US FOREIGN POLICY
I: Foreign policy is the relationships which central governments have with other countries, their central governments, and international organizations, both intergovernmental and non-governmental. The conduct of foreign policy is primarily directed at influencing the behavior of other central governments. Since all central governments are, however, impacted by their domestic societies over which they rule, some effort is exerted at influencing public opinion in foreign counties and maintaining contacts with powerful non-governmental groups in those other countries. Central governments are well advised to maintain contact with opposition groups, especially political parties, which might some day gain control of that county’s central government.
foreign governments maintain relations not only with our own central government
in Washington but also with non-governmental, private organizations in America.
Where possible they also seek to influence the American media and public
opinion. With these caveats
made, foreign policy is still primarily a central-government-to-central-government relationship.
Foreign policy can be either bilateral or multilateral. Bilateral, as the word implies, is the relationship between two countries. Multilateral relationships involve a group of countries. International organizations like the United Nations or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are established through multilateral agreements (treaties) between the member states.
the Gulf War in 1991, the United States led a multilateral coalition sanctioned
by the Security Council of the United Nations against Iraq in order to liberate
Kuwait. Since the leader of Iraq, Saddam
Hussein, has halted United Nations imposed inspections of his country in 1998,
the United States has attempted to rebuilt a multilateral coalition to force
Iraq to comply. But, President
William Clinton indicated that the United States would act unilaterally even if
he could not get the support of the Security Council for renewed military
actions. France and Russia, two members of the Security Council, were not
willing, in 1998, to approve military actions to force compliance with previous
Security Council resolutions.
President George W. Bush renewed the struggle against the Iraqi regime after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States by Al Queda. He has charged that Saddam Hussein might have weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and might hand them over to terrorist organizations. He has continued the process of utilizing the Security Council while proceeding with unilateral plans to go to war if he can not get UN endorsement for his policies. On Wednesday evening, March 19, 2003 our time, the United States commenced its war against Iraq with a missile strike against Saddam Hussein in what was called a target of opportunity. Bush took the decision to go to war unilaterally without a second Security Council Resolution.
II: Tools of State Power for the Conduct of Foreign Policy
III: The purpose of foreign policy. The goals and objectives of a country’s foreign policy are as varied as are the motives of human beings. They can, however, be arranged in an order of priorities. The following foreign policy objectives may be identified for the United States and for all other foreign countries.
1. Protecting the Territorial Integrity of the Home Country. The top foreign policy goal of any country is to protect the territorial integrity of that country from foreign attack. This extends beyond the physical territory. It also includes protecting one's embassies and safeguarding one's military forces stationed in or visiting other countries.
2. Protecting the Territorial Integrity of Allies
3. Maintaining the International Balance of Power
4. Fostering International Security through the United Nations
5. Protecting Access to Strategic Resources
6, Maintaining International Legal Principles, such as Freedom of the High Seas
7. Furthering the Interests of American Business
8. Safeguarding American Nationals in Foreign Countries
9. Fostering Modernization and Economic Development throughout the World
10. Protecting Human Rights, Democracy, and other American Values.
These foreign policy objectives are often divided into a. high politics and b. low politics. a. High Politics refers to the political and military relationships between states. Items 1 through 6 in the list above are components of high politics. b. Low Politics refers to the economic, social, and cultural relationships between states. Items 7 through 10 belong to what is called low politics. Historically, high politics has had preference over low politics in the conduct of countries' foreign policies.
One should also differentiate strategic goals from tactical goals. Tactical objectives are means toward a larger, strategic goal. Strategic goals refer to the ultimate ends of a country's foreign policy. There are certain core values which any strategy must protect. These core values are often referred to as maintaining one's national security and defending one's national interests.
IV. Realism and Idealism. The conduct of American foreign policy has often alternated between two broad policy approaches: Realism and Idealism.
emphasize the role that power plays in international politics. They
would argue that maintaining
and enhancing one’s security within the international system requires a realistic
assessment of the world and one’s place in it.
Since the international system is dynamic and interdependent, changes
anywhere have impacts everywhere including one’s own country.
International peace and security depends on what is called the balance
of power. There is a global
balance of power and there are several regional
balances of power.
During the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union there was a bipolar balance of power in the world. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the United States has been the world's only remaining superpower. Some have begun to call the US a hyper-power. From 1991 through 2003, the United States was careful to conduct its foreign policy multilaterally through the United Nations and our NATO allies. President George W. Bush appears to have broken with traditional conduct of American foreign policy over the last 100 years by pursuing a unilateralist foreign policy, which has alienated Russia, France, Germany, China, and most of the Muslim countries of the world. Unless the Bush Administration is very careful, it may be generating an anti-American alliance to contain American hegemony of the world.
Idealists criticize realists about their excessive emphasis on power, particularly military power. Idealists argue that what ultimately shapes world politics are moral ideals and values. Peace, prosperity, respect for human rights, self determination of peoples, and the right to democratically elect one's own government are the values that drive the international system. The raw use of power and the use of war as a tool of foreign policy must be checked by the rules of international law, collective security, multilateralism, and the United Nations. The United States has been in the forefront of those countries arguing that international law, mediation, and collective security should replace war as the arbiter of conflict. There must be peaceful methods of resolving international conflicts. President Woodrow Wilson is usually cited as a prime example of idealism in American foreign policy. Woodrow Wilson was instrumental in establishing the League of Nations. Since the League of Nations failed to prevent World War II, idealism has often been criticized by realists as being ineffective. Nonetheless, at the end of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped to bring about the United Nations as mankind's last best hope for a peaceful world.
Making Foreign Policy.
Who makes foreign policy? Who
are the decision makers? Who
carries out the decisions? Each
country has its own foreign policy establishment.
In the United States, the executive branch has the primary responsibility
for making and implementing foreign policy.
The President of the United States is the chief of state, chief
executive, chief diplomat, commander-in-chief, chief economist, and national
spokesperson. Each of these roles
impacts on making foreign policy. The
President is assisted by a large foreign policy establishment, which includes
units within the Executive Office of the President, two cabinet departments, and
many independent executive agencies and commissions.
In addition to the executive branch,
the legislative branch shares many responsibilities as a junior partner.
Congress must appropriate all funds that are spent on foreign policy
initiatives. Congress has the power
to declare war, although all military actions since World War II have been taken
by Presidential initiative without a formal declaration of war.
The Senate must approve treaties. The
Senate must also confirm all appointments as ambassadors to foreign countries
and all commissions in the Armed Forces of the United States from second
lieutenant to general.
The judiciary plays a minor role, usually deferring to the executive in
matters of international law and foreign policy.
Beyond the governmental actors, many domestic groups have an interest in
foreign policy. These include
global corporations, associations for various ethnic and religious groups, some
foundations, think tanks, major universities having graduate programs in law and
Mass public opinion rarely pays attention to foreign policy matters
unless some major crisis compels concern. Then
it can be quite powerful in influencing decision makers.
Overview of American Foreign Policy.
Isolationism is a policy of non-involvement and withdrawal from the politics of the rest of the world.
is a status recognized in
international law whereby a country stays out of an international war and
observes certain rules towards all belligerents.
For example, it will not sell arms to either side.
It will not allow the warships of one belligerent to take safe shelter
from the forces of the other or to allow them to re-supply themselves.
Trade, which does not have a military value, may continue with the
belligerents, although in modern warfare any trade, even the selling of
agricultural products, may be viewed as a hostile act by one side or the other.
Even without a state of war, non-alignment from rival alliance systems is
an act of neutrality. During the
Cold War, any country which was not associated with either the Soviet Union or
the United States was looked at with suspicion by both superpowers.
What has been called the Third World began as the block of non-aligned
foreign policy during the nineteenth century was always geared to protect our
sovereignty and our national interests. It
was always more differentiated than the slogans of isolationism and neutrality
b. Manifest Destiny Toward the North American Continent.
c. Monroe Doctrine Toward the Americas.
d. Open Door Policy Toward Asia.
2. Emergence as a Great
being aware of it, the United States was becoming a Great Power in the decades
after the Civil War. Industrialization,
urbanization, and great power status took place simultaneously.
The United States was becoming the Colossus of the North, first in its
own hemisphere and then in the world. The
Spanish American War of 1898 was the turning point in the evolution of American
imperialism and Great Power behavior. While
nominally aimed at aiding a Cuban independence movement, it was clearly an
effort to enhance American power at the expense of the declining Spanish empire.
As a result of the war, the United States acquired a small empire of its
own. It gained Puerto Rico, the
Philippines, and temporary control over Cuba.
The Cold War Period. The
United States emerged out of World War II as the single most powerful state in
the world. Alone among the
belligerents, the United States had not been devastated by war.
But despite frightful losses, the Soviet Union also emerged stronger
after the war and its Communist dictator, Stalin, was determined to make it
The Soviet Union had born the brunt of the fighting in the war.
It is estimated that the Soviet Union suffered 7.5 million military
casualties and another 10 million civilian dead.
The comparable figures for the United States were 292,000 military and
only 6000 civilian dead.
The Red Army had taken all that Hitler had to give and had then fought
its way steadily to Berlin. Stalin
had no intention of giving up the lands liberated by the Red Army from the Nazi
occupation. Estonia, Latvia, and
Lithuania were incorporated into the Soviet Union as early as 1940.
Poland, by allied agreement at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, was
moved more than a hundred miles westward with the Soviet Union annexing the
difference to the east. Germany
lost all territories east of the Oder and Neisse rivers.
Stalin proceeded to install indigenous Communist regimes under Soviet and
Red Army tutelage in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia.
Only Yugoslavia under the Communist partisan leader Tito managed to
maintain a tenuous independence from the Soviet Union and from the West.
As Winston Churchill put it in his Iron Curtain speech at Westminster
College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946:
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron
curtain has descended across the continent."
4. Since 1991
5. After September 11, 2001
Challenges to American Foreign Policy
2. Nuclear Proliferation
3. The Rising Power of
4. The Global Economy
5. The Split in NATO and
6. Regional Conflicts
War with Iraq: 2003
North Korea and Nuclear Weapons
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Iran: The Third Member of the Axis of Evil?
Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela
China and Taiwan
Mending Fences with NATO
VII Challenges to American Foreign Policy
2. Nuclear Proliferation
3. The Rising Power of China
4. The Global Economy
5. The Split in NATO and the UN
6. Regional Conflicts
War with Iraq: 2003
b. North Korea and Nuclear Weapons
c. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Iran: The Third Member of the Axis of Evil?
f. Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela
g. China and Taiwan
h. Eastern Europe
i. Mending Fences with NATO