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I am delighted to see Senator Tim Kaine (“A New Truman Doctrine,” July/August 2017) describe a bold new foreign policy strategy that balances greatness and goodness. He should further develop his proposal in two important ways.
First, the strategy should empower positive nonstate actors. Kaine highlights the rising influence of nonstate actors but seems to consider only their destructive power. Of course, the United States must find, defend against, and hold accountable those who seek to harm the country and its allies. But a new strategy should also seek to identify and empower those nonstate actors working to improve lives and reduce suffering. More time and money should go to the Malala Yousafzais, Nelson Mandelas, and Vaclav Havels of the world than to heads of state and CEOs.
Second, the strategy should incorporate the so-called “responsibility to protect.” Kaine rightly highlights the role of the United States in addressing natural and man-made crises. He mentions the failures in Rwanda and Syria as proof that failure can come from crimes of omission, not just those of commission. Fortunately, in 2005, policymakers, activists, academics, and others came together to develop the doctrine of “the responsibility to protect,” or R2P. Kaine’s new strategy should adopt or adapt R2P—as many U.S. allies have done—to address genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
Research Fellow, WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University