U.S. Foreign Policy After 911 Term Paper

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¶ … U.S. Foreign Policy After 911

Has the U.S. foreign policy changed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001? Most certainly, the U.S. policy toward foreign affairs has changed dramatically. This paper will use The New York Times and other reliable sources to track the changes, and the reactions to those changes, from parties within the U.S. And in foreign countries as well.

The New York Times (Oct. 4, 2001) pointedly expressed the changing attitude within the George Bush Administration following 9/11; "The terror attacks of Sept. 11 (9/11) forced an immediate and radical shift in American relations with the rest of the world" (Schmemann, 2001)," Times reporter Serge Schmemann wrote. The Bush policies prior to 9/11 had seen Asia as the place where the "real threats" in the world were; North Korea and the "increasingly assertive rules in China" posed a problem. But Schmemann pointed out that 9/11 "marked a tectonic shift" in foreign policy; this radical shift included a change in relations with "the rest of the world." What had been a Republican administration carrying on "a drifting search for a foreign policy" suddenly became an administration with a "hard, overarching purpose, in which friends and foe were coldly redefined" according to whether they seemed to be backing the U.S. Or not.

Another example of how Bush's foreign policy changed after 9/11 is reported in the Times on Nov. 30, 2001 (Friedman, 2001); "The Bush team came to office obsessed with building a ballistic missile shield," Friedman wrote. Their goal was to dump the treaty the U.S. had with Russia (1972 ABM Treaty), and slip out of any and all nuclear arms control agreements with all foreign governments, in order to be able to "pursue Ronald Reagan's fantasy of a total Star Wars missile shield." The Russians were of course against this attempt to change the rules of nuclear weapon security, because they believed (according to Friedman, an editorial writer and influential columnist with the Times) a "Star Wars" shield would make America invulnerable to an attack from Russia, yet Russia would be open to an attack by the U.S. with no fear of retaliation. If this sounds like pretty far out material, it was; and then along came 9/11; meantime, Putin, the Russian president, was visiting Bush at the Bush ranch in Texas in late November, 2001, and reportedly said "no" to Bush's suggestions that the U.S. be allowed to continue testing weapons (the treaties prohibit testing, underground or elsewhere).

Meanwhile, the position that Bush was taking in February, 2002 - you're either with us or against us, and if you're harboring terrorists, we're going to war with you - did not sit well with France. The Times (Daley, 2002) reported on February 8 that the French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine "openly criticized Bush's approach as 'simplistic.'" The foreign minister stated that Bush's foreign policy actually created a "threat" for Europe; Bush, in effect, "reduces all the problems in the world to the struggle against terrorism," Vedrine stated. "This is not well thought out," he added. The fear in Europe - borne out after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March, 2003 - was that America was acting "unilaterally, without consulting others, making decisions based on its own view of the world and its own interests."

This is a poignant example of how foreign policy changed after 9/11, because, especially since WWII, the U.S. has had strong allies in Europe, especially France, Germany, and England, but once Bush decided to pretty much go it alone against Iraq (and Afghanistan), the only nation that really participated in unison with the U.S. was the UK. European leaders "quickly rallied in support of America" after 9/11, Daley wrote, "showing solidarity" with the White House desire to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, since Bush's State of the Union speech in January 2002, in which he pronounced that the U.S. would basically go it alone against Iraq if other allies refused to go along. Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain, stated that there should be no military strike on Iraq "...unless a clear connection is found between Baghdad and the September 11 attacks." Germany's ambassador to the U.S., along with Spain's ambassador and the French called in the U.S. To use diplomacy and restraint, after Bush's brash speech. Even the European Union, according to Daley's article, said Bush was isolating himself rather than building partnerships in the war on terror.

More evidence of a radical shift in foreign policy was published in The Times on October 26, 2002. Journalist Judith Miller pointed out that the newly-released 33-page document titled "National Security Strategy of the United States" departed dramatically from "longstanding conventional wisdom about American strategy." The report flatly stated (an echo of what Bush said in his State of the Union Address) that the U.S. would "not hesitate" to act alone and "preemptively" strike any nation to thwart dangers from hostile states or terrorist groups. The doctrine unveiled in October stated that the U.S. will "never again allow its military supremacy to be challenged" like it was during the cold war, Miller reported.

Then, in January 2003, Bush clearly sounded the alarm that he was planning on going to war with Saddam Hussein. "Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option," Bush was quoted in The Times (Stevenson, et al., 2003) as saying. Bush asserted that Hussein is "currently tied to Al Qaeda," and also stated that "intelligence sources" have discovered that Hussein has biological weapons. He used that as justification for his plan to launch an attack unilaterally against Iraq. In fact, on the subject of Bush making drastic changes in foreign policy, the attack on Iraq in March, 2003, was the first time in history the U.S. had unilaterally attacked a sovereign nation.

Ironically, Bush mentioned in his State of the Union that Hussein tortured people with electric shocks, mutilation with electric drills, and more - some of the same unthinkable torture tactics that the U.S. military would later use in Abu Ghraib. That evidence of torture - photos that got onto the Internet - also would prove to be a departure from previous U.S. foreign policy.

In The Times on February 11, 2003, France, Russia, Belgium and Germany effectively blocked attempts by NATO to begin preparing for war with Iraq - effectively thwarting the Bush Administration from using NATO allies in the war on Iraq. This was certainly an unusual event in the history of American foreign policy; "the move by the three NATO members most reluctant to use military force against Iraq market one of the most serious cleavages in the history of the alliance..." It goes without saying, but it should be written in any event, that the belligerent assertions by Bush that the U.S. would fight international terrorism on its own if it had to, and do it any way it wanted to, led to NATO's rejection of that policy of arrogance.

Steven R. Weisman, writing in The Times on March 17, 2006, said that "Just about everyone involved now acknowledges that a train of miscalculations and misunderstandings has produced a setback for American diplomacy and world standing." He was reporting on the bitterness between traditional allies France and the U.S. - and the friction caused by Bush's bombast and his assertion that the United Nations inspectors should not be allowed to finish their work in Iraq, but that war should be launched to disarm Saddam.

It wasn't just European leaders who disagreed with Bush; on September 4, 2003, a survey in Italy and Germany showed that "disapproval of current American foreign policy has surged by 20 percentage points from last year" (Marqouis, 2003).

The way Bush conducted his office and his business in terms of American foreign policy has been a dramatic departure from the decorum and diplomacy that previous presidents - his father, George H.W. Bush included - have behaved. For example, on May 1, 2003, Bush rode shotgun in a Navy jet that flew onto the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier; there, Bush addressed a cheering shipload of members of the U.S. NAVY under a massive sign that read, "Mission Accomplished." At that time, Bush believed that since Saddam had been toppled, the war was basically over. The total Americans that had been killed at that time (the invasion began March 19, 2003) was 139. Little did Bush or his administration (Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al.) realize that by November, 2006, 2,860 American soldiers would be dead, and another 21,678 would be wounded. And the war would be raging between ethnic factions, with American troops now like sitting ducks waiting for the next suicide car bomber to pull his evil little switch.

What has been the result of Bush's "go-it-alone" approach to foreign policy? What has the been the cost to the United States, to the soldiers and their families, to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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