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During the cold war era, the United States of America and the United Social Soviet Union embarked on an arms race that put the entire world in a state of dilemma.
Although the era came to an end without the death of any individual as a result of direct confrontation of the two powers, its after-effects left the involved nations to have adverse deficits on their budgets amongst other technicalities. However, one thing that became clear after the end of the cold war is the fact that the United States of America remained to be the worlds strongest single force (Maguire, 2009).
Since the end of the cold war, USA has had a number of political interests on several regions of the world. To be particular, USA has had a huge interest in the Middle East.
From the political interest that the worlds superpower has on the world the region coupled by the policies that the nation has developed towards its actions in the region and the natives, it is evident that the fact that a nation has supreme powers may have huge impacts on other nations whether positive or negative.
However, the aim is to determine the view of those individuals who are for the rules and policies that the United States has formulated towards the Middle East and its impacts on the region and those individuals who are against US policies and activities on the region.
To determine this, this paper shall focus on the reign of Bill Clinton and the impacts of the Clinton government in the Middle East and compare the same activities during George W. Bush administration. This analysis shall provide a clear platform as to the factors that determine the foreign relation policies that the US comes develops with regards to US foreign policy interests.
US Interests in the Middle East
After the end of the cold war, USA has come up with a number of foreign policies that affect the Middle East in one way or the other. It is due to this fact that several debates with regards to the US foreign policies have always emerged.
One of the main foreign policies that the US has advanced to support its activities in the Middle East is to encourage and fight for democracy in the region (Maguire, 2009). This may seem as a genuine political move that aims at improving the political, social, cultural and economic status of the region. However, the above initiative can be viewed from a different perspective.
The Neo-Isolationist approach is the first perspective that can be used to view the situation. According to the people who support this ideology, the conflict that arose between Israel and its Arab neighbors is a regional affair.
Such matters fall under the jurisdiction of regional bodies that have the power and mandate to come up with mediation to calm down the situation and formulate long-lasting solutions to the conflict. Thus, according to the people who are in favor of this approach, USA did not have the mandate or the jurisdiction to be involved in such issues (Maguire, 2009).
However, since the US involved itself in the issue political critics have always stated that the United States foreign policies on the issue are in favor of the Israeli government. This is the very same strategy that Islamist terrorist recruiters exploit while integrating new followers into their armies.
Thus, the people who believe in this school of thought advocate for the US government to cease getting involved in the issues of the Middle East. According to them, the involvement of USA in the Middle East has brought about animosity from a few influential people in the region who use the shortcomings of US foreign policies to their advantage.
Such people normally do not look at the efforts to the United States in bringing peace and advocating for democracy in the region but look at the policies that the US has for the region and use it against USA and its initiatives in the region (Maguire, 2009).
According to Neo-Isolationists, this has been the main factor that has encouraged anti-Americanism among local communities in the Middle East despite the fact that the United States is in most cases engaged in peaceful negotiations of peace and democracy in the region.
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Another perspective that can be used to describe the engagement of the United States of America in the Middle East and its resultant foreign policies is the national interest perspective. According to the people who believe in this theory, the United States is involved with the Middle East in order to sustain its political, economic, diplomatic and military interests (Maguire, 2009).
According to this theory, the United States develops stable relationships with bodies that play a critical role in the international system. Once this is achieved, the United States shall only be involved in regional conflicts such as the one in the Middle East only if such an issue affects other the United States or its interest. This includes the world economy and the status of its allies.
This will ensure that the world economy is maintained and at the same time, USA shall still be able to access and secure its oil interest in the Persian Gulf (Maguire, 2009). This doctrine has been put into practice with Theodore Roosevelt and George H. W. Bush who, during their reign as the presidents of the United States, ensured that the interest of the United States of America have been kept first in all matters.
Thus, in accordance to this belief, the United States is involved in the conflicts of the Middle East for economic and military reasons. The nation has developed foreign policies that will ensure that their oil interests are kept intact. In addition, the department of defence is particularly interested with the Middle East. Due to this fact, the department of defence has formed alliance with local governments in the region.
In the process, the military is normally engaged in local mission within the gulf region. In addition, the military also gets access to ample resources that are essential in reducing the cost of development of warfare weaponry. The vast lands that are available in the region also provide a serine environment for testing these weapons and training the US military.
In the course of these actions, the United States involvement in the Middle East also strives to ensure that Israel remains as a sovereign state. Thus, the need to secure its national interests thus plays a critical role in shaping the foreign policies of USA, especially with regards to the Middle East.
The Clinton Administration
During the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton came up with a strategic plan that managed him to attract majority of the US voters. In his campaign, Bill Clinton focused on democratic development; a strategy that made his campaign to take a different approach as compared to his rival, George W. H. Bush. His new strategy and ideas were against the realism ideas that Bush was advocating for.
In the process, Clinton managed to have more supporters, a move that made him to win the presidential elections of 1992 (Maguire, 2009). As a result of his democratic ideas, Clinton managed to gather the support of individuals from different cultures, backgrounds and political ideologies. For instance, Clinton managed to gather the support of neoconservatives Joshua Muravchik being one of them.
Muravchik had developed to be an influential conservative, and in the process, he had gathered the support of many individuals who wanted to end the reign of Saddam Hussein (Maguire, 2009).
The neoconservatives, however, felt that George H. W. Bush had let them down since he failed to deliver a New World Order, a promise that he had made to the American people. As a result, neoconservatives turned to Clinton for hope. However, Clinton would also disappoint the neoconservatives.
The reign of President Clinton was marked with a remarkable accord in a bid to fight for peace in the Middle East. In September 1993, the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed in Washington DC in the presence of Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat who was the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister.
The Oslo Declaration of Principles was the framework which the two parties in the Israel-Arab conflict would base their negotiations on in the process of trying to achieve peace between the two parties. The Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed in the United States. However, USA had not been involved in its initial developments.
Therefore, the fact that USA was involved in the last minute in this peace initiative developed negative attitudes from Israeli-Palestinian veto players. In addition, this move led to the development of Islamist terror groups that posed a danger both to the United States and to its regional partners.
Therefore, policymakers in Washington DC had the challenge of coping with the short-term effect development of resistance from Islamist terror groups and long-term effect of political reformation in the affected states.
Although at that time it was not visible, the role played by regional actors in the efforts to bring peace between Israel and Palestine provided a conducive environment for the development of conflicts between the parties involved. In addition, the fact that the United States spearheaded the Oslo Declaration of Principles would have adverse effects, especially from regional actors.
It is due to this fact that Laura Drake asserted that these two issues that seem to be so apart from one another would intersect in the process of mediation (Maguire, 2009). In addition, Drake asserted that the fact that USA supports undemocratic states in its efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East would definitely undermine all its diplomatic efforts in the region.
The Senate committee that was in charge of foreign affairs saw the authenticity of these allegations and published a report on the same. In this report, the main question that was posed was whether local Islamist movements played a critical role in the peace process in the Middle East.
However, this issue was not considered given the fact that the United States foreign policy to such issues normally focused on its national interests. In such a process, therefore, the initiatives of USA in the region normally undermine the political activities of local groups and put a lot of its emphasis on its national interests.
Therefore, with regards to this, USA pressed on with its efforts to solve the Israel-Arab conflict without neglecting the Arab democratic wave that had developed during the Eastern Europe revolutions after the end of the cold war.
The outcomes of this issue led to the release of the National Security Strategy of 1996. According to this strategy, the US government had developed a foreign policy based on the concept of engagement and enlargement (Maguire, 2009).
However, political analysts and critics suggested that this strategy ignored the interest of influential stakeholders and most importantly, it lacked direction.
They viewed this strategy and the policies that supported it as a means of encouraging democracy in the Middle East to ensure that these regimes are based on a market economy that will provide a serine environment for the US government to benefit from its Middle East interest. Therefore, in the eyes of many analysts, this strategy mainly focused on the United States domestic agendas (Maguire, 2009).
However, as the USA continued with its efforts of democratizing the Middle East, it experienced a huge obstacle. This was a clash of civilization that was brought about by a huge conflict between Islam and the influence from the West.
This thus led to the development of extremist and radical regimes in the Middle East. These acts came true as per Laura Drakes prediction.
As a result of the intense conflicts between the two groups, Clinton declared a state of emergency as a result of the increased violence that aimed to disrupt the peace process between Israel and Palestine. In addition, he froze all the assets of individuals who were linked to any terror group that supported these acts of violence in the region.
The Bush Administration
George W. Bush became the president of the United States in the year 2000. A year later, on September 11th 2001, USA experienced the most lethal terror attacks that have ever been witnessed in the history of the nation.
A day later on CNN, Abdullah II, the King of Jordan, in his statement, asserts that these attacks would not have occurred if Israel and Palestine have come into a consensus at the camp David summit that was held on the summer of the year 2000 (Maguire, 2009).
However, Dennis Ross, who was the special envoy to the Middle East during the Clintons administration, stated that the two incidences were completely unrelated.
He believed that Osama bin Laden had used the situation to his advantage to ensure that his propagandistic ideas are realized. Thus, the prevailing political reformation process in the Middle East gave local politicians within the region to bring out their differences that in most cases did not have the interests of Palestinians at hand.
However, the debate that was at hand at this time was the responsibilities of the United States on the attacks. Many scholars believed its involvement in the democratization of the region played a critical role in the development of Islamic threats. As Martin Kramer asserted, the United States would have suspected of such attacks and that the nation should be prepared for even tougher times ahead (Maguire, 2009).
This was due to the huge growth of anti-Americanism in the region. Daniel Brumberg presented a different strategy that would solve the issue. He stated that time had come of the United States government to differential between Islamists and national ideologues.
To ensure this strategy was successful, the public in the Middle East was not to be involved in the prevailing politics. This brought about the suspicion of whether USA wanted to push for political reforms in the Middle East honestly.
Thus, at this time, the national interest perspective of the United States had failed. According to an article that was published in the Foreign Affairs, Martin Indyk admitted that the United States had seen a window of opportunity in the Israel-Palestine negotiations (Maguire, 2009).
This made them to push back the democratic demands of the region. However, as a result of their actions, adverse consequences have occurred and this time, it was in US soil. These acts were regarded to as a threat to the national security of the United States. This, therefore, made the political reformation process in the Middle East to be a matter of national interest to the United States.
This view was supported by most policymakers in Washington DC. There were also anti-Israeli and anti-America protests in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These protestors viewed Americans as infidels, while the Arab nationalists viewed them as imperialists. This division of interest provided a serine environment for terrorists such as Osama bin Laden to have an easy time to support their activities.
These issues made it necessary for the United States to reconsider the Oslo process. However, the United States felt that Israel did not have a willing partner (Palestine) to ensure that the goals and objectives of the initiative were arrived at.
To make matters worse, the Israeli navy managed to capture a Palestine vessel that was with over 50 tonnes of weaponry that had originated from Iran (Maguire, 2009). This clearly showed that Arafat supported the political war over the peace process. This made Ariel Sharon to ask President Bush not to welcome Yasser Arafat to the White House.
This acts made President Bush to talk about the issue in his famous Rose Garden speech. In the speech, he advocated for a peaceful process to mediate the Israeli-Arab conflict. To ensure that this is achieved, Bush supported the idea an independent Palestine state to push in for the renewal of Palestinian leadership.
In addition, he also supported the UN reform of land for peace and urged for the end of the ongoing political war in the region. Thus, according to this speech, Bush viewed that it was essential for the region to have democracy as a tool that will push towards the development of peace between Israel and Palestine and the larger Middle East region.
Since the end of the cold war, the United States has focused its attention to the Middle East. The main aim of their interest in the region is to push for a political change in the region by bringing in the idea of democracy in the region. However, the actions of the nation in the region can be viewed on two different perspectives; the Neo-Isolationist and the national interest.
Given these views, the United States involvement in the middle east has led to the development of several foreign policies during the Clintons and Bushs administrations in order to support their activities in the region. These policies have been formulated to safeguard the national securities and interest of USA within and outside of the country and to ensure that its democratic mission in the region is achieved.
Maguire, Lori. The Foreign Policy Discourse in the United Kingdom and the United States in the “New World Order.” Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. Print.