Thursday, March 17, 2011

Current U.S. Foreign Policy

Do we even have a coherent foreign policy at the moment?  If we do I'm at a loss to say what it is.  At least under the past two Presidential administrations we had a clear policy, right, wrong, or indifferent, we had a policy that guided us and gave some idea to other nations as to how we would react to different situations.  In the past two years our nation seems to be purely reactionary with no direction.  Even within the administration the individual players seems to be without direction.

Under president Clinton we had the policy of Engagement.  The US attempted to engage leaders of other nations in dialogues, we were heavily involved in multinational efforts in the Former Yougoslav Republics, Kosovo and elsewere. We tried to keep the Middle East peace process moving forward as best we could, we even engaged in unofficial talks with North Korea and Syria.  Nations knew that if they approached the US either through regular channels or even back channels that their interests would at least be heard.  Whether you feel this policy was right or wrong, it was clear and uniformly administered.  The only negative I saw personally was that the domestic policy of keeping the budget small combined with this policy of engagement put a large strain on a very small military.

With President George W. Bush global events more so than ideological differences caused a shift in policy.  The events of 9/11/2001 necessitated a change in foreign policy.  Under the Bush administration the Global War On Terror (GWOT) became the be all end all of foreign policy.  In Bush's words, 'You are either with us, or against us."  This made our position very clear to the entire world, leaders of all nations and even non-state actors knew exactly what to expect from the United States. 

That brings us to today and President Obama's administration.  We have the continuation of Bush's Iraqification policy and it seems we are trying to do the same in Afghanistan.  However, with 50,000 troops still in Iraq this seems more like public relations than reality(to put that in perspective that's the equivalent of 4 infantry divisions, we had 10 divisions in the whole Army under Clinton).  The recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and through the Middle East have shown clearly that the US has no coherent foreign policy.  Our responses have been timid.  The Department of State diplomats have been out of step with the administration.  The US was caught totally flat footed on Tunisia, Supported the protesters in Egypt and Libya, are supporting the governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (though we have asked them not to shoot live bullets at their people), and appear to still be on the fence about Yemen.

We don't support democracy for all.  Do we support democratic revolutions only in countries that are opposed to us? No, Egypt is one of our longest standing allies in the Middle East.  Do we support the dictatorial regimes as long as the dictator is useful to us? No, Egypt again and also Yemen go against this, while Bahrain and Saudi Arabia support it.  What is our policy? What do we stand for? Who will we support and who will we not? We don't even agree with our best and longest standing ally Britain on what we are doing.

This lack of coherent policy combined with uneven actions will only lead to further destabilisation. 

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