1: Racial Justice in Foreign Affairs
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ONE Racial Justice in Foreign Affairs Ronald W. Walters Black Interests and Ideology This book is an ambitious undertaking in updating and reconceptualizing so much of African American interests in international politics and foreign policy, but it initially begs at least two essential questions: what is the character of black interest in foreign affairs, and why does it matter? The manner in which blacks came into U.S. citizenship, the dynamics of their original and evolving American identity, the continuing ties with Africa and other peoples of African descent, and the prospects of a Pan-African relationship have worked to order their interests in international affairs. These interests have been ordered in two fundamental directions: maintaining direct ties with peoples of African descent outside of the United States, and participating in policy formation to enhance the human value of those relations between African peoples and all citizens of the United States. An essential problem was that the condition of slavery placed blacks at the bottom of American society, and racism kept them there. This shaped blacks’ interests in both domestic and foreign affairs as rehabilitative projects to construct positive relations between Africans and peoples of African descent, and between the nations and continents that contain such peoples. Thus, the counterpoise to this has caused blacks to construct the same paradigm of justice seeking in foreign affairs as in the domestic arena. I suggested this concept in an article, “The U.S. War on Terrorism and Foreign Policy Justice,” where I first used the term foreign policy justice “in order to point out that analysts have not considered sufficiently the moral content or the racial interests of a policy in their determination of which party to a dispute should be advantaged. With the result that the handling of foreign policy by those in power often shielded moral content by striking a neutralist or defensive interpretation of policy, the existence of un- 1 African Americans in Global Affairs 2 equal power and unequal loss posed a substantial question of the justice in the resolution of the problem.” African Americans always have had strong incentives to seek justice because we have often been the community that was debilitated as a result of the decisions to make war instead of peace. Julianne Malveaux has discussed the concept of a “shared status,” where the decision to deploy resources for one reason affects another. Martin Luther King, Jr., is widely remembered for this idea, contained in his famous Riverside speech on the Vietnam War, when he noted that bombs dropped in Vietnam were blowing up in Harlem and Watts. This is still true, since an analysis by Joseph Stieglitz found that the cost of the war in Iraq as of 2007 had soared to an estimated $1 trillion to $3 trillion, a sum that the Hillary Clinton campaign said could provide health care to all 47 million of those without it, provide quality prekindergarten for every American child, solve the affordable housing crisis, make college affordable for all, and provide tax relief to millions of middle-class Americans. John Broder of the New York Times notes that war spending could have also developed renewable energy resources, funded a nationwide public works program, paid for a long-term fix in Social Security, and fixed the loophole in the Medicare drug benefit. This view is also supported by the American people, 67 percent of whom responded in a NewYorkTimes/CBS news poll that the war had contributed “a lot” to American economic problems. The point here is that African Americans are disproportionally deprived of the resources that could have been provided by spending for domestic causes rather than for war. But the decision to go to war is made doubly erroneous and costly because the decision to deploy those resources, especially in times of war, not only affects American citizens and soldiers, but also creates a future cause of retribution for those whom U.S. munitions kill or harm as a result of that deployment. This shows that the search for a subjective sense of justice in international relations is universal, as seen in the recent history of the Middle East. A New York Times reporter, in a story about how young people are drawn to the more conservative versions of Islam, interviewed Muhammad Fawaz, a Jordan University education student. Fawaz stated that he wanted to study in the United States, but was unable to find the right connections , which he called “wasta” and which students generally referred...


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Politics and government.
  • African American politicians.
  • African American legislators.
  • Political participation.
  • World politics
  • International relations.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
  • United States -- Foreign relations.
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