The political turmoil that the United States had yet to face in the 21st century was manifested in one brutal fell swoop on September 11, 2001, when thousands of innocent Americans were slaughtered on their native soil at the hands of vicious and brutal foreign operatives whose goal was to strike terror into the heart of the United States. Moreover, a clear message was sent- the rules of the international game of power were changed forever. Threats, it was clearly seen on that horrible day, could just as easily come from a group of motivated individuals as it could from an organized and recognized international government.
With this in mind, foreign policy that heeds the changes in the international political landscape is a matter of life or death for not only the US, but every other nation on the face of the earth as well. In this research, a discussion of the construction of US foreign policy in the midst of sweeping changes in international affairs will be discussed from many points of view in an effort to ultimately better understand not only what has happened to effect change, but also what must occur for a brighter tomorrow to result.
Jihad and International Politics As this research began, the point was made that 9/11 served as an abrupt wakeup call to not only America, but the entire world that there were forces afoot that could, seemingly at will, bring even the most powerful of nations to their collective knees through the use of terrorist actions that could be inflicted by a dozen people as bad as any army could possibly inflict.
For all of this harsh reality, however, there is another stark reality in the years after 9/11- there has not been a sufficient level of improvement in the coordination of international intelligence levels and the law enforcement needed to effectively battle terrorism on a unified front (Richardson, 2007). Moreover, almost no effort has been made to understand why Jihadism exists, even though radical groups such as Al Qaeda have been shown to be making efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
With all of this happening, the obvious assumption would be that the US, as a superpower, would certainly lead the charge and do everything possible to understand the nature of the new enemy, what the enemy can inflict, and prevent access to nuclear materials that terrorist groups need in order to fabricate weapons of mass destruction. However, the reality is, from a President who has seemingly waged war against an innocent state in Iraq to intelligence organizations that have leaks of classified information on a regular basis, the US is setting a poor example in terms of antiterrorism. Illegal Weapons-Foreign and Domestic
It has been said that guns do not kill people, but people do kill other people. In a world where thousands of people can be slaughtered without so much as a single shot fired, one still needs to realize that the traffic in illegal weapons- both in the US and globally, poses a national and international threat (Richardson, 2007). Weapons are readily available in towns large and small, for very little money. Legislation aimed at gun control does very little to prevent the problem to any measurable extent, and lawmakers are hard pressed for valid solutions to the dilemma in the US (Richardson, 2007).
Of course, on an international scale, terrorists and other fringe groups are stockpiling huge amounts of weapons that are ready to be used at any time to inflict death without restriction. Beyond the issue of guns, the use of nuclear materials for the construction of weapons is a huge problem given the efforts of nations such as India, Pakistan and others now having the capability of manufacturing nuclear material and very little regulation in terms of how and where that material would in fact be distributed and used.
The US has in fact been quite lacking in the securing of nuclear materials, and the required bans on the testing of nuclear weapons by other nations are either not in place or are not enforced adequately in the cases where they do exist (Richardson, 2007). This is yet another problem for the US to contend with- something bust be done to hold back the nuclear tidal wave before it is too late for everyone. Asia Rising
Beginning with the recovery from the death and destruction of World War II, up to and through the Vietnam War and beyond, the nations of Asia have quite literally gone from hell and back many times. Rather than grinding those nations into a helpless submission, these challenges have seemingly motivated the billions of people of Asia to a new level of economic, military and educational ambition. In generations past, the goods of Asia were merely dismissed as useless and tawdry trinkets.
However, with the increase in the level of education, implementation of technology, and old fashioned determination of Asians, the other nations of the world have been left with little choice but to take seriously the multi-faceted threats that Asia poses to the US and others (Richardson, 2007). To begin, one must come to terms with the highly dangerous economic threat of Asia; because of the huge influx of capital from American and European firms foremost, the business and industry of Asia has grown extremely strong.
The resulting profits from these operations have given Asia the monetary muscle to conversely invest in businesses, real estate and industry, ironically enough, in the US and Europe. Therefore, what is seen in this instance is the full circle fulfillment of a sad destiny- Asia is slowly owning ever-increasing pieces of the rest of the world- a world that not too long ago dismissed Asia as a laughable excuse for a continent. Economic gains for Asia have likewise enabled the nations of Asia to be able to flex a bit of economic and military muscle.
Take, for instance, China, a long-time Communist stronghold and now a stockpile for cash and weapons. In this case, the classic idea of “guns and butter” is seen in horrific reality. China not only holds a huge amount of the debt of the US and other nations, but also has been very likely putting together a massive army, complete with the latest weapons, including those of the nuclear variety. This, combined with the fact that China holds a radically different political mindset than many of the other nations of the world, makes for a potentially explosive situation.
If, in fact, China chooses to recall the foreign debts that it holds, decides to invade other nations, or pose a more serious and tangible nuclear threat, there will be epic problems with which to contend, which brings back the recurrent theme of the US foreign policy in such situations. How can the US develop a realistic and effective foreign policy when dealing with a giant continent like Asia, populated with radical nations like China? Surely, a match of aggression with additional aggression is far from acceptable.
Therefore, the challenge that lies ahead for the US is to maintain a strong position in the world and still avoid additional conflict. Russia Reborn A deadly myth exists in the world today- that which holds that Russia is all but dead and buried in the political landscape. In reality, Russia is coming back to life in a political and economic sense. While, admittedly, the economy of Russia has never been as economically viable as it could be in a freer economy, the military muscle which Russia is currently in the midst of rebuilding can once again pose a massive threat to the US.
This, combined with the other enemies in the present day, can spell disaster. What Russia means for US foreign policy going forward is significant- if the US makes the fatal mistake of discounting the possibility of Russian aggression becoming a lethal situation, yet another bit of fuel will have been thrown on the political fire that has the potential to consume the US from abroad. Economic Imbalances Poverty is one of the evils which has been cited as a key culprit in the proliferation of global terror, bloodshed, and dispute (Richardson, 2007).
Classically, the view of the human condition has always been that people who are hungry, sick, and lack the basic necessities of life are typically much more hostile and harder to negotiate with than one would find in the person of those who had a suitable standard of living. Another possibility is that nations which hate the US may hate in large part because of the resentment for the excesses which exist in the US and the apparent overindulgence of Americans in all forms of enjoyments and material goods.
Meanwhile, religious extremists in the Middle East and elsewhere are watching the people of the US in the midst of excessive revelry and have come to the conclusion that people in America, who take so much for granted and do not seem to care very much about the plight of others in the world. As such, the prevailing viewpoint seems to be that Americans need to be shown that all is not well in all parts of the world and in a sense; the party is over in the US. Global Problems-American Solutions In the article which was utilized as the basis for this research, the author ultimately came to an interesting conclusion.
Simply put, the author’s thesis is that the US first must stop using the granting of diplomatic relations with rogue nations as a reward for good behavior (Richardson, 2007). The reason for this is quite simple- these nations, which of course most likely have at their heart the goal of overcoming and defeating the US, will conduct themselves in an acceptable way only when they are being evaluated for the granting of diplomatic relations and once that is complete, and the US has let down its guard, the nations will once again resort to evil behavior, and the consequences could be drastic.
The answer to this problem, as the author asserts, is the resurrection of a sort of Marshall Plan, especially in the case of Middle Eastern nation and North Africa as well. With this plan as the cornerstone, it is possible for the US to use its massive resources to provide educational, economic, and political aid to these hostile areas, with the hope of deflating the widespread efforts of Jihad and ultimately change the minds of those who hate the US- not with bullets, but with food and books and other help. Overall, the other enemy that the US should be seeking to eradicate, per the author, is poverty.
The seemingly underlying cause of most of the violence that is taking place in the world is motivated by the lack of a suitable standard of living for some groups, and indeed, entire nations of people (Richardson, 2007). Therefore, if the element of deprivation were in fact taken away from the argument, what one would see would be a clearer way to look at the other fundamental differences between the West and other parts of the globe, and perhaps, some progress could be made to bring about a stronger, more reliable peace.
Overall, what the US needs to do it would seem, is to look at problems on a global scale and consider the viewpoint of the enemy, and take steps in order to be able to be more of a friend and less of a foe. Conclusion In a world where the rules are constantly changing, the environment is becoming more deadly day by day, and the threat of terrorism and rogue nations spreads like a plague, the US stands as a stronghold of liberty and virtue in a sea of death and lawlessness. However, as has been seen, the US is seriously lacking in many areas where responsibility and action are desperately needed.
Foreign policy is a key part of this action plan- without an aggressively enforced program of protecting American interests, maintaining a global peace, and fighting terrorism where it resides, it is very likely that chaos, evil and disaster will become the norm in the world instead of freedom, peace and safety. The writing is quite clearly on the wall- for America, action has to happen soon and continue to happen if the world is to be saved for those who wish to live in harmony and safety.
The evil that turned the world upside down on a sunny morning in September, 2001 must not be allowed to prevail, and indeed, hollow policy without enforcement will be just as bad as no policy at all. Therefore, in closing, the issue is clear- foreign policy must change and grow with the times if the future is to exist at all. Bibliography Richardson, B. (2007). A New Realism: Crafting a US Foreign Policy for a New Century. Harvard International Review, Summer 2007, 26+.