A History of American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era

For forty-five years in the aftermath of World War II, the international order hinged on what political scientists call the bipolar system. It was an order based on the rivalry between the two Superpowers the United States and the U.S.S.R. and their allies. U.S. foreign policy strategy was focused on the principles of containment and mutual deterrence (Daschle, 1996; Schwartz, 1996). The fall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union utterly destroyed the old bipolar order and along with it the central organizing principle of U.

S. foreign policy. The purpose of this essay is to consider the responsibilities of the U.S. as the world s only remaining Superpower in the post-Cold War era. We live in a one-superpower world– that of world leadership, dominated by the United States politically, militarily, and culturally. We must maintain and support good relations with the smaller and weaker nations throughout the world. I will argue for the adoption of vet a different course for American foreign policy, one that balances the two extremes of international leadership and isolation and is organized around the principles of international diplomacy and economic responsibility

Benjamin Schwartz, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, provides a concise summary of how U.

S. policymakers and government leaders viewed U.S. responsibilities in the post-Cold War era. During the Cold War, Schwartz argues, U.S. responsibilities focused on the duty of making the world safe for capitalism containing communist expansion, and ensuring the creation of a capitalist world order with America at the helm (Schwartz, 1996, p.

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94). In the aftermath of the decline of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, both Schwartz argues, the basic trappings of U.S. foreign policy — a strong defense budget, economic rivalry with rising Asian powers, and a tendency towards hegemony over the Third World — remain virtually unchanged. The U.S. must continue to dominate the international system and thus discourage the advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or…. even aspiring to a larger regional or global role (Schwartz, 1996, p. 100).

It must not only dominate regions composed of wealthy and technologically sophisticated states but also take care of such nuisances as Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and North Korea s dictator Kim Jong II, to protect the interests of virtually all potential great powers so that they need not acquire the capability to protect themselves that is so that those powers need not act like great powers. (Schwartz, 1996, p. 101)

As Schwartz explains, in the past two decades, the Pacific Rim has emerged as a vital economic interest to the U.S., both in terms of direct and indirect investment flows and trade, and also in terms of the Asian role in the maintenance of the global liberal economic order Another principle concern of U.S. foreign policy focus is controlling the action of so-called rogue states Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and other countries (now possibly including Russia) which might engage in unilateral action to disrupt the established status quo. As Schwartz observes, the potential for any of these states to take such action is unquestionable.

Foreign investment is necessary for the future of developing other nations as well as our own. There must be an emphasis on foreign investment and trade, otherwise, the third world nations will continue to fall behind economically, technologically, and domestically, which could lead to an economic downfall for the U.S. as well. The question then arises as to what the United States must do to have large trade agreements with other countries other than Japan and Mexico. For the U.S. to play a more active role in the economic and political development of many of these developing nations, it must first accept a different philosophy than its current one. First, the United States must play a similar role in Latin America to the one Japan has played with many of the developing nations in East Asia. The U.S. neighbors Latin America, and if it wants to play the role of big brother, it must accept the responsibility. Japan has invested, traded, and has been a guide for many of its neighboring countries in East Asia, making them grow politically and economically while profiting itself. The U.S. must realize that the economies of Latin American Nations will play an important part in the future of our economy and that it must begin to lead, invest, and aid not just Mexico, but countries such as Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, and Columbia into the twenty-first century. The mainstay in American foreign policy has always been to promote and instill democracy. However, to do this in a foreign nation, the U.S. must be able to first establish a viable economic relationship and system within the desired nation. We should not expect or want a nation to switch from a total authoritarian government to a market economy; doing so would be a disaster. The former Soviet Union is a notable example of this philosophy. Instead, the U.S. has to be willing to allow developing nations to invest in U.S. markets before we invest in theirs. In return, a viable export/import system will be established. But the economy of the developing nation must be monitored and run by its government, and the United States should only be there for advising purposes. When a reasonable system has finally been achieved, then–a more American, laissez-faire type of economic network will be allowed to grow. The greatest challenge the United States faces is implementing a foreign policy that is consistent throughout the Middle East. Islamic nations aren’t likely to be responsive to ideas such as human rights, and democracy. These nations will never be responsive to western ideas when the United States continues to levy sanctions against them. The U.S. is lucky that it has an ally in Saudi Arabia and Israel, allowing them to implement many of these foreign policy agendas against the other Middle Eastern countries, without having to face serious economic consequences in the oil and gas industry.

Oddly enough though, Saudi Arabia is probably as much against western ideologies as any nation in the Middle East. Women do not have equal rights, torture is frequent, there is no separation between church and state, and Saudi Arabia is extremely far from developing any sort of democracy (Miller 58). Now, when the U.S. promotes democracy and human rights, why does it support one country and condemn the next? Throughout the Cold War, American foreign policy would give aid to any nation-opposing communism. So during that time, the U.S. developed a “you’re either with us or against us” type of policy. With that type of policy, many of the Middle Eastern countries became so-called enemies of the U.S., which has led to unrest and hatred of western democracies. In this time of global economics, the United States cannot pick and choose which countries to invest in. For the U.S. to defeat the challenges it faces in the Middle East, it must start by supporting the entire Middle East. Israel and Saudi Arabia may be the most attractive offers, but Syria and even Iran have vast resources that will be very valuable to our economy in the future.

It has been proven that participation in a regime allows for a greater wealth of resources economically and politically while encouraging development. But, if we try to impose our will by force or intimidation, there will be few willing volunteers to follow and join such a movement. Again, the United States needs to respect the efforts of religious revival because it is returning Christianity or Islam to its roots just as the U.S. is trying to establish democracy to its most basic fundamental aspect in many of these developing nations.

The U.S. must allow democracy, in whatever forms it takes, to grow. This means concentrating on being empathetic and tolerant of the political and economic developments that might occur during this time of change, rather than taking forceful actions that many believe are necessary. The role the United States took when communism was being defeated in Eastern Europe and the Western way of life was being pushed to the forefront is the same approach it needs to take with most of these developing nations. Since the United States is at its peak of power over other civilizations, and Western military power is unrivaled, the U.S. must attempt to redefine its image in the non-Western part of the world. “The United States dominates the international political, security, and economic institutions with Western countries such as Britain, Germany, and France. All of these countries maintain extraordinarily close relations with each other, excluding the lesser and largely non-Western countries. Decisions made at the United Nations Security Council or in the International Monetary Fund that reflect the interest of the United States and its Western allies are presented to the world as reflecting the desires of the world community” (Huntington, 39). This type of selfish global policy cannot be tolerated if the United States wishes to be the leader in binding a “World Community.” The non-westerners view this global decision-making in such a way such in effect makes the West look as if it is using its international institutions, military power, and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests and promote Western political and economic values” (Huntington 40). These views do merit them nonetheless because the United States does use its worldly powers to influence these international councils in situations when the so-called anti-American countries are involved. Just because one nation’s civilization and culture are different from that of the Western nations, the US should not deem which cultures are acceptable and non-acceptable in the realm of the world. Because for the most part as Huntington states “Western ideas such as individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, the separation of church and state, often have little in Islamic, Confucian, Hindu, Buddhist or Orthodox cultures” (Huntington 40). By trying to influence its views through the United Nations and International Monetary Fund on non-Western Countries, the U.S. is just building up more negative sentiment towards itself, which can be seen in the support for fundamentalism of all types by the younger generation in the non-Western cultures. If the U.S. does not attempt to change its image shortly, a new generation of fundamentalist will begin to carry out all sorts of terrorist activity against the U.S. that will be more devastating than the World Trade Center bombing, because hate towards the West will have been instilled since birth, and the terrorist will feel that means is justifying the cause.

The new strategy for America s role as a Superpower in the post-Cold War world must focus rigorously not on wishful thinking or fanciful ideologies but rather on the brutal economic, political, and environmental realities of the post-Cold War world as well as on the harsh realities of America s genuine economic and political status in that world. It is in the U.S. S national self-interest that global economic stability and international security be maintained. However, the U.S. can’t achieve this goal on its own. The solution lies not in a new bipolar system but rather in a new consensus on international diplomacy of multilateral and bilateral alliances among a broad spectrum of our international partners Europe, Russia, China, Japan, etc. A broad consensus among these actors will itself serve as an effective counterweight to the disruptive efforts of the world s rogue states (e.g., Iraq, Iran, North Korea, etc.). Moreover, given that future disruptions of global stability are nearly as likely to arise as part of the unintended consequences of economic, environmental, and political instability in the South as from the intended actions of rogue states, the U.S. and its international partners cannot afford to ignore or insulate themselves from the Third World. The U.S., along with its other international developed partners, has both a responsibility and a need to encourage and facilitate sustainable growth and development in the Third World.

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A History of American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era. (2022, Aug 18). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-history-of-american-foreign-policy-in-the-post-cold-war-era/

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