이다. 논리적으로나 국제법상으로 북한은 자위와 생존을 위해 핵보복 능력을 개발하고 갖추는 것이 오히려 합리적이라는 것이 러시아의 시각인 듯하다. 다만 북한의 핵보복 능력이 자위와 생존을 넘어서 동북아의 안전과 평화를 해치는 위험한 수준이 되어서는 곤란하며, 따라서 국제적인 합의에 의한 통제와 감시가 필요하다는 입장이다. 최근 미국의 NYT 역시 비슷한 논리의 논평을 내보낸 바 있다.

유럽연합을 대리하여 최근 독일의 메르켈 수상 역시 국제적인 합의에 의한 통제와 감시를 제안하면서 구체적으로 ‘이란핵합의’ 모델을 기본적으로 적용할 것을 제안한 바 있다. 핵개발 초기 단계에 있는 이란과 완결 단계에 진입하고 있는 북한과 동일한 수준에서 통제하고 합의하고 감시한다는 것이 현실적으로 가능한지는 전문가들의 검토가 필요한 사안이지만, 샌더스 상원의원도 위의 연설에서 같은 언급을 하고 있다는 점에서 주목해야 한다.

마지막으로 국제적 역할과 개입을 적극적으로 확대할 것을 권고 받고 있는 유엔의 쿠테흐스 사무총장은 지난 유엔 총회에 앞서 기자회견을 갖고 18명의 전문인으로 구성된 자문위원회를 구성할 것이라고 밝히면서, 미국의 일방적 입장과 강요에서 독립된 입장을 취할 것임을 간접적으로 암시한 바 있다. 북핵 문제에 관해 유엔의 보다 적극적인 개입과 역할을 기대해 봄직한 대목이다.

북한의 입장은 단호하고 명백하다. 현재처럼 미국과 군사적 전면 대결상황에서 핵보복 능력을 중단하라는 것은 현재의 북한체제를 포기하라는 것과 같다. 김정은 체제를 인정하고 주권국가로서 국제적 일원으로 국교 정상화를 이루며 완전하고 분명한 국제적인 평화보장체계를 갖추지 않는 한, 북한은 벼랑 끝의 마지막 대결도 마다하지 않을 것이다.

위의 상황과 입장을 종합하여 한국정부는 전략적 재검토와 새로운 역할을 모색하여야 한다. 많은 전문가들이 지난 7월 문재인 대통령의 베를린 선언을 높이 평가했지만 필자는 의견이 전혀 다르다. 문대통령의 4개의 No (적대시 정책 추진하지 않음, 공격할 의도가 없음, 정권의 교체나 붕괴를 원하지 않음, 인위적 통일을 가속하지 않음) 선언은 연극 수준의 외교적 술사에 지나지 않으며, 실제적으로 한국정부가 견인하고 담보해 낼 실력도 레버리지도 없는 발언이었다고 평가한다. 만약 베를린 선언의 내용을 트럼프가 직접 했다면 대단히 유의미한 내용이 되었을 것이다.

문재인 베를린-중앙일보

문 대통령, 4가지 No가 아닌 4개의 Yes 필요  

오히려 대한민국 문재인 대통령의 입장에서는 공허한 위의 4가지 No가 아니라, 북한에 대한 최대한의 포용정책(Max. Engagement)을 표방하면서 아래와 같이 ‘4개의 Yes’ 전략을 선언했어야 한다.

 

  1. 북한을 자주적인 주권국가로 인정하고 북한이 책임 있는 국제적 일원이 되도록 협력을 다한다.
  2. 한반도 정책의 기본 기조로 ‘주권외교’ ‘자주국방’ 그리고 ‘민족우선’을 삼는다.
  3. 개성공단 조업과 금강산 관광을 조속히 재개한다.
  4. 상기 3항을 실현하기 위하여 조건 없는 남북당국간 대화를 제안한다.

 

지금도 늦지 않았다. 빠를수록 좋다. 미국과 북한에 대한 정책의 대전환을 이루어야 한다. 동시에 북한의 비핵화라는 비현실적 전제를 포기하고 현실적 상황에 대한 인정과 확인이라는 출발점에서 시작하여 위에서 살펴본 다양한 입장을 포괄하여 다자적 합의와 통제를 통해 한반도의 평화를 안정적으로 관리하면서 남북간의 다양한 협력체제를 구축해가며 최종적으로 핵무장 해체를 지향해 가야 한다. 근본적으로 미국이 변해야 한다. 물극필반(物極必反)의 상황이다.

 

Bernie Sanders address on int’l politics.

The following are the prepared remarks for a speech delivered today, Thursday September 21, by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the 58th Green Foundation Lecture at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The speech will also be live streamed here (and below).

Let me begin by thanking Westminster College, which year after year invites political leaders to discuss the important issue of foreign policy and America’s role in the world.  I am honored to be here today and I thank you very much for the invitation.  

“Foreign policy is directly related to military policy and has everything to do with almost 7,000 young Americans being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands coming home wounded in body and spirit from a war we should never have started. That’s foreign policy. And foreign policy is about hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying in that same war.”

One of the reasons I accepted the invitation to speak here is that I strongly believe that not only do we need to begin a more vigorous debate about foreign policy, we also need to broaden our understanding of what foreign policy is. 

So let me be clear:
 
Foreign policy is directly related to military policy and has everything to do with almost 7,000 young Americans being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands coming home wounded in body and spirit from a war we should never have started. That’s foreign policy. And foreign policy is about hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying in that same war.
 
Foreign policy is about U.S. government budget priorities. At a time when we already spend more on defense than the next 12 nations combined, foreign policy is about authorizing a defense budget of some $700 billion, including a $50 billion increase passed just last week. 

Watch the speech:

Meanwhile, at the exact same time as the president and many of my Republican colleagues want to substantially increase military spending, they want to throw 32 million Americans off of the health insurance they currently have because, supposedly, they are worried about the budget deficit. While greatly increasing military spending they also want to cut education, environmental protection and the needs of children and seniors.  

Foreign policy, therefore, is remembering what Dwight D. Eisenhower said as he left office: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  

And he also reminded us that: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway…”  

“Foreign policy is about whether we continue to champion the values of freedom, democracy and justice, values which have been a beacon of hope for people throughout the world, or whether we support undemocratic, repressive regimes, which torture, jail and deny basic rights to their citizens. “What Eisenhower said over 50 years ago is even more true today.
 
Foreign policy is about whether we continue to champion the values of freedom, democracy and justice, values which have been a beacon of hope for people throughout the world, or whether we support undemocratic, repressive regimes, which torture, jail and deny basic rights to their citizens. 
 
What foreign policy also means is that if we are going to expound the virtues of democracy and justice abroad, and be taken seriously, we need to practice those values here at home. That means continuing the struggle to end racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia here in the United States and making it clear that when people in America march on our streets as neo-Nazis or white supremacists, we have no ambiguity in condemning everything they stand for.

There are no two sides on that issue.
 
Foreign policy is not just tied into military affairs, it is directly connected to economics. Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own country.  This planet will not be secure or peaceful when so few have so much, and so many have so little – and when we advance day after day into an oligarchic form of society where a small number of extraordinarily powerful special interests exert enormous influence over the economic and political life of the world.  

There is no moral or economic justification for the six wealthiest people in the world having as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people.  There is no justification for the incredible power and dominance that Wall Street, giant multi-national corporations and international financial institutions have over the affairs of sovereign countries throughout the world.
 
At a time when climate change is causing devastating problems here in America and around the world, foreign policy is about whether we work with the international community – with China, Russia, India and countries around the world – to transform our energy systems away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Sensible foreign policy understands that climate change is a real threat to every country on Earth, that it is not a hoax, and that no country alone can effectively combat it. It is an issue for the entire international community, and an issue that the United States should be leading in, not ignoring or denying.
 
My point is that we need to look at foreign policy as more than just the crisis of the day. That is important, but we need a more expansive view.
 
Almost 70 years ago, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stood on this stage and gave an historic address, known as the “Iron Curtain” speech, in which he framed a conception of world affairs that endured through the 20th century, until the collapse of the Soviet Union. In that speech, he defined his strategic concept as quote “nothing less than the safety and welfare, the freedom and progress, of all the homes and families of all the men and women in all the lands.”

“We must offer people a vision that one day, maybe not in our lifetimes, but one day in the future human beings on this planet will live in a world where international conflicts will be resolved peacefully, not by mass murder.”“To give security to these countless homes,” he said, “they must be shielded from the two giant marauders, war and tyranny.”
 
How do we meet that challenge today? How do we fight for the “freedom and progress” that Churchill talked about in the year 2017? At a time of exploding technology and wealth, how do we move away from a world of war, terrorism and massive levels of poverty into a world of peace and economic security for all? How do we move toward a global community in which people have the decent jobs, food, clean water, education, health care and housing they need?

These are, admittedly, not easy issues to deal with, but they are questions we cannot afford to ignore.  

At the outset, I think it is important to recognize that the world of today is very, very different from the world of Winston Churchill of 1946. Back then we faced a superpower adversary with a huge standing army, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons, with allies around the world, and with expansionist aims. Today the Soviet Union no longer exists.

Today we face threats of a different sort. We will never forget 9/11. We are cognizant of the terrible attacks that have taken place in capitols all over the world. We are more than aware of the brutality of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and similar groups.

We also face the threat of these groups obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and preventing that must be a priority.

In recent years, we are increasingly confronted by the isolated dictatorship of North Korea, which is making rapid progress in nuclear weaponry and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Yes, we face real and very serious threats to our security, which I will discuss, but they are very different than what we have seen in the past and our response must be equally different.

But before I talk about some of these other threats, let me say a few words about a very insidious challenge that undermines our ability to meet these other crises, and indeed could undermine our very way of life. 

A great concern that I have today is that many in our country are losing faith in our common future and in our democratic values.
 
For far too many of our people, here in the United States and people all over the world, the promises of self-government – of government by the people, for the people, and of the people – have not been kept. And people are losing faith.
 
In the United States and other countries, a majority of people are working longer hours for lower wages than they used to. They see big money buying elections, and they see a political and economic elite growing wealthier, even as their own children’s future grows dimmer.
 
So when we talk about foreign policy, and our belief in democracy, at the very top of our list of concerns is the need to revitalize American democracy to ensure that governmental decisions reflect the interests of a majority of our people, and not just the few – whether that few is Wall Street, the military industrial complex or the fossil fuel industry. We cannot convincingly promote democracy abroad if we do not live it vigorously here at home.
 
Maybe it’s because I come from the small state of Vermont, a state that prides itself on town meetings and grassroots democracy, that I strongly agree with Winston Churchill when he stated his belief that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms.”

In both Europe and the United States, the international order which the United States helped establish over the past 70 years, one which put great emphasis on democracy and human rights, and promoted greater trade and economic development, is under great strain. Many Europeans are questioning the value of the European Union. Many Americans are questioning the value of the United Nations, of the transatlantic alliance, and other multilateral organizations.
 
We also see a rise in authoritarianism and right wing extremism – both domestic and foreign – which further weakens this order by exploiting and amplifying resentments, stoking intolerance and fanning ethnic and racial hatreds among those in our societies who are struggling.
 
We saw this anti-democratic effort take place in the 2016 election right here in the United States, where we now know that the Russian government was engaged in a massive effort to undermine one of our greatest strengths: the integrity of our elections, and our faith in our own democracy. 
 
I found it incredible, by the way, that when the President of the United States spoke before the United Nations on Monday, he did not even mention that outrage.  

Well, I will. Today I say to Mr. Putin: we will not allow you to undermine American democracy or democracies around the world.  In fact, our goal is to not only strengthen American democracy, but to work in solidarity with supporters of democracy around the globe, including in Russia. In the struggle of democracy versus authoritarianism, we intend to win.
 
When we talk about foreign policy it is clear that there are some who believe that the United States would be best served by withdrawing from the global community. I disagree. As the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth, we have got to help lead the struggle to defend and expand a rules-based international order in which law, not might, makes right. 

We must offer people a vision that one day, maybe not in our lifetimes, but one day in the future human beings on this planet will live in a world where international conflicts will be resolved peacefully, not by mass murder.

“As the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth, we have got to help lead the struggle to defend and expand a rules-based international order in which law, not might, makes right.”How tragic it is that today, while hundreds of millions of people live in abysmal poverty, the arms merchants of the world grow increasingly rich as governments spend trillions of dollars on weapons of destruction.
 
I am not naïve or unmindful of history. Many of the conflicts that plague our world are longstanding and complex. But we must never lose our vision of a world in which, to quote the Prophet Isaiah, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
 
One of the most important organizations for promoting a vision of a different world is the United Nations. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who helped create the UN, called it “our greatest hope for future peace. Alone we cannot keep the peace of the world, but in cooperation with others we have to achieve this much longed-for security.”
 
It has become fashionable to bash the UN. And yes, the UN needs to be reformed. It can be ineffective, bureaucratic, too slow or unwilling to act, even in the face of massive atrocities, as we are seeing in Syria right now.  But to see only its weaknesses is to overlook the enormously important work the UN does in promoting global health, aiding refugees, monitoring elections, and doing international peacekeeping missions, among other things. All of these activities contribute to reduced conflict, to wars that don’t have to be ended because they never start.
 
At the end of the day, it is obvious that it makes far more sense to have a forum in which countries can debate their concerns, work out compromises and agreements. Dialogue and debate are far preferable to bombs, poison gas and war.
 
Dialogue however cannot only be take place between foreign ministers or diplomats at the United Nations. It should be taking place between people throughout the world at the grassroots level.
 
I was mayor of the city of Burlington, Vermont, in the 1980s, when the Soviet Union was our enemy. We established a sister city program with the Russian city of Yaroslavl, a program which still exists today. I will never forget seeing Russian boys and girls visiting Vermont, getting to know American kids, and becoming good friends. Hatred and wars are often based on fear and ignorance. The way to defeat this ignorance and diminish this fear is through meeting with others and understanding the way they see the world. Good foreign policy means building people to people relationships.  

We should welcome young people from all over the world and all walks of life to spend time with our kids in American classrooms, while our kids, from all income levels, do the same abroad.

Some in Washington continue to argue that “benevolent global hegemony” should be the goal of our foreign policy, that the U.S., by virtue of its extraordinary military power, should stand astride the world and reshape it to its liking. I would argue that the events of the past two decades – particularly the disastrous Iraq war and the instability and destruction it has brought to the region – have utterly discredited that vision.  
 
The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world. Nor, on the other hand, is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of “America First.” Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership, rather than dominance. This is better for our security, better for global stability and better for facilitating the international cooperation necessary to meet shared challenges.
 
Here’s a truth that you don’t often hear about too often in the newspapers, on the television or in the halls of Congress. But it’s a truth we must face. Far too often, American intervention and the use of American military power has produced unintended consequences which have caused incalculable harm. Yes, it is reasonably easy to engineer the overthrow of a government. It is far harder, however, to know the long term impact that that action will have. Let me give you some examples: 

In 1953 the United States, on behalf of Western oil interests, supported the overthrow of Iran’s elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, and the re-installation of the Shah of Iran, who led a corrupt, brutal and unpopular government. In 1979, the Shah was overthrown by revolutionaries led by Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was created. What would Iran look like today if their democratic government had not been overthrown? What impact did that American-led coup have on the entire region? What consequences are we still living with today?

In 1973, the United States supported the coup against the democratically elected president of Chile Salvador Allende which was led by General Augusto Pinochet. The result was almost 20 years of authoritarian military rule and the disappearance and torture of thousands of Chileans – and the intensification of anti-Americanism in Latin America.

Elsewhere in Latin America, the logic of the Cold War led the United States to support murderous regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, which resulted in brutal and long-lasting civil wars that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children.  

In Vietnam, based on a discredited “domino theory,” the United States replaced the French in intervening in a civil war, which resulted in the deaths of millions of Vietnamese in support of a corrupt, repressive South Vietnamese government. We must never forget that over 58,000 thousand Americans also died in that war.

More recently, in Iraq, based on a similarly mistaken analysis of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime, the United States invaded and occupied a country in the heart of the Middle East. In doing so, we upended the regional order of the Middle East and unleashed forces across the region and the world that we’ll be dealing with for decades to come.

These are just a few examples of American foreign policy and interventionism which proved to be counter-productive.  

Now let me give you an example of an incredibly bold and ambitious American initiative which proved to be enormously successful in which not one bullet was fired – something that we must learn from.

Shortly after Churchill was right here in Westminster College, the United States developed an extremely radical foreign policy initiative called the Marshall Plan. 

Think about it for a moment: historically, when countries won terrible wars, they exacted retribution on the vanquished. But in 1948, the United States government did something absolutely unprecedented. 

After losing hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the most brutal war in history to defeat the barbarity of Nazi Germany and Japanese imperialism, the government of the United States decided not to punish and humiliate the losers. Rather, we helped rebuild their economies, spending the equivalent of $130 billion just to reconstruct Western Europe after World War II. We also provided them support to reconstruct democratic societies.  

That program was an amazing success. Today Germany, the country of the Holocaust, the country of Hitler’s dictatorship, is now a strong democracy and the economic engine of Europe. Despite centuries of hostility, there has not been a major European war since World War II. That is an extraordinary foreign policy success that we have every right to be very proud of.

Unfortunately, today we still have examples of the United States supporting policies that I believe will come back to haunt us. One is the ongoing Saudi war in Yemen.

While we rightly condemn Russian and Iranian support for Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter in Syria, the United States continues to support Saudi Arabia’s destructive intervention in Yemen, which has killed many thousands of civilians and created a humanitarian crisis in one of the region’s poorest countries. Such policies dramatically undermine America’s ability to advance a human rights agenda around the world, and empowers authoritarian leaders who insist that our support for those rights and values is not serious.  

Let me say a word about some of the shared global challenges that we face today.

First, I would mention climate change. Friends, it is time to get serious on this: Climate change is real and must be addressed with the full weight of American power, attention and resources.

The scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, climate change is caused by human activity, and climate change is already causing devastating harm throughout the world. Further, what the scientists tell us is that if we do not act boldly to address the climate crisis, this planet will see more drought, more floods – the recent devastation by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are good examples – more extreme weather disturbances, more acidification of the ocean, more rising sea levels and, as a result of mass migrations, there will be more threats to global stability and security.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement was not only incredibly foolish and short-sighted, but it will also end up hurting the American economy.

The threat of climate change is a very clear example of where American leadership can make a difference. Europe can’t do it alone, China can’t do it alone, and the United States can’t do it alone. This is a crisis that calls out for strong international cooperation if we are to leave our children and grandchildren a planet that is healthy and habitable. American leadership – the economic and scientific advantages and incentives that only America can offer – is hugely important for facilitating this cooperation. 

Another challenge that we and the entire world face is growing wealth and income inequality, and the movement toward international oligarchy – a system in which a small number of billionaires and corporate interests have control over our economic life, our political life, and our media.

This movement toward oligarchy is not just an American issue. It is an international issue. Globally, the top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 99 percent of the world’s population. 

In other words, while the very, very rich become much richer, thousands of children die every week in poor countries around the world from easily prevented diseases, and hundreds of millions live in incredible squalor.

Inequality, corruption, oligarchy and authoritarianism are inseparable. They must be understood as part of the same system, and fought in the same way. Around the world we have witnessed the rise of demagogues who once in power use their positions to loot the state of its resources. These kleptocrats, like Putin in Russia, use divisiveness and abuse as a tool for enriching themselves and those loyal to them.

“Inequality, corruption, oligarchy and authoritarianism are inseparable. They must be understood as part of the same system, and fought in the same way.”But economic inequality is not the only form of inequality that we must face. As we seek to renew America’s commitment to promote human rights and human dignity around the world we must be a living example here at home. We must reject the divisive attacks based on a person’s religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or identity, country of origin or class. And when we see demonstrations of neo-Nazism and white supremacism as we recently did in Charlottesville, Virginia, we must be unequivocal in our condemnation, as our president shamefully was not.

And as we saw here so clearly in St. Louis in the past week we need serious reforms in policing and the criminal justice system so that the life of every person is equally valued and protected.  We cannot speak with the moral authority the world needs if we do not struggle to achieve the ideal we are holding out for others.

One of the places we have fallen short in upholding these ideas is in the war on terrorism. Here I want to be clear: terrorism is a very real threat, as we learned so tragically on September 11, 2001, and many other countries knew already too well. 

But, I also want to be clear about something else: As an organizing framework, the Global War on Terror has been a disaster for the American people and for American leadership. Orienting U.S. national security strategy around terrorism essentially allowed a few thousand violent extremists to dictate policy for the most powerful nation on earth. It responds to terrorists by giving them exactly what they want.

In addition to draining our resources and distorting our vision, the war on terror has caused us to undermine our own moral standards regarding torture, indefinite detention, and the use of force around the world, using drone strikes and other airstrikes that often result in high civilian casualties. 

A heavy-handed military approach, with little transparency or accountability, doesn’t enhance our security. It makes the problem worse. 

We must rethink the old Washington mindset that judges “seriousness” according to the willingness to use force. One of the key misapprehensions of this mindset is the idea that military force is decisive in a way that diplomacy is not.

Yes, military force is sometimes necessary, but always – always – as the last resort. And blustery threats of force, while they might make a few columnists happy, can often signal weakness as much as strength, diminishing U.S. deterrence, credibility and security in the process.

To illustrate this, I would contrast two recent U.S. foreign policy initiatives: The Iraq war and the Iran nuclear agreement.

Today it is now broadly acknowledged that the war in Iraq, which I opposed, was a foreign policy blunder of enormous magnitude.

In addition to the many thousands killed, it created a cascade of instability around the region that we are still dealing with today in Syria and elsewhere, and will be for many years to come. Indeed, had it not been for the Iraq War, ISIS would almost certainly not exist.

The Iraq war, as I said before, had unintended consequences. It was intended as a demonstration of the extent of American power. It ended up demonstrating only its limits.

In contrast, the Iran nuclear deal advanced the security of the U.S. and its partners, and it did this at a cost of no blood and zero treasure. 

For many years, leaders across the world had become increasingly concerned about the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. What the Obama administration and our European allies were able to do was to get an agreement that froze and dismantled large parts of that nuclear program, put it under the most intensive inspections regime in history, and removed the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon from the list of global threats. 

That is real leadership. That is REAL POWER.

Just yesterday, the top general of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyden, said: “The facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements the we signed up for.” We now have a four-year record of Iran’s compliance, going back to the 2013 interim deal. 

I call on my colleagues in the Congress, and all Americans: We must protect this deal. President Trump has signaled his intention to walk away from it, as he did the Paris agreement, regardless of the evidence that it is working. That would be a mistake.

Not only would this potentially free Iran from the limits placed on its nuclear program, it would irreparably harm America’s ability to negotiate future nonproliferation agreements. Why would any country in the world sign such an agreement with the United States if they knew that a reckless president and an irresponsible Congress might simply discard that agreement a few years later?

If we are genuinely concerned with Iran’s behavior in the region, as I am, the worst possible thing we could do is break the nuclear deal. It would make all of these other problems harder.

Another problem it would make harder is that of North Korea. 

Let’s understand: North Korea is ruled by one of the worst regimes in the world. For many years, its leadership has sacrificed the well-being of its own people in order to develop nuclear weapons and missile programs in order to protect the Kim family’s regime. Their continued development of nuclear weapons and missile capability is a growing threat to the U.S. and our allies. Despite past efforts they have repeatedly shown their determination to move forward with these programs in defiance of virtually unanimous international opposition and condemnation.

As we saw with the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, real US leadership is shown by our ability to develop consensus around shared problems, and mobilize that consensus toward a solution. That is the model we should be pursuing with North Korea. 

As we did with Iran, if North Korea continues to refuse to negotiate seriously, we should look for ways to tighten international sanctions. This will involve working closely with other countries, particularly China, on whom North Korea relies for some 80 percent of its trade. But we should also continue to make clear that this is a shared problem, not to be solved by any one country alone but by the international community working together.

An approach that really uses all the tools of our power – political, economic, civil society – to encourage other states to adopt more inclusive governance will ultimately make us safer.

“Starving diplomacy and aid now will result in greater defense needs later on.”Development aid is not charity, it advances our national security. It’s worth noting that the U.S. military is a stalwart supporter of non-defense diplomacy and development aid.

Starving diplomacy and aid now will result in greater defense needs later on. 

U.S. foreign aid should be accompanied by stronger emphasis on helping people gain their political and civil rights to hold oppressive governments accountable to the people. Ultimately, governments that are accountable to the needs of their people will make more dependable partners.

Here is the bottom line: In my view the United States must seek partnerships not just between governments, but between peoples. A sensible and effective foreign policy recognizes that our safety and welfare is bound up with the safety and welfare of others around the world, with “all the homes and families of all the men and women in all the lands,” as Churchill said right here, 70 years ago.

In my view, every person on this planet shares a common humanity. We all want our children to grow up healthy, to have a good education, have decent jobs, drink clean water and breathe clean air, and to live in peace. That’s what being human is about. 

Our job is to build on that common humanity and do everything that we can to oppose all of the forces, whether unaccountable government power or unaccountable corporate power, who try to divide us up and set us against each other. As Eleanor Roosevelt reminded us, “The world of the future is in our making. Tomorrow is now.”

My friends, let us go forward and build that tomorrow.

 

 

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