Can we divorce policy from values?

Donald Trump’s “America first” approach to the world means decoupling US foreign policy from values such as human rights and freedom.

When I first read the above I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I still struggle with it.  Can we really say they some things are our values and then purposely do things opposed to them?  Of course, most of us do, but I don’t think we do it as a matter of policy.

When I wrote about ethics I gave three ways in which we can make ethical decisions; rules, consequences and values.  It would appear that America don’t take much notice of rules as recent bombings have been “legally questionable“; if foreign policy is decoupled from values such as freedom (a key American value one would think) that means they are not driven by values.  This means that US foreign policy is driven by consequences – but what consequences?

What are the consequences of telling the world that you don’t value human rights and freedom highly enough to base your foreign policy on them?

I fear that the consequences that are driving the foreign policy are short term results – just as foreign policy on Iraq and Afghanistan have been.

Am I being unrealistic in expecting foreign policy (not just American) to be based on values rather than short term outcomes?

Alan

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