The purpose of this research proposal will be to discuss American foreign policy in the Middle East. The influence of the United States has been felt largely in the Middle East despite there being large physical distance between the two countries.
The US law and policy makers have come up with various policies that are used to govern the Middle Eastern countries especially when it comes to oil and other natural resources that are found within these countries. The research proposal will therefore look at the various American policies that have been put in place within the Middle East by first introducing the topic under study and then conducting a brief discussion of American foreign policies and their relation to the Middle East.
The research proposal will also develop a problem statement as well as aims/objectives for conducting the research. A literature review will thereafter be conducted on the various types of literature that contain information on the topic that is understudy. The research strategy and methodology for the research will also be formulated and the limitations for the study will be identified and discussed.
Since the 20th century, the US has had a global interest in various countries based on their economic wealth and their ability to produce natural minerals or resources that can be used in building the global economy. The US has continued to have a strong influence in the Middle East and in every country that exists within the Middle Eastern boundaries.
This influence has mostly been attributed to the growing American economic interests within the region especially in oil and natural gases. Such economic interests have motivated US presidents and policy makers to create foreign policies that will be used as intervention strategies within the region. The Middle Eastern countries that have been focused on by the US include Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Egypt and other Gulf states that are part of the Middle East.
The foreign policy of the United States is defined as the policy that is used by the country to interact with foreign countries and nations based on outlined standards and guidelines that are used to perform the interactions.
The country’s foreign policy is estimated to have a global reach of over 100 countries around the world and it is viewed to be one of the strongest foreign policies in the world. US foreign policies are backed by the economy of America which is estimated to be around $14 trillion dollars and a defence amount of $ 711 billion dollars which is estimated to be the highest in the world.
The office that is responsible for foreign policies within the US is the Secretary of State office where the officials are charged with the duty of maintaining diplomatic ties with various countries around the world. Despite this office having the jurisdiction and mandate to formulate foreign policies, the president of the United States has the ultimate authority over foreign policies within the country as long as these policies define the national interests of the country.
According to the Foreign Policy Agenda developed by the US Department of State, the primary goals of the country’s foreign policies are “ to create a more secure, democratic and prosperous world that will benefit both the American people and the international community.” (Simone 4).
Problem Statement and Aims/Objectives
The problem statement for this research proposal will be to analyse American foreign policies in the Middle East and how the current situation between the two countries has been affected by these policies. US foreign policy in the Middle East has in the recent past been faced with major problems that have revealed deficiencies in the existing foreign policies between the two countries.
The foreign policies that have been developed by the United States are usually developed in times of international crisis such as the Cold War, the Iran Crisis, the Palestine- Israeli conflict and the Iraq War that took place in 1990 to 1991 and the recent war that took place in 2003 (Halabi 1).
After each of these crises that took place in the Middle East, the US grappled with the problem of creating stable post-crisis environments that would serve as an end to the sources of the problem. At times, the country involved the use of harmful activities that rendered post crises activities such as the maintenance of peace and the restructuring of the affected governments to be useless.
Such activities brought about some questioning of the country’s foreign policies especially in activities that were viewed to be against human rights. The foreign policies that were use in the United States faced a lot of criticism especially in the sanctioning of the 2003 Iraq war that saw many Iraq citizens losing their lives in the belief that the country was developing weapons of mass destruction. The problem statement will covers such aspects as part of the discussion on American foreign policies in the Middle East (Halabi 1).
The objectives for the research proposal will be to assess US foreign policies with particular focus on the Middle East, to discuss US foreign policy development and the people in charge of formulating foreign policies within the US and to determine the extent to which these foreign policies have developed or ruined foreign relations between the two nations.
The main aim of the research proposal will be to analyse and assess American foreign policies within the Middle East by focusing on specific countries that fall under the Middle Eastern nations that have been affected by American policies in both a negative and positive way. While many of the foreign policies have been developed to deal negative international crises, US policies are formulated on the premise of ensuring that positive relations are maintained and sustained between member states of the country.
The research questions that will be used for the research proposal include what foreign policies have been developed by the United States to deal with the Middle East? How have these foreign policies affected the relations between the United States and the Middle East? How have the Middle Eastern nations benefited from these foreign policies? Is it in a positive or negative way?
How can these policies be improved to sustain positive relations between the US and the Middle East and what economic or political interests have been used to formulate these foreign policies. In answering the above research questions, the research proposal will be able to gain more insights into the topic that is under study. The next section will involve a literature review that will lead to research findings which will be useful in answering the research questions.
Literature Review and Theoretical Frameworks
This section of the research proposal will focus on the various literature reviews and theoretical frameworks that exist on US foreign policies and Middle East relations with America.
The literature review focus on the research topic for the proposal, the formulated problem statement and the developed research objectives which will provide suitable discussions and insights to the topic understudy. As discussed in the introductory part of the research proposal, US foreign policies are guidelines that have been formulated to ensure that there is the sustenance of interactions with foreign countries and nations around the world (Baxter and Akbarzadeh 10).
The US Constitution stipulates that foreign policies are not created to deal with foreign vacuums that might arise as a result of indivisible crises between the US and another country or between two countries. The US Constitution stipulates that foreign policies are created as a prolonged process in ensuring international ties have been created and sustained between countries around the world.
The creation of foreign policies involves many actors and players where various individual policies are incorporated into the foreign policy formulation process to ensure they serve the best interests of the concerned countries. The US Constitution has divided the role of developing foreign policies between the president of the United Sates and the US Congress. The foreign policy powers have been divided between these two bodies of government to ensure that there is sharing of power in policy formulation (Genovese 204).
These two branches of government are important in foreign policy development as they have continuing opportunities to initiate changes in foreign policies and also ensure that the interactions or relationships that exist between countries have been sustained throughout the duration of the foreign policy.
As discussed earlier, US foreign policies are usually developed to respond to certain events that might occur in the international setting. These policies are usually developed to respond to crises that might affect the United States and the international community. Apart from these, other reasons that are used to develop foreign policies are to meet proposals for legislation, create policy statements and implement these policy statements, carry out independent action and negotiate international agreements (Genovese 204).
The development or formulation of US foreign policies is a complex process that requires the involvement of both the US Congress and the president to ensure that a strong and effective foreign policy is developed to deal with international interactions, relations and crises. The foreign policy of the United States is a complex mechanism that has been defined by local, regional, national and international pressure as well as constitutional laws.
Both branches of government have to consider government policies and laws as well as national interests when formulating foreign policies (Simone 5).
Such considerations further complicate the development of foreign policies as the president and the US Congress have to take such considerations into the foreign policies. In the past, US foreign policies have evoked a lot of criticism from both the US and international community because they have gone against democratic conventions and they have created human rights violations (Terry 6).
The US foreign policy towards the Middle East according to Dobson and Marsh (118) has mostly been focused on two aspects which include the global approach and the regional approach. The global approach presumes that the relationships that exist between Middle Eastern states would lead to an overall stability within the region. This approach saw the US adopting a state-centric foreign policy in 1974 that meant it had limited interference with the internal affairs of Middle Eastern counties.
The US maintained regional stability by limiting the number of arms that were sold to Middle Eastern states and it also blocked the penetration of Soviet Union troops into the region. The state centric foreign policy was adopted for only two years because oil exporting countries within the Middle East had begun to accumulate a lot of petrodollars. The United States was faced with the challenge of ensuring that the oil producing countries sold oil at a reasonable price (Dobson and Marsh 119).
The regional approach was adopted by the US immediately after the Iranian Islamic Revolution that ended in 2001. The foreign policies that were adopted during this time were mostly focused on deepening US intervention strategies to ensure that the internal affairs of all Middle Eastern states were kept in a stable condition.
Pursuing this foreign policy meant that the US was aimed at preventing irrational trends that were common in Arabic and Islamic cultures and the view of American citizens on these cultures. The Iranian Islamic Revolution challenged the general perceptions of the westernised worlds especially America towards Islamic communities, a challenge that forced the US to create institutions and policies that would be used to address the needs and problems of alienated societies.
This was done to prevent the spread of the Islamic Iranian Revolution to the other Middle Eastern nations and Arab countries around the world. In short therefore, the US foreign policy towards the Middle East has mostly been focused on democratization, authoritarianism and capitalism (Dobson and Marsh 119).
In reference to the Iraq war, the Iran war and the continuing Israeli- Palestine conflict, the US foreign policies towards the Middle East have neither been consistent or coherent given the various discrepancies that exist in American interests that are held by various policy and law makers within the country.
Such inconsistencies and incoherencies have been highlighted in the various conflicts that have continued to plague the Middle East which have brought to light the uncertainty that surrounds US foreign policies in these countries. While many of the US presidents have tried to foster positive ties and interactions with Middle Eastern countries, foreign relations between the US and the Middle East have continued to be a problem.
The US foreign policy towards the Middle East since World War II to the recent Iraqi War has continued to face various challenges that have necessitated a response to the major crises in that have continued to plague Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Israel as well as long term foreign policies that will be used to stabilize these countries (Halabi 3).
Based on the works of various scholars who have focused on the impact of foreign policies on international states (Adler and Haas; Goldstein and Keohane) Halabi (3) argues that the reality of foreign policies in the Middle East are not independent from the causal minds of policy makers in the United States.
Crises in the various nations that make up the Middle East have forced US legislators to develop solutions and ideas that will lead to better results. Halabi (3) argues that each of the Middle Eastern crises that have occurred in the past have highlighted the shortcomings of the existing foreign policies thereby undermining their effectiveness in dealing with these crises.
Examples of US foreign policies in the Middle East that have been developed in the past to deal with crises, interests or ideas include the oil embargo that took place between 1973 and 1974 in the Middle East. The interests of the US within the Middle East during this time were to ensure that there was a steady supply of oil to the US and the rest of the world at a reasonable price.
The foreign policies that were developed to achieve this included increasing the dependence of Middle East countries that exported oil to the rest of the world, ensuring that oil and petroleum products were sold at a reasonable price. Another foreign policy was developed to deal with the Iranian Islamic Revolution that took place between 1974- 2001 (Halabi 2).
The American interests during this revolution included blocking the expansion of the Iranian revolution to other Middle Eastern countries as well as reducing local Islamist movements within Iran. The US government’s interest during this time was also directed towards ensuring that there was stability within Iran and the rest of the Middle East region by identifying and eradicating Islamic extremist groups within Iran.
The foreign policies that were developed by the US Congress to deal with the Iranian Islamic Revolution involved formulating strategies within these foreign policies to deal with the containment of Middle Eastern nations that were deemed to be rogue states by the US government, the adoption of neo-orientalism foreign policies and the development of policies that were meant to deal with radical extremist groups in Iran and other Middle Eastern states that were affected by the Iranian Islamic Revolution (Halabi 2).
The 2003 war in Iraq saw the US developing foreign policies that would be used to protect its interests within the country. At the time of the war, the American interests within Iraq included preventing the neighbouring Iran from developing nuclear weapons, achieving stability within Iraq by eradicating Saddam’s regime and ensuring that there was a steady supply of oil to the international market at a reasonable price.
The foreign policies that were developed to deal with the Iraqi War were centred on reducing the dependence of the US on Iraqi and Middle East oil supplies as well as reducing the level of conflict that would arise should the US launch an assault on Iraq (Halabi 2).
The above Middle East crises highlighted the deficiency of US foreign policy in the Middle East as each of these crises impacted on the economy of the US in a major way.
The American population was affected greatly by the oil embargo of 1973 as they had to pay more for oil and petroleum products and they were adversely affected by the Iranian revolution of 1974-2001 as it led to the formation of extremist Islamist groups that would pose a threat to the security of the United States. The second Iraq War brought to light the democratic and human rights aspect of foreign countries that were deemed by the United States to be a potential threat to the country (Halabi 4).
The major theoretical framework and approaches that is used to offer an explanation to American foreign policies in the Middle East includes the structural theoretical approaches. The structural approach covers the classical conception of international relations that exist between countries where any anarchy in the international system leads to crises or wars due to the inabilility of the supranational organization to regulate the interactions between sovereign and rogue states.
Foreign policies under the structural approach are therefore formulated within environments of power politics where reliable mechanisms are non-existent in regulating disputes. The major theories that fall under the structural theoretical framework include the neo realism and hegemonic stability theories (Halabi 6).
Neo realism theories propose that foreign policies are developed to focus on international politics by characterising the international political system as being in a state of anarchy due to the lack of central regulating government agencies within the international political system. The term hegemony refers to a powerful state that is predominant in the international political system and its power over other states that are viewed to be threats or causes of anarchy.
The theory of hegemony on the other hand focuses on the premise that foreign policies are developed around political leadership systems that have managed to instil a sense of consensus in the international community. Hegemony theories were used to develop US foreign policies to deal with oil resources during the post war period and also during the Middle East oil embargo of 1974 (Evans 148).
Research Strategy and Methodology
The research paper has adopted a strategy of critically analysing American foreign policies with particular focus on the Middle East by assessing the various foreign policies that have been in existence to deal with Middle Eastern crises. The strategy has also focused on aspects that have necessitated the formation of these foreign policies between the US and the Middle East.
The research methodology that will be used to support and guide research the understanding of key issues related to the research topic will involve qualititative research techniques. Qualititative approaches will involve assessing and analysing various secondary texts and documents such as journals, academic texts, published works and government publications to gather vital information that is related to the topic understudy.
The use of various academic texts will ensure that a wide range of perspectives have been involved within the research proposal and also ensure that various points of view in relation to the topic have been identified and discussed. The qualititative approach is suitable for this research proposal as it allows the researcher to focus on academic and publicised research that contains the relevant information on the research topic.
Qualitative approaches ensure that research findings and discussions in the literature review section of the proposal have been properly analysed and assessed. A qualitative analysis will therefore be conducted on academic texts, journals, government publications, articles and reports that contain information on American foreign policy in the Middle East. US government publications on foreign policies will be analysed to gain useful information on the legislation that exists in maintaining US and Middle East relations.
Limitations to the Study
As with any research work, the research study will experience various limitations the most common being the lack of available information on the topic understudy. While many literature works and academic research exist on the topic of foreign policies and the United Sates, limited research work exists on American foreign policies and the Middle East.
In the event that these literature works exist, limited research work has been conducted on the topic with most of the theoretical frameworks being focused on general foreign policies rather than on US and Middle East foreign policies.
This research proposal has focused on the topic of American foreign policies with a particular focus on US policies in the Middle East. The research findings and discussions of the proposal have dealt with the various foreign policies that have been used by the United States to maintain relations with Middle Eastern countries and nations such as Iraq and Iran.
The discussion in the research proposal has also focused on the various crises that have occurred in Middle Eastern nations which have warranted to the formation of foreign policies by the United States to deal with these crises before they lead to international anarchies.
Baxter, Kylie and Akbarzadeh, Shahram. US foreign policy in the Middle East: the roots of anti-Americanism. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Dobson, Alan and Marsh, Steve. US foreign policy since 1945. Madison Avenue, New York: Taylor and Francis Routledge, 2006. Print.
Evans, Mark. Ethical theory in the study of international politics. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2004. Print.
Genovese, Michaeul. Encyclopaedia of the American presidency. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010. Print.
Halabi, Yakub. US foreign policy in the Middle East: from crises to change. England, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009. Print.
Simone, Enrest. Foreign policy of the United States, Volume 1. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2000. Print.
Terry, Janice. US foreign policy in the Middle East: the role of lobbies and special interest groups. London, UK: Pluto Press, 2005. Print.