Foreign policy refers to the strategies that governments employ to guide their actions towards other countries. The U. S. foreign policy is founded on the principles of democracy and tenets liberalization (Goldstein, 2003). The U. S. foreign policy takes into account issues of human rights, economic growth and development, terrorism and environmental degradation and addresses them as challenges that can best be addressed through democracy in countries and institutions throughout the world (Goldstein, 2003).
The U. S. foreign policy has undergone significant transitions that match different historical periods in the world that include the World War I, the World War II, the Cold War, the post Cold War period and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The United Nations and the United States are arguably the most influential players in the international system as well as in the global political economics as a whole.
Having been formed with the main objective of promoting and achieving sustainable peace in the world, the United Nations remains the most dominant and most influential International Governmental Organization in the world (Roberts & Kingsbury 1994).
In theoretical terms, the fundamental significance of the United Nations as well as the operational challenges faced by the institution are illustrated in the theory of realism which states that “there is no world government, or political authority above the state, a situation that ultimately reduces the international system to absolute anarchy with the absence of any overarching political body with the capacity to enforce law and order among its members or nation states” (Roberts & Kingsbury 1994).
The realism theory stresses on the centrality of the state, or nation state as the ultimate political authority in the politics of the international system. As such, the overriding motive of all states is self-preservation through maximization of power, a characteristic that effectively transforms the international system of a war of all against all (Goldstein, 2003). The realism theory further argues that stability is best achieved in the balance of power which can be achieved through increased interactions among states, with the most powerful country playing the role of a balancer (Goldstein, 2003).
Today, the U. S. is the most powerful country in the world and has effectively assumed the role of a balancer in the international system, with the United Nations serving as the overarching political body with capacity to enforce law and order among its member states. Domestic Public Attitudes toward Foreign Policy in the United States At the domestic level, the U. S. foreign policy enjoys a lot of support among the citizenry. According to a report by World Public Opinion. org, a strong majority of U. S. citizens support of the U. S. involvement in the world.
However, the number of U. S. citizens who feel disgruntled by the country’ foreign policies is growing steadily. The World Public Opinion. org has established that Americans overwhelmingly support the continued leadership role that the U. S. plays in the world. These findings were based on a 2006 GMF poll which indicated that 84 percent of those polled saying it was desirable for the U. S to exert strong leadership affairs, with 43 percent having been quoted as expressing a US global influence as being very desirable, and only 14 percent expressing their concerns about the U.
S. global influence. However, the overwhelming support of the U. S foreign policy by its citizenry does support the role of the U. S. in global affairs as a hegemony, but rather supports the idea of shared leadership roles with other players in the international system. A significant segment of the U. S population believes that the U. S security has been threatened by the way the U. S. has been using the threats of military force as leverage in the international system.
In a poll conducted by the World Public Opinion. org, 63 percent of the respondents were of the view that the U. S. military threats prompt other countries to be protective by developing and acquiring weapons of mass destruction. In another survey that was carried out in 2003 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, majority of the U. S. citizens faulted the war in Iraq, with 66 percent of the respondents believing that the war has had negative effects on the relations between the U. S. and the Muslim world.
According to the survey, 64 percent of the respondents expressed concerns that the war will not promote democracy in the Middle East while a further 61percent expressed fears that the war will not reduce the threat of terrorism. International Public Attitudes toward Foreign Policy in the United States There has been a growing disdain for the U. S. foreign policy in many countries throughout the world. The September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent U. S. war on terror are seen as having particularly caused dramatic shifts in U. S. foreign policy (Grant, 2004).
The military operations in Afghanistan that have been ongoing since October 2001 to date and the U. S. invasion of Iraq have taken toll on the image of the United States with people from around the world and those in the Muslim countries in particular showing the lowest ratings for the U. S foreign policy. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project that is run by the Washington DC based Pew Research Centre, America’s image relative to the country’s foreign policy has dropped immensely over the years.
According to the report of the project, the United States is trailing many countries in favorability ratings. Countries such as France, Germany, China and Japan are more popular than the U. S in the European Union countries and Muslim countries. The study showed that while the ratings of the U. S were highest in Asian countries such as India, the favorability ratings of the country dropped by 15 percent in India between 2005 and 2006. The study further indicated that levels of negative attitudes that the populations of Western Europe have towards America are even higher than they were in 2002 before the Iraq invasion.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project report also showed low ratings for President George Bush both domestically and internationally, with the confidence in bush to make the right decisions in international affairs having dropped in seven of the eleven countries in 2005 as provided by the data that tracked the trends. The report further indicates a steady slump of rating for George Bush in European countries and among predominantly Muslim populations. George Bush registered the largest slump of ratings in the U. S. from 62 percent in 2005 to 50 percent in 2006.
In regard to the War on Terror, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported an overwhelming decrease in international public support for the U. S led war on terrorism. With Muslim countries having obviously registered the highest levels of criticisms against the war on terror, Spain and Japan also registered almost virtual collapse of support for the counter-terrorism war. As of 2006, the support for war on terror in Spain had reduced to 19 percent from 63 percent in 2003 while Japan registered public support of 26 percent from 61 percent in 2002, according to information provided by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.