America’s economy isn’t doing so hot right now. But once upon a time, it was thriving beyond what most people thought was possible. The nation experienced significant economic peaks in the 1920s and 1960s. These two eras had one vital detail in common: Both were prefaced by a highly active foreign policy.
The process is relatively simple. A dynamic foreign policy yields global influence, which yields global power, which yields a more dominant economic and political system.
It worked after the United States helped put an end to World War I, and it worked again after the struggle against communism kept America an active player on the world stage.
Graduating into a healthy economy is extremely important to students. We should urge our next presidential elect to maintain American involvement in foreign affairs.
The policy needn’t be excessive. The war in Iraq is evidence enough that too much intervention can lead to catastrophe. But well-reasoned foreign involvement — where the cause is just, the stakes are understood and the objectives are clear — offers the nation a chance to improve its international prospects.
The issue goes beyond the economy. We are a generation that has grown up with the American dream of free speech and free enterprise fully realized. Regardless of difficulties arising in its application, we appreciate democracy and basic free-market principles. It is what we know, what we love and what much of the world stands to benefit from.
The moment the United States drops out of the international community is the moment that system instantly loses its global defender.
Recently, the Arab Spring arrived in Syria, where protestors rallying for recognition of their basic rights have faced a brutal government crackdown. Though the United States has condemned the actions of the Syrian government, it has not yet actively intervened.
In the interest of preserving global influence and of promoting American political values, the United States should do more than condemn the crackdown. If intervention is executed correctly, it could bring us the rare benefit of a democratic ally in the Middle East.
The human rights aspect of the Syrian problem should not go ignored either. In an era that puts a strong emphasis on being global citizens — illustrated by our own university’s burgeoning international focus — our duty to protect all people from atrocities worldwide is of great importance.
As college students, we are at the epicenter of global activism and cultural exchange. We should feel even more motivated to support America’s continued foreign involvement. We owe it to the world, to ourselves, to our economy and to our democratic influence.
Francesca Bessey is a freshman majoring in narrative studies. Point/Counterpoint runs Fridays.