American Foreign Policy

I've always had an issue with American foreign policy, because it never seems to take into consideration the views of other countries that American policies will effect or long term consequences and effects to American itself. However, I'm extremely interested to learn other nerdfighter's opinions, so please post your views! 

Comments

  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    America under Bush had a very simplistic foreign policy that bit us in the ass but had some efficacy, more than what many political opponents would have you believe, but not enough.  Now, we don't have a foreign policy.  The Obama Administration has repeatedly proven to be reactionaries which is very damaging in a multitude of ways but the default reaction basically falls back to Bush's policies which have obvious shortcomings.

    There appears to be two prevailing theories on what we should do with our foreign policy.  One is hawkish, the other isolationist.  Neither are the solution.  America needs to be active in foreign affairs, but it must conduct itself in manner that would make sense for it.  Not just as a bully like we have been historically (the term bully to not be a judgment call but a reflection of our hawkish past), but as a mediator and facilitator.  As a country, we have forgotten what it means to wage a war.  We also have no idea how to structure a strong diplomatic policy.  We need to properly address that, but knowing us we probably won't.
  • KritikalKritikal Boise, IdahoPosts: 250 ✭✭
    The reason amerikan foreign policy is so crazy is that the amerikan elites (government, military, academics, CEOs) have so much power. All the faulty foreign policy in the 20th and 21st century has been people using the state apparatus for their own gain. To stop harmful foreign policy we should rethink what government and corporations mean to us, and what they are.
    I don't want the world, I just want your half.
  • cazortcazort Jenkintown, PAPosts: 194 ✭✭✭
    I also have huge problems with American Foreign Policy, as do nearly all the people in my life who have studied it at all.  My mom is a college professor, studies contemporary Germany history, literature, and culture...and she helped me become really aware of some of the ways in which U.S. policy has been incredibly destructive.

    But it is important to understand that it's also a mixed bag--it changes with different presidencies, and under each presidency there are always some policies that are better than others.

    There are a lot of factors influencing American foreign policy too...some of which I think are actually very positive, and unfortunately, some of which are very negative.  So I think it's important to see the shades of gray.  If we say: "OMG AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS THE WORST THING EVER" then that's not terribly empowering.  I think if we see that there are some things that are more problematic than others, then it's empowering because we can focus on changing the worst / most damaging things, but also focus on what we're doing that may actually be pretty good, or at least better, and working to encourage or build upon or improve the good stuff too.

    That said--what do you think are the worst and best aspects of American foreign policy?

    I think the worst ones have been our history of military intervention in conflicts where we may have made things worse, or fueling or supporting leaders because they were "enemies of our enemies" ... and then these people turned into people like Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden.

    I think some of the best things that we've done globally have been providing asylum to people from various international conflicts, allowing many of these people to come into our country and form immigrant communities that enrich our culture by adding diversity, and helping to preserve and protect the culture and people from areas where there is intense conflict.  We may be able to do a better job of this by being more open, but I think it's important to recognize all the positive things that we have done--it's easy to focus on the negative sides of US immigration policy (as there are a lot), but some countries haven't been historically as open as the U.S. has and I think it's valuable to recognize that too.
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  • The_BurninatorThe_Burninator New JerseyPosts: 104 ✭✭
    cb33 said:
    I've always had an issue with American foreign policy, because it never seems to take into consideration the views of other countries that American policies will effect or long term consequences and effects to American itself. However, I'm extremely interested to learn other nerdfighter's opinions, so please post your views! 
    Well in general, US foreign policy takes into consideration the views of powerful socio-political elites. It strives for certain objectives. In general, those objectives are internal benefit (usually enriching certain interests), and therefore not the same objectives as those in other countries, or even (as you rightly point out), the interests of everyone else in America who isn't being enriched by that particular foreign policy.

    I take issue with it's level of militarization. The US used to be able to do what it wanted via economic power, but today, the economic order of the world is tripolar (European, American, and Chinese centers of economic power) while the military order is still unipolar (US is uncontested military power). As a result, the US is often diplomatically weak but militarily strong. As a result, it often has to turn to violence to achieve its ends as this is the only or best effective tool at its disposal.

    Then, I would add that we should be able to object to military operations abroad for better reasons than just that they might harm us in the long run. (That is, I would oppose military action on the basis of it causes people to die, and say that this is bad regardless of whether or not it will end up serving "American interests" in the long run.)
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  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    As a country we have a 90/10 ratio of reliance on military to diplomatic options.  It should probably be more like 40/60 mil v diplomacy.  I think we need to be strong in both regards, and wise in our implementation of both.  We are only strong in one regard, and we aren't wise in our implementation of either.  This has clearly hurt our ability and perception of our ability to properly address problems.
  • PresidentJokoPresidentJoko Seattle, WashingtonPosts: 23
    American foreign policy is not as broken as many ideologues make it out to be, but of course it still requires significant overhaul for the future. For example, we entered the Iraq War in 2003, leading to the rise of ISIL and similar groups throughout the region. This is one of many unjust interventions we have taken sine the 1950's. Overthrowing democratic governments in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. Supporting jihadist groups in Afghanistan (many of which would later regroup into terrorist groups). Focusing on resource extraction instead of human liberty. Not intervening in cases were it would have been justified, such as Rwanda. It should be no surprise to us that billions throughout the world resent our power.

    However, we have also done a lot of good for the world. We were quintessential in WWII, and helped rebuild European/Asian democracies. The present liberties now seen in Japan and South Korea can be attributed to us investing in their future. We stand as the foremost power of NATO, and thus a key defender of representative government in Europe. We stand in direct opposition to North Korea, authoritarian Russia, and China in its expansionist activities against East/Southeast Asia. The U.S. needs to continue standing up for its free allies in this regard, and I gladly stand behind high defense spending if it's for this cause.

    The United States of America is very mixed in its international relations. We need to become more cautious with our intervention, and adopt a more assertive humanitarianism in our outlook. We need to maintain a strong military, but use it for different purposes. America should be more honest and trustworthy in the way it handles other countries. The road ahead is bumpy, but we will get through it if we act properly.
  • Lavache_BeadsmanLavache_Beadsman New YorkPosts: 661 ✭✭✭
    There's a compelling case made by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine that our foreign policy is to advance the interests of global capitalism in developing regions. I don't know if I'd go that far, but I do think that as it stands, we are very concerned with protecting our economic interests abroad. 

    As far as what our role ought to be? I think our sole responsibility abroad is to provide to establish homeland security, so to speak. I'm certainly not an "isolationist" but we're more hands-on than is probably wise.
  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    I agree we are more hands on than we should be.  Our interests seem to be everywhere at all times which makes nearly any conflict subject to our tinkering on at least some level.  Our economic interests, even if we do become energy independent, will never not be global and we have several global security partnerships that would make pulling back from current engagements a very politically risky proposition.
  • Lavache_BeadsmanLavache_Beadsman New YorkPosts: 661 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2015
    @McEsteban

    It's not just about energy or our current economic interests, though (although Klein sees privatization of oil industries around the globe as sort of a "final frontier"). As Klein sees it, it's about moving into vulnerable parts of the world and imposing laissez-faire so as to establish a global free market. Milton Friedman was big on this, especially. I'm not sure what to think about it, personally. It seems real cynical, and Klein has an obviously Marxist agenda, but the facts are there, and privatization was a big part of our attempts at stabilization of Iraq and our support for Pinochet, who, as you may or may not know, was a morally reprehensible character. Friedman was actually in direct contact with him, but that's neither here nor there... Her writing about Katrina and what happened in New Orleans afterward was to me the most convincing.
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  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    The notion that our foreign policy is motivated by expanding the capitalist system, both as a positive and a negative, is one I have definitely come across and while I think it is a piece of the puzzle it isn't the whole thing.  I think that idea implies, and upon rereading my previous comment perhaps implied, that our foreign policy is directly motivated by corporate profit.  I do not believe this.  Economic growth absolutely stimulates what we do (and potential to a greater degree than it should) but spreading the capitalist system usually has the added side benefit of greater mutual security in the long term which, and though often ineffective and occasionally backasswards, is the ultimate goal of our strategy.

    It is also easy to see how we have exited a century where for much of it we determined our enemies in no small part to how they run their economy.  We have made it a practice to export capitalism as much as we have exported democracy.  Finding new markets for us was as much about halting communism as it was growing our own economy.  If we are to have globalization we invariably need global security and the US has been more than reluctant to relax its hegemony (understandably) and our partners have been more than hesitant to fill any void usually (also understandably).  We need to stand by our friends, even if it isn't always the right thing to do, and we aren't about to change the nature of our economy (much to my and many others dismay) so we are kinda stuck here.
  • Lavache_BeadsmanLavache_Beadsman New YorkPosts: 661 ✭✭✭
    @McEsteban Excluding the part where you apologized for our support for Pinochet and others like him, I'm inclined to agree. The Cold War era has its obvious context, and privatization seems more like an after-effect of US intervention these days than it is an impetus for action.
  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    I don't think I apologized for anything of the sort.  How did you reach that?
  • Lavache_BeadsmanLavache_Beadsman New YorkPosts: 661 ✭✭✭
    McEsteban said:
    I don't think I apologized for anything of the sort.  How did you reach that?
    My apologies if I misunderstood. I thought when you said "we need to stand by our friends, even if it's not always the right thing to do," you were referring to my previous comment about Pinochet.
  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    I was more meaning standing by Saudi Arabia, though that may be splitting hairs when compared with Pinochet.  Or in a WW1 context of entangling alliances that you cant walk away from even if the outcome from acting within the alliance is devastating.
  • RolloRollo Operative 6081, MiniTrue Airstrip Three, OceaniaPosts: 1,904 ✭✭✭
    McEsteban said:
    The notion that our foreign policy is motivated by expanding the capitalist system, both as a positive and a negative, is one I have definitely come across and while I think it is a piece of the puzzle it isn't the whole thing.  I think that idea implies, and upon rereading my previous comment perhaps implied, that our foreign policy is directly motivated by corporate profit.  I do not believe this.  Economic growth absolutely stimulates what we do (and potential to a greater degree than it should) but spreading the capitalist system usually has the added side benefit of greater mutual security in the long term which, and though often ineffective and occasionally backasswards, is the ultimate goal of our strategy.
    I refer you to Eisenhower's Farewell Address:

    Now, this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
    Dwight D Eisenhower, 17th Jan 1961

    The military-industrial complex along with policies by government might be seen as an Iron Triangle of sorts. 

    Basic demand-side economics suggests that government spending can increase aggregate demand in an economy and the instrument of military spending is more or less a permanent stimulus package for the economy. US Foreign Policy is largely motivated by corporate profit because the people who actually own and fund the political parties are mostly corporate interests. Why else would the US continually be looking to go to war? 
    "I speak an infinite deal of nothing and I am not bound to please thee with my answers."

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  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    Very familiar with that piece of text, and Smedley Butler's.  The problem is that simply put, we don't go to war at the behest of Lockheed and Raytheon.  That does not happen.  Now their job is to provide our military with its capability, something they do exceedingly well at.  There is no reasonable alternative to corporations doing that.  You have to live with that fact.

    The reality is that there isn't a single time where the military industrial complex led us to war.  Furthermore, Eisenhower was warning against dangerous bureaucracy infiltrating the vital relationship between military and industry.  He wasn't arguing against military or industry but rather the complex in which the needs of the nation and the warfighter are not met as they should be.  Now that is a real concern I would argue we are not doing right by that warning.

    In order to figure out why war is popular in the US and engaged with little thought and great gusto I think you need to examine deeper ideas than just bought politicians.  No doubt money from defense contractors influences their decisions on specific programs, because politics is always a thing.  And not to say politics isn't played with national security in times of war, but I legitimately believe from my research that a different game is being played to serve higher ideals or masters.
  • RolloRollo Operative 6081, MiniTrue Airstrip Three, OceaniaPosts: 1,904 ✭✭✭
    McEsteban said:

    The reality is that there isn't a single time where the military industrial complex led us to war.
    Mysteriously, the ex-CEO of the world's second-largest oilfield services company, found himself in a position where he could advise the President of the United States to conduct a war which wasn't even part of the remit of the initial Authorization for Use of Military Force.

    It's curious that that oilfield services company then found itself as the sole company allowed to bid for a contract with regards oil infrastructure worth $7bn.
    "I speak an infinite deal of nothing and I am not bound to please thee with my answers."

    I've written four books - you might like to buy them: Linky - Doobly Doo
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