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America’s Foreign Policy Agenda Essay

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019

As the world’s superpower, America has a significant influence on matters of economics, politics and security of foreign nations. America’s ability to remain influential in a post-colonial world emanates for the country’s economic and military might. America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about 15 trillion dollars. The country’s defense budget is about 720 billion dollars.

America’s Foreign Policy Agenda entails the engagement of foreign nations in the promotion of democracy and security, which are the key factors in the attainment of a prosperous world. To attain the objectives of the Foreign Policy Agenda, America has various jurisdictional goals, which include the control of commercial aspects such as exports and mitigation of the proliferation of nuclear technology and hardware.

Other jurisdictional goals include promoting education internationally, fighting international terrorism and safeguarding the security of American citizens in foreign countries. The United States foreign policies have attracted debates, praise and criticism in an increasingly connect world. An analysis of America’s foreign policies illustrates that the nation has been a benevolent Great Power.

The provision of non-military foreign aid is one of the elements of America’s foreign policies. Non-military assistance includes bilateral aid, humanitarian aid, and global economic contributions.[1]

America’s policies on non-military aid have been of great benefits especially in the developing nations by creating platforms that foster economic development, recognition of fundamental human rights and democracy. By engaging organizations such as the WHO and WFP, the United States has considerably improved the livelihood of men, women and children without access to basic healthcare and nutrition.

The United States’ foreign policy on the mitigation of the proliferation of nuclear technology and hardware has been crucial in the sustenance of global peace by alleviating possible nuclear conflicts. Counties such as Iran and Israel have often threatened to use nuclear bombs against each other.

Considering that both nations have adequate nuclear technologies and resources, the United States intervention by promoting diplomatic consultations between the two nations has helped to alleviate a nuclear conflict. In accordance to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the United States has increasingly engaged in diplomatic consultations with nations in the Middle East with the objective of attaining an amicable solution on Iran’s nuclear program.[2]

Despite suggestions by some members of the international community encouraging the use of military interventions in tackling the Iran’s issues, the United States has opted to exploit channels that minimize the possibility of a military confrontation.

The United States’ policy on international terrorism has been crucial in the mitigation of terrorist threats in various parts of the world. America’s resolve to curtail the activities of terrorist groups such as the Taliban have helped in promoting global peace.[3] Although the war against terrorism sometimes involves military confrontations, there has been a significant progress in the attainment of the goals and objectives of international peace.

The United States’ foreign policy on international education has improved education standards within nations that lack appropriate resources to implement effective education systems.[4] Most developing nations have low GDPs and per capita income due to underdeveloped economies.

In this regard, they lack adequate resources to sustain proper education. The United States, in collaboration with the World Bank and IMF, has engaged in the resuscitation of economies in various parts of the world and improvement of the human resource by setting up institutions of learning and opening up new education opportunities globally.

The key elements of the policy of deterrence and containment during the Cold War included the establishment of NATO to protect Western nations against attacks by nation allied to the Soviet Union and strategies to prevent the expansion of Soviet Union’s influence. The adoption of deterrence and containment measures was a United States’ response to the Soviet Union’s activities meant to expand the scope of communist influences to incorporate nations such as China, Korea and Africa.

The impacts of the containment policies in the Hungarian Uprising and Vietnam attracted criticism from individuals such as President Nixon who preferred to use friendly approaches in the America’s relationship with the Soviet Union. During President Nixon’s tenure, the United States increasingly engaged in trade and cultural contacts with the Soviet Union.

President Carter extended Nixon’s ideologies to incorporate an emphasis on the need for the United States to discard its anti-communism approach towards the Soviet Union and instead engage in the promotion of human rights.[5] However, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan caused President Carter to drop his concepts regarding the United States’ approach towards the Soviet Union. President Regan encouraged the rollback to the initial policies on containment and deterrence.

Deterrence policies sought to forestall a possible attack on the United States by the Soviet Union. Although the United States had built nuclear weapons, it relied on the notion that the Soviet Union did not have the exact figures on America’s nuclear capabilities.

Thus, using deterrence, the United States amplified the possible outcomes of retaliation against the Soviet Union. In the1960s, the United States developed a deterrence system, the Strategic Triad, comprising of long-range nuclear bombers, land-based nuclear missiles and nuclear-powered submarines.

The supposedly indomitable Triad was a great tool for discouraging the Soviet Union from launching nuclear attacks against the United States. Since all the components of the Triad operated in synergy, it was unrealistic that an attack against the United States would be fruitful. The Soviet Union had the conviction that it would win a nuclear war with the United States. In this regard, it engaged in a massive stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

The policy of deterrence and containment played a key role in ending the cold war. It created a framework that ensured the activities of the Soviet Union did not threaten the interests of the Western countries. Furthermore, deterrence and containment ensured that Western countries did not threaten the interests of the Soviet Union and thus trigger a nuclear war.[6]

Implementation of the policy of deterrence and containment had significant financial constraints on the United States. The sustenance of NATO’s activities in member states required huge funding since the organization was largely a strategic military plan in case of attacks by the Soviet Union. Its main objective was to deter any military or political aggression against Western states.

Policies on deterrence and containment created uncertainly in both the Soviet Union and United States and thus led to the stockpiling of nuclear weapons in readiness of an attack. Investment in tools and systems for nuclear warfare adversely affected the economies of the countries involved in the Cold War. Economic turmoil is largely responsible for the Soviet Union’s surrender, which marked the end of the Cold War and the rise of the United States as the world superpower.

Bibliography

Garthoff, Raymond L. A journey through the Cold War a memoir of containment and coexistence. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

Kura, N. O. Congress of the United States: powers, structure, and procedures. Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2001.

Njølstad, Olav. The last decade of the Cold War: from conflict escalation to conflict transformation. London: Frank Cass, 2004.

Patrick, Stewart, and Shepard Forman. Multilateralism and U.S. foreign policy: ambivalent engagement. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002.

Picard, Louis A., Robert Groelsema, and Terry F. Buss. Foreign aid and foreign policy lessons for the next half-century. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2007.

Pillar, Paul R. Terrorism and U.S. foreign policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.

Footnotes

  1. Picard, Louis A., Robert Groelsema, and Terry F. Buss. Foreign aid and foreign policy lessons for the next half-century, (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2007), 27.
  2. Kura, N. O. Congress of the United States: powers, structure, and procedures,(Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2001), 158.
  3. Pillar, Paul R. Terrorism and U.S. foreign policy, (Washington, D.C.: BrookingsInstitution Press, 2003), 29.
  4. Patrick, Stewart, and Shepard Forman. Multilateralism and U.S. foreign policy: ambivalent engagement, (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002), 79.
  5. Garthoff, Raymond L. A journey through the Cold War a memoir of containment and coexistence, (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001), 391.
  6. Njølstad, Olav. The last decade of the Cold War: from conflict escalation to conflict transformation, (London: Frank Cass, 2004), 186.
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IvyPanda. 2019. "America’s Foreign Policy Agenda." August 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/foreign-policy/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'America’s Foreign Policy Agenda'. 20 August.

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