Fundamental Questions

by Elias Blum

What should be the ultimate ends and purposes of our foreign policy? On what values should those ends and purposes be based? What principles and ethical standards should guide our conduct in pursuit of those ends and purposes?

Unless we can at least begin to answer these questions in a coherent way, it seems to me that we are not in a position to decide on the use of military force: we would be stabbing in the dark without any clear sense of what we are trying to achieve, why we are trying to achieve it, and whether doing so is worthwhile.

A deeper understanding of fundamental values is also necessary in order to determine what our domestic response to terrorist attacks should be. Before we can decide what to do, we must first think about who we want to be:

How deep is our commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law? Are these just words we use to cover baser motives, or do we really mean to live by them?

Do we want a pluralistic, tolerant, open society, or are we content to live in monochrome uniformity? 

Do we have any concern for economic fairness, social justice and compassion, and if so does that extend to Syrian refugees as well as to European workers?

Unless we can define and understand what our values are, we could very easily destroy them through the very means that we think to employ to defend them.

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