foreign policy: america's role in the world

AMERICA’S ROLE IN THE WORLD

U.S. foreign policy tied to military power

By Dr. Craig Douglas Albert

The United States is an exceptional country – imagined from philosophical republics of theoretical history.

It was designed as the exemplar republic: a shining city on the hill of hope in the midst of decaying regimes in the “graveyard of history.”

A cursory glance at its history shows a foreign policy and military prowess that allowed its ascendency to global leadership after WWII. But it has not always been this way, and isn’t now. Perhaps a President Trump will position the U.S. again at the forefront of global primacy.

America started as an isolated republic, trying to keep free of global entanglements. The Founding Fathers argued fiercely over its international posture.

George Washington wanted to steer clear of the wars of Europe – but he directed domestic actions with an aggressive policy of homeland security. Jefferson, too, was often wary of power politics, but silently ordered the incursion to Tripoli, solidifying U.S. power over the seas.

Hamilton made no bones about it: America ought to be the global military leader, though there is some debate on whether he was sincere in seeking American glory.

Regardless of early debate, the U.S. defeated fascism and communism, and is the defending champion of two World Wars.

Our country rose to unchallenged global preeminence, becoming the sole superpower with the fall of the Soviet Union. It went virtually unchallenged until 9 /11, though even after that tragedy, no nation-state has dared to challenge us openly, and only rogue actors and terrorists, fighting unconventionally, dared to test the awakened tiger.

But even those actors suffered mightily at the hands of the American behemoth.

 

america and foreign policy

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Three F/A-18C Hornets fly in formation over the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the second Gulf War.

 
With the presidency of George W. Bush, the world may not have respected the U.S., but they certainly feared it. According to Machiavelli, it is better to be respected and feared, but if one cannot be both, the latter is more prudent.

Under the Obama Doctrine, however, the world saw the collapse of American global dominance.

President Obama sought to make the U.S. more respected by remaking its image into an actor that sought global fairness and multilateralism, combined with a cosmopolitan identity. He apologized for the unilateralism and aggressive foreign policy of decades past.

This could be seen as a noble endeavor, but as Machiavelli and even Thucydides makes clear, bad actors mistake virtue for weakness. As a result, America is not respected and no longer feared.

Whereas rogue states knew what would happen to their regimes if they sought to counterbalance American power too much under the Bush presidency, these same actors have positioned themselves brilliantly in the age of American virtue.

North Korea persists; Iran is playing a meticulous game of nuclear chess; red lines were crossed without serious reprisals; and Russia – under the exceptional Machiavellian realpolitik of Vladimir Putin – is embarrassing the U.S. around the world, and expanding its regional hegemony toward Europe and the Middle East.

The world is edging ever closer to global anarchy – where, to paraphrase Hobbes, it could become a war of everyman against each. To prevent this global anarchy from re-emerging, the United States must once again assert itself as the dominant global leader.

Lines must be drawn and, if crossed, public displays of retaliation must be severe, to paraphrase Machiavelli.

To be clear, under Trump the U.S. should not pursue war or seek to globally put boots on the ground. But it must once again seek a foreign policy that is a maintenance of American power and influence.

According to realist international theory, great powers seek naturally to balance great powers – especially the supreme powers. This will always happen. The Obama administration saw the loss of U.S. power from its foreign policy as acceptable in the name of global friendship. But it can be argued that President Obama misunderstood man’s nature. He sees humanity as naturally good, where the Obama Doctrine makes sense. It has proven, however, to be otherwise.

To survive and thrive in a Hobbesian state of nature – and by all honest accounts, this is the global reality – a leviathan must rise and lead, creating hierarchy and order out of anarchy and chaos.

Under a Trump administration and well into the future, the United States, in the name of global order and American self-interest, ought to behave once again as that shining city on a hill, that no rouge actor, whether a nation-state or terrorist group, would dare to challenge.

If it cannot be respected and feared, it must at least be feared.

 
Craig Douglas Albert, Ph.D., is assistant professor of political science at Augusta University.

looking back on foreign policy

LOOKING BACK

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…
U.S. military enlistment oath

CHALLENGES

About half of Americans believe the country has been made weaker in the past eight years.
The Obama administration’s decision to release billions to the Iranians “will only increase their funding of terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond,” writes Richard A. Epstein at Hoover.org. “The resulting political instability will only exacerbate the human migration tragedy that is taking place today.”
America has ceded its leadership and influence to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

OPPORTUNITIES

• Increase the size of the U.S. Army to 540,000 active-duty soldiers, which the Army Chief of Staff says he needs to execute current missions.
• Rebuild the U.S. Navy toward a goal of 350 ships, as the bipartisan National Defense Panel has recommended.
• Provide the U.S. Air Force with the 1,200 fighter aircraft they need.
• Expand the U.S. Marine Corps to 36 battalions.
• Invest in a serious missile defense system to meet growing threats.
Source: www.donaldjtrump.com

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