John Quincy notes in one of his famous excerpts that “America does not go abroad in terms of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to Freedom and independence of all” (Horowitz 20). Such a statement leaves a lot to be desired in the minds of Americans and the world at large.
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There are mixed public reactions on the 21st Century U.S foreign policy which may not be purely classified into any singly known international relations theory.
Besides, a sharp contrast between the Obama administration and that of his predecessor, George W. Bush is evident when the two administrations are compared. Hence, the hot pursuit to adopt a comprehensive realist/liberalist international relations theory is eminent and cannot be ignored either. The contemporary U.S foreign policy on National Security undoubtedly appears to strike a balance between realism and liberalism.
A critical and more pragmatic argument can be directed towards Obama’s attempt to move the U.S troops out of Iraq. He has equally been emphatic on the need to uphold the dignity of international organizations. Varied criticisms have followed with some perceiving it as a replica of Bush administration while others feeling that this is in favor of U.S capitalistic ideology.
To be precise however, proponents of this power strategy may see it as the most adept means of harmonizing foreign policy in a world which is politically at quagmire. This paper contrasts classic realism and liberalism with U.S foreign policy on National Security and whether the implications that can be drawn from the John Quincy statement are consistent with the demands of U.S National Security in the 21st century.
The global political ideologies and especially those touching foreign policies cannot be debated effectively without exploring their empirical influence. The exposition of the US foreign policy on national security is a worthy illustration of an international policy deeply infiltrating into nations of the world.
There has been growing global debate on such issues as the impacts of globalization, climate change and global warming as well as terrorism. The U.S government has played an upper hand in what most political analysts would call unrealistic and pre-eminent encroachment on private matters of other countries.
In this respect, United States has taken a global dimension in emerging socio-political and economic issues. Moreover, even as the debate on the adopted national security policies heightens, less has been addressed in modern studies of political science.
Is the world conscious of this so called U.S foreign protectionist policy towards the less fortunate and disadvantaged nations? Or is the U.S foreign policy proposition beyond cheap publicity and primacy as purported by the opponents? Can this aggression towards foreign policy be empirically measured?
Realism, so to speak, would focus on the genuine creation of a justified, free and open administrative structures void of any form of coercion, intimidation or corrupted and misinterpreted rule of law.
It would also gear itself towards promotion of such systems politically perceived by majority as democratic (Lieber 29). Various forms of power that are cherished in democracy are exercised here and they are not limited to cultural, economic and technological power. The key objective in a realistic structure is to build, enhance and promote rather than subduing the weaker ones.
The means of harnessing power does not matter whatsoever provided that the accrued benefits belong to the state. In a sharp contrast though, the Obama administration may not be leaving an imprint of an indelible mark. As a result, it sharply contrasts with the Quincy statement that elevates the U.S policy on National Security as fair and justifies.
On the other hand, National Security that touches on liberalism primarily focuses on the initiation, care and universal promotion of liberal democratic governments which do not abet unjust human practices in disguise of security. There is inevitably strong foundation for the rule of law as well as in-fights among mature democracies like that of U.S. According to Walt (95), the 1980s witnessed a serious aggression between the U.S and the Soviet Union owing to the enmity that communism brought.
The political ideology of communism was a big threat to the Americans at this time. Ronald Reagan, a soldier during cold war was then implored by U.S to go to Washington and divert any possible threat that could be posed by communism.
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Even as this was happening, the United States was highly alarmed at how Japan was growing economically. Unfortunately, Japan’s economic strategies failed and as a result, its economy slumped while U.S “…enjoyed eight years of robust economic growth…” (Walt 98). In a nut shell, U.S was in a hectic search for allies, bearing in mind that it had gained the super power status by this time.
It deployed a policy of “fit or quit” by embracing those who gave it support and punishing the “rogue ones”. Up to date, U.S has tirelessly and consistently attempted to persuade and convince several countries to acknowledge their “liberal capitalist world order” (Walt 108).
Recent events have shed more light on this debate. For example, the historical September 11, 2001 attack of the twin towers was a wake-up call in U.S; probably in the wrong direction altogether. Some political scientists referred to it as the “power of weakness” in the sense that the weapon that was used to shake this world power was merely a box cutter and a fellow ready to sacrifice his life.
This was like an impotent attack which surprisingly left too much pain and terror in this nation. How then did U.S react to this? Was the attack a national or global affair? The nation developed a desire to have full control of the terrorists and terror countries. Besides, it aimed at assimilating technological advancement for the sole purpose of solidifying its own power in the pretext of foreign policy. AS Garret (148) observes, the U.S government continued to act smart by playing lip service to democracy.
In addition, the U.S government was quite relieved when Communism collapsed. This meant one thing: its expansionist plan would be right on track, spreading its tentacles far and wide and upholding the super power status. Sincerely, this was about power, influence, control and dominance.
The U.S invasion of Iraq over the alleged weapons of mass destruction and consequent execution of Saddam Hussein was a vivid impact of its foreign policy on National Security. Lieber (231) notes that there are many advantages enjoyed when power and supremacy are on board. The very policy was adopted by U.S prior to the Iraqi War on terror.
The author further expounds that power does not guarantee influence all the time. It is the very reason why US did not get the simple majority support in the Iraqi War. The nine out of fifteen votes could not be reached by the U.N Security Council to allow this super power stamp its authority on Iraq.
Surprisingly, even those countries who were mostly assisted by U.S like Chile and Mexico were reluctant to offer their support. This must have been a lesson to the U.S sycophants and political technocrats. According to MacLean, the infamous foreign policies are trivial ideologies to harness power, primacy and influence (123).
The fact that U.S has a veto power, she went ahead and attacked Iraq. This was a “foreign policy” that left thousands of innocent Iraqis in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The innocent civilians are yet to come to terms with the crisis that followed after the war.
What about the U.S allegations that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction? Indeed, he was later executed on the basis of these claims. Surprisingly, the label ‘weapons of mass destruction’ has not been proved to date. The world is still skeptical why the Bush administration attacked Iraq.
In order to further explore the validity of Quincy’s statement, it is imperative to investigate the politics of constructivism in relation to National Security.
It will assist in shedding more light to the emerging, yet ever changing conventional practices related to human rights, sovereign status of democracies and the application of justice (Fukuyama 176). Nonetheless, has the Obama administration been on the persuasive end to solicit for international support as a power pyramid plan? Some proponents of these foreign policies may perhaps be right.
However, strategic foreign policy agenda that is free of political undertones is a welcome idea. Lieber argues that “…a grand strategy put into practice can be as important as the substance of that strategy…” (86). If the U.S foreign policy on National Security is anything to go by, then the empirical outcome of these strategies should be applauded by all and sundry.
Mandelbaum provokes some thoughtful insight when he asserts that “if United States provides useful…services…to the world, why does…foreign policy provoke such frequent, widespread and bitter criticism?” (XVIII). The author further elaborates the September 11 terrorist act which was overwhelmingly condemned by U.S. Although acts of terror are as old as mankind, this appeared as the climax of all acts of terrorism in U.S history.
The underlying rationale why the Al Qaeda launched this terror move was to topple the Saudi Arabia monarch in power which was a close associate of the U.S.
What about the Obama administration? Does it uphold the salient features of the John Quincy statement? Firstly, the Obama administration has often reiterated that Islam is not a foe and that the war on terrorism has nothing to do with Islam as a religion.
Besides, the incumbent President has reiterated the need for U.S to watch iver the development of weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear bombs. There are myriad foreign policies touching on security as stipulated in the current administrative structure.
Notwithstanding this noble security plan by Obama administration, there is still some relentless pursuit by the very government to disarm its eastern foes. The rationale is unclear but there are doubts about Obama administration having followed in the footsteps of its predecessor.
The U.S government and its citizenry strictly uphold to the principles of democracy and rule of law. That is why political leadership is democratically elected into office by the people.
Similarly, constitutional office bearers like the Supreme Court judges are appointed legally by keenly adhering to existing laws and statutes. Moreover, the Congress has the mandate to make or amend laws which then becomes legally binding to all citizens.
Such a leadership arrangement is well understood by everybody and contravening the law can be challenged through the judicial system. This appears to be a similar leadership arrangement in most democratic governments. To this end, critics of U.S aggression have always questioned the appointing authority in world governance.
In other terms, why has the U.S government assumed total leadership over the world? Who appointed or directed it to do so? It may indeed be a paradox for a country claiming to pursue democracy while totalitarian ideology is the top agenda in its international matters. The basic role of democracy is missing here (Mandelbaum, 2000).
The main grievance is that of representation. The U.S has taken a representative role of governing the world. This has led to numerous protests which can be directly linked to U.S “fatherhood” spirit. A clear cut illustration of this can be traced back on the climate change and global warming debate.
As a precaution to reduce greenhouse emission which is believed to contribute significantly to global warming, countries of the world convened in Japan and unanimously agreed to stick to Kyoto protocol. Unfortunately, U.S failed to honor the agreement despite being one of the greatest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Besides, the recently concluded Copenhagen talks on climate change ended in disillusionment with U.S not walking the talk as a world leader. Its foreign policies should have been handy at this time when the world is struggling to come into terms with the devastating effects of climate change which is a matter of national security if intently investigated.
There is the belief that George W. Bush had become neoconservative by the threshold of his second term. Bush was once quoted to have said that the U.S military is not meant to build the nation but rather to “fight and win war” (Fukuyama 165). Moreover, his foreign policy advisor Condoleezza Rice added her voice to this matter when she asserted that U.S troops had no duty escorting children to school.
These assertions were coherent enough to brand U.S as non-committed to the path of democracy when securing its borders. In fact, George W. Bush was more than ready to extend his “war and win” agenda to Iraq. As Fukuyama observes, Bush attempted to ideologically justify a war that would have been prevented. This, according to many of his critics, soiled the political governance of his second term (Garrett 173).
The intrigues of U.S foreign policy remain to be debatable as well as eliciting mixed reactions to the world at large. It must indeed be something else. Since Obama took over the oath of a presidential office, he has relentlessly pursued the restoration of U.S authority in Latin America (Viotti 76).
However, critics have a stand that this partnership may not be of central importance to U.S; there is more than meets the eye. If this position is anything to go by, then Quincy’s statement leaves a sour taste in the mouth of political analysts and the general public since it lacks credibility at some point.
Fukuyama, Francis. America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
Garrett, A. Stephen. Doing good and doing well: an examination of humanitarian intervention, Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.
Hardt, Michael & Negri, Antonio. Multitude War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.
Horowitz Irving Louis. Culture and Civilization: Beyond Positivism and Historicism, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2010.
Lieber, J. Robert. The American Era: Power and Strategy for the 21st Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
MacLean George Andrew. Clinton’s foreign policy in Russia: from deterrence and isolation to democratization and engagement, Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2006.
Mandelbaum, Michael. The Case of Goliath: How America acts as the World Government in the 21st Century. New York: Public Affairs publishers, 2006.
Viotti, R. Paul. American Foreign Policy, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010.
Walt, M. Stephen. Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S Primacy. New York: Harvard University Press, 2006.