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Employ Strategy in the US Foreign Policy Development Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 20th, 2020

There are several debates revolving around the issue concerning the strategy to be employed by the United States in the development of its foreign policy. The Committee on Strategic Transformation and Reform (COSTAR) came up with two major strategies that could be adopted by the U.S. One of the strategies proposed was the adoption of the strategy of primacy. This strategy argues that the foreign policy to be adopted should determine and protect the vital interests of the United States. In adopting this strategy, the engagements of the United States in international relations would be limited to that point which is necessary to protect its interests.

The other approach, on the other hand, is the one of cooperative engagement. This strategy would ensure that the development of the foreign policy in the United States would consider the international community. This is mainly due to the fact that globalization affects the whole world and it may be inevitable for the U.S. to be involved in international affairs. Both strategies (primacy and cooperative engagement) may be beneficial in certain respects and may also have their own drawbacks. The choice of the proper strategy to adopt depends on the strengths of the particular strategy and its ability to develop policies that would provide proper governance.

The strategy of primacy is arguably the most dominant strategy that has been used for a long time in the development of foreign policy (Smith, Hadfield & Dunne, 2007). This involves the safeguarding of the country’s interests even as the country is involved in international affairs. The United States, in this case, is expected to have the ability to safeguard its economic, sociocultural and political interests. Furthermore, globalization has increased the need for the United States to protect its interests in the global scene. When it comes to the authenticity of the strategy, it is evident that the strategy of primacy has been used successfully over the past. It may be considered as an extension of the realist school of thought. It was also used in the formulation of policies in various states after the Cold War (Smith, Hadfield & Dunne, 2007).

The main argument behind the need for the adoption of the strategy of primacy is the fact that the United States is perhaps the most powerful nation worldwide. This is in terms of its political standing and economic supremacy. The need to maintain this status calls for the adoption of policies that would ensure that these interests are safeguarded (Wang, 2006). However, this is not an easy undertaking since there is the ever-increasing competition among the nations in the world. For example, the militaries of several countries in the world have increased in power due to the changes in science and technology (globalization). The military strength of China has increased tremendously. Therefore, the United States should formulate policies that would ensure that the military is set apart in order to safeguard this interest and maintain its supremacy.

In this regard, however, the strategy of cooperative engagement begs to differ since it argues that the armed forces of the U.S. has benefited from international engagements since it has been able to perform some of its military operations in other territories other than its own (McHnery, 1981). It is through cooperative engagement that U.S. has strategized its tactics to include the global community. This position argues that U.S. will only survive economically and politically if it employs this strategy.

In order for a country to have power over other countries, it needs to grow and develop both politically and economically. This could be done effectively by safeguarding the state’s interests as it engages in international relations. Therefore, this calls for the adoption of primacy as the suitable strategy. However, the strategy of cooperative engagement argues that a country needs to be involved in international and diplomatic relations since this would increase its opportunities in trade, investments and technological advancements. This also implies that the financial systems (such as pricing) among the nations would be similar meaning that they would be in a position to indulge in business. On the contrary, several countries may be unwilling to compromise some of their interests since the world is currently tightly knit and this might imply that some countries may impede others from attaining their objectives (Cebeci, 2011). Therefore, the United States should adopt the strategy of primacy in order to safeguard its interests.

However, it is important to understand that various challenges face modern governance today (Boren, 1999). Governments face political, economic and security threats. Since no country is free from such challenges, there is need for nations to adopt administrative structures that would help combat such issues. This calls for the improving of international relations in order to foster cooperation among the member states. Therefore, the United States may not be successful in combating issues such as environmental degradation, terrorism and diseases independently.

In addition to this, the customers’ needs in the U.S. market are ever increasing and this implies that the market may not be able to meet the clients’ demands over time. This will be the case when the demand will exceed supply. Furthermore, the non-renewable energy and other resources that may be depleted pose a serious danger for unilateral nations. This is because the sustainability of such resources is not guaranteed and this may mean that such countries may require help from other countries. Therefore, cooperative engagement may be necessary in this case. The strategy of primacy is also not favoured in the contemporary globalized world. This is because globalization calls for intensified cooperation among states through international relations. The complexity of the challenges that come with a globalized world also calls for the need for having joint forces through cooperative engagement.

Despite all the advantages that come with the selection of cooperative engagement as the strategy to adopt, there are various disadvantages. Adopting the strategy of cooperative engagement may prove challenging since it may cause some form of rivalry (competition) among states. This might become an issue if the U.S. needs to maintain its independence while at the same time maintaining its international relations. Therefore, this requires the guidance of various foreign laws. The strategy of primacy would ensure that U.S. maintains a competitive position in the international scene since it would be sure to increase its efforts towards protecting its interests. In this case, the strategy of primacy is vital for the state (Edelman, 2010).

Despite the trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization, the individual countries make proposals that favour their individual interests in international trade. This shows that independent states usually act in such a way as to protect their own interests in the international community (Lieber, 2011). Nations also strive to exercise and increase power. This may be seen in some of the choices made by the U.S. For example, its decision to invade Iraq was greatly opposed and yet it went ahead to invade. The U.S. had interests to safeguard and they could not back down due to differing views from other nations. United States has also invaded Afghanistan in order to guarantee the citizens’ security. This is part of safeguarding its interests and this implies the use of the strategy of primacy. It is unfortunate that primacy also implies that a country would only succeed in safeguarding its interests by sacrificing other countries’ interests (Lieber, 2011).

In conclusion, it would be appropriate to select primacy as the suitable strategy to employ in the United States since it needs to secure its interests first. U.S. is arguably the most powerful state and this can only be maintained if it protects its interests. Therefore, it is necessary for U.S. to formulate foreign policies that would put its interest at the core of its agenda. Although U.S. may face several challenges due to the global issues, it is necessary for the country to maintain its position. This does not necessarily mean that U.S. would seize to make international relations but it would do this while protecting its sovereignty and interests. This would retain the position of the United States as a super power and ensure that the interests of the country and its citizens are safeguarded.


Boren, D. (1999). Preparing America’s foreign policy for the 21st century. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Cebeci, M. (2011). Issues in EU and US foreign policy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Edelman, E. S. (2010). . Washington, D.C: Report for Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2010. Web.

Lieber, R. J. (2011). Can the US retain primacy. Israel Journal of foreign Affairs, 3(1), 23-36.

McHnery, D. F. (1981). The Role of Interdependence in United States Foreign Policy Toward the Third World. Boston CollegeThird World Law Journal, 29-31.

Smith, S., Hadfield, A., & Dunne, T. (2007). Foreign policy: Theories actors cases. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wang, Y. (2006). China’s grand strategy and U.S. Primacy: Is China balancing American power? Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Employ Strategy in the US Foreign Policy Development." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/employ-strategy-in-the-us-foreign-policy-development/.


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