Usually, I refrain as a moral philosopher (in training of course) from using the word "ethics" plural as professional organizations do in that they create a list of imperatives solely on pragmatic grounds. As someone interested in moral theory in particular, I generally do not use the word in such a manner at all. In fact, I am annoyed typically when it is used in such a fashion. However, I am finding myself doing so this time.
As you may have heard, the NY Times -- god bless them -- published the Rumsfeld memo, or key sections of it anyway. In the memo, a series of bullet points called for a major correction in US policy in Iraq. Rumsfeld offered his set of imperatives. I only thought it proper to list my own. Before doing so, I should mention that I am committed to a global perspective on matters of morality, justice and policymaking. I think strategies that promote peace are wiser in the long run, though I am certainly not a pacifist by any means; I am a dove with hawk-like vision.
The most upsetting feature about the United States' foreign policy at large is its aggressive nature. The aggression is misplaced, unfocused and seen as justified from a religious oversimplified dichotomy of "good vs. evil." As such, the truly good we, the United States, could be doing in the world is lost on deaf ears in the Bush Administration. I suggest the following recourse of actions for Iraq and national security policies in general.
1) Stop supporting dissenting state actors of questionable moral character, specifically dissident groups who violate human rights. The covert actions of previous administrations during the Cold War equipped and training some of the very people we fought in Afghanistan. We can no longer afford to give legitimacy to groups who do not honor the possibility of a global ethic as grounded in the Universal Declaration Human Rights (UDHR herein) seemingly because we find their temporary allegiance pragmatic to further our own ends.
2) If we do engage in covert operations, we must simply do it ourselves, using our own people to do so, and make sure that the suggested covert operation is in keeping with furthering the possibility of a global ethic as grounded in the UDHR, even if that needs to be backed by US hegemony.
3) Commit wholeheartedly to enforcing the Genocide Convention, even if other states do not support the United States. We cannot simply standby and watch incidents like Darfur ensue anymore.
4) Support the creation of a Palestinian state only if Palestine stops funding terrorist organizations. To reward Palestinians, we cut international aid to Israel. If they are then fully committed to fostering peace, we cut funding completely with the threat of continuing it in gradations if they lack the political will to commit fully.
5) Invite political partners to join in actually creating an international coalition of the forgotten. Call European allies to a major conference in deciding how best to handle Iraq from these talks--hopefully somehow involving the United Nations striving for a UN Peacekeeping Force . There is more to our success for our respected friends than might seem readily available. Call 0n them to share the burden of troop deployment, that is, if the West can agree to a rotation of volunteering military personnel. More troops are needed for the mission in general, and more involvement from our allies and the United Nations is needed to secure the peace.
6) I have no solutions for solving the sectarian violence; I only know that what we are doing is not working, and that the Iraqiis will have to take charge eventually of their own fate. Unfortunately, I do admit that Rumsfeld's memo has two salient points: First, we do not fund reconstruction in areas where violence occurs, and secondly we offer an unemployed youth program, keeping possible alienated youth away from the prospect of being recruited by insurgents.
7) Offer heavy recruiting incentives to Iraqii-Americans to become clandestine operatives in the field. Offer similar packages for Armed Services recruiting in Dearborn, MI.
8) Federally subsidize the creation of Arabic language learning in universities and colleges in the United States as well as public education. Offer grants for setting up programs that seek to integrate Western values with Islam in academia as well.
9) Integrate the UDHR into basic servicemen training in the military. Interpret the UDHR's values as inherent in our US constitution (as I truly think this is the case philosophically). In this way, better justification can be given to officers and enlisted personnel if it is truly the case that US military policy internalizes these values, that is the important thing.