It seems that recently we read in the news almost on a weekly basis that the U.S. seems to be involved in some sort of serious turmoil or unrest in some part of the world. It may be in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, East China Sea, South China Sea, Ukraine, Okinawa, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. It is true that some of these unrest were caused by other countries or parties who have very narrow partisan interest and treat others with extreme cruelty and without regard to the value of a human life. It is possible that some of these unrest were not caused by actions of the U.S., and the U.S. was just responding to try to protect the safety of her citizens and the interests of her country. At least that is the impression one gets from reading the U.S. press and listening to the words of our country’s political leaders.
However, if we probe deeper, the causes and effects are no longer so clear. For example, did the U.S.’s 2003 military ouster of President Saddam Hussein on the pretense of getting rid of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction help to trigger a lot of the upheavals in the greater Middle East region? Did the U.S.’s long-standing policy of containing/surrounding/weakening China and U.S.’s collusion with a revived-militaristic Japan that refuses to acknowledge WWII historical truths help to trigger the tensions in East Asia? Did the U.S.’s long, unequivocal, staunch support for Israel help to trigger almost 70 years of unrest in the Middle East? Even in Ukraine, didn’t the U.S. play an important role in overthrowing the legally elected former President Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with the current pro-West President Petro Poroshenko have anything to do with Russia President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine? In other words, is the foreign policy of the U.S. in the long-term best interest of the U.S.? 
Perhaps the U.S. needs to reassess her foreign policy with an objective analysis and a new perspective of how does the rest of the world look at the U.S. Perhaps she should look back at more than 150 years ago on how Ambassador Anson Burlingame helped to reshape American foreign policy, first as the U.S.’s Ambassador to China 1861-1867 and then as China’s “Ambassador to All the Treaty Powers (including the U.S.)” 1867-1870. 
When Anson Burlingame went to China in 1861 to begin his ambassadorship, China had signed a series of unequal treaties with various foreign powers, including the U.S. These unequal treaties carved out parts of China essentially under the foreign sovereignty of various powers. For example, accused foreign criminals in cities like Shanghai were trialed in foreign courts and Chinese citizens were not allowed to be witnesses. China under the Qing Dynasty government was weak resulting in a lot of unrest among the Chinese people, leading to large uprisings like the Taiping Rebellion that almost toppled the Qing government. It was Burlingame who had the moral principle to see that such foreign policy was unjust, and furthermore, he realized that such foreign policy although could result in short-term benefits for the U.S., would not be in the long-term best interest of the U.S. This is because he had the foresight to see that if such unequal treaties continue, sooner or later the Chinese people are going to rise up and overthrow the Qing government and at the same time kick out all the foreign powers. Since China is a huge country with a large population and rich in natural resources, being kicked out of China would not be in the long-term best interest of the U.S.
Within the U.S., President Abraham Lincoln was pushing the policy to free slaves and provide them with more equal rights. This was not a universally accepted policy within the U.S and led to a tragic and costly Civil War., but President Lincoln also believed that this policy of “equality of men” was the right moral thing to do, and in the long run it was also in the best interest of the U.S. Burlingame realized that the natural extension of the principle of “equality of men” from within the U.S. to outside of the U.S. was the principle of “equality of nations.” The “equality of nations” led to a new foreign policy of the U.S. toward China that discontinued the unequal treaties and treated China as an equal partner. Working together with Secretary of State William H. Seward, Burlingame crisscrossed the country in 1866-1868 to advocate this new policy, not just because it was the moral thing to do, but also because it was in the long-term best interest of the U.S. This culminated on July 28, 1868 by the signing into law by President Andrew Johnson the Burlingame Treaty.
Following the success in the U.S., Burlingame, being “China’s Ambassador to all the Treaty Powers,” proceeded to Europe and Russia trying to get agreement on similar treaties. Unfortunately, he caught pneumonia in St. Petersburg, Russia and died on February 23, 1870 at an early age of 49.
Burlingame’s unexpected early death occurred during the time when the reconstruction movement in the U.S. was stalled after Johnson, a Southerner, replaced Lincoln as the U.S. President. Both the “equality of men” and “equality of nations” fell by the wayside. It took almost another 100 years until the civil rights movement of the 1950s before the American Black people started to make significant gains in equal rights. Together with rising anti-Chinese sentiments in the U.S., the Burlingame Treaty was essentially repealed by 1880, and the extremely discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882 as the only law in American history to deny citizenship or entry based on a specific nationality.
The lesson that we can learn from the Anson Burlingame era is that a fresh new look at American foreign policy is warranted. This new analysis must take into account how does the U.S. foreign policy affect the people of other countries and how do the other countries look upon the foreign policy of the U.S. The policy should not be based on just what is in the short-term best interest of the U.S., and it should not be based on helping or instigating to topple various countries’ governments just because they do not necessarily agree with the U.S. Instead, it should be based on a morally correct policy that is also in the long-term best interest of the U.S.
 For a discussion of the U.S.’s foreign policy toward China, see “Assessing the U.S.’s Foreign Policy Toward China”: http://www.dontow.com/2014/06/assessing-u-s-s-foreign-policy-toward-china/.
 For more information on Burlingame, see “A Most Unique Diplomat: Anson Burlingame”: http://www.dontow.com/2010/12/a-most-unique-diplomat-anson-burlingame/.