US Foreign Policy
Response Paper 1
Chapter 3: Has US foreign policy been true to the nation’s ideals?
The United States of America is founded on five ideals that are, liberty, rights, opportunity, equality, and democracy. This is the guiding ideals which US government operates on. However, the US foreign policy in relation to the ideals is subject to debate and leaves much to be desired.
The United States of America tasks itself in the ending the rules of tyrants and spreading democracy in the world. This can be seen, for example, in Libya, Africa, where they helped to end the rule of Gadhafi. In Kenya also and many other nations, the United States is seen to be at the forefront of trying to fight for human rights through even funds like the USAID. In such instances like the two above, the US foreign policy is seen to be in line with their ideals. However, more often than not, their policy also contrasts their ideas.
One of the foreign policies of the US is exporting democracy. While one of the ideals of the US is the democracy, the US has been seen on numerous occasions overthrowing democratically elected governments, for example, the Iranian government prompting the question if truly one of their ideas is democracy. The sovereignty of states should be respected and the wishes of the people too. However, the US is not seen to be doing that, but rather engaging in caveat policy where they force their wishes to other citizens of other states.
For justice to occur and be seen to have occurred, laws must be followed. This in turn promotes liberty rights and equality. However, the US in its foreign policy fails to observe the international law making it a mockery of its ideals. Ignorance of the international law can be seen in many aspects, for example, the US attacking other nations like Iraq without the permission of the UN, which is the only body mandated to ratify a peaceful war. The United States has on numerous occasions been accused of tapping other world leader’s phones and information, for example, in 2014 when they were accused of tapping the German chancellor’s phone. This infringes on the privacy rights of others contrary to their ideal principle of rights.
Promoting Human rights is one of the key foreign policies of the US. It has a long history in the US, and it was started in the mid-1970. This is in line with its ideal of rights. However, this seems to be only on paper as the US in its foreign missions is seen to trample on nearly all the human rights of citizens of other countries. It kills, details without trials and overlook even other rights. Abuse of human rights has put the respected C.I.A under the microscope on how it handled and dealt with the terror suspects. This, as it was observed by Senator McCain, is not what they stand for and therefore puts to question their foreign policy.
In my view, therefore, most of the foreign policies of the United States are contradicting their ideas, and they practice them in the excuse of security or promoting democracy. I however think it’s high time the US stands for their ideals, instead of preaching water and drinking wine.
Response Paper 2
Chapter 4: US Foreign Policy Strategy
The film is talking about the cold war period and the policies that were employed by the US during that time. The cold war period occurred immediately after World War 2, and it was mainly due to suspicion by states and the struggle for communism and capitalism. The two main players as is portrayed by the film were the Soviet Union and the United States.
Caveat policy was one of the foreign policies that were employed by the US government during the cold war period. This is a policy in which the United States uses force to get its way. This is depicted clearly in the film where, despite France willingness to be part of the Marshall plan, the united states refused to offer them assistance until they were satisfied that the threat of communism had been dealt with. From the film, it can be observed that not even strikes could persuade the United States otherwise
The United States is also seen to practice containment policy as one of its foreign policies during that cold war period. This they did by employing different strategies to counter the growing influence of communism. Greece and Turkey were most affected during the cold war period. For this reason, they were receiving assistance from Britain, who were not much better off. It then got to a point Britain could not do it any longer and it’s at this point that the United States president convened an isolated Congress and asked them to approve assistance to the two states as failure to do so would make them easily fall to communism. A classic example to the use of this policy is with the dealing of Italy by the US as seen in the film. During the elections in Italy, the US wanted the communist party not to win. It, therefore, employed many varied strategies among them asking relatives to send letters to their loved ones and also the use of the central intelligence agency for the first time to try and sway the voting.
The US is also using the policy of empowering others to provide a competitive market for the good of its growth. From the film, we can even hear them suggesting that the fall of Europe would have been more costly than the amount they spend in the Marshall plan. As opposed to the Soviet Union also who wanted Germany to remain on their knees, the United States wanted to see the rise of a stronger Germany once again
The US foreign policy during the cold war period is seen to have worked to its advantage or rather was successful. This is because Europe was able to recover economically and also the communist states were reduced significantly and led to the eventual fall of the Soviet Union. This helps us learn that a strong and good foreign policy can secure the future of the country. A better foreign policy is the reason the United States is the world hegemony now and not the Soviet Union
Response Paper 3
Film: Vietnam War History
The film Vietnam War in history tries to show to the world and explain the happenings of the Vietnam War. The United States of America involved itself in the Vietnam War to prevent the spread of communism. The North Vietnam was a communist state which was being supported by the Soviet Union, China, and its allies. It was trying to unite with South Vietnam under a unified Vietnam which is communist. The U.S. was, however keen to prevent the spread, and so it got itself involved in this war that came to be known as the only war the US has ever lost. Involvement of the US in this war had so many implications in its foreign policy and the world at large. Apart from the normal effects of war such as death and massive loss of property the war also triggered some changes, most of them being associated with their foreign policies.
Some changes that took place were the restraining of the president’s powers. In order to prevent future participation of the United States in such a war ever again, the legislature took upon itself the initiative to approve troops being sent to war instead of leaving it solely to the president. The military draft was also dropped in the US in favor of an all-volunteer army.
Socially the war had some implications too. The US was unexpectedly defeated. They were humbled, and their confidence in their superiority and military was questioned. However, this changed the attitude of generations and the US became more careful and took greater caution in involving itself with foreign matters. Mistrust of the government by its people and its officials also increased and this can be exemplified or witnessed by the sudden end of the President Nixon’s rule.
The policy of containment was a policy that was supposed to be used by the US to contain the spread of communism. It involved the use of many different strategies. In the Vietnam War, this policy was exemplified by the president who instead of consolidating power and authority to one general decided to spread the power to three officials.
On the issue of the war being in line with the United States ideals, I don’t think it was. This war was very unpopular with the US citizens thus making US not true to its ideals of democracy as the people were not being given what they want which is what democracy stands for. There was also massive infringement to the rights and liberty of the people, both US citizens who went as army and civilians of Vietnam which resulted in many deaths and casualties. Due to the infringement of human rights of citizens of Vietnam the US was paying the Vietnamese casualties to a tune of 22 billion dollars a year.
In conclusion, therefore, the film can’t be broken down into parts, and some classified as salient and other parts not salient. It was all educative, and it all provides an insight into the history that is very fundamental in developing future policies, not only for the United States but the whole world. I would, therefore, recommend the film to any person interested in international issues.
Response paper 4
Unilateralism vs Multilateralism
Unilateralism is the act of a country flexing its foreign policy in disregard to other nation’s wishes or without consulting the other nations. Multilateralism on the hand as the word multi suggests, is where many nations come together or work in consultation to work in agreement to a particular issue.
The two policies above are very different and varied in their way and so have different gains and outcomes when applied.
Through multilateralism, a country can secure the support of the international community in many of its endeavors. This is because since it has proved its willingness to compromise to suit other nation’s demand, when its time comes, the other nations will be willing to compromise for it. This is unlike unilateralism. This however has been viewed as a concern for the week states.
Unilateralism is also bound to set a bad precedence to other states. If each state decides to work alone, then, there will be destabilization as there will be deterioration of international relations and on the long run lead to chaos and anarchy. Multilateralism should, therefore, be applied to stop this. However, in instances, for example, where the country is acting to protect itself, and then the state should not hesitate to act simply because it did not get the support of other nations.
Some long-term outcomes of some actions are costly and complicated to be solved by a unilateralist approach. This is, for example, the reconstruction that occurs after war. If when engaging a unilateralist approach was used, then countries will be less willing to help in the reconstruction. For this reason, therefore, a multilateralism approach is best to use.
Multilateralism, unlike Unilateralism, brings out more knowledge, wisdom and understanding into a problem thus can solve it more objectively as opposed to a country acting arrogantly and assuming it understands the problems alone. Countries however need to know the limits of the talks they engage in as more often than not, too much talk prevents action being taken. It’s also important to note that consultation does not necessarily yield best solutions.
Most international problems affect nearly all states. For this reason, most problems require a multilateralism approach as it affects all parties. Such problems may include global warming pollution or even diseases.
Role of the United Nations is another important factor that limits countries wish to do they want. This, therefore, serves to encourage multilateralism. This can however be viewed as undermining the sovereignty of states.
One of the main criticism of multilateralism is that it undermines the sovereignty. I don’t agree with this. This is because if whatever a country is doing is good and morally upright, then there are very high chances it will also benefit other states and so they will accept and support it. It’s also important to note that consultation does not mean doing what the other states wish. It’s merely an expression of interest and intend, and if a good argument is put, then you do as u had wanted. Multilateralism, therefore, in my view is the way to go.