Term Paper: How Has September 11 -11) Changed the Nature of US Interventions?

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U.S. Foreign Policy: Pre and Post 911 term that appears repeatedly in discussions of American foreign is hegemony. Uncertainty regarding the meaning of this term led to the dictionary. The Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, 1997 offers the fairly straightforward definition of "leadership, esp. Of one nation over another." Considering the contexts that the term was found in, another dictionary was consulted and this led to concepts that brought various commentators perceptions into better focus. The Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 1993 leaves no doubt as to the potentially negative aspects of hegemony in two ways. The explication directly connected with the term says: [Gk hegemonia, fr. Hegemon, leader, fr.hegeisthai to lead -- more at SEEK] (1567) preponderant influence or authority over others: DOMINATION. Following either the "Seek" or "Domination" thread only leads to further realization that the writers using the term are not being flattering to the foreign policy of the United States.

With the guiding question here being whether or not there has been a marked difference in foreign policy since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it is first valuable to look at U.S. foreign policy over the years. Although some writers say that for most of our history we have minded or mostly minded our own business, this being the viewpoint of Conservative spokesman Patrick J. Buchanan, a survey of American foreign policy doesn't necessarily show this.

American foreign policy basically begins with dealings with the British when the America was a colony. It was then the contention that Americans shouldn't have to bear the burden of England's on-going wars with France through the heavy taxation being levied by the British. If history books are to be believed, this long-standing complaint met with continuous arrogant refusal on the part of British to change colonial (read imperial) policies, thus leading to the American Revolutionary War. Americans look at the issues as they were put forth and say, "We had the right and the obligation to ourselves to go to war for the privilege of making our own destiny."

Next war up was about 30 years later in 1812. The surface issues had to do with British impressments of American naval personnel. The issue that wasn't discussed loudly was the idea that we could grab the whole landmass of Canada to be part of the United States. This proved to be a bad idea but one that wasn't easily let go of. As late as 1837, there was still activity towards Canada and America being one nation. Finally, in 1842, the Webster-Ashburn Treaty settled the boarder between the U.S. And Canada.

The next war, if you will is with Mexico over the annexation of New Mexico. This starts in 1846 and runs through early 1848. In the words of Timetables of History,

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends Mexican-U.S. war in Feb.; ratified in Oct.; U.S. gets Texas, New Mexico, California, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming from Mexico in return for large indemnity.

Again, oddly enough, there is about a 30-year gap. The American Civil War came much quicker, it had actually been incubating through all this time.

In 1898, the Spanish-American War starts. Public issues include the sinking of the U.S. ship "Maine." The underlying issues seem to be more about getting the Spanish presence completely out of the North American sphere. For $20 million dollars we acquired not only Cuba and Puerto Rico, but Guam and the Philippines as well. Why isn't stated.

From this point, America managed to stay out of conflict until WWI which it entered reluctantly. After WWI, America, again, tried to isolate itself from the constant turmoil in the world. However, as Germany and Italy pursued their policies of expansion, the U.S. was supplying arms and munitions to the countries who would eventually become its allies. It could be supposed that the policy of supplying arms was seen by Germany and Italy as a measure of engagement. At any rate, once Pearl Harbor was bombed, there no was no longer a question as to whether or not the U.S. would go to war.

It isn't clearly obvious in the reading what the theories are for our involvement in Korea other than concern with the spread of Communism. This fear or propaganda or motivation, whatever one wishes to lable the mindset, would control American foreign policy for the next 50 years. Communism took over from Nazi Germany as the "Great Satan" and the new threat to democracy.

It was at this time that the massive programs of American foreign aid became part of U.S. foreign policy. The early parts of the programs were to rebuild Germany and Japan. Was it humanitarian or self-protective? Although it is difficult to understand how anyone believed that two such shattered cultures could possibly rebuild fast enough and strong enough to become a threat again, this has been suggested as a reason why the rebuilding was done.

America went through many years of "buying" countries away from the Soviet Union and of course, the U.S.S.R. was attempting to do the same thing. Arms, munitions, technology, and, at least for American foreign aid, there was a measure of food, medicine and aid workers. Nevertheless, there has been a steady series of military engagements: Korea, Viet Nam, Granada, El Salvador, and Persian Gulf I, to just hit the highlights.

One might ask why America can't seem to find a foreign policy, any more, that doesn't include military intervention. Is just a phase in our development as a nation? After all -- look at what was happening all over Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East during the years when the U.S. wasn't getting involved. It would be impossible to list all the various wars that went on. Is it that innocent, or does it go back to that word hegemony?

There is something in place at this time in American government policy called the National Security Strategy. In its own words, it says, "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing or equaling, the power of the United States." (Chomsky, 2003) Chomsky, (2003) goes on to quote international affairs specialist, John Ikenberry (2002) Chomsky says Ikenberry describes the declaration as a grand strategy [that] begins with a fundamental commitment to maintaining a unipolar world in which the United States has no peer competitor," a condition that is to be permanent [so] that no state or coalition could ever challenge [the U.S.] as global leader, protector, and enforcer." The declared "approach renders international norms of self-defense -- enshrined by Article 51 of the UN charter -- almost meaningless. More generally, the doctrine dismisses international law and institutions as of "little value." Ikenberry continues: The new imperial grand strategy presents the United States [as] a revisionist state seeking to parly its momentary advantages into a world order in which it runs the show, prompting others to find ways to work around, undermine, contain and retaliate against U.S. power. (Chomsky, 2003)

If it were just a liberal like Chomsky saying these things it might be possible to take them lightly or even dismiss the ideas. This, however is not the case. Patrick J. Buchanan, spokesperson for the Conservative Right, says many of the same things and draws many of the same conclusions. First of all, Buchanan has been trying to get his message across for some time. In 1999, he wrote a republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny and in 2004 he published Where the Right Went Wrong. Both books sound many of the same themes. Buchanan calls for America to get back to what it does best -- innovate and manufacture. He calls for America to stop interfering in the politics and governments of other countries. He calls for the U.S. To get out of the constantly increasing number of foreign military commitments that have and are being made. He lists treaty arrangement after arrangement that would obligate the United States to engage in military action on behalf of all sorts of countries. Buchanan also proposes that America needs to revamp its trade policies because so much manufacturing that used to be done here has gone overseas -- including components and parts for American missiles and other armaments. Buchanan is concerned on behalf of the American economy. It would seem a more logical concern would center around the possibilities of potential sabotage. Another American leader, Senator Robert J. Byrd -- a Democrat and at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Buchanan also has many of the same concerns. In his recent book, Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency, he describes, as does Buchanan in Where the Right Went Wrong, an executive branch of American government that is out of control and a Congress that doesn't seem to have the will or the backbone or perhaps the understanding, to do anything about it.

Further, there are the commentators who write for foreign policy journals… [END OF PREVIEW]

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