Donald Trump’s mini-super Super Tuesday victories on April 26th have not derailed the efforts of the “Stop Trump” and “Never Trump” movements, yet it has solidified his standing as the de facto GOP Nominee. While Ted Cruz decided to take the unusual step of naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate in an apparent effort to attract the support of Republican women, despite the fact he cannot beat the frontrunner, Donald Trump delivered a foreign policy speech. Not surprising, an army of professional analysts, political insiders, and media outlets seized upon the opportunity to discredit the Presidential candidate, thus revealing his and their shortcomings.
Although the US Press was more than willing to regurgitate criticism of Trump’s speech, The Guardian offered important insights from a foreign perspective. By focusing on the inconsistencies of Trump’s address, instead of criticism based on differences in political philosophy, the inconsistencies that have long undermined US foreign policy become apparent. Looking at politically unbiased coverage, such as that from NPR, Trump’s speech offered little more than a reiteration of his America First platform and criticism of past US foreign policy. In other words, Trump simply mirrored the failings of US foreign policy.
American criticism of Trump’s foreign policy address focused both on the contradictory nature of his stances and the lack of details on how he might accomplish his goals. In short, his views are too superficial. Like former Security of State Hillary Clinton’s three point “strategy” to address the Islamic State, however, Donald Trump’s positions are no more superficial than that of most political figures, which is why US foreign policy has so many failings. The problem with US foreign policy is that there is an intellectual deficient when it comes to the innovative thinking that is necessary to recognize, comprehend, and solve today’s issues.
There is a great deal of quality reporting and analysis of world events, which is under threat due to economic realities, yet there are few building what might be called the “intellectual architecture” needed to develop viable policies for the challenges of the Twenty-First Century. Political science is the discipline that develops the models, theoretical constructs, and intellectual architecture that governments and citizens need to transcend politics in order to achieve improved governance. Unfortunately, our society seems to regard the field of political science as little more than an academic pursuit.
Meanwhile, politics is a fairly accessible subject and most people have their own opinions on the issues covered during the news cycle, so professional political scientists do not offer unique skills in the eyes of the general public and the economy. The modern world’s largely science-based education system has pushed Americans to over focus on “numbers” while we have also grown extremely shortsighted in our thinking thanks to a variety of other factors. Fields like economics are driven by numbers; whereas, political science is not. Economics largely models short-term outcomes; political science models long-term social characteristics.
With academia pressured to control costs and produce graduates who can actually expect to earn a living with their degrees, lobbyists solely serving the interests of their clients, and professional media outlets competing against free social media by pandering to consumer impulses, the economics are not conducive to a viable political science field. The reason professional fields like journalism are failing is that they can no longer provide a valuable service while media outlets have made the problem worse by simply chasing trends and securing their positions by shunning outside talent. The deficits of US foreign policy reflect this brain drain.
When watching the news or reading a newspaper article, we are often expected to trust the validity of the opinions and other assertions that the professionals featured in these news reports make without understanding the assumptions and methodology that resulted in these conclusions. Just consider how two people might look at the exact same facts and come up with two opposing conclusions that are both correct to some degree. This apparent contradiction is explained by the fact that every individual has his or her own perspective, which has been developed over a lifetime of personal, educational, and professional experiences.
Analysts do not simply rely on their own perspectives or even the facts. What analysts learn to do is view information through different perspectives and best-fit models that allow them to interpret information in a more consistent, accurate manner. This “intellectual architecture,” which might be called many things including a philosophy, worldview, etc., comes from the shaping of one’s thinking through training and other experiences as an individual learns how new information relates to already known information. Using intellectual architectures, analysts are able to more effectively acquire, process, and utilize vast amounts of new information.
Our primary education system actually gives students the intellectual architecture necessary to comprehend our world with varying degrees of objectivity and function in our globalized society. When individuals are lacking the intellectual architecture needed to understand complex issues or two individuals are utilizing two incompatible worldviews, they cannot effectively comprehend and address issues that affect them or come to a viable resolution. Unfortunately, outdated political science worldviews among paid analysts and the failure to recruit innovative minds into all relevant fields has created a deficient of viable foreign policy solutions.
Read old posts