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U.S. Foreign Policy?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by POLITICAL JEDI, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. POLITICAL JEDI

    POLITICAL JEDI New Member

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    Below is a piece that examines the greatness of America and the 4 schools that have guided her foreign policy. Those schools respectively are: Isolationism, Liberal Internationalism, Realism and Neoconservatism. After reading the piece, and if you can, make a reasonable argument as to where the author has gone wrong in his assessments. As I agree wholeheartedly with the author and his opinion, I guess I'm just looking for some meaningful "back and forth" with the opposition on the opinion the author seems to endorse.

    http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.19912,filter.all/pub_detail.asp
     
  2. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    your writting a paper and want us to do the work for you sounds like lol :)
     
  3. POLITICAL JEDI

    POLITICAL JEDI New Member

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    Hardly. As I said in the OP, I'm just looking for some meaningful "back and forth" with the opposition.
     
  4. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Ha I agree, we will not write your paper for you. That said there are many more schools of thought than simply these four, all of which can be argued to have shaped US foreign policy in many ways.

    I did not read the entire article, but I found his description of realism being misguided and the examples used to not fit into the paradigm. He further ignores the entire concept of balance of power which is a major idea in the realist paradigm.

    Added to that the bias is clear that the author is not a realist, which is probably why is argument for realism is so bad.
     
  5. POLITICAL JEDI

    POLITICAL JEDI New Member

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    I think the author rightly ignores the entire concept of "balance of power" because there simply is no balance. By measure of any yardstick the United States leads the world in every possible catagory. . .

    Militarily? Militarily, not since the fall of Rome has there been a greater gap between the No. 1 world power and the No. 2. American military spending exceeds that of the next twenty countries combined. Not even the British Empire at its height displayed the superiority shown by American arms today. Our space power (satellites) are unrivaled. Our technology is irresistible.The United States has nuclear and anti-nuclear superiority, the world's overwhelmingly dominant air force, the only truly blue-water navy, and a unique capability to project raw firepower to every corner of the globe. The result is the dominance of a single power unlike anything ever seen in human history.

    Economically? The American economy is at the top of the list and almost twice the size of its nearest competitor. We enjoy, almost uniquely, low inflation, low unemployment, record home ownership, and vigorous growth. Put another way, the state of California's economy alone has risen to become the fifth largest in the world (using market exchange-rate estimates), ahead of France and just behind the United Kingdom.

    Culturally? Parents the world over vainly fight the tide of T shirts and low-rider jeans, of our rap and rock music and movies, of video and game software pouring out of America and craved by their children. There has been mass culture. But there has never before been mass world culture. Now one is emerging, and it is distinctly American. Why, even the intellectual and commercial boulevard of the future, the Internet, has been set up in our own language and idiom. Everyone speaks American.

    Diplomatically? Nothing of significance gets done without us. Consider one of history's rare controlled experiments. In the 1940s, lines were drawn through three peoples--Germans, Koreans and Chinese--one side closely bound to the United States, the other to our adversary Soviet Russia. It turned into a controlled experiment because both states in the divided lands shared a common culture. Fifty years later the results are in. Does anyone doubt the superiority, both moral and material, of West Germany vs. East Germany, South Korea vs. North Korea and Taiwan vs. China. We decide if NATO expands and who gets in. And where we decide not to decide, as in Cambodia and Rawanda, often held up as an example of how the U.N. and regional powers can settle local conflicts without the U.S.--all hell breaks loose.
    ~ Dr. Charles Krauthammer

    Furthermore, his argument for realism isn't bad! I suggest you re-read that part cause you obviously mis-read it. What the author argues for is a merge between realism and neoconservatism. . .Hence the title; Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World
     
  6. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I disagree that balance of power is not important. I think we are seeing many nations "balance" against the power of the United States today. Iran for example has aligned itself with China and Russia, North Korea is a puppet state of China, all of which "balance" against US dominance is foreign relations in these areas. I think his lack of addressing the balance of power issue ignored critical aspects of the shaping of foreign policy.

    Added to that. Yes the US possesses a basically unbeatable army. But in reality, the wars we find ourselves in are against non-state actors and do not involve state armies. So yes, our army, navy, airforce, and nuclear stockpile is unrivaled, however, given the current state of warfare, I think it can be deemed irrelevant. Added to that is the issue of the economy. The Chinese economy is factored without Hong Kong right now, if that was added in China would surpass the US economy is terms of size.

    Further, bringing NATO into the argument flies in the face of every realist idea. NATO is an international organization, and if the world is in anarchy (as it should be under realism) there is no such thing as a useful international organization.

    I also take objection to this statement: "We are safer today not just because Saddam is gone, but because Libya and any others contemplating trafficking with WMDs, have--for the first time--seen that it carries a cost, a very high cost."

    I would say that nations such as Iran and North Korea see our situation in Iraq and jump on the situation to achieve a "balance" by going nuclear. (fitting into balance of power, which was ignored)

    I did not misread anything, I just do not agree with his conclusions. I am an avid realist (but I do think the constructivist logic plays a big role). I would be happy to discuss more on any paradigm or about it if you wish, I've got a BA in International Relations and a Masters in Defense and Strategic Studies, so I always enjoy these type of conversations.
     
  7. POLITICAL JEDI

    POLITICAL JEDI New Member

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    About 6 months ago Israel bombed a nuclear site in Syria supplied by North Korea. China nor Russia nor North Korea did a thing about it. Why? Cause Israel is an ally of the United States of America. Period.

    Yes, I agree, guerilla warfare tatics makes things much harder on the battlefield. . .but I disagree that because of these tatics, our military is irrelevant.

    This article was written when Iran suddenly gave into spot nuclear inspections. And incidently, Libya gave up it's nuclear program the very week Saddam was fished out of his spider hole.

    So as a realist you believe in the use of preemption and unilatteralism should a situation call for it?
     
  8. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Is this not a sign of Israel balancing against Syria (and China, Russia etc) by aligning with the United States? The realist would also argue that you take action only when it favors you to do so. Why does Israel bomb the site in Syria and sit by on Iran? Because there are limits to what our backing will bring them due to the "balancing" of other nations such as Iran. Added to this is the fact that Syria is not aligning themselves in a major way with either China or Russia (outside of some weapons deals), which I think plays a role here.

    It is not irrelevant by any means, I did not mean to say that. I simply mean that our massive military might does not give us the same leverage that it once did.

    Yes, Libya gave up their programs, but they had nothing to gain by having one. If there is no gain in it for Libya then what is the point of having the program when it only costs you. If your goal is power, and it diminishes your power to pursue the program then you do not follow it. Keep in mind that Egypt has rumored to resume their nuclear program after the Iranian nuclear program was brought to light. All depends on the perspective of the country.

    Yes, but I will not agree with it if it does not enhance our own power. There is a large argument to be made (I think somewhat legitimately) that our unilateralism has diminished our power abroad. That said, it is all a trade off in the minds of the policy makers (hence my constructivist comment) on what an acceptable trade off of that power is, and how it affects the overall balance of power in the international system.
     
  9. POLITICAL JEDI

    POLITICAL JEDI New Member

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    Yes. But again, in the realm of the power the United States weilds, there simply is no nation or group of nations that can balance it.


    No, I think Israel is hoping our carrots (diplomacy) will bring fruit before they have to use their stick

    I fail to see how giving up a nuclear weapons program diminishes your power. Once a nation establishes a nuclear arsenal, the rest of the world becomes self-deterred and said nation becomes invulnerable


    Explain. How does our power need to be enhanced?

    Diminished our power or our reputation? With reputation being the answer, frankly, I could care less what the Europeans think. It's easy for them to shout their hostility towards U.S. foreign policy from across the pond. . .but when 300 Soviet divisions were breathing down their necks, or a Slobodan Milosevic reared it's ugly head -- then, and only then, do they come "hat in hand" to the United States to get us to "do something" about it. :rolleyes:
     
  10. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. I also do not think "power" can be simply defined as military might. I do not think the goal of most nations is to bring the US down, but rather to limit our influence in spots around the world. (Influence is also power) A perfect example of balancing is what we have seen Iran do. They have aligned themselves closely with China and Russia through oil deals and have marginalized our power.

    We are unable to push for any meaningful sanctions because China or Russia would veto it. Further, Iran continues meaningless talks with Europe so they will pressure the US to follow a diplomatic route. While Iran cannot defeat the US military, they can work to ensure that the US views a military option as to costly. (As a realist will really only attack when it benefits them to do so)


    I disagree again. We have not shown much of a desire to follow the diplomatic route, so why would Israel hold off to wait for us to be diplomatic? All of Iran's talks with Europe have failed, we are tagging along for this one, but it will go nowhere. It is a form of balancing by Iran if you ask me, because it forces the US to make the decision to go it alone or do nothing. Given the situation in Iraq, we cannot do much. Added to that, if Israel then attacks Iran, Iran will gain the support of Arab nations in the Middle East to unite against Israel again. This is what Iran wants, as their goal is regional hegemony.

    Added to that, I do not think Israel has the ability to bomb Iran. To do so would require using Iraqi airspace, which would get blamed on the US and Iran would retaliate in Iraq, which we do not want. Israel does not have the ability to refuel many planes midair, and they do not have the navy to do that attack either. A mission of this sort as well would require large amounts of planes (The Iranian airforce is not pathetic, and you need radar jammers etc to go in first). The Israeli airforce cannot pull it off unless they want to run in with everything and not have the gas to get home. Added to that, Iran will retaliate in Iraq and blame the US, so if we want it done we are going to do it ourselves.


    Having an established arsenal will enhance your power, however Libya was nowhere near this stage, and the pursuit of that arsenal would have severely crippled their short term power, which is arguably more important.

    The better question (the realist question) is, why does our power not need to be continually enhanced.

    Reputation is influence, influence translate to power. I do not define power simply as military might (economics plays a role here too). I think that the EU has given Europe a perceived resurgence as a world player (fairly or not) and this is why the rift between the US and Europe has been growing somewhat. I think you are right to say that the public opinion about the US in Europe does not matter, but Europe is not the problem in the world. The problem is the loss of influence in the Middle East, Asia, and South America, and I think that the write off of Europe is related to this.
     
  11. POLITICAL JEDI

    POLITICAL JEDI New Member

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    Rob, for someone with a BA in International Relations and a Masters in Defense and Strategic Studies, your not making any sense whatsoever. Saddam was strongly aligned with France, Germany and Russia through oil deals and loans. Did that "marginalize" our power? Did that influence us in any way, shape or form from invading and removing him for power?

    As the author pointed out There were serious arguments against war in Iraq--but the fact France did not approve was not one of them.


    There is so many things wrong with this logic it's hard for me to decide where to begin. . .

    First, Iran calls Jews "filthy bacteria" and that Israel should be "wiped off the map." They engage in proxy wars constantly through Hezbollah and Hamas. With that said, 60 short years after the holocaust, do honestly think Israel would let something as trivial as "airspace" compromise their national security by allowing Iran to gain the ability to do in one afternoon what took Hitler 5 years to do --- kill 6 million Jews?

    Secondly, you put way too much stock in Iran's military capabilities and not enough in Israels. The last time Iran was at war, they sent their youth against the enemy armed with Korans! Israel recently acquired bunker buster bombs and stealth F-35 raptors from us.

    Furthermore, F-35 stealth fighter jets don't exist in a vacuum. First, you need a vibrant free market economy to pay for it. Then a literate middle class is needed to produce mechanics who can service and modify it. Freedom of scholarship is required if Israeli designers are going to update it. And most importantly, an open society is necessary if the plane's sophisticated controls are going to be operated by competent, motivated, and individualistic pilots. And because of all this, Israeli pilots proved deadly against Syrian jets in Lebanon -- and Iraqis in advanced Russian jets would rather fly into Iran than fight American planes during the Gulf War.

    Finally, do you honestly believe that the Arab/Islamic world will unite against Israel (a strong ally of the United States) if it attacked Irans nuclear sites?


    Logic??? Where power is concerned, do you honestly think that nations concern themselves more with short term rather then long term?

    We can discuss motives and the methods of American behavior in the world, but IMO, any discussion of it has to begin with a discussion of the structure of the international system. The sole reason we can talk about preemption, realism, unilateralism and neoconservatism today is that we live in a totally new world. Like Krauthammer suggest, we do live in a "unipolar world" of sorts that has surely not existed in at least 1500 years. Sadly, I think many tend not to see it, nor understand the historical uniqueness of this situation.
     
  12. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Uh, yes it marginalized our power. We were powerless to do anything at the UN, why do you think we had to go in basically on our own? No UN, no NATO backing. It was because these nations opposed the war.

    Our ability to invade and remove Saddam from power around the UN does not mean that our power was not marginalized by the actions these nations took at the UN. Added to that, since we went in on our own and are now stuck, aid from these nations is not pouring forth, and it marginalizes our position in regards to Iran even further.

    So yes, we removed Saddam, but yes, that action has had negative consequences on our power and influence. You keep pointing back to the author of the piece, and there is no doubt that Charles Krauthammer is a smart man, but his piece is an opinion piece, keep that in mind when looking back to it. Many people disagree with his views on the world.

    Well yes, when doing so could cost them the support of the US. If Israel decides to go ahead and bomb Iran anyway using Iraqi airspace it will get blamed on the US. I am sure the US will love when Iran retaliates in Iraq and sends the whole country back into a tail spin, and clearly Israel would be to blame for that, or if Iran retaliates on Saudi Arabia (which is a likely option) and sends the world economy into a tailspin, or better yet blocks off the straight of Hormuz and forces a war between the US and Iran that we never wanted. If the US wants Iran bombed, they will have to do it themselves.

    I am not sure what you are talking about. The last major war Iran was in was the Iran/Iraq war, which they arguably won. As for your claim that Israel acquired F-35 stealth fighters from us "recently." I don't know where you get this, maybe fantasyland. It was in May of this year that Israel requested permission to buy these planes. They will not be delivered until 2013 at the earliest.

    No one is denying that Israel is an advanced nation with capable pilots. The mission in Syria is no comparison to what the mission for Iran would take. In Syria, one target was bombed. In Iran multiple targets all over the country have to be bombed in a country that is on edge waiting for an attack any day.

    Not only does Iran possess are large battery of SAM's they also possess a large air force consisting of both American and Russian planes, including SU-25T's and SU-25UBK's. Both of which are quality aircraft. If you expect to waltz in and shoot a few rockets and get out without a huge fight, then you are naive. And what is worse, odds are you do not even destroy all of the targets.



    I think every nation is more concerned with short term power than anything else. What is the point of power 20 years from now when you have to have it today?

    I agree that we are the sole superpower, hyperpower in fact, but the world tied together like never before. A disruption in Saudi oil could send the world economy into a tailspin, China could call in the trillions in debt that they own, Middle Eastern nations can increasingly move to trading oil in the Euro, furthering the demise of the dollar. It is not like we are immune from a costly response, even from a nation that possesses nowhere near the same capability that we do.
     
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