Quotes About Foreign Policy

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John Stuart Mill

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
― John Stuart Mill
Thomas Jefferson

“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations…entangling alliances with none”
― Thomas Jefferson
Noam Chomsky

“Israel’s demonstration of its military prowess in 1967 confirmed its status as a ‘strategic asset,’ as did its moves to prevent Syrian intervention in Jordan in 1970 in support of the PLO. Under the Nixon doctrine, Israel and Iran were to be ‘the guardians of the Gulf,’ and after the fall of the Shah, Israel’s perceived role was enhanced. Meanwhile, Israel has provided subsidiary services elsewhere, including Latin America, where direct US support for the most murderous regimes has been impeded by Congress. While there has been internal debate and some fluctuation in US policy, much exaggerated in discussion here, it has been generally true that US support for Israel’s militarization and expansion reflected the estimate of its power in the region.

The effect has been to turn Israel into a militarized state completely dependent on US aid, willing to undertake tasks that few can endure, such as participation in Guatemalan genocide. For Israel, this is a moral disaster and will eventually become a physical disaster as well. For the Palestinians and many others, it has been a catastrophe, as it may sooner or later be for the entire world, with the growing danger of superpower confrontation.”
― Noam Chomsky

Al Franken

“When the president during the campaign
said he was against nation building,
I didn’t realize he meant our nation.”
― Al Franken
Christopher Hitchens

“This is what you get when you found a political system on the family values of Henry VIII. At a point in the not-too-remote future, the stout heart of Queen Elizabeth II will cease to beat. At that precise moment, her firstborn son will become head of state, head of the armed forces, and head of the Church of England. In strict constitutional terms, this ought not to matter much. The English monarchy, as has been said, reigns but does not rule. From the aesthetic point of view it will matter a bit, because the prospect of a morose bat-eared and chinless man, prematurely aged, and with the most abysmal taste in royal consorts, is a distinctly lowering one.”
― Christopher Hitchens
Charles M. Schulz

“How can I play baseball when I’m worried about foreign policy?”
― Charles M. Schulz
“First Afghanistan, now Iraq. So who’s next? Syria? North Korea? Iran? Where will it all end?’ If these illegal interventions are permitted to continue, the implication seems to be, pretty soon, horror of horrors, no murderously repressive regimes might remain.”
― Daniel Kofman
Oswald Mosley

“Als it is hard for America to fight wars in the name of freedom, if those people themselves choose for nonfreedom. Can America and England save India from communism, if they vote communist themselves.”
― Oswald Mosley
George Bernard Shaw

“All classes in proportion to their lack of travel and familiarity with foreign literature are bellicose, prejudiced against foreigners, fond of fighting as a cruel sport — in short, dog-like in their notions of foreign policy.”

Henry Kissinger

“A country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security”
― Henry Kissinger
James Barrett Reston

“The people of the United States will do anything for Latin America, except read about it.”
― James Barrett Reston
Zbigniew Brzezinski

“Most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.”
― Zbigniew Brzezinski
Sharon Kay Penman

“Edward was now expressing himself on the subject of the French King, drawing upon a vocabulary that a Southwark brothel-keeper might envy. Some of what he was saying was anatomically impossible, much of it was true and all of it envenomed.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, The Sunne in Splendour
Sarah Palin

“Well, then what the federal government should have done was accept the assistance of foreign countries, of entrepreneurial Americans who have had solutions that they wanted presented. They can’t even get a phone call returned, Bill. The Dutch—they are known, and the Norwegians—they are known for dikes and for cleaning up water and for dealing with spills. They offered to help and yet, no, they too, with the proverbial, can’t even get a phone call back.”
― Sarah Palin
Christopher Hitchens

“Seeing the name Hillary in a headline last week—a headline about a life that had involved real achievement—I felt a mouse stirring in the attic of my memory. Eventually, I was able to recall how the two Hillarys had once been mentionable in the same breath. On a first-lady goodwill tour of Asia in April 1995—the kind of banal trip that she now claims as part of her foreign-policy ‘experience’—Mrs. Clinton had been in Nepal and been briefly introduced to the late Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Mount Everest. Ever ready to milk the moment, she announced that her mother had actually named her for this famous and intrepid explorer. The claim ‘worked’ well enough to be repeated at other stops and even showed up in Bill Clinton’s memoirs almost a decade later, as one more instance of the gutsy tradition that undergirds the junior senator from New York.

Sen. Clinton was born in 1947, and Sir Edmund Hillary and his partner Tenzing Norgay did not ascend Mount Everest until 1953, so the story was self-evidently untrue and eventually yielded to fact-checking. Indeed, a spokeswoman for Sen. Clinton named Jennifer Hanley phrased it like this in a statement in October 2006, conceding that the tale was untrue but nonetheless charming: ‘It was a sweet family story her mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results I might add.’

Perfect. It worked, in other words, having been coined long after Sir Edmund became a bankable celebrity, but now its usefulness is exhausted and its untruth can safely be blamed on Mummy.”
― Christopher Hitchens

“Al Qaeda’s central political objective is the creation of an Islamic republic, not the progressive realignment of American foreign policy.”
― Simon Cottee
“The question shouldn’t be what we ought to do, but what we can do.”
― Rory Stewart
Zbigniew Brzezinski

“[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.”
― Zbigniew Brzezinski
Jimmy Carter

“The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens–and honor its own previous commitments–by accepting its legal borders. All Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel’s right to live in peace under these conditions. The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories.”
― Jimmy Carter
Glenn Greenwald

“Michael Ledeen—a contributing editor of National Review and a Freedom Scholar at the influential neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute—wrote on the National Review blog in November 2006: ‘I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy’. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place.’

Ledeen, however, wrote in August 2002 of ‘the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein’ and when he was interviewed for Front Page Magazine the same month and asked, ‘Okay, well if we are all so certain about the dire need to invade Iraq, then when do we do so?’ Ledeen replied: ‘Yesterday.’ There is obvious, substantial risk in falsely claiming that one opposed the Iraq War notwithstanding a public record of support. But that war has come to be viewed as such a profound failure that that risk, at least in the eyes of some, is outweighed by the prospect of being associated with Bush’s invasion.”
― Glenn Greenwald

Phil Ochs

“The only way to Cuba is with the CIA.”
― Phil Ochs
“Too often in the post-9/11 world, when the time has come to translate the moral, and essentially progressive, roots of foreign policy idealism into plans for American action, liberals have said, ‘Duck.”
― Richard Just
Bob Woodward

“During an hour-long conversation mid-flight, he laid out his theory of the war. First, Jones said, the United States could not lose the war or be seen as losing the war.

‘If we’re not successful here,’ Jones said, ‘you’ll have a staging base for global terrorism all over the world. People will say the terrorists won. And you’ll see expressions of these kinds of things in Africa, South America, you name it. Any developing country is going to say, this is the way we beat [the United States], and we’re going to have a bigger problem.’ A setback or loss for the United States would be ‘a tremendous boost for jihadist extremists, fundamentalists all over the world’ and provide ‘a global infusion of morale and energy, and these people don’t need much.’

Jones went on, using the kind of rhetoric that Obama had shied away from, ‘It’s certainly a clash of civilizations. It’s a clash of religions. It’s a clash of almost concepts of how to live.’ The conflict is that deep, he said. ‘So I think if you don’t succeed in Afghanistan, you will be fighting in more places.

‘Second, if we don’t succeed here, organizations like NATO, by association the European Union, and the United Nations might be relegated to the dustbin of history.’

Third, ‘I say, be careful you don’t over-Americanize the war. I know that we’re going to do a large part of it,’ but it was essential to get active, increased participation by the other 41 nations, get their buy-in and make them feel they have ownership in the outcome.

Fourth, he said that there had been way too much emphasis on the military, almost an overmilitarization of the war. The key to leaving a somewhat stable Afghanistan in a reasonable time frame was improving governance and the rule of law, in order to reduce corruption. There also needed to be economic development and more participation by the Afghan security forces.

It sounded like a good case, but I wondered if everyone on the American side had the same understanding of our goals. What was meant by victory? For that matter, what constituted not losing? And when might that happen? Could there be a deadline?”
― Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward

“McChrystal had organized a jaw-dropping counterterrorism campaign inside Iraq, but the tactical successes did not translate into a strategic victory. This was why counterinsurgency – blanketing the population in safety and winning them over – was necessary.”
― Bob Woodward
Christopher Hitchens

“I am not one of those who believes—as Obama is said to believe—that a solution to the Palestinian statehood question would bring an end to Muslim resentment against the United States. (Incidentally, if he really does believe this, his lethargy and impotence in the face of Netanyahu’s consistent double-dealing is even more culpable.) The Islamist fanatics have their own agenda, and, as in the case of Hamas and its Iranian backers, they have already demonstrated that nothing but the destruction of Israel and the removal of American influence from the region will possibly satisfy them. No, it is more the case that justice—and a homeland for the Palestinians—is a good and necessary cause in its own right. It is also a special legal and moral responsibility of the United States, which has several times declared a dual-statehood outcome to be its objective.”
― Christopher Hitchens
“Fallujah was a Guernica with no Picasso. A city of 300,000 was deprived of water, electricity, and food, emptied of most of its inhabitants who ended up parked in camps. Then came the methodical bombing and recapture of the city block by block. When soldiers occupied the hospital, The New York Times managed to justify this act on grounds that the hospital served as an enemy propaganda center by exaggerating the number of casualties. And by the way, just how many casualties were there? Nobody knows, there is no body count for Iraqis. When estimates are published, even by reputable scientific reviews, they are denounced as exaggerated. Finally, the inhabitants were allowed to return to their devastated city, by way of military checkpoints, and start to sift through the rubble, under the watchful eye of soldiers and biometric controls.”
― Jean Bricmont
“All those who prefer peace to power, and happiness to glory should thank the colonized people for their civilizing mission. By liberating themselves, they made Europeans more modest, less racist, and more human. Let us hope that the process continues and that the Americans are obliged to follow the same course. When one’s own cause is unjust, defeat can be liberating.”
― Jean Bricmont
Henry Kissinger

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”
― Henry Kissinger
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