FP: The Long and Short of it?
US Foreign Policy in the Middle East
Text of lecture delivered at the UNESCO Palace, Beirut, Lebanon, May 25, 2010
It’s very commonly agreed in foreign policy circles that there are two major issues in American foreign policy today. One of them is the threat of Iranand the second one is the unresolved Israel/Palestine conflict. Questions arise about each of these issues. With regard to Iran, the first question that arises is, “What, exactly is the Iranian threat?” With regard to Israel/Palestine, the obvious question is, “Why isn’t it resolved?” Actually, there are many problems in the world where it’s difficult even to imagine a solution but this one happens to be particularly easy. There is almost universal agreement on what the solution should be, backed by the Arab League, by the Organization of Islamic States, including Iran, by Europe, by the United Nations, by international law, in fact, essentially by everyone, so how come it isn’t solved? That’s the second question.Well, there are some straightforward answers to these questions but they do not enter discussion within Western ideology and doctrine and the answers that are so simple are quite remote from general conventions. So let me say a few words about them.
With regard to the threat of Iran, there is a very authoritative answer, provided by military and intelligence reports to Congress in April 2010. They say that the threat of Iran is not a military threat. Iran has virtually no offensive military capacity. Its military spending is very slight, of course a minuscule fraction of US military spending, but also pretty low by regional standards. They point out that the goal of Iranian military strategy is to try to defend the borders of the country and, in case they’re attacked, to try to delay invading forces sufficiently so as to permit a negotiated settlement.
They discuss the question of whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons and say that, if they are developing nuclear weapons, which they don’t know, the goal would be deterrence to prevent an attack on Iran. That’s basically the story.
What then is the threat? Well, the threat is also explained. The primary threat is that Iran is engaged in destabilizing its neighbors. It’s trying to increase its influence in surrounding countries, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US is, of course, involved in Iraq and Afghanistan but that is not destabilizing. That’s stabilizing. The US is there to improve stability and, if Iran tries to have influence in its neighboring countries, that’s destabilizing. Now that’s very standard terminology in foreign policy literature and discussion. I mean it reaches to the point that the former editor of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal, was able to say with a straight face and with no reaction from anyone that the United States had to destabilize Chile under Allende … had to destabilize the government of Chile and overthrow it and establish a dictatorship in order to bring about stability. It sounds like a contradiction but it isn’t when you understand that “stability” has a meaning. It means US control. So we had to destabilize the country that was out of US control in order to bring about stability, and it’s the same problem with regard to Iran. It doesn’t follow orders and, therefore, it is destabilizing the regional situation.
There is another problem with Iran, namely, it supports terrorism. So for example, you may believe today that you’re celebrating National Liberation Day but, in terms of Western doctrine, what you’re celebrating is the success of terrorism and, in fact, the success of aggression against Israel in Southern Lebanon … Iranian aggression … so you’re celebrating Iranian aggression against Israel in Southern Lebanon and its success and celebrating terrorists and terrorism (quoting Israeli Labor Party high official Ephraim Sneh). It’s not Liberation Day. You have to understand how to interpret these matters properly if you want to enter into the framework of imperial discourse. This is not just the US and Israel. It’s Western Europe as well. There are a few exceptions. So that’s the threat of Iran.
The description is not incorrect. Iran does not follow orders. It’s trying to maintain its sovereignty. This is all quite independent of what anyone thinks about its government. You may have the worst government in the world but that’s not the issue here. The US doesn’t care one way or the other what the government is like. It wants it to follow orders to improve stability. That’s the Iranian threat.
What about Israel and Palestine? Well, there is an official version of that conflict too. You see it every day in the newspapers. The United States is an honest broker and neutral arbiter trying to bring together two sides which are irrational and violent. They won’t agree and the United States is trying to settle the conflict between them. That’s why there are proximity talks where the US mediates between the two irrational opponents, the Palestinians and the Israelis. That’s the official version. You can read it every day. There’s also a reality. I won’t run through the whole story but the basic facts are clear.
In 1967, Israel conquered the Occupied Territories and there was a Security Council resolution calling for settlement of the conflict, UN 242. It called for Israel to withdraw to its borders and, in return, there should be guarantees for the security of every state in the region and recognition of every state in the region within recognized borders. There’s nothing in it for the Palestinians. They are mentioned only as refugees. So that’s in essence UN 242, which everyone agrees is the general framework for political settlement.
Well in 1971, four years later, President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace treaty, with nothing for the Palestinians. In return, total withdrawal from the occupied territories and he really only cared about the Sinai. Jordan made a similar offer a year later. Israel had to make a decision. Are they going to choose security or expansion? A peace treaty with Egypt means security. Egypt was of course the major Arab military force. But they were, at that time, working hard to expand into Egyptian territory … into the Sinai, northeast Sinai, in order to establish a city and settlements and so on. They made what I think was the most fateful decision in the history of the country. They decided to prefer expansion to security so they rejected the peace offer. Now the crucial question always is, “What is the Master going to do?” So, “What will Washington decide?” And there was a bureaucratic battle in Washington about this. Henry Kissinger won the internal battle and he was opposed to negotiations. He was in favor of what he called “stalemate,” no negotiations. So he backed Israel’s decision to choose expansion over security and that led very quickly to the 1973 war, the October war. It was a very close thing for Israel, and Israel and the United States recognized that they could not simply disregard Egypt. Then begins a long period of diplomatic interaction ending up at Camp David a couple of years later, when the United States and Israel essentially accepted Sadat’s 1971 proposal. This is called, in Western doctrine, a great diplomatic victory for President Carter and Henry Kissinger. In fact, it was a diplomatic catastrophe. They could have accepted it in 1971, and the cost of refusal was a very dangerous war and close to nuclear war, a lot of suffering and misery. Actually what the United States and Israel had to accept at Camp David was partially, from their point of view, harsher than Sadat’s 1971 offer because, by this time, the issue of Palestinian national rights had entered the international agenda so they had to accept, at least in words, some form of Palestinian national rights in the territories from which Israel was supposed to withdraw.
Meanwhile, in the intervening period, in 1976 there was another crucial event. In 1976, the major Arab states, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and others, brought to the Security Council a resolution calling for a settlement of the conflict in terms of UN 242 — all the relevant wording of 242 with its guarantees for rights and so on, but with an addition: a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. Israel refused to attend the session. The United States vetoed the resolution. It vetoed a similar one in 1980. Now when the United States vetoes a resolution, it’s a double veto. First of all, it doesn’t happen, and secondly, it’s vetoed from history. So if you look at even the scholarly record it’s rarely mentioned, and there certainly isn’t anything in the media or general discussion. The events that I’ve just described didn’t happen. They’re not there. You have to search very hard to find a reference to them. That’s one of the prerogatives of an imperial power. You can control history as long as you have a submissive intellectual class, which the West does have. I won’t go through the rest of the history but it continues pretty much like that.
Up to the present, the United States and Israel are out of the world. With rare and temporary exceptions, they have continued to block the political settlement that has almost universal agreement, which means that, if there were serious proximity talks today, conducted maybe from Mars, then the two antagonists that would be brought together would be the United States and the world. You could have proximity talks between them and, if they could reach an agreement, there would be a settlement of this problem. Well, that’s the factual record. Of course, historical events are always more complex than a simple description but these are the basic facts. They’re not controversial. There’s no serious question about them but they aren’t part of general discourse about these topics because they lead to the wrong conclusions and, therefore, they’re excluded. If I talk about this in the West in most places, the words are almost unintelligible. It’s not unique to this case. It reveals the extraordinary power of imperial ideology. Even the simplest, the most obvious, the most crucial facts are invisible if they do not accord with the needs of power.
I’m by no means the first person to talk about this. George Orwell wrote about it, for example. He was discussing how in England, a free society, unpopular ideas can be suppressed without the use of force, just voluntarily, and he gave a few reasons. The most important one was a good education. He said, if you have a good education, you have instilled into you the understanding that there are certain things it wouldn’t do to say — or even to think, for that matter. This essay of his is not very well known because it wasn’t published, maybe proving his thesis. This was to be the introduction to his book Animal Farm. Everyone has read Animal Farm. It’s about the totalitarian state, the totalitarian enemy and its evil ways. But, just to prevent too much self-satisfaction, Orwell wrote an introduction commenting on free England. It was not published. It was found many years later in his unpublished papers. It is not his greatest essay, but his point is basically correct. Unpopular ideas can be suppressed without the use of force and a good education is an effective means to reach this result. Well, unless we can become capable of thinking the thoughts that are banned by imperial ideology, understanding of what’s happening in the world is going to be very difficult to attain.
I’ll come back to these two crucial issues of foreign policy but first let me add a little background and what I think is appropriate context. The United States is, of course, the dominant force in world affairs and has been since the Second World War. It’s very important to understand that there are a number of aspects of US history which affect policy right to the present and I think are not sufficiently appreciated. One fact is that the United States is a settler-colonial society. Settler-colonialism is by far the worst kind of imperialism because it destroys or eliminates the native population. Part of the reason, I think, for the more or less reflexive sympathy for Israel in the United States is the recognition that Israel is pretty much reliving our history, as a settler-colonial society. We got rid of an indigenous population and Israel has been doing something similar.
There are lots of ironies involved in this. The original settlers regarded themselves as the children of Israel. They were returned to the Promised Land. They were united by a principle that runs through American history right up to the present. It’s called Providentialism. We’re fulfilling God’s will. Whatever we do, we’re fulfilling God’s will. If we exterminate the natives; that must be God’s will. We’re trying to do good, of course, we’re trying to be benevolent but sometimes God’s purposes are mysterious. You can read discussions by Supreme Court justices who were very surprised that the Indians were being exterminated — as they put it, were like withered leaves of autumn blowing away — and God’s inscrutable will is leading to this unfortunate consequence. We are benevolent and work to improve their situation and to be nice to them but they are somehow kind of withering away. That’s Providentialism.
The State of Massachusetts was one of the first places settled by the English colonists. It got its charter in 1629 from the King of England. The charter was given to it with the purpose of benevolence to the indigenous population, helping the indigenous population, rescuing them from paganism. That was the goal of the commonwealth. In fact, the colony had a great seal with an image that depicts its goal. The image shows an Indian with a scroll coming out of his mouth and on the scroll it says, “Come over and help us.” So, “Please come here and help us,” and the colonists were trying to help them. Today that’s called humanitarian intervention. They’re coming to help them but, for some reason, they withered away like the leaves of autumn by God’s inscrutable will which is beyond our understanding.
Well, another crucial fact about the United States is that it was founded as an empire, explicitly. The father of the country, George Washington, defined the United States as an infant empire, in his words, and his colleagues agreed. The most libertarian of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, predicted that the newly liberated colonies would extend over the entire hemisphere. They would create a free hemisphere in which there would be no red, no black, and no Latin. The red, the Indians, would be driven away, or would wither away or disappear. The blacks were sort of needed for a while for slavery but, when slavery ends, they’ll go back to where they belong to Africa and later Haiti. As for the Latins of the south, they’re an inferior race so they will gradually be swept away by a superior race of Anglo-Saxons. To quote a major academic historian on this topic, Jefferson pictured the United States as the homeland for teeming millions who would immigrate and reproduce their kind in all parts of North and South America displacing, not only the indigenous red men, but also the Latin population, creating a continent that would be American in blood, in language, in habits, and in political ideology. Well, that was the goal. It wasn’t quite achieved but it was substantially achieved in one or another way. Through the 19th Century, the United States established what is now called its national territory. That meant exterminating the indigenous population as was recognized by the more honest leaders, by conquering half of Mexico, and various other, not too pleasant actions.
Historians of imperialism sometimes talk about what they call the salt water fallacy. The salt water fallacy means it’s called imperialism only if you cross salt water. So if the Mississippi river had been as wide as the Irish Sea, then it would have been imperialism but, since it’s narrower, it’s not called imperialism. But the people who carried out the conquest had no such illusions. They understood it to be imperialism whether it crossed salt water or not and they were very proud of the imperial achievement in establishing the national territory. By the end of the century, they were facing salt water and they expanded to conquer Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and so on, and went on to conquer the Philippines killing hundreds of thousands of people, but always with the most benevolent of intentions. It was just pure altruism. Tears come to your eyes in reading the odes to the benevolence of these conquests — features that are, again, almost universal in imperial practice. It’s hard to find an imperial power that didn’t put forth the same kind of posture.
By the First World War, it was beginning to be recognized that oil was going to be a fundamental commodity in the coming world picture so Woodrow Wilson kicked the British out of Venezuela, a major oil producer, and took it over and supported a vicious dictator. That continued for a long period after Wilson. Within a few years, Venezuela was the biggest oil exporter in the world. The US was the major producer but Venezuela was the major exporter with US corporations running it. and so it continued.
In the Middle East, it was recognized by the 1920s that it was a huge source of energy so the US did intervene there and managed to take part of the concession that was mostly British and French, but the US was powerful enough to take control of part of the concession. During the Second World War, there was actually a small war going on between the United States and Britain to determine who would control Saudi Arabia. This was recognized as a future prize and the US of course won that conflict and took it over. Up until World War II, the United States was not a major player in world affairs. It controlled the Western hemisphere and had some forays in the Pacific but the major actors in world affairs were, primarily, Britain and, secondarily, France. But the Second World War changed all that. The United States had by far the largest economy in the world. In fact that was true a century ago, but it was not the major actor in world affairs. World War II changed that and it was clear that it was going to emerge from the war as the major world power. The planners in President Roosevelt’s State Department and the Council on Foreign Affairs understood that. They had extensive meetings running right through the war, from 1939 to 1945, to plan the post war world, a world in which the US would be the dominant power. Their plans were quite important and, in fact, were implemented almost as they described them. The major concept that they developed was the concept of what they called the Grand Area. The Grand Area would be totally controlled by the United States. It would include the Western hemisphere, of course, the entire Far East, and the former British empire, including the Middle East energy resources. At least that much would have to be part of the Grand Area.
Now, in the early stages of the war, they assumed that Germany would emerge from the war as a major European power so there would be two worlds, the US world controlling the Grand Area and the Germans controlling parts of Europe and Asia. By the time that the Russians started driving the Germans troops back after Stalingrad, it became clear that Germany was not going to survive the war and the concept of the Grand Area was expanded to include as much of Eurasia as possible, at least the core, the economic, political, social, and economic core of Eurasia, mainly Western Europe, at least that. Actually, there were plans to go beyond. The British were by 1943 beginning to plan for a post war period in which the allies would immediately attack Russia and destroy it. Winston Churchill was particularly committed to this. In fact, in May 1945, when the war formally came to an end, and he ordered war plans for what was called Operation Unthinkable: the Wehrmacht, the German army, backed by the Royal Air Force and the American air force would attack Russia and destroy it. It was never implemented but that was the goal. The openly stated goal of the atom bomb was “to subdue the Russians.” Those were the words of General Leslie Groves, who was in charge of the Manhattan project that developed the bomb. In brief, we’re going to subdue you and you can’t do anything about it.
There were hopes of expanding the Grand Area to a global area. Well, that didn’t quite happen either but it came pretty close.
What about the Middle East? It was understood that Middle East oil resources are critical for world control. One leading planner pointed out that control over Middle East oil would yield substantial control over the world. France was expelled from the region, the British were gradually reduced to a junior partner, and the US emerged as the dominant force in controlling Middle East oil and, therefore, it was hoped, the world.
Now, Western Europe was part of the Grand Area, but it was always understood that, sooner or later, Europe might pursue an independent path perhaps following the Gaullist vision of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals and something had to be done to prevent that. Well, a number of things were done. One of them was called NATO. One of its main purposes is to ensure that Europe will be contained within a US-run military alliance. That leads to consequences right up to the moment. This concern that Europe might become independent is sometimes tinged with a certain degree of contempt. Just a few days ago, in fact, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the main government foreign relations group, Richard Haass, wrote an article called, “Good-bye Europe.” Europe, he says, is no longer a high-ranking power in international affairs and the reason is it’s not violent enough. It’s refusing to provide troops to control the world at an adequate level so, “Good-bye Europe”. It can sink into oblivion. No one really believes that but that’s in the background. Well, throughout the sort of official version of this whole period is called the Cold War. So what was the Cold War?
You can look at ideology or you can look at facts, at events. The events of the Cold War are very clear. The primary events of the Cold War were regular intervention and subversion within the Grand Area, always with the justification that we were defending ourselves from what John F. Kennedy called the Ômonolithic and ruthless conspiracy” to control the world, so that’s why we have to intervene. The Russians did the same thing in their smaller domains. In fact, the Cold War was pretty much a tacit compact between the big super power and the little super power in which each one was pretty much free to do what it wanted in its own domains, Russia in Eastern Europe, the US everywhere else, appealing to the threat of the enemy. Sometimes it got out of control and came very close to terminal nuclear war but, basically, that was the Cold War structure.
There’s another principle which ought to be borne in mind which is one of the major operative principles in world affairs right up to the present and that is what we might call the Mafia principle. International affairs are run very much like the Mafia. The Godfather does not permit disobedience. That’s actually fairly explicit in the Grand Area planning although not in exactly those words.
In the Grand Area, the US was to have “unquestioned power” with “military and economic supremacy” while ensuring “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. That’s the Mafia principle. Actually, that’s the Iranian threat. They’re trying to exercise sovereignty and that’s not permitted under the Mafia principle. You can’t permit independence. You must have obedience, and it’s understandable. If somebody is disobedient, maybe some small country or, in the Mafia, some small storekeeper, if they get away with it, others may get the idea that they can do it too and pretty soon you have what Henry Kissinger called a virus that spreads contagion. If a virus might spread contagion, you have to kill the virus and inoculate everyone else by imposing brutal dictatorships and so on. That’s a core part of Cold War history. If you look at it closely, you see that that’s what it amounted to.
Well meanwhile, the Grand Area was becoming more diversified. In 1950, at the end of the Second World War, the United States literally had half the world’s wealth and unimaginable security and power. By 1970, that had reduced to about 25% of the world’s wealth, which is still colossal but far less than 50%. The industrial countries had reconstructed and decolonization had taken place. The world was becoming what was called tri-polar. The US-centered North American system, Europe based primarily on Germany and France, and the Japan-centered developing Northeast Asian economy. Today it’s gotten more diversified. The structure is becoming more complex and much harder to control. Latin America, for the first time in its history, is moving towards a degree of independence. There are south/south contacts developing. Thus China now is Brazil’s leading trading partner. Also, China is intruding into the crucial Middle East region and contracting and taking the oil.
There’s a lot of discussion these days in foreign policy circles about a shift in power in the global system with China and India becoming the new great powers. That’s not accurate. They are growing and developing but they’re very poor countries. They have enormous internal problems. There is, however, a global shift of power: it’s from the global workforce to private capital. There’s an Asian production center with China at the heart of it, largely an assembly plant for the surrounding more advanced Asian countries — Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea — which produce sophisticated technology, and parts and components, and send them to China where they’re assembled and sent out to the United States and Europe. US corporations are doing the same thing. They produce high technology exports to China where they are assembled and you buy them at home as an iPod or a computer, something like that. They’re called Chinese exports but that’s quite misleading. You can see it very clearly if you look at the actual statistics. So there’s a lot of concern about the US debt. Well actually, most of the US debt is held by Japan not by China. There’s concern about the trade deficit. We purchase so much more from China than we export to them. Meanwhile the trade deficit with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan is going down. The reason is that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan and so forth are providing materials to China for them to assemble. These are counted in the United States as imports from China, but that’s completely misleading. It’s the Asian production center which is developing and US corporations and regional advanced economies are deeply involved in it. Meanwhile the share of wealth of the workforce globally is declining. In fact, it is declining even faster in China, relative to the economy, than it is elsewhere. So when we look at the world realistically, there is a global shift of power but it’s not a shift to the Chinese/Indian power displacing the United States. It’s a shift from working people all over the world to transnational capital. They are enriching themselves. It’s essentially an old story but it’s taking new forms with the availability of the global workforce. Capital is mobile and labor is not. It has obvious consequences.
Now all of this is fine for financial institutions, and corporate managers, and CEOs. and retail chains, but it is very harmful to populations. That’s part of the reason for many significant social problems inside the United States. I don’t have time to go into them.
To get some real insight into global policy one place to look is at Grand Area planning during the Second World War and its implementation. Another place to look is at the end of the Cold War.
So what happened at the end of the Cold War? In 1989 when the wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no more Cold War. What happened? The president of the United States at the time was George Bush, the first George Bush. and the Bush Administration immediately produced new plans to deal with the post-Cold War system. The plans, in brief, were that everything would remain as it was before but with new pretexts. So there still has to be a huge military force but not to defend ourselves against the Russians, because they are gone. Rather now, it was to defend ourselves — I’m quoting — against the “technological sophistication” of third world powers. You’re not supposed to laugh. That’s what we need a huge military force for and, if you’re a well educated person, following Orwell’s principle, do not laugh. Say, “Yes, we need to defend ourselves from the technological sophistication of third world powers,” It was necessary to maintain what’s called the “defense industrial base.” That’s a euphemism for high tech industry. High tech industry does not develop simply by free market principles. The corporate system can provide for more consumer choice but high tech develops substantially in the state sector: computers, the Internet, and so on. It’s commonly been done under the pretext of defense. But with the Cold War over, we still have to maintain the “defense industrial base.” That is the state goal: is supporting high tech industry.
What about intervention forces? Well, the major intervention forces are in the Middle East where the energy resources are. The post-Cold War plans said that we must maintain these intervention forces directed at the Middle East, and then came an interesting phrase: where the serious problems “could not be laid at the Kremlin’s door.” The problems, in other words, were not caused by the Russians. So in other words, quietly, we have been lying to you for 50 years but now the clouds have lifted and we have to tell the truth, in part at least. The problem was not the Russians all along. It was what is called radical nationalism, independent nationalism, which is seeking to exercise sovereignty and control their own resources. Now, that’s intolerable all over the world because of the Mafia principle. You can’t allow that. That’s still there so we still need the intervention forces. Same in Latin America, same everywhere even though there are no Russians.
Well, what about NATO? That’s an interesting case. If you believed anything you read during the Cold War years, you would have concluded that NATO should have disappeared. NATO was supposed to be there to protect Europe from the Russian hordes. OK? No more Russian hordes. What happens to NATO? Well, what happened to NATO was that it expanded. It’s expanding more right now. The details are fairly well known. They’re well studied by good scholarship. Gorbachev, the Russian Premier, made a remarkable concession. He agreed to let a unified Germany join NATO, a hostile military alliance. It’s quite remarkable. Germany alone had virtually destroyed Russia twice in a century. Now, he was allowing it to rearm in a military alliance with the United States. Of course there was a quid pro quo. He thought that there was an agreement that NATO would become a more political organization. In fact, he was promised that by the Bush administration. NATO would be more of a political organization and it would not expand “one inch to the East.” That was the phrase that was used. It would not expand into East Germany or certainly not beyond. Well, Gorbachev was na•ve. He accepted that agreement. He didn’t realize that the Bush administration had not put it into writing. It was just a verbal agreement, a gentleman’s agreement, and, if you have any sense, you don’t make gentlemen’s agreements with violent super powers. Gorbachev was quite upset when he discovered that the agreement was worthless. When NATO began immediately to expand into the East, he brought up the agreement and Washington pointed out that there’s nothing on paper, which is true. There was nothing on paper. It was a gentleman’s agreement. NATO expanded to the East. It expanded into East Germany very quickly and, in the Clinton years, it expanded even further into Eastern Europe … later much more. By now, the secretary general of NATO explains that NATO must expand further still. NATO must take responsibility for controlling the entire global energy system, that means pipelines, sea lanes, and sources. Just a few weeks ago, there was an international meeting headed by Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Clinton. They issued plans called NATO 2020 and they said NATO must be prepared to operate far beyond its borders without limit, meaning it must become a worldwide US military intervention force. So that’s NATO, no longer there to defend ourselves from the Russians but their real purpose is to control the whole world.
Well, let me say a few words about the Israeli/Palestine conflict which developed within this context. I’ve said a few words about the history. The basic record is one of almost total US rejectionism, its refusal to join the overall accepting of a political settlement which makes sense. There’s been one important exception, a very interesting exception. At the end of his term, in the year 2000, Clinton recognized that the proposals that he and Israel had put forth at Camp David had failed. He recognized that those would never be acceptable to any Palestinians so he, therefore, changed the proposals. In December of 2000 he produced what he called his parameters, a general framework for agreement. It was vague but it was more forthcoming. He then gave a speech in which he said that both sides had accepted the parameters, and both sides had expressed reservations. They then met, Israel and Palestine, in Taba, Egypt, in January to try to work out their disagreements and they came very close to a total settlement. In their last press conference jointly they said that with a little more time, they could have reached complete settlement. Well, Israel terminated the negotiations and that was the end of that. That tells you something. It tells you that with the US pressing both sides to join the world to permit a political settlement, pretty much along the lines of the international consensus, it can happen. A lot has taken place since 2001 but I think those principles remain. I think it’s quite striking to see how people who write the history deal with this. So one of the main books about the negotiations is by Dennis Ross, Clinton’s chief negotiator. He gives a detailed account of all the efforts of the United States, the neutral arbiter, the honest broker, to bring the two sides together and he concludes, in the end, it failed and it was all the fault of the Palestinians. They rejected everything. Ross is very careful to end this book in December of 2000 just before his primary thesis was completely refuted. It was completely refuted a few weeks later. He ended the book there and commentators don’t say anything about it. That’s discipline. If you want to be a respected intellectual, you have to understand these things. You do not expose power, especially if you hope to join the academic world or diplomacy. So Ross terminates the book before the thesis is refuted, and that’s accepted and is now our history, excluding the crucial reality, just as in the case of the earlier events that I’ve described thus far. But in reality it’s there and that still goes on until today. So what does that leave for options for today for the Palestinians and those concerned with Palestinian rights?
One option is that the United States will join the world as it did for a couple of weeks in January 2001 and we’ll agree to some version of the international consensus, something like the Taba agreements. Now there’s a very common view expressed by many Palestinian groups and by many others that are sympathetic with them holding that that’s not a possibility and that there’s a better alternative. The better alternative that they’re proposing would be for Palestinian leaders to say that we’ll give the key to Israel and they’ll take it. We’ll give them all the occupied territories and then there will be a civil rights struggle, an internal anti-apartheid struggle, and a struggle like that can be won and we’ll get somewhere. There are a lot of quite good people proposing this but they are failing to notice that there is a third alternative. A third alternative is that the US and Israel will continue doing exactly what they’re doing, meaning a version of what Ehud Olmert, when he was prime minister, called convergence. Israel takes over everything within what they call the separation wall, well, actually an annexation wall. They take over the water resources, the valuable land, the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and so on. Israel also takes over what is called Jerusalem which is actually the huge area of Greater Jerusalem. It takes over the Jordan Valley, more arable land. And then it sends corridors through the remaining regions to break them up into separated cantons. So there’s one east of Jerusalem, almost to Jericho, virtually bisecting and the West Bank, there’s are separate ones further north. Now, what about the Palestinians? They are just left out of this. Very few will be incorporated in the valuable areas that Israel will take over, so there won’t be any civil rights struggle. There won’t be what’s called a “demographic problem”: too many Arabs in a Jewish state. The rest of the Palestinians will leave, or will be left to rot in the hills, apart from a privileged elite. They’re not part of what Israel is taking over. What’s left to the Palestinians they can do whatever they want with. If they want to call it a state, then fine call it a state. In fact, the first prime minister to make this proposal was Netanyahu. He’s the first Israeli prime minister to say, Yes, there can be a Palestinian state, that was in 1996. He came into office in 1996. He replaced Shimon Peres. As Peres left office, he said that there will never be a Palestinian state. Netanyahu came in and his administration said: Well, Palestinians can call whatever fragments are left to them a state if they want or they can call them “fried chicken.” That comes right up to the present. Just a few weeks ago, Silvan Shalom, who is the vice premier and the regional development minister, responded to Palestinian initiatives about creating the basis for a state and when asked what he thought about it, he said, That’s fine if they want to call what we leave them a state that’s fine. It will be a state without borders just like Israel, also a state without borders. Of course, we will have everything of value and they will have fried chicken but that’s OK and that should stop the pressure against us for a diplomatic settlement and everything will be wonderful.
Well, that’s an improvement over the past. If you go back to say 1990, the position of the Israeli government and the US government, James Baker and George Bush, was the Palestinians do have a state, namely Jordan, and they cannot have an additional Palestinian state. That was the official position since 1990. Now, it’s slightly improved. The US and Israel agree that Jordan isn’t a Palestinian state and the Palestinians can have fried chicken, fragments of territory which the US and Israel will assign. Now that’s the alternative.
What about the civil rights struggle, the anti-apartheid struggle? That’s not an alternative. The operative choices are a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus and international law, perhaps along the lines almost reached at Taba, or “fried chicken” while Israel takes what it wants, as it can, as long as it has unfailing US support.
Well, I will finish by saying just one word about the likely prospects. There are many analogies made between Israel and South Africa. Most of them are pretty dubious, I think. For example, Ariel Sharon, the architect of the settlement policy, called the fragments to be left to the Palestinians “Bantustans,” as in the South African apartheid state. But these are not Bantustans. That’s misleading. It’s much worse than South Africa. White South Africa needed the Black population. That was their workforce. 85% of the population were Blacks so they had to take care of them just the way slave owners had to take care of slaves, and so the extreme South African racists provided some support for the Bantustans. In contrast, Israel does not need the Palestinians, doesn’t want them. So if they wither away like the leaves of autumn, the way the Native Americans did, then that’s fine. If they go somewhere else, that’s fine. They’re not going to take any responsibility for them. They don’t need them. So it’s worse than apartheid. They’re not Bantustans. That analogy doesn’t work and many others don’t either, but there is one analogy that I think is correct, and it never seems to be discussed.
Fifty years ago, White South Africa was beginning to recognize that it was becoming a pariah state. It was being isolated from the world. It was getting less support. It was increasingly hated by everyone. At that point, the South African foreign minister spoke to the American ambassador in South Africa and he pointed out to him that in the United Nations everyone’s voting against us but it doesn’t matter because you and I both know that there’s only one vote in the United Nations. That’s yours, and as long as you back us up, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. That’s a recognition of the Mafia principle, realism in world affairs, and he proved to be correct. If you look at what happened in the following decades, opposition to South Africa continued to grow and develop. By about 1980, there was a sanctions and divestment campaign. Western corporations began pulling out. Sanctions were imposed by the US congress. But nothing changed. The reason was that Washington kept supporting South Africa. Ronald Reagan, who was president, violated the congressional sanctions, for a reason: the war on terror that he declared on coming into office in 1981. He was conducting his war on terror, and South African Whites were under threat of terror from the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela’s ANC. In 1988, Washington declared the ANC to be one of the “more notorious terrorist groups” in the world. It really didn’t matter what the rest of the world thought, in fact, even what the American people thought, or what Congress thought. If you don’t like it, that’s fine but we’re going to keep on and, by that time, the late 1980s, White South Africa looked absolutely impregnable. They had won military victories and were becoming richer. Everything looked fine and they were very satisfied. Two or three years later, the United States changed its policy, and apartheid collapsed. When the godfather changes his policy, things change. The outcome is not very beautiful but it was undoubtedly a major victory to eliminate apartheid, though there is still a long way to go. Nelson Mandela also won a personal victory, a bit more slowly. He was removed from Washington’s list of people supporting terror only a year ago, so for the past year he’s been unable to travel to the United States without a special dispensation.
Essentially, that’s what happened and I think this could happen with Israel. If the United States changes policy and decides to join the world, Israel will have no option but to go along. That shouldn’t be the end of the line, any more than ending apartheid is the end of the line for South Africa. I have always believed and still think there are better solutions than the international consensus on a two-state settlement, but in the real world, that is probably an indispensable first step to any future progress towards a more just outcome.
Now, there is, as I mentioned, a good deal of complexity in the international system. There are organizations developing that are independent of the United States. There are countries that are maintaining their own sovereignty like China, for example, and there is a good deal of diversification. There are even steps towards a degree of independence within the US-dominated domains. Take Egypt, the second largest recipient of US military aid, after Israel. There were meetings a couple of weeks ago about nuclear proliferation, international meetings. Egypt, speaking for the 118 states of the non-aligned movement, took a very strong and principled stand on a crucial issue: establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. Well, that is very hard for anyone to object to in principle. It would mitigate or end whatever potential nuclear threat is posed by Iran, supposedly the main US foreign policy concern. Of course, it would have to involve Israel and US forces in the region so the US was kind of stuck. They can’t come out against it but they couldn’t come out in favor of it, so they formulated a way to evade the dilemma, counting on the intellectual classes to conceal what was happening, following Orwell’s principle. The Obama administration stated its support for a nuclear weapons-free zone but said that this isn’t the right time for it. We have to wait until there is a comprehensive peace settlement. But that can be delayed indefinitely by US-Israeli rejectionism, as in the past, so the threat of a nuclear weapons-free zone can be delayed indefinitely too. So far, Washington has gotten away with this, but the issue can be pressed by popular movements that take an independent stance.
Now, there are many other points where the prevailing system of domination, though powerful, is nevertheless vulnerable. There are many possibilities open to people to influence and determine the fate of the future.
- Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform
- Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy Platform
- Chen Guangcheng Incident
- NATO Summit
- SALT I, 40 Years On
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Posted By Toby Matthiesen Tuesday, July 10, 2012 – 4:01 PM
The arrest of the Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in his hometown of Awwamiya in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province on Sunday afternoon, July 8, has been long in the making. In some ways many observers had been wondering why he had not been arrested earlier, since he had become the spiritual leader of the protest movement in Eastern Saudi Arabia and his outspoken views put him clearly at odds with the Saudi ruling family. But while Nimr al-Nimr repeatedly called upon the local youth to be ready to die as martyrs, he urged them not to “return bullets with bullets” but use peaceful means instead. He acknowledged that Shiites would suffer much more if they were to attack the overwhelming firepower of the Saudi regime, and therefore called for peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience.
Posted By Brian Fishman Tuesday, July 10, 2012 – 12:57 PM
Motivated by President Bashar al-Assad’s terrible murder of civilians and (or) the strategic opportunity to undermine Iran’s staunchest Arab ally, both conservative and liberal voices in the United States now favor military intervention in Syria. There is indeed a striking synergy between the United States’ strategic and humanitarian goals in Syria, either of which could potentially motivate military action. But good intentions do not make good policy.
Deposing Assad, weakening Iran, and stopping government-sanctioned murder are all laudable objectives worthy of U.S. investment, but the proposition of using military force to achieve those goals must be weighed against the risks and costs of doing so. And perhaps the singular lesson of the last decade of foreign policy is that the unintended consequences of well-intentioned military action can be massive and outweigh the achievements of noble policy choices. The wisdom and justice of U.S. foreign policy decisions is a function of the consequences they produce, not the hopeful intentions with which they are initiated.
There are three basic problems with the proposals for military intervention in Syria.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Posted By Sarah Bush Monday, July 9, 2012 – 3:02 PM
As soon as mobilization started to sweep across the Arab world in 2011, observers started to make analogies to the wave of 1989 protests that brought down the Soviet Union. But less thought has gone into the “1990 analogy”– the ways that international efforts to support democracy in the Middle East in 2012 are similar to or different from the efforts that took place in Central and Eastern Europe in 1990. With Egypt’s democratic transition in limbo, now is the time for U.S. officials to think critically about what they can realistically do to aid democracy in the Middle East and keep the hopes of the Arab Spring alive. An important part of the calculus must be Tunisia, which is frequently called democracy’s “best hope” in the region. Unfortunately, some of the international community’s efforts to help Tunisia’s transition to democracy already show some disturbing signs of repeating the mistakes of 1990.
Thirty years ago in June, U.S. President Ronald Reagan delivered a landmark speech to the British Parliament that pledged the United States’ support to democracy builders around the world. Although Reagan sought to promote democracy in the Soviet Bloc primarily as a strategy for winning the Cold War, democracy assistance has long out-lived its original purpose; it is now a major component of U.S. foreign policy throughout the world. After the end of the Cold War, democracy promotion became, in the words of the current U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, a “world value.” But it is more than a rhetorical affirmation or a value commitment: U.S. democracy assistance is now a multi-billion dollar a year industry.
FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Judith S. Yaphe Wednesday, June 6, 2012 – 11:40 AM
In the 2010 parliamentary elections in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his State of Law Coalition emerged as the head of government over rival Ayad Allawi and the Iraqiyya Party, which had won the election by a slim majority of two seats. Since then, Iraqis and Iraq watchers have been tracking Maliki’s efforts to strengthen the authority of the central government at the expense of parliament, provincial governments, and other independent checks and balances of post-Saddam governance. Most see Maliki’s actions as intended to consolidate his personal power while containing his weaker and fractious opposition, whether it is secular or sectarian. This being post-Saddam Iraq, Maliki’s moves carry an uncanny resemblance to the manner in which Saddam Hussein gained power.
ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Nathan Stock Friday, June 1, 2012 – 2:12 PM
In 2008 — 18 years after New York City threw him a ticker tape parade for helping to end apartheid — it took an act of Congress to ensure that Nelson Mandela did not need a special waiver to enter the United States, finally removing his terrorist designation. In November 2011, Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah was removed from the “Individuals and Entities Designated by the State Department Under E.O. 13224″ terrorist list. He had been dead for three and a half years. The “German Taliban,” Eric Breininger, was dead for more than a week when he was added to the list. Although these may seem like bureaucratic oversights, they are indicative of wider problems in terrorist listing systems. While attempting to punish terrorist groups and restrict their activities, these systems have reduced the space for diplomacy, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). These disparate examples also highlight the continuing lack of agreement on who is a “terrorist.”
Posted By Alireza Nader Tuesday, May 22, 2012 – 9:14 AM
The May 23 Baghdad talks between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany) may prove to be a crucial juncture in the Iranian nuclear crisis. The talks could lead to a compromise with Iran while a lack of compromise could lead to an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, and possibly a costly regional war involving the United States.
There is reason to be pessimistic. The Iranian regime, an opponent of U.S. interests in the Middle East, a supporter of terrorism, and a gross violator of human rights, is hardly trustworthy. Iranian officials, who have appeared to be more compromising and flexible recently, may well be buying Iran more time to make advances on the nuclear program.
BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Richard Gowan Friday, May 18, 2012 – 2:43 PM
Is it time for Kofi Annan to declare that his bid to resolve the Syrian crisis has failed? A growing number of Western diplomats argue privately that he should. U.S. officials have stated publicly that Annan’s peace plan “is failing,” and the Saudi foreign minister has said confidence in his efforts is “rapidly falling.” Syrian security forces continue to target dissidents, rebel forces remain active, and there have been attacks on convoys carrying U.N. monitors — reinforcing the case that Annan should admit defeat.
The former U.N. Secretary-General has made it clear that he knows his mission is close to failure. But it’s very difficult for him to call the whole thing off. While violence has continued in Syria at what Annan calls “unacceptable” levels, the death-rate has generally been lower than prior to the “ceasefire” he engineered in April. But whoever is attacking the U.N. observers probably wants to foment a full-scale war, and fighting appears not only to be on the rise again but also to be spreading into Lebanon.
Posted By Yagil Levy Friday, May 18, 2012 – 9:17 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama might prefer to give the “green light” for an Israeli attack on Iran (if the diplomatic talks on Iran’s nuclear program fail) if he were convinced that it “could get the job done,” as recently assessed by Walter Russell Mead. Is it really a bad idea? Absurd as it sounds, is there a logic to America letting Israel strike Iran’s nuclear installations rather than dissuading the Israelis? Could an ill-conceived war actually be a way to achieve a net-positive impact?
In the past, diplomatic breakthroughs for Israel have come after intense and prolonged periods of violence. Ironically, therefore, Israel’s attack could probably be an effective way to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process that shows no signs of going anywhere on its own. While this path is certainly not a desirable option, it is worth considering how it might play out.
Posted By Ginny Hill Wednesday, May 16, 2012 – 2:01 PM
Yemen’s recently installed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi surprised many observers by moving swiftly to establish control over the battered nation’s military. His efforts, backed by an unusually assertive United Nations mediation effort, offer a rare glimpse of hope for a nation battered by more than a year of instability and political conflict.
Few believed that the new government would be able to dislodge the entrenched power of the family of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. But Hadi has already moved to sideline two prominent members of that family faction. Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, Saleh’s half brother and commander of the air force, was “promoted” into a position of impotence. Tarik Saleh, Saleh’s nephew and commander of a powerful brigade encircling Sanaa, was offered a new posting in the remote eastern desert province of Hadramaut.
Posted By Ellen Lust Friday, May 11, 2012 – 12:31 PM
Virtually nobody took this week’s Syrian elections seriously. It is easy to understand the nearly universal skepticism about balloting in the midst of ongoing killing in a manifestly undemocratic regime. Even when regimes have the best intentions, elections held in such difficult circumstances are rarely credible — and few believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has the best intentions. A U.S. State Department spokesman declared that the balloting “bordered on the ludicrous.”
But this misses the point. There is a very real political logic behind the conducting of these elections — one familiar to decades of such elections under Arab authoritarian regimes, and one which points to the coming terrain of the unfolding political struggle in Syria. The significance of the seemingly insignificant elections lies in the crucial battle over expectations about the regime’s future. Put simply, the elections are meant to signal that the regime is strong, and its downfall unthinkable. Even though results have not yet been announced, the elections demonstrate that the regime is in control, both of the process and the outcomes, and the political game must be played on their terms.
Posted By Geoffrey Aronson Thursday, April 26, 2012 – 6:01 PM
It’s easy to hate Bashar al-Assad, the crypto-modernizer-turned bloody tyrant. What is there to commend about a regime that kills thousands of its own? How could it not be fair to demonize a president who, in his first interview after coming to power after his father’s death in 2000, questioned the very notion of a civil society in Syria? Yet however good righteous indignation may feel, it makes for bad policy.
When U.S. President Barack Obama called for Egypt’s octogenarian president Hosni Mubarak to step aside last year, he could be confident that by doing so he was breathing new life into the “deep state” — ruled by the generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). U.S. policy was not abetting revolution in Egypt so much as short-circuiting it, even if we tried to convince ourselves otherwise. And our policy was consistent with the often inchoate sensibilities of Egypt’s majority. Remember the popular refrain: “The Army and the People are One!” In that case, U.S. policy was both right and smart.
Posted By Sarah Leah Whitson Friday, April 20, 2012 – 1:39 PM
Last week’s shutdown of Sanaa’s airport by security forces seeking to reverse President Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi’s dismissal of top brass loyal to the ancien regime exemplified exactly where Yemen is stuck.
After three decades under former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, elements within the transitional civilian government are eager to move forward, with ambitious plans to reform the country’s legal and security infrastructure. But they lack the muscle to rein in the security forces, implicated in many of the worst human rights abuses during last year’s uprising yet still operating their fiefdoms. Restoring law and order requires a major restructuring of those security forces and a strong dose of accountability for the killings of hundreds of peaceful protesters and indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas.
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Loren White Friday, April 13, 2012 – 4:23 PM
Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran are scheduled to begin tomorrow for the first time since January 2011. These talks will offer one of the best opportunities that the current administration has had to begin a diplomatic process that could help end the nuclear stalemate with Iran.
Since discussion about the possibility of these talks first began last month we have heard much talk about a diplomatic “window of opportunity.” This phrase made its first appearance at a White House press conference where U.S. President Barak Obama explained: “We still have a window of opportunity where [the standoff over Iran's nuclear program] can still be solved diplomatically.” This phrase has since been repeated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, among others.
Posted By Matthew Duss Friday, April 13, 2012 – 7:23 AM
Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany resume again this weekend, with Tehran giving hints that it may take a more constructive attitude to negotiations than it did during the previous round in 2011. Iranian nuclear officials have suggested that Iran might curtail its 20 percent uranium enrichment program, which would meet almost halfway the expected demands of the United States and its so-called P5+1 negotiating partners.
The United States and its allies reportedly plan to demand the immediate cessation of uranium enrichment to 20 percent, and a closure of the hardened Fordow enrichment plant, possibly in exchange for promises of no further sanctions. If the United States and its international partners are able to achieve these objectives, they will significantly slow Iran’s progress toward having the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, score a victory for the two-track policy of diplomacy and economic pressure, and provide a template for more fully resolving outstanding issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program in future talks.
Posted By Geneive Abdo and Sebastian Graefe Monday, April 9, 2012 – 1:15 PM
BERLIN – If at one time European governments believed the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was far more frightening for the United States than for those across the Atlantic, those days are in the past. As talks near on Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran should know that European officials’ views are somewhere in the middle between America’s caution and Israel’s alarm.
This major shift among European states was on display during a recent closed-door meeting in Berlin, co-organized by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung, the political foundation affiliated with Germany’s Green Party, and the American Jewish Committee Berlin. Not only did officials and experts agree with many in the Obama administration that the policy of containment has failed, all backed the demand that Iran must agree in upcoming talks scheduled for April 13 with the 5+1 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to stop enriching uranium for a certain period.
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Imagesa
Posted By Mohammed Ayoob Friday, April 6, 2012 – 1:55 PM
The “Arab Spring” is now over one year old. In much of the popular analysis over the past year the term “Arab Spring” has become the defining characteristic of the “new” Middle East emerging from decades of authoritarian and repressive rule. However, one should be cautious about inflating the importance of the democratic uprisings in several Arab countries in shaping the future contours of the Middle East. This caution applies especially to exaggerating both the prospects of democracy — particularly the unhindered linear transition to representative rule — in the Arab world and the role of major Arab powers in determining political outcomes in the Middle East in the short and medium-term future.
Posted By Denise Natali Wednesday, April 4, 2012 – 4:27 PM
Iraqi Kurdish leaders are pressing Washington to codify a “special relationship” with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The idea has gained support among certain members of the U.S. Congress, think-tanks, and others concerned about diminishing U.S. influence in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s concentration of power, and the destabilizing Iranian role in Iraq. A special United States-KRG relationship, they argue, could hedge against these threats and better assure U.S. interests in the region. Others assert that the United States has a responsibility to protect Iraqi Kurds, who have proven to be a valuable and dependable ally.
But, in fact, the United States has little to gain by creating a privileged relationship with the KRG. Not only would it send the wrong message to Iraqi Arab populations and aggravate communal relations, but it would create another cushion for the KRG leadership and dissuade political accommodation with Baghdad. The key issue for the United States is not about reciprocating Kurdish goodwill but clarifying the conditions in which a United States-KRG partnership can be sustained based on American principles and larger commitments in the region.
SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Richard Gowan Friday, March 30, 2012 – 12:12 PM
It’s just over a month since U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chose Kofi Annan to represent the United Nations and Arab League as their envoy for Syria. Annan has moved quickly to create a diplomatic framework for dealing with the crisis, putting together proposals for a ceasefire and “Syrian-led” talks that both the Security Council and Arab League have endorsed. But the last week has seen mounting criticism of this plan.
At first sight, Annan’s proposals don’t seem so contentious. The main pillars are an “inclusive Syrian-led political process,” an “effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence,” and “timely provision of humanitarian assistance.” Other points include the release of political prisoners, letting journalists move freely, and permitting peaceful demonstrations. While these are unquestionably urgent priorities, however, the plan will ultimately be judged on the implementation of its political and military aspects.
Posted By Zack Beauchamp Friday, March 16, 2012 – 2:15 PM
As the brutal crackdown in Syria turns one year old with little sign of a solution on the horizon, skeptics and defenders of invoking the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine can agree: Syria has put the doctrine, which obligates states to be concerned about the welfare of those outside its borders, in crisis. Critics charge that it requires intervention on the Libyan precedent, exposing R2P as a crusading utopianism mandating perpetual war for peace. Supporters worry the doctrine will be made into a discredited farce if Bashar al-Assad is allowed to massacre innocents with impunity. In one colorful phrasing, “R2P, R.I.P.”
Both are wrong. Military intervention in Syria would not only be a misapplication of R2P, but would radically weaken the doctrine’s role in building both a better Middle East and a better world. Our responsibility to protect both Syrians and the R2P doctrine itself demands that we stay out of it.
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Bilal Y. Saab, Chen Kane, and Leonard Spector Tuesday, March 13, 2012 – 6:48 AM
The battle of Homs is over and Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have taken control of the besieged city. Yet despite what they viewed as a “tactical defeat,” Syria’s armed rebels, who are operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — a group of defected soldiers from the Syrian military — vowed to continue the fight until the Syrian regime is toppled.
The balance of power tilts heavily in favor of the Syrian forces and, barring unforeseen circumstances, will likely remain so for months to come. But there is an increasing possibility that the governments of Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait could provide financial, military, and logistical assistance to the FSA in the not so distant future, bolstering its overall strength. Yet public statements by senior Qatari and Saudi officials expressing their governments’ desire to arm the FSA notwithstanding, there is no evidence yet of substantial amounts of money or weapons being transferred to the rebels.
YEHUDA RAIZNER/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Robert Malley Wednesday, March 7, 2012 – 6:36 PM
Even before the looming confrontation with Iran, Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu have been engaged in their own related tussle — more civilized and subdued no doubt, but arguably no less consequential. Their dueling speeches this week were striking in the degree to which they simultaneously mirrored and defied each other. It was no coincidence.
The U.S. president lavished praise on the one Israeli in the audience who most accurately reflects his own pragmatic views (Israeli President Shimon Peres) while bringing up Netanyahu only fleetingly. The Israeli prime minister enthusiastically applauded the many Americans in the room who share his more belligerent stance (members of Congress) while politely referring to Obama. Each paid lip service to his counterpart’s central claim — Obama, by acknowledging that Israel was entitled to its own sovereign security decisions; Netanyahu by conceding that the nuclear standoff would be best resolved by diplomacy. Both then proceeded to ruthlessly tear it apart: the president, by underscoring the imprudence of precipitous military action and the need to give negotiations time; the prime minister by stating flatly that Israel had waited long enough. Finally, the two leaders took aim at statements they argued were either dead wrong, or deadly dangerous — Obama decried careless talk of war; Netanyahu mocked the endless recitation of war’s perils. Neither bothered mentioning to whom they were referring, but there was no need. Not a day goes by without Israeli officials raising the specter of military action; meanwhile, a succession of U.S. officials have warned about the catastrophe such action might provoke.
Posted By Toby Matthiesen Wednesday, March 7, 2012 – 1:50 PM
At least seven young Shiite Muslims have been shot dead and several dozen wounded by security forces in Eastern Saudi Arabia in recent months. While details of the shootings remain unclear, and the ministry of interior claims those shot were attacking the security forces, mass protests have followed the funerals of the deceased. These events are only the latest developments in the decades-long struggle of the Saudi Shiites, which has taken on a new urgency in the context of 2011′s regional uprisings — but have been largely ignored by mainstream media.
The events of the Arab Spring have heightened long-standing tensions in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Just three days after large-scale protests started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011, protests began in the Eastern Province, which is a 30-minute drive across the causeway from Bahrain. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Saudi interior ministry vowed to crush the protests with an “Iron Fist” and has unleashed a media-smear campaign against protests and the Shiites in general. While protests subsided over the summer, they started again in October and have become larger ever since, leading to an ever more heavy-handed response from the security forces.
This repressive response, with distinct rhetorical echoes of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, poses an awkward challenge to recent Saudi foreign policy. The protests of the people in the Eastern Province are as legitimate as the protests in Syria. If Saudi Arabia does not respond to these calls for reform at home how can it seriously claim to rise to the defense of democracy in Syria? The crackdown in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has given the Iranian and Syrian regime, as well as Shiite political movements in Lebanon and Iraq, a useful rhetorical gambit to push back against their regional rivals.
JASON REED/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Rouzbeh Parsi Friday, March 2, 2012 – 10:30 AM
Seldom has it been as justified to be pessimistic about developments between the United States, Israel, and Iran. This dysfunctional state of affairs is getting so out of hand that the danger of war is no longer just a remote possibility but instead looms large on the horizon. David Ignatius reported on Feb. 2 in Washington Post that “[Secretary of Defense Leon] Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June,” though he does not believe that the final decision has been taken yet.
In a couple of days Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive in Washington to reiterate the Israeli position that keeping up the pressure on Iran requires a credible threat of war. In effect he will argue that President Barack Obama must toe the Israeli party line both for the sake of keeping a united front against Iran but also, ironically, because he does not want his own decision-making process on a possible war on Iran influenced by Washington.
Posted By Shana Marshall Wednesday, February 29, 2012 – 5:45 PM
The recent crackdown on foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt has sparked a new round of diplomatic hand wringing over Washington’s long-standing military aid program. Despite tepid threats from the White House and Congress, the United States is unlikely to end official military assistance — not because of concerns over Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel or Washington’s desire to maintain influence over Cairo — but because the aid benefits a small and influential coterie of elites in both capitals. In the United States, the aid program provides a large and predictable source of demand for weapons exporters, while in Cairo, collaborative military production with U.S. firms help subsidize the army’s commercial economic ventures.
ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Image
Posted By Daphne McCurdy, Nick Danforth Tuesday, February 28, 2012 – 6:28 PM
As tensions escalate between the West and Iran over the country’s nuclear program, some Western analysts cannot help but be excited that Turkey’s relationship with Iran also seems to be deteriorating. Indeed, the two neighbors, who only recently appeared to be forging a close friendship, now find themselves on opposite sides of conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Bahrain, with Turkey’s decision to host a NATO missile shield as yet another point of divergence. But to suggest that these tensions will lead to a complete breakdown in the Turkey-Iran relationship is to sensationalize the rift, just as earlier fears of an anti-Western Turkish-Iranian alliance misunderstood Ankara’s engagement with Tehran.
To be sure, Turkey and Iran’s battle for regional hegemony has intensified recently amidst historic changes in the Middle East. In Syria, Turkey has abandoned its close friendship with President Bashar al-Assad, and is leading international efforts to bolster the Syrian opposition and end the humanitarian crisis there. Iran, by contrast, remains one of the few supporters of the Assad regime, and continues to provide arms, surveillance, and training to Syrian security forces as they brutally crush protests.
Posted By Marc Lynch Monday, February 27, 2012 – 5:20 PM
The escalating bloodshed in Syria has rapidly become the center of regional and international attention. While the United States and its allies struggle to find ways to effectively help the Syrian people, the body count mounts and the prospects of a negotiated transition grow dim. Meanwhile, a growing chorus calls for a military intervention to protect Syrian civilians or to accelerate the fall of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The response to the Syrian crisis is shaped by its unique combination of humanitarian crisis and strategic significance. The horrifying death toll and the political failures of the Syrian regime are real, urgent, and undeniable. So are the strategic stakes of a potential regime change in a long-time adversary of the United States and its allies, and the key Arab ally of Iran. The Syrian crisis has revealed and exacerbated the profound tension between the narrative of “Resistance” which has long shaped regional discourse and the narrative of the Arab uprisings.
Our new POMEPS briefing, “The Syria Crisis“ — to which this post is the introduction — surveys the issues posed by the ongoing struggle in Syria. The the ninth in our Arab Uprising Briefing series, ”The Syrian Crisis” collects recent analysis and commentary from the Middle East Channel on these urgent questions.
BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Randa Slim Thursday, February 23, 2012 – 5:42 PM
There is a near-consensus among those grappling with the crisis in Syria on the urgency of unifying the Syrian opposition. But 11 months into the uprisings, the Syrian opposition remains divided and fragmented. Such disunity complicates military and non-military strategies alike, makes arming the Syrian opposition a daunting proposition, and strengthens the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Amidst growing calls in the U.S. Congress for arming the Syrian opposition, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out that “I would challenge anyone to identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point.” There is no more urgent task for the international community today than working to help Syrians overcome their internal divisions.
BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Steven Heydemann Wednesday, February 22, 2012 – 10:31 AM
The most prominent and most troubling of the trends that have shaped the Syrian uprising over the past year is the militarization of the uprising and its transformation from a largely peaceful protest movement to a low-level insurgency dominated not by citizen activists but by a dangerous and uncoordinated array of armed opposition fighters. Dealing with this trend is the most urgent task facing the United States, the Arab League, the European Union, Turkey and the rest of the “Friends of Syria” group scheduled to meet in Tunis on Friday. If the militarization of the Syrian uprising is not managed, the hope for meaningful change in Syria may be lost.
BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Danya Greenfield Tuesday, February 21, 2012 – 7:34 AM
With daily massacres in Homs and prosecution of U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cairo, the simmering conflict in Sanaa has faded into the background. Yet on February 21 attention will turn again to Yemen on the occasion of its presidential election. The election might seem hollow, as there is only one candidate in the race, however, it is still a pivotal step in Yemen’s political transition — and the United States should use this moment to press for a real shift away from the former regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The national vote could be more aptly named a referendum, as the current Vice President Abed Rabbo Hadi Mansour, who assumed temporary authority via a deal advanced by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), will be anointed Yemen’s next leader barring any catastrophic outbreaks of violence.
While on the surface the election might seem like window-dressing at best, the psychological impact for Yemen of moving into the next phase is powerful. At a minimum, the election turns the page on decades of disappointment, despair, and disillusionment. And definitively removing Saleh from power could pave the way for opening new space for real political competition and accountable governance. He is a man who has ruled Yemen for 33 years, in his own words, “by dancing on the heads of snakes,” through masterful skill in manipulating tribal alliances, political allegiances, and patronage networks. After prior pledges to leave power were reversed — and months of hand-wringing when Saleh agreed to sign the deal and then three times reneged — just having this official exit stamp is a relief.
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
Posted By Yezid Sayigh Friday, February 10, 2012 – 12:47 PM
Critics are right to interpret the decision by the government of Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri — to refer 43 pro-democracy activists, including 19 Americans, to trial before a criminal court, where they will be charged with distributing illegal foreign funds “with the intention of destabilizing Egypt’s national security” — as a blatant attempt to intimidate pro-democracy forces in the country.
Nor can there be the slightest doubt that Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is directly behind the attempt. The evidence is twofold. None of the three interim cabinets that have taken office since the SCAF assumed power in February 2011 has been able to undertake policy initiatives in any public sphere without military approval. Additionally, no mere civilian would be allowed to jeopardize United States military assistance worth $1.3 billion annually on his or her own initiative, as Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abul-Naga has seemingly done.
The Middle East Channel offers unique analysis and insights on this diverse and vital region of more than 400 million.
Foreign policy of the United States
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|Politics and government of
the United States
The foreign policy of the United States is the way in which it interacts with foreign nations and sets standards of interaction for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens. The U.S. is highly influential in the world. The global reach of the United States is backed by a $15 trillion economy, approximately a quarter of global GDP, and a defense budget of $711 billion, which accounts for approximately 43% of global military spending. The U.S. Secretary of State is analogous to the foreign minister of other nations and is the official charged with state-to-state diplomacy, although the president has ultimate authority over foreign policy; that policy includes defining the national interest, as well as the strategies chosen both to safeguard that and to achieve its policy goals. The current Secretary of State is Hillary Clinton.
The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are “to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.” In addition, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs states as some of its jurisdictional goals: “export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; international commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation.” U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid have been the subject of much debate, praise and criticism both domestically and abroad.
When asked if the WikiLeaks of 2010 would damage American relations with other countries, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted that “governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets.”
Powers of the President and Congress
Subject to the advise and consent role of the U.S. Senate, the President of the United States negotiates treaties with foreign nations, but treaties enter into force only if ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. The President is also Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, and as such has broad authority over the armed forces; however only Congress has authority to declare war, and the civilian and military budget is written by the Congress. The United States Secretary of State is the foreign minister of the United States and is the primary conductor of state-to-state diplomacy. Both the Secretary of State and ambassadors are appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Congress also has power to regulate commerce with foreign nations.
The Jay Treaty of 1795 aligned the U.S. more with Britain less with France, leading to political polarization at home
The main trend regarding the history of U.S. foreign policy since the American Revolution is the shift from non-interventionism before and after World War I, to its growth as a world power and global hegemon during and since World War II and the end of the Cold War in the 20th century. Since the 19th century, US foreign policy also has been characterized by a shift from the realist school to the idealistic or Wilsonian school of international relations.
Foreign policy themes were expressed considerably in George Washington‘s farewell address; these included among other things, observing good faith and justice towards all nations and cultivating peace and harmony with all, excluding both “inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others”, “steer[ing] clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world”, and advocating trade with all nations. These policies became the basis of the Federalist Party in the 1790s. But the rival Jeffersonians feared Britain and favored France in the 1790s, declaring the War of 1812 on Britain. After the 1778 alliance with France, the U.S. did not sign another permanent treaty until the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. Over time, other themes, key goals, attitudes, or stances have been variously expressed by Presidential ‘doctrines’, named for them. Initially these were uncommon events, but since WWII, these have been made by most presidents.
Despite occasional entanglements with European Powers such as the War of 1812 and the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. foreign policy was marked by steady expansion of its foreign trade and scope during the 19th century, and it maintained its policy of avoiding wars with and between European powers. Concerning its domestic borders, the 1803 Louisiana Purchase doubled the nation’s geographical area; Spain ceded the territory of Florida in 1819; annexation brought Texas in 1845; a war with Mexico in 1848 added California, Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S. bought Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, and it annexed the Republic of Hawaii in 1898. Victory over Spain in 1898 brought the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, as well as oversight of Cuba. The short experiment in imperialism ended by 1908, as the U.S. turned its attention to the Panama Canal and the stabilization of regions to its south, including Mexico.
The 20th century was marked by two world wars in which the United States, along with allied powers, defeated its enemies and increased its international reputation. President Wilson‘s Fourteen Points, developed from his idealistic Wilsonianism program of spreading democracy and fighting militarism so as to end wars. It became the basis of the German Armistice (really a surrender) and the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The resulting Treaty of Versailles, due to European allies’ punitive and territorial designs, showed insufficient conformity with these points and the U.S. signed separate treaties with each of its adversaries; due to Senate objections also, the U.S. never joined the League of Nations, which was established as a result of Wilson’s initiative. In the 1920s, the United States followed an independent course, and succeeded in a program of naval disarmament, and refunding the German economy. New York became the financial capital of the world, but the downside was that the Crash of 1929 hurled the entire world into the Great Depression. American trade policy relied on high tariffs under the Republicans, and reciprocal trade agreements under the Democrats, but in any case exports were at very low levels in the 1930s.
The United States adopted a non-interventionist foreign policy from 1932 to 1938, but then President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved toward strong support of the Allies in their wars against Germany and Japan. As a result of intense internal debate, the national policy was one of becoming the Arsenal of Democracy, that is financing and equipping the Allied armies without sending American combat soldiers. Roosevelt mentioned four fundamental freedoms, which ought to be enjoyed by people “everywhere in the world”; these included the freedom of speech and religion, as well as freedom from want and fear. Roosevelt helped establish terms for a post-war world among potential allies at the Atlantic Conference; specific points were included to correct earlier failures, which became a step toward the United Nations. American policy was to threaten Japan, to force it out of China, and to prevent its attacking the Soviet Union. However, Japan reacted by an attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the United States was at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy. Instead of the loans given to allies in World War I, the United States provided Lend-Lease grants of $50,000,000,000. Working closely with Winston Churchill of Britain, and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Roosevelt sent his forces into the Pacific against Japan, then into North Africa against Italy and Germany, and finally into Europe starting with France and Italy in 1944 against the Germans. The American economy roared forward, doubling industrial production, and building vast quantities of airplanes, ships, tanks, munitions, and, finally, the atomic bomb. Much of the American war effort went to strategic bombers, which flattened the cities of Japan and Germany.
After the war, the U.S. rose to become the dominant non-colonial economic power with broad influence in much of the world, with the key policies of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine. Almost immediately however, the world witnessed division into broad two camps during the Cold War; one side was led by the U.S., and the other by the Soviet Union, but this situation also led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement. This period lasted until almost the end of the 20th century, and is thought to be both an ideological and power struggle between the two superpowers. A policy of containment was adopted to limit Soviet expansion, and a series of proxy wars were fought with mixed results. In 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved into separate nations, and the Cold War formally ended as the United States gave separate diplomatic recognition to the Russian Federation and other former Soviet states. With these changes to forty-five years of established diplomacy and military confrontation, new challenges confronted U.S. policymakers. U.S. foreign policy is characterized still by a commitment to free trade, protection of its national interests, and a concern for human rights.
In the 21st century, U.S. influence remains strong but, in relative terms, is declining in terms of economic output compared to rising nations such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the newly consolidated European Union. Substantial problems remain, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the specter of nuclear terrorism. Foreign policy analysts Hachigian and Sutphen in their book The Next American Century suggest all six powers have similar vested interests in stability and terrorism prevention and trade; if they can find common ground, then the next decades may be marked by peaceful growth and prosperity.
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In the United States, there are three types of treaty-related law:
- Executive agreements
- Congressional-executive agreements are made by the president or Congress. When made by Congress, a majority of both houses makes it binding much like regular legislation. While the constitution does not expressly state that these agreements are allowed, and constitutional scholars such as Laurence Tribe think they’re unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld their validity.
- Sole executive agreements are made by the president alone.
- Treaties are formal written agreements specified by the Treaty Clause of the Constitution. The president makes a treaty with foreign powers, but then the proposed treaty must be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. For example, President Wilson proposed the Treaty of Versailles after World War I after consulting with allied powers, but this treaty was rejected by the U.S. Senate; as a result, the U.S. subsequently made separate agreements with different nations. While most international law has a broader interpretation of the term treaty, the U.S. sense of the term is more restricted. In Missouri v. Holland, the Supreme Court ruled that the power to make treaties under the U.S. Constitution is a power separate from the other enumerated powers of the federal government, and hence the federal government can use treaties to legislate in areas which would otherwise fall within the exclusive authority of the states.
International law in most nations considers all three of the above agreements as treaties. In most nations, treaty laws supersede domestic law. So if there’s a conflict between a treaty obligation and a domestic law, then the treaty usually prevails.
In contrast to most other nations, the United States considers the three types of agreements as distinct. Further, the United States incorporates treaty law into the body of U.S. federal law. As a result, Congress can modify or repeal treaties afterwards. It can overrule an agreed-upon treaty obligation even if this is seen as a violation of the treaty under international law. Several U.S. court rulings confirmed this understanding, including the 1900 Supreme Court decision in Paquete Habana, a late 1950s decision in Reid v. Covert, and a lower court ruling in 1986 in Garcia-Mir v. Meese. Further, the Supreme Court has declared itself as having the power to rule a treaty as void by declaring it “unconstitutional”, although as of 2011, it has never exercised this power.
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the State Department has taken the position that the Vienna convention represents established law. Generally when the U.S. signs a treaty, it is binding. However, because of the Reid v. Covert decision, the U.S. adds a reservation to the text of every treaty that says, in effect, that the U.S. intends to abide by the treaty, but if the treaty is found to be in violation of the Constitution, then the U.S. legally can’t abide by the treaty since the U.S. signature would be ultra vires.
The United States is a founding member of NATO, the world’s largest military alliance. The 28-nation alliance consists of Canada and much of Europe, including the nation with NATO’s second largest military, the United Kingdom. Under the NATO charter, the United States is compelled to defend any NATO state that is attacked by a foreign power. NATO is restricted to within the North American and European areas. Starting in 1989, the United States also created a major non-NATO ally status (MNNA) for five nations; this number was increased in the late 1990s and following the September 11 attacks; it currently includes 14 nations. Each such state has a unique relationship with the United States, involving various military and economic partnerships and alliances.
United States foreign policy affirms its alliance with the United Kingdom as its most important bilateral relationship in the world, evidenced by aligned political affairs between the White House and 10 Downing Street, as well as joint military operations carried out between the two nations. While both the United States and the United Kingdom maintain close relationships with many other nations around the world, the level of cooperation in military planning, execution of military operations, nuclear weapons technology, and intelligence sharing with each other has been described as “unparalleled” among major powers throughout the 20th and early 21st century.
The United States and Britain share the world’s largest foreign direct investment partnership. American investment in the United Kingdom reached $255.4 billion in 2002, while British direct investment in the United States totaled $283.3 billion.
The bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States is of fundamental importance to both countries. About 75–85% of Canadian trade is with the United States, and Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner, and chief supplier of oil. While there are disputed issues between the two nations, relations are close and the two countries share the “world’s longest undefended border.” The border was demilitarized after the War of 1812 and, apart from minor raids, has remained peaceful. Military collaboration began during World War II and continued throughout the Cold War on both a bilateral basis and a multilateral relationship through NATO. A high volume of trade and migration between the United States and Canada since the 1850s has generated closer ties, despite continued Canadian fears of being culturally overwhelmed by its neighbor, which is nine times larger in terms of population and eleven times larger in terms of economy. The two economies have increasingly merged since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, which also includes Mexico.
The United States shares a unique and often complex relationship with Mexico. A history of armed conflict goes back to the Texas Revolution in the 1830s, the Mexican-American War in the 1840s, and an American invasion in the 1910s. Important treaties include the Gadsden Purchase, and multilaterally with Canada, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The central issue in recent years has been illegal immigration, followed by illegal gun sales (from the U.S.), drug smuggling (to the U.S.) and escalating drug cartel violence just south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The United States’ relationship with Australia is a very close one, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that “America doesn’t have a better friend in the world than Australia”. The relationship is formalized by the ANZUS treaty and the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. The two countries have a shared history, both have previously been British Colonies and many Americans flocked to the Australian goldfields in the 19th century. At a strategic level, the relationship really came to prominence in World War II, when the two nations worked extremely closely in the Pacific war against Japan, with General Douglas MacArthur undertaking his role as Supreme Allied Commander based in Australia, effectively having Australian troops and resources under his command. During this period, the cultural interaction between Australia and the U.S. were elevated to a higher level as over 1 million U.S. military personnel moved through Australia during the course of the war. The relationship continued to evolve throughout the second half of the 20th Century, and today now involves strong relationships at the executive and mid levels of government and the military, leading Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt M. Campbell to declare that “in the last ten years, [Australia] has ascended to one of the closest one or two allies [of the U.S.] on the planet”.
The United States has seven major non-NATO allies in the Greater Middle East region. These allies are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Morocco. Israel and Egypt are leading recipients of foreign aid, receiving 2.75 billion and 1.75 billion in 2010.
United States has invested several hundred billion dollars in destruction of Iraq‘s infrastructure and military in 2003 invasion of Iraq. Turkey is host to approximately 90 B61 nuclear bombs at Incirlik Air Base. Other allies include Qatar, where 3,500 U.S. troops are based, and Bahrain, where the Navy maintains NSA Bahrain, home of NAVCENT and the Fifth Fleet.
The U.S. has built a non-NATO alliance with Pakistan to assist with the War in Afghanistan and jointly combat terrorism in the subcontinent.
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Matthew C. Perry in 1852-1854 went with battleships to Japan to open up trade, which pulled Japan to come out of isolationism and become involved with the outside world. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both nuclear bombed by the United States during World War II, the only cities ever to be attacked in this manner. A deconstruction of the Japanese military then went into effect for several years, with most military units replaced and overseen by U.S. troops. Relations since then have been excellent. The United States considers Japan to be one of its closest allies, and it is both a Major Non-NATO ally and NATO contact country. The United States has several military bases in Japan including Yokosuka, which harbors the U.S. 7th Fleet. The JSDF, or Japanese Self Defense Force, cross train with the U.S. Military, often providing auxiliary security and conducting war games.
South Korea–United States relations have been most extensive since 1945, when the United States helped establish capitalism in South Korea and led the UN-sponsored Korean War against North Korea and China(1950–1953). Stimulated by heavy American aid, South Korea’s rapid economic growth, democratization and modernization greatly reduced its U.S. dependency. Large numbers of U.S. forces remain in Korea. At the 2009 G-20 London summit, U.S. President Barack Obama called South Korea “one of America’s closest allies and greatest friends.” 
American relations with the People’s Republic of China are complex. A great amount of trade between the two countries necessitates positive political relations, although periodic disagreements over tariffs and currency exchange rates do occur. China’s status as a rising world power also strains relations, as many American conservatives see China as a long-term military rival. The U.S. criticizes China on human rights issues. Finally, the political status of Taiwan complicates relations, since the U.S. does not officially recognize the country, but in fact offers the island protection against the threat of any invasion from China.
Taiwan (Republic of China), does not have official diplomatic relations recognized and is no longer officially recognized by the State Department of the United States, but it conducts unofficial diplomatic relations through their de facto embassy, commonly known as the “American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)”, and is considered to be a strong Asian ally and supporter of the United States.
ASEAN is important partner for United States in both economy and geostrategic aspects. ASEAN’s geostrategic importance stems from many factors, including: the strategic location of member countries, the large shares of global trade that pass through regional waters, and the alliances and partnerships which the United States shares with ASEAN member states. In July 2009, the United States signed ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, which establishes guiding principles intended to build confidence among its signatories with the aim of maintaining regional peace and stability. Trade flows are robust and increasing between America and the ASEAN region. Since 2002 exports to the United States have gained 40% in value while U.S. exports to ASEAN increased 62%.
As the largest ASEAN member, Indonesia has played an active and prominent role in developing the organization. For United States, Indonesia is important for dealing with certain issues; such as terrorism, democracy, and how United States project its relations with Islamic world, since Indonesia has the world’s largest Islamic population, and one that honors and respects religious diversity. US eyes Indonesia as potential strategic allies in Southeast Asia. During his stately visit to Indonesia, U.S. President Barack Obama has held up Indonesia as an example of how a developing nation can embrace democracy and diversity.
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United States ruled the Philippines from 1898 to 1946. The Spanish government ceded the Philippines to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War. The United States finally recognized Philippine independence on July 4, 1946 in the Treaty of Manila. July 4 was observed in the Philippines as Independence Day until August 4, 1964 when, upon the advice of historians and the urging of nationalists, President Diosdado Macapagal signed into law Republic Act No. 4166 designating June 12 as the country’s Independence Day. Since 2003 the U.S. has designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally.
United States involved in Vietnam War in 1955 to 1975. In 1995, President Bill Clinton announced the formal normalization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Today US eyes Vietnam as potential strategic allies in Southeast Asia.
American relations with Eastern Europe are influenced by the legacy of the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, former Communist-bloc states in Europe have gradually transitioned to democracy and capitalism. Many have also joined the European Union and NATO, strengthening economic ties with the broader Western world and gaining the military protection of the United States via the North Atlantic Treaty.
The UN Security Council remains divided on the question of Kosovo declaration of independence. Kosovo declared its independence on February 17, 2008, which Serbia opposes. Of the five members with veto power, USA, UK, and France recognized the declaration of independence, and China has expressed concern, while Russia considers it illegal. “In its declaration of independence, Kosovo committed itself to the highest standards of democracy, including freedom and tolerance and justice for citizens of all ethnic backgrounds”, Bush said on February 19, 2008.
Hub and spoke vs multilateral
While America’s relationships with Europe have tended to be in terms of multilateral frameworks, such as NATO, America’s relations with Asia have tended to be based on a series of bilateral relationships where the client states would coordinate with the United States in order to not have to deal directly with each other. On May 30, 2009, at the Shangri-La Dialogue Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged the nations of Asia to build on this hub and spoke model as they established and grew multilateral institutions such as ASEAN, APEC and the ad hoc arrangements in the area. However in 2011 Gates said that the United States must serve as the “indispensable nation,” for building multilateral cooperation.
The U.S. currently produces about 40% of the oil that it consumes; its imports have exceeded domestic production since the early 1990s. Since the U.S.’s oil consumption continues to rise, and its oil production continues to fall, this ratio may continue to decline. Former U.S. President George W. Bush identified dependence on imported oil as an urgent “national security concern”.
Two-thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves are estimated to be found in the Persian Gulf. Despite its distance, the Persian Gulf region was first proclaimed to be of national interest to the United States during World War II. Petroleum is of central importance to modern armies, and the United States—as the world’s leading oil producer at that time—supplied most of the oil for the Allied armies. Many U.S. strategists were concerned that the war would dangerously reduce the U.S. oil supply, and so they sought to establish good relations with Saudi Arabia, a kingdom with large oil reserves.
The Persian Gulf region continued to be regarded as an area of vital importance to the United States during the Cold War. Three Cold War United States Presidential doctrines—the Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine, and the Nixon Doctrine—played roles in the formulation of the Carter Doctrine, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its “national interests” in the Persian Gulf region. Carter’s successor, President Ronald Reagan, extended the policy in October 1981 with what is sometimes called the “Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine”, which proclaimed that the United States would intervene to protect Saudi Arabia, whose security was threatened after the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War. Some analysts have argued that the implementation of the Carter Doctrine and the Reagan Corollary also played a role in the outbreak of the 2003 Iraq War.
Almost all of Canada’s energy exports go to the United States, making it the largest foreign source of U.S. energy imports: Canada is consistently among the top sources for U.S. oil imports, and it is the largest source of U.S. natural gas and electricity imports.
In 2007 the U.S. was Sub-Saharan Africa‘s largest single export market accounting for 28.4% of exports (second in total to the EU at 31.4%). 81% of U.S. imports from this region were petroleum products.
Foreign assistance is a core component of the State Department’s international affairs budget and is considered an essential instrument of U.S. foreign policy. There are four major categories of non-military foreign assistance: bilateral development aid, economic assistance supporting U.S. political and security goals, humanitarian aid, and multilateral economic contributions (for example, contributions to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund).
In absolute dollar terms, the United States is the largest international aid donor ($22.7 billion in 2006), but as a percent of gross national income, its contribution is only 0.2%, proportionally much smaller than contributions of countries such as Sweden (1.04%) and the United Kingdom (0.52%). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) manages the bulk of bilateral economic assistance; the Treasury Department handles most multilateral aid.
Although the United States is the largest donor in absolute dollar terms, it is actually ranked 17 out of 22 countries on the Commitment to Development Index. The CDI ranks the 22 richest donor countries on their policies that affect the developing world. In the aid component the United States is penalized for low net aid volume as a share of the economy, a large share of tied or partially tied aid, and a large share of aid given to less poor and relatively undemocratic governments.
The United States has fought wars and intervened militarily on many occasions. See, Timeline of United States military operations. The U.S. also operates a vast network of military bases around the world. See, List of United States military bases.
In recent years, the U.S. has used its military superiority as sole superpower to lead a number of wars, including, most recently, the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 as part of its global “War on Terror.”
The U.S. provides military aid through many different channels. Counting the items that appear in the budget as ‘Foreign Military Financing‘ and ‘Plan Colombia‘, the U.S. spent approximately $4.5 billion in military aid in 2001, of which $2 billion went to Israel, $1.3 billion went to Egypt, and $1 billion went to Colombia. Since 9/11, Pakistan has received approximately $11.5 billion in direct military aid.
As of 2004, according to Fox News, the U.S. had more than 700 military bases in 130 different countries.
Estimated US foreign military financing and aid by recipient for 2010:
|Recipient||Military aid (USD Billions)|
The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a proposal by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles, later dubbed “Star Wars”. The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic offense doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD). Though it was never fully developed or deployed, the research and technologies of SDI paved the way for some anti-ballistic missile systems of today.
In February 2007, the U.S. started formal negotiations with Poland and Czech Republic concerning construction of missile shield installations in those countries for a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system (in April 2007, 57% of Poles opposed the plan). According to press reports the government of the Czech Republic agreed (while 67% Czechs disagree) to host a missile defense radar on its territory while a base of missile interceptors is supposed to be built in Poland.
Russia threatened to place short-range nuclear missiles on the Russia’s border with NATO if the United States refuses to abandon plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic. In April 2007, Putin warned of a new Cold War if the Americans deployed the shield in Central Europe. Putin also said that Russia is prepared to abandon its obligations under a Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 with the United States.
On August 14, 2008, The United States and Poland announced a deal to implement the missile defense system in Polish territory, with a tracking system placed in the Czech Republic. “The fact that this was signed in a period of very difficult crisis in the relations between Russia and the United States over the situation in Georgia shows that, of course, the missile defense system will be deployed not against Iran but against the strategic potential of Russia”, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s NATO envoy, said.
In United States history, critics have charged that presidents have used democracy to justify military intervention abroad. Critics have also charged that the U.S. overthrew democratically elected governments in Iran, Guatemala, and in other instances. Studies have been devoted to the historical success rate of the U.S. in exporting democracy abroad. Some studies of American intervention have been pessimistic about the overall effectiveness of U.S. efforts to encourage democracy in foreign nations. Until recently, scholars have generally agreed with international relations professor Abraham Lowenthal that U.S. attempts to export democracy have been “negligible, often counterproductive, and only occasionally positive.” Other studies find U.S. intervention has had mixed results, and another by Hermann and Kegley has found that military interventions have improved democracy in other countries.
Opinion that U.S. intervention does not export democracy
Professor Paul W. Drake argued that the U.S. first attempted to export democracy in Latin America through intervention from 1912 to 1932. Drake argued that this was contradictory because international law defines intervention as “dictatorial interference in the affairs of another state for the purpose of altering the condition of things.” The study suggested that efforts to promote democracy failed because democracy needs to develop out of internal conditions, and can not be forcibly imposed. There was disagreement about what constituted democracy; Drake suggested American leaders sometimes defined democracy in a narrow sense of a nation having elections; Drake suggested a broader understanding was needed. Further, there was disagreement about what constituted a “rebellion”; Drake saw a pattern in which the U.S. State Department disapproved of any type of rebellion, even so-called “revolutions”, and in some instances rebellions against dictatorships. Historian Walter LaFeber stated, “The world’s leading revolutionary nation (the U.S.) in the eighteenth century became the leading protector of the status quo in the twentieth century.”
Mesquita and Downs evaluated 35 U.S. interventions from 1945 to 2004 and concluded that in only one case, Colombia, did a “full fledged, stable democracy” develop within ten years following the intervention. Samia Amin Pei argued that nation building in developed countries usually unravelled four to six years after American intervention ended. Pei, based on study of a database on worldwide democracies called Polity, agreed with Mesquita and Downs that U.S. intervention efforts usually don’t produce real democracies, and that most cases result in greater authoritarianism after ten years.
Professor Joshua Muravchik argued U.S. occupation was critical for Axis power democratization after World War II, but America’s failure to encourage democracy in the third world “prove… that U.S. military occupation is not a sufficient condition to make a country democratic.” The success of democracy in former Axis countries such as Italy were seen as a result of high national per-capita income, although U.S. protection was seen as a key to stabilization and important for encouraging the transition to democracy. Steven Krasner agreed that there was a link between wealth and democracy; when per-capita incomes of $6,000 were achieved in a democracy, there was little chance of that country ever reverting to an autocracy, according to an analysis of his research in the Los Angeles Times.
Opinion that U.S. intervention has mixed results
Tures examined 228 cases of American intervention from 1973 to 2005, using Freedom House data. A plurality of interventions, 96, caused no change in the country’s democracy. In 69 instances the country became less democratic after the intervention. In the remaining 63 cases, a country became more democratic.
Opinion that U.S. intervention effectively exports democracy
Hermann and Kegley found that American military interventions designed to protect or promote democracy increased freedom in those countries. Penceny argued that the democracies created after military intervention are still closer to an autocracy than a democracy, quoting Przeworski “while some democracies are more democratic than others, unless offices are contested, no regime should be considered democratic.” Therefore, Penceny concludes, it is difficult to know from the Hermann and Kegley study whether U.S. intervention has only produced less repressive autocratic governments or genuine democracies.
Penceny stated that the United States attempted to export democracy in 33 of its 93 20th-century military interventions. Penceny argued that proliberal policies after military intervention had a positive impact on democracy.
United States foreign policy also includes covert actions to topple foreign governments that have been opposed to the United States. In 1953 the CIA, working with the British government, endorsed the military in a coup d’état against the anti-British government of Iran led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalize Iran’s oil, threatening the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. See Operation Ajax.
War on Drugs
United States foreign policy is influenced by the efforts of the U.S. government to control imports of illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and cannabis. This is especially true in Latin America, a focus for the U.S. War on Drugs. Those efforts date back to at least 1880, when the U.S. and China completed an agreement that prohibited the shipment of opium between the two countries.
Over a century later, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act requires the President to identify the major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing countries. In September 2005 , the following countries were identified: Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Two of these, Burma and Venezuela are countries that the U.S. considers to have failed to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements during the previous 12 months. Notably absent from the 2005 list were Afghanistan, the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam; Canada was also omitted in spite of evidence that criminal groups there are increasingly involved in the production of MDMA destined for the United States and that large-scale cross-border trafficking of Canadian-grown cannabis continues. The U.S. believes that the Netherlands are successfully countering the production and flow of MDMA to the U.S.
Critics from the left cite episodes that undercut leftist governments or showed support for Israel. Others cite human rights abuses and violations of international law. Critics have charged that the U.S. presidents have used democracy to justify military intervention abroad. It was also noted that the U.S. overthrew democratically elected governments in Iran, Guatemala, and in other instances. Studies have been devoted to the historical success rate of the U.S. in exporting democracy abroad. Some studies of American intervention have been pessimistic about the overall effectiveness of U.S. efforts to encourage democracy in foreign nations. Until recently, scholars have generally agreed with international relations professor Abraham Lowenthal that U.S. attempts to export democracy have been “negligible, often counterproductive, and only occasionally positive.” Other studies find U.S. intervention has had mixed results, and another by Hermann and Kegley has found that military interventions have improved democracy in other countries.
Regarding support for certain anti-Communist dictatorships during the Cold War, a response is that they were seen as a necessary evil, with the alternatives even worse Communist or fundamentalist dictatorships. David Schmitz says this policy did not serve U.S. interests. Friendly tyrants resisted necessary reforms and destroyed the political center (though not in South Korea), while the ‘realist‘ policy of coddling dictators brought a backlash among foreign populations with long memories.
Many democracies have voluntary military ties with United States. See NATO, ANZUS, Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, Mutual Defense Treaty with South Korea, and Major non-NATO ally. Those nations with military alliances with the U.S. can spend less on the military since they can count on U.S. protection. This may give a false impression that the U.S. is less peaceful than those nations.  
Research on the democratic peace theory has generally found that democracies, including the United States, have not made war on one another. There have been U.S. support for coups against some democracies, but for example Spencer R. Weart argues that part of the explanation was the perception, correct or not, that these states were turning into Communist dictatorships. Also important was the role of rarely transparent United States government agencies, who sometimes mislead or did not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders.
Empirical studies (see democide) have found that democracies, including the United States, have killed much fewer civilians than dictatorships. Media may be biased against the U.S. regarding reporting human rights violations. Studies have found that The New York Times coverage of worldwide human rights violations predominantly focuses on the human rights violations in nations where there is clear U.S. involvement, while having relatively little coverage of the human rights violations in other nations. For example, the bloodiest war in recent time, involving eight nations and killing millions of civilians, was the Second Congo War, which was almost completely ignored by the media. Finally, those nations with military alliances with the U.S. can spend less on the military and have a less active foreign policy since they can count on U.S. protection. This may give a false impression that the U.S. is less peaceful than those nations.
Niall Ferguson argues that the U.S. is incorrectly blamed for all the human rights violations in nations they have supported. He writes that it is generally agreed that Guatemala was the worst of the US-backed regimes during the Cold War. However, the U.S. cannot credibly be blamed for all the 200,000 deaths during the long Guatemalan Civil War. The U.S. Intelligence Oversight Board writes that military aid was cut for long periods because of such violations, that the U.S. helped stop a coup in 1993, and that efforts were made to improve the conduct of the security services.
Today the U.S. states that democratic nations best support U.S. national interests. According to the U.S. State Department, “Democracy is the one national interest that helps to secure all the others. Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health.”  According to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, “Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don’t attack each other.” In one view mentioned by the U.S. State Department, democracy is also good for business. Countries that embrace political reforms are also more likely to pursue economic reforms that improve the productivity of businesses. Accordingly, since the mid-1980s, under President Ronald Reagan, there has been an increase in levels of foreign direct investment going to emerging market democracies relative to countries that have not undertaken political reforms.  Leaked cables in 2010 suggested that the “dark shadow of terrorism still dominates the United States’ relations with the world”.
The United States officially maintains that it supports democracy and human rights through several tools  Examples of these tools are as follows:
- A published yearly report by the State Department entitled “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record” in compliance with a 2002 law (enacted and signed by President George W. Bush, which requires the Department to report on actions taken by the U.S. Government to encourage respect for human rights. 
- A yearly published “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.” 
- In 2006 (under President George W. Bush), the United States created a “Human Rights Defenders Fund” and “Freedom Awards.” 
- The “Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award” recognizes the exceptional achievement of officers of foreign affairs agencies posted abroad. 
- The “Ambassadorial Roundtable Series”, created in 2006, are informal discussions between newly-confirmed U.S. Ambassadors and human rights and democracy non-governmental organizations. 
- The National Endowment for Democracy, a private non-profit created by Congress in 1983 (and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, which is mostly funded by the U.S. Government and gives cash grants to strengthen democratic institutions around the world
- ^ Bureau of Economic Analysis, http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2011/pdf/gdp4q10_adv.pdf
- ^ U.S. Dept of State – Foreign Policy Agenda
- ^ Committee on Foreign Affairs: U.S. House of Representatives
- ^ http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0204-01.htm
- ^ quoted in David Rieff, “Wikileaks and the Cyberwars to Come,” New Republic December 14, 2010
- ^ James M. McCormick, American Foreign Policy and Process (2009) ch 7-8
- ^ George C. Herring, ”From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 (2008)
- ^ Richard Russell, “American Diplomatic Realism: A Tradition Practised and Preached by George F. Kennan,” Diplomacy and Statecraft, Nov 2000, Vol. 11 Issue 3, pp 159-83
- ^ Nikolas K. Gvosdev (2008-01-02). “FDR’s Children”. National Interest. Retrieved 2010-01-13. “Hachigian … and Sutphen … recognize that the global balance of power is changing; that despite America’s continued predominance, the other pivotal powers “do challenge American dominance and impinge on the freedom of action the U.S. has come to enjoy and expect.” Rather than focusing on the negatives, however, they believe that these six powers have the same vested interests: All are dependent on the free flow of goods around the world and all require global stability in order to ensure continued economic growth (and the prosperity it engenders).”
- ^ James, Wither (March 2006). “An Endangered Partnership: The Anglo-American Defence Relationship in the Early Twenty-first Century”. European Security 15 (1): 47–65. DOI:10.1080/09662830600776694. ISSN 0966-2839.
- ^ US Department of State, Background Note on the United Kingdom
- ^ John Herd Thompson, and Stephen J. Randall, Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies (4th ed. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008) is the standard scholarly survey
- ^ “5. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects”. International Monetary Fund. 2011-11-09. Retrieved 2011-11-09. “15,064 billions (figure for 2011) 313 million persons”
- ^ “Canada”. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- ^ Tim Padgett, “Mexico’s Calderón Needs to Listen, Not Just Lecture U.S.” TIME May 19, 2010 online
- ^ Burton Kirkwood, The History of Mexico (2010) pp 97-99, 138-52, 216
- ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/25/2525854.htm
- ^ “Q+A: Guyon Espiner interviews Kurt Campbell”. Television New Zealand. October 11, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- ^ a b http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/aid2010.html Congress Approves FY2010 Aid to Israel
- ^ a b c http://www.smh.com.au/world/us-aid-tied-to-purchase-of-arms-20100101-llsb.html US aid tied to purchase of arms
- ^ http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Global War on Terror Operations since 9/11
- ^ http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-206266-report-us-considers-withdrawing-nuclear-bombs-from-turkey.html
- ^ http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130093&page=1
- ^ Jae Ho Chung, Between Ally and Partner: Korea-China Relations and the United States (2008) excerpt and text search
- ^ http://seoul.usembassy.gov/rok_040209.html
- ^ Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, ed., Dangerous Strait: The U.S.-Taiwan-China Crisis (2005)
- ^ ASEAN Matters for America ASEAN’s Importance
- ^ ASEAN Matters for America US-ASEAN Relationship
- ^ Jakarta Post Editorial: The ASEAN cage
- ^ U.S.-Indonesia Military Relations in The Anti-Terror War
- ^ Indonesia: An Important Focus Point for World Security
- ^ a b US Eyes Indonesia, Vietnam as Potential Strategic Allies in Southeast Asia
- ^ Obama hails Indonesia as example for world
- ^ Obama delivers a speech in the University of Indonesia
- ^ TREATY OF GENERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. SIGNED AT MANILA, ON 4 JULY 1946, United Nations, retrieved 2007-12-10
- ^ REPUBLIC ACT NO. 4166 – AN ACT CHANGING THE DATE OF PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY FROM JULY FOUR TO JUNE TWELVE, AND DECLARING JULY FOUR AS PHILIPPINE REPUBLIC DAY, FURTHER AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE SECTION TWENTY-NINE OF THE REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE, Chanrobles law library, August 4, 1964, retrieved 2008-06-11
- ^ Bush Hails Kosovo Independence, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs
- ^ Bush insists Kosovo must be independent and receives hero’s welcome in Albania, The Guardian
- ^ Gates Delivers Keynote Address to Open Asia Security Conference
- ^ Shanker, Tom. “Gates Talks of Boosting Asian Security Despite Budget Cuts.” New York Times, 1 June 2011.
- ^ Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries
- ^ Bush Leverage With Russia, Iran, China Falls as Oil Prices Rise, Bloomberg.com
- ^ Shrinking Our Presence in Saudi Arabia, New York Times
- ^ The End of Cheap Oil, National Geographic
- ^ Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth
- ^ The war is about oil but it’s not that simple, msnbc.com
- ^ The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf
- ^ What if the Chinese were to apply the Carter Doctrine?, Haaretz – Israel News
- ^ Selling the Carter Doctrine, TIME
- ^ Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil, Times Online
- ^ Oil giants to sign contracts with Iraq, The Guardian
- ^ See Energy Information Administration, “Canada” (2009 report)
- ^ http://www.agoa.gov/resources/US_African_Trade_Profile_2009.pdf
- ^ Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy
- ^ http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/colombia/us-military-aid-to-colombia/page.do?id=1101863
- ^ http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=226110
- ^ Fox News, 1 November 2004 Analysts Ponder U.S. Basing in Iraq
- ^ http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40699.pdf Afghanistan: US foreign assistance
- ^ http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/Final_DP_2009_06_08092009.pdf Aid to Pakistan
- ^ http://www.ciponline.org/facts/below_the_radar_eng.pdf
- ^ http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33546.pdf Jordan: Background and U.S relations
- ^ Federation of American Scientists. Missile Defense Milestones. Accessed March 10, 2006.
- ^ Johann Hari: Obama’s chance to end the fantasy that is Star Wars, The Independent, November 13, 2008
- ^ Historical Documents: Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ speech, CNN Cold War
- ^ “How Missile Defense Systems Will Work”
- ^ a b Missile defense backers now cite Russia threat
- ^ U.S. Might Negotiate on Missile Defense, washingtonpost.com
- ^ Citizens on U.S. Anti-Missile Radar Base in Czech Republic
- ^ Europe diary: Missile defence, BBC News
- ^ Missile Defense: Avoiding a Crisis in Europe
- ^ Russia piles pressure on EU over missile shield, Telegraph
- ^ China, Russia sign nuclear deal, condemn U.S. missile defense plans, International Herald Tribune
- ^ Russia threatening new cold war over missile defence, The Guardian
- ^ U.S., Russia no closer on missile defense, USATODAY.com
- ^ Russia Lashes Out on Missile Deal, The New York Times, August 15, 2008
- ^ Russia angry over U.S. missile shield, Al Jazeera English, August 15, 2008
- ^ a b Mesquita, Bruce Bueno de (Spring 2004). “Why Gun-Barrel Democracy Doesn’t Work”. Hoover Digest 2. Also see this page.
- ^ a b Meernik, James (1996). “United States Military Intervention and the Promotion of Democracy”. Journal of Peace Research 33 (4): 391–402. DOI:10.1177/0022343396033004002.
- ^ a b c d e Tures, John A.. “Operation Exporting Freedom: The Quest for Democratization via United States Military Operations” (PDF). Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations.PDF file.
- ^ a b Lowenthal, Abraham (1991). The United States and Latin American Democracy: Learning from History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 243–265.
- ^ a b Penceny, Mark (1999). Democracy at the Point of Bayonets. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 183. ISBN 0-271-01883-6.
- ^ a b c Hermann, Margaret G.; Kegley, Charles (1998). “The U.S. Use of Military Intervention to Promote Democracy: Evaluating the Record”. International Interactions 24 (2): 91–114. DOI:10.1080/03050629808434922.
- ^ a b Lowenthal, Abraham F. (March 1, 1991). Exporting Democracy : The United States and Latin America. The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 1, 4, 5. ISBN 0-8018-4132-1.
- ^ Lafeber, Walter (1993). Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-30964-9.
- ^ Factors included limits on executive power, clear rules for the transition of power, universal adult suffrage, and competitive elections.
- ^ Pei, Samia Amin (March 17 2004). “Why Nation-Building Fails in Mid-Course”. International Herald Tribune.
- ^ Penceny, p. 186.
- ^ Muravchik, Joshua (1991). Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America’s Destiny. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute Press. pp. 91–118. ISBN 0-8447-3734-8.
- ^ Przeworski, Adam; Przeworski, Adam; Limongi Neto, Fernando Papaterra; Alvarez, Michael M. (1996). “What Makes Democracy Endure” (– Scholar search). Journal of Democracy 7 (1): 39–55. DOI:10.1353/jod.1996.0016.[dead link]
- ^ Penceny, p. 193
- ^ Penceny, p. 2
- ^ Review: Shifter, Michael; Peceny, Mark (Winter 2001). “Democracy at the Point of Bayonets”. Latin American Politics and Society 43 (4): 150. DOI:10.2307/3177036.
- ^ “Special Report: Secret History of the CIA in Iran”. The New York Times. 2000.
- ^ The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965-1989. David F. Schmitz. 2006.
- ^ a b Do the sums, then compare U.S. and Communist crimes from the Cold War Telegraph, 11/12/2005, Niall Ferguson
- ^ Weart, Spencer R. (1998). Never at War. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07017-9.p. 221-224, 314.
- ^ DEATH BY GOVERNMENT By R.J. Rummel New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994. Online links: 
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- Meernik, James (1996). “United States Military Intervention and the Promotion of Democracy”. Journal of Peace Research 33 (4): 391–402. DOI:10.1177/0022343396033004002. JSTOR 424565.
- Nichols, Christopher McKnight. “Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age” (2011)
- Paterson, Thomas G. and others. American Foreign Relations (6th ed. 2 vol, Wadsworth, 2004), a detailed history
- Perkins, Bradford. The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations: Volume 1, The Creation of a Republican Empire, 1776-1865 (Cambridge UP, 1995)
- Smith, Tony; Richard C. Leone (1995). America’s Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04466-X.
- History of the United States’ relations with the countries of the world
- Milestones of U.S. diplomatic history
- Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS): Official Documentary History of U.S. Foreign Relations
- Foreign Relations and International Aid from UCB Libraries G
- “Hope and Memory”. 1801-2004 timeline of 163 U.S. interventions. Adbusters.
- USC U.S.-China Institute, “Election ’08 and the Challenge of China,” web documentary, October 2008.
- USC U.S.-China Institute collection of speeches, government reports on U.S.-China relations
- “How the World Sees America”, Amar C. Bakshi, “Washington Post/Newsweek”, 2007.
- U.S. Political Parties and Foreign Policy, a background Q&A by Council on Foreign Relations
- Foreign Relations of the United States 1861-1960 (full text from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries)
- Introduction to U.S. foreign aid
- Foreign aid by country
- India as a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States”
- Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index Tracking survey of American public attitudes on foreign policy, conducted by Public Agenda with Foreign Affairs magazine.
- Speech by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on U.S. Policy in East Asia at the Heritage Foundation on October 25, 2006
- An interactive map of some examples of a sampling of U.S. Foreign Policy
- America and Taiwan, 1943-2004
- Analysis of Congressional-Executive Agreements (Article by Steve Charnovitz from the American Journal of International Law)
- A PDF file of the Congressional Research Service report, Library of Congress, Treaties and other International Agreements: the Role of the United States Senate
- Foreign Policy Experts at WhoRunsGov at The Washington Post
President Obama has pursued national security policies that keep the American people safe, while turning the page on a decade of war and restoring American leadership abroad. Since President Obama took office, the United States has devastated al Qaeda’s leadership. Now, thanks to our extraordinary servicemen and women, we have reached a pivotal moment – as we definitively end the war in Iraq and begin to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, we have refocused on a broader set of priorities around the globe that will allow the United States to be safe, strong, and prosperous in the 21st century.
To advance America’s national security, the President is committed to using all elements of American power, including the strength of America’s values.
The National Security Strategy
The National Security Strategy, released May 27, 2010, lays out a strategic approach for advancing American interests, including the security of the American people, a growing U.S. economy, support for our values, and an international order that can address 21st century challenges.
- Hosted the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia joined President Obama at Camp David for the annual G8 Summit on May 18-19, 2012, where the leaders addressed major global economic, political, and security challenges, including energy and climate change, food security and nutrition, Afghanistan’s economic transition and transitions taking place across the Middle East and North Africa. The next day, the President went to Chicago, where the U.S. hosted the annual NATO Summit, a gathering of leaders from the 28 member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On the second day of the Summit, May 21, the 50 nations that make up the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan met to discuss the next step in the transition of power there—setting a goal for Afghan forces to take the lead for combat operations across the country in 2013.
- Taken the fight to al Qaeda and eliminated Osama bin Laden.
- Presented President Obama’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism, with a principal focus on al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and its adherents.
- Announced a plan to responsibly end the War in Iraqand kept our promise to end combat operations there by August 31, 2010 and to remove all US troops by the end of 2011.
- Implemented a new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan that re-focuses our efforts on disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and that begins the drawdown of U.S. forces in July 2011.
- Built an international coalition to stop a massacre in Libya, and to support the Libyan people as they overthrew the regime of Moammar Qadhafi
- Presented a new approach to promoting democratic reform, economic development, and peace and security across the Middle East and North Africa.
- Proposed a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.
- Mobilized resources and manpower to aid in relief efforts in Haiti, Japan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
- Announced a strategy to address the international nuclear threat and convened a Nuclear Security Summit that that took concrete steps toward securing nuclear material worldwide.
- ”Reset” our previously strained relations with Russia and signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the most comprehensive arms treaty in 20 years.
- Led the international response to the global economic crisis while pursuing trade that delivers for the American worker, completing free-trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama which will support U.S. jobs.
- Announced new policy steps towards Cuba.
- Built a broad coalition to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program, including unprecedented sanctions by Congress, the UN Security Council, and a host of other nations and regional bodies.
- Refocused American foreign policy on the Asia Pacific , the world’s fastest-growing region.
- Announced a comprehensive international strategy for cyberspace issues.
- Reaffirmed our unwavering support for the military as well as their families.
Refocusing on the Threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan
President Obama took office pledging to end the war in Iraq while refocusing on al Qaeda – particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Since taking office, the Obama Administration has focused its resources on al Qaeda and its affiliates. These counter-terrorism efforts have substantially impacted al Qaeda’s leadership, including the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
On December 1, 2009, at West Point, the President put forth a new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that is focused on disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.
To accomplish this, he said we would pursue three objectives: denying al Qaeda a safe haven, reversing the Taliban’s momentum, and strengthening the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future. He also committed to begin the responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.
On June 22, the President addressed the American people about the way forward in Afghanistan. We have made substantial progress on the objectives the President laid out at West Point, and he made clear that we will begin the drawdown of U.S. troops from a position of strength. We have exceeded our expectations on our core goal of defeating al-Qa’ida – killing 20 of its top 30 leaders, including Osama bin Laden. We have broken the Taliban’s momentum, and trained over 100,000 Afghan National Security Forces. The U.S. will withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011, and the 33,000 “surge” troops he approved in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.
Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq
On February 27, 2009, President Obama announced a plan to responsibly end the war in Iraq.
On August 31, 2010, the President announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq, and Iraqi Security Forces assumed lead responsibility for their nation’s security.
On October 21, 2011, the President announced that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year, as promised. Beyond 2011, the United States will have a normal relationship with a sovereign Iraq, one in which we work together as partners to promote our common security and prosperity. In December of 2011, the final U.S. troops left Iraq, ending America’s war there.
When the Obama Administration took office, there were roughly 180,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan – by the end of 2011, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to go down. As we wind down the wars, we are refocusing on rebuilding our nation at home, and addressing a broader set of priorities abroad.
Stopping a Massacre and Supporting the Libyan People
Faced with an imminent massacre by Moammar Qadhafi’s regime, President Obama led in building an international coalition to protect the Libyan people. The United States helped save thousands of lives and stopped Qadhafi’s forces in their tracks. We then supported the Libyan people as they brought down the Qadhafi regime, ending the reign of a dictator who persecuted his people and killed Americans. During our intervention in Libya, our friends and allies shared the costs and responsibilities of action – there were no U.S. casualties or troops on the ground. Going forward, we will continue to support the Libyan people as a friend and partner as they build a democracy.
Keeping Nuclear Weapons Out of the Hands of Terrorists
On April 5, 2009 in Prague, President Obama declared his vision for achieving the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” laying out a plan for near term practical steps to move in that direction. He proposed measures to: reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons by those states that already possess nuclear weapons, starting first with Russia and the U.S.; to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear weapons by strengthening the international non-proliferation regime and by holding accountable those states that have violated their obligations, such as Iran and North Korea; to prevent nuclear terrorism by securing vulnerable nuclear materials and strengthening international cooperation on nuclear security; and, to develop new mechanisms to support the growth of safe and secure nuclear power in ways that reduce the spread of dangerous technologies. President Obama issued an updated Nuclear Posture Review that reduces the role of nuclear weapons in our overall defense posture by declaring that the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear forces is to deter nuclear attacks against the U.S. and our allies and partners.
In April 2010, the President hosted the Nuclear Security Summit where leaders pledged specific steps to prevent nuclear terrorism and support the President’s proposal to lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials in four years.
The Administration also oversaw the negotiation and ratification of the New START Treaty, which President Obama and President Medvedev signed in April 2010 in Prague. By significantly reducing levels of U.S. and Russia deployed strategic weapons, the Treaty represents a commitment by the world’s two largest nuclear powers to the goal of disarmament. In addition, the Treaty strengthens the reset in relations between Washington and Moscow that is helping us to address the most urgent proliferation threats we face in Iran and North Korea.
Promoting Peace and Security in Israel and the Middle East
The United States is committed to a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, including two states for two peoples – Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people – each enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. President Obama believes that a key component of achieving peace is maintaining the unshakeable U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. He has also said that the core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. That is why the President stated publicly principles on territory and security that can provide a foundation for an agreement to end the conflict and resolve all claims.
Re-energizing America’s Alliances
America’s relationships with our allies are at the center of our engagement with the world.Since taking office, President Obama has strengthened America’s old alliances, while building new partnerships to confront the challenges of the 21st century.
- On his first trip overseas, the President visited Europe to begin this process, with the G-20 Summit, the 60th Anniversary NATO Summit, and the U.S-E.U. Summit. During his May 2011 trip to Europe, the President reaffirmed his commitment to the Transatlantic Partnership and its role in addressing global challenges.
- The President made clear in his speech to the Turkish Parliament and in Cairo that America’s relationship with the Muslim world will be based on more than our shared opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
- The United States seeks to strengthen our historic alliances in Asia while developing deeper bonds with all nations of the region, so that we might work together to confront the challenges of the 21st century, including proliferation, climate change, pandemics and economic instability. Since the beginning of his administration, the President has made three trips to Asia and supported strategic senior-level dialogues with India and China.
Maintaining Core American Values
Every challenge is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This is why the President prohibited — without exception or equivocation — the use of torture, and set up a Special Task Force to thoroughly review detainee policy. He also reformed Military Commissions to make the more effective in bringing terrorists to justice consistent with the rule of law. He remains committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which endangers our security.
After years of war, the President successfully led an international effort to ensure the emergence of an independent South Sudan and remains committed to ending the suffering in the Darfur region. Since the beginning of the Administration, we have implemented a whole-of-government strategy to end the violence; to get humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan; to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; and to assist in negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan even after its independence on July 9, 2011. The President appointed a Special Envoy for Sudan as a strong signal of his commitment to support the Sudanese people. We are committed to working with the international community to ensure a stable and secure future for the region.
- View the video
Restoring American Leadership in Latin America
The future of the United States is inextricably bound to the future of the people of the Americas. We are committed to a new era of partnership with countries throughout the hemisphere, working on key shared challenges of economic growth and equality, our energy and climate futures, and regional and citizen security. We are committed to shaping that future through engagement that is strong, sustained, meaningful, and based on mutual respect. Less than a hundred days into the administration, the President went to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, where he met with all of the leaders in the Western Hemisphere. The President also traveled to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to strengthen our partnerships in the Americas.
- Watch the President’s speech in Santiago, Chile.
Ensuring Energy Security and Fighting Climate Change
The President has committed to put America on a path to a clean energy economy that improves our energy security, reduces our use of fossil fuels, and drives a new era of American innovation.The United States recognizes the need to break from old ways that threaten our economy and our planet and the President has committed to investing $150 billion in clean energy research and development over ten years. From the Americas to Asia, he is building new clean energy partnerships that will grow our economy while preserving our planet.
The U.S. will be a leader in addressing global climate change both by making contributions of our own and engaging other countries to do the same. President Obama has demonstrated the United States’ commitment to a low-carbon future, bilaterally and through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process by working with other major economies to reduce emissions and pursue clean energy.
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July 05, 2012 2:09 PM EDT
Check out a photo gallery from President Obama’s 2009 trip to Russia, Italy, and Ghana.
June 20, 2012 7:05 PM EDT
On the flight back from Mexico, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offers a bit more analysis about the G20 Summit.
June 20, 2012 4:11 PM EDT
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From the Press Office
July 15, 2012 1:51 PM EDT
July 11, 2012 1:05 PM EDT
July 11, 2012 1:05 PM EDT
The Newsletter of FPRI’s Wachman Center
U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions and the Middle East
by Walter A. McDougall
Vol 14, No 17
Walter McDougall is co-chair of FPRI’s History Institute for Teachers and Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania. This essay is based on his presentation at “U.S. Foreign Policy and the Modern Middle East,” a Summer Institute for Teachers sponsored by The American Institute for History Education and The Wachman Center of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, held June 25-27, in Philadelphia. For the complete story, see his book Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776 (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).
In a separate but related activity, FPRI’s Wachman Center has collaborated with Mason Crest Publishers on a 10-volume book series for middle and high school students on “The Making of the Modern Middle East” (2007) and another 10-volume series on “The World of Islam” (2010, forthcoming).
In October 1942 leaflets appeared in Egypt. The occasion was the British Eighth Army victory over Rommel’s Afrika Korps at El Alamein, which at last made the Allies confident they could drive the Axis out of the Middle East. Moreover, the first American observers had arrived in North Africa in preparation for Operation Torch, the invasion of Morocco and Algeria scheduled for the following month. The leaflets, printed in Arabic and signed by President Roosevelt. proclaimed:
“… Behold. We the American Holy Warriors have arrived. We have come here to fight the great Jihad of Freedom…. Assemble along the highways to welcome your brothers. We have come to set you free. Speak with our fighting men and you will find them pleasing to the eye and gladdening to the heart. We are not as some other Christians whom ye have known, and who trample you under foot. Our soldiers consider you as their brothers, for we have been reared in the way of free men. Our soldiers have been told about your country and about their Moslem brothers and they will treat you with respect and with a friendly spirit in the eyes of God…”
We may forgive such condescending propaganda on the grounds that Arabs, Persians, and other Muslims were hardly the focus of U.S. geopolitics then that they are today. During World War II they seemed just backward, superstitious, and thieving peoples who happened to be in the way of the armies fighting for control of the world.
That isn’t to say that the United States has not been engaged with the Middle East throughout its history, at first modestly but with increasing intensity. Moreover, the Middle East has always held a certain fascination for various groups of Americans whether or not their government was entangled there. But not until 1979, when Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called the Islamic Crescent an Arc of Crisis, did the Middle East take center stage. By that time all the major U.S. foreign policy traditions were already in place.
It is my assigned task to provide the overarching context of American foreign relations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My most telling message is that the strategies and methodologies—the ends and means of America as a world power—were all contrived to surmount crises and challenges elsewhere in the world. They had no initial relevance to Islamic cultures or Middle East geography, but had somehow to be applied to Middle Eastern policies once they had pushed themselves onto the American foreign policy agenda. That is why I shall have nothing more to say on the Middle East until the very end.
U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions
The genesis of these remarks date from 1988, when I left Berkeley to become chair of the international relations program at Penn. Since Penn’s U.S. diplomatic historian Bruce Kuklick was away that first year, I agreed to work up lectures for a survey course in that field. It occurred to me that a good way to structure the course would be to focus on the discrete traditions that Americans founded regarding their proper place in the world. I defined a genuine tradition as a principle or strategy that “commanded solid bipartisan support, outlived the era that gave it birth, entered the permanent lexicon of our national discourse, and continued to resonate with a portion of the American public even during eras when it did not directly inspire policy.”
I identified eight, divided into two groups (see handout, www.fpri.org/education/modernmiddleeast/). The first four, what I call our Old Testament, defined U.S. grand strategy during its first century: (1) Independence, Unity, and Liberty at Home, or “Exceptionalism” (as properly understood); (2) Unilateralism, or “Isolationism” (as mistakenly derided); (3) the American System, or Monroe Doctrine (as commonly called); and (4) Expansionism, or Manifest Destiny (as triumphantly touted). These were designed to prevent the outside world from shaping America on the assumption that the wicked Old World must threaten or corrupt. The last four, our New Testament, defined U.S. grand strategy during its second century: (5) Progressive Imperialism; (6) Wilsonianism, or Liberal Internationalism; (7) Containment; and (8) Global Meliorism. These were designed to help America shape the outside world on the assumption that the benevolent New World must uplift and reform.
It struck me that the frequent confusion in U.S. foreign policy stemmed not from false dichotomies between a mythical Realism vs. Idealism, or Isolationism vs. Interventionism, but rather from tensions among our twentieth-century traditions and between the twentieth- and nineteenth-century ones. Americans imagine theirs to be a Crusader State destined to transform the world in the pursuit of justice and freedom, but at the same time they want America to remain a Promised Land, uncorrupted by the world outside.
The Old Testament
One of my first discoveries was that America’s vaunted moral Exceptionalism had little to do with foreign relations. To be sure, American colonists believed their country was destined to be different and better than others. Colonial leaders imagined America a land set apart and called by Providence and Enlightenment Reason alike to “begin the world over again.” That is what historians mean when they refer to American messianism, mission, idealism, or the morally neutral term Exceptionalism.
But when I examined early American statecraft, I was struck by the virtual absence of policies born of idealism, pacifism, or mission. On the contrary, from the moment Benjamin Franklin sailed for Europe, U.S. diplomacy was shaped by power politics and the need to secure the new nation’s goals. Those goals, above all, were Liberty, Unity, and Independence at home, and what America was at home – a land of civil and religious liberty under law and growing equality and opportunity – was what made the nation exceptional.
The framers of the Constitution were careful to apply checks and balances to the President’s military and diplomatic power, but it never occurred to them to restrict how the federal government ought to conduct foreign policy. The goal of the federal government, rather, should be to create “one American system” strong enough “to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and the new world.” As John Quincy Adams wrote,
“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion only of her own…. For she knows well that by once enlisting under other banners than her own … she would involve herself beyond the powers of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of avarice, envy, and ambition…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit.”
American Exceptionalism did not require that the U.S. pursue a pacifist, revolutionary, or ideological foreign policy. To do so would only endanger what made America exceptional at home: free, united, and independent.
The second, third, and fourth traditions in U.S. foreign relations follow in such logical progression that Unilateralism, an American System of states, and Expansion across the continent were implicit from the very beginning. For if the nation was to preserve its hard-won Liberty, be spared the threat and expense of large armies and navies, avoid becoming a pawn of foreign powers, and instead exploit their conflicts in order to grow, then it must pursue a Unilateral policy, even (as in 1812) when it went to war. But Unilateralism in no way implied Isolationism, a term coined in the 1890s. Americans always pursued close commercial, financial, and cultural ties with Europe, the Caribbean, and Pacific, and the nation that dispatched one-third of its navy to open Japan was by no stretch of the imagination isolationist. So did Expansion, or Manifest Destiny, for if Europeans were not to occupy the empty lands of North America, and if the exploding American population was to enjoy its exceptional freedom and opportunity, then the U.S. itself had to fill the void from coast to coast.
These four traditions were coherent, mutually reinforcing, and spectacularly successful. They created the necessary conditions for the explosive territorial, demographic, and economic growth of the nation without compromise of its small government, free enterprise principles.
The New Testament
So what happened in 1898? Why did Americans suddenly embrace a form of Imperialism so at odds with all that they stood for? According to most historians this was a “great aberration”: by 1898 the U.S. was a potential world power in need of foreign markets; the Navy, big business, politicians, and the press were eager to junk what they now damned as isolationism; an assertive mood had swept the country; and the Western frontier had closed. But whatever motives historians stress, most conclude that President McKinley, once he intervened in Cuba’s war of independence against Spain, took the occasion to annex overseas colonies initiate 15 years of Yankee imperialism until Woodrow Wilson put us back on track.
But 1898 could not mark the end of Isolationism, because the U.S. had never been isolationist. Nor was overseas expansion anything new: the U.S. had purchased Alaska, bid for Samoa, and aggressively pursued commerce in Asia. Nor did U.S. exports, which were booming, require new markets. Nor, finally, were many Americans troubled by their little island empire as a moral issue—the leaders of the Progressive Movement and Protestant churches were eager to redeem colonial peoples from Spanish obscurantism.
In retrospect, the “great aberration” was really a culmination of trends that had been building up since the Civil War. America was now able to throw its naval weight around; Europe’s imperial powers were pressing against the edges of the American sphere in the Pacific and Caribbean; and reformers from Teddy Roosevelt and Herbert Croly to evangelist Josiah Strong all claimed that God had made America great for the purpose of uplifting other peoples.
The truly new and risky departure in 1898 was not colonialism, but moral progressivism! Americans abandoned their traditions when they went to war with Spain in the first place to save a damsel in distress. Still thinking of itself as a Promised Land, America chose also to be a Crusader State. With that, our New Testament traditions began to be written.
In 1898, Americans were swept away by militant self-righteousness into a crusade and then stuck around to export American values. Even Woodrow Wilson had applauded the Spanish American War and annexation of colonies. As President, he intervened in the Caribbean more often and with more firepower than did TR and Taft put together. He invaded Mexico twice in order, he said, to “teach the Mexicans to elect good men.” He also said that to base foreign policy on one’s self-interest was an insult to other nations and a disgrace to one’s own. Accordingly, when war broke out in 1914, he put his energy into trying to mediate a Peace Without Victory in the belief that it was America’s calling to crusade on behalf of democratic diplomacy.
When the belligerents spurned his call for peace and the Germans multiplied their outrages, Wilson finally made the hard decision for war, but only because he persuaded himself that it was a moral act: that is, precisely the opposite definition of Exceptionalism from the one the Founding Fathers endorsed. He would go to war to end war everywhere. He would teach the Germans to elect good men just as he tried to teach the Mexicans. He would create a League of all Nations modeled on his abortive Pan American League of 1913.
Wilsonianism was not slain by Isolationists until it was resurrected by Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. The Republican internationalist administrations of the 1920s endorsed such Wilsonian goals as disarmament, collective security, self-determination, and the Open Door, and thanks to the diplomacy of Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, the U.S. achieved far more than Wilson did in stabilizing Europe and Asia. What hurled the U.S. into its deep Isolation in the 1930s were the effects of the Great Depression, the Neutrality Acts of the Democratic Congress, and the eager support for them of FDR, at least until 1938.
Of course, after Pearl Harbor the Roosevelt administration instantly embraced Wilsonianism, if only because America had no other banner under which to wage world war. But thanks to Joseph Stalin, Wilsonianism failed a second time as a blueprint for world order. If Unilateralism had been discredited by Versailles, the Depression, Munich, and Pearl Harbor, the deadlock with the Soviets at the UN meant that Wilsonianism was no guide for America’s place in the world either.
The Truman administration came up with a new tradition, Containment, to convince the American people to wage another dangerous contest with another aggressive dictator. The Truman Doctrine passed the Senate by a margin of 3:1, the Marshall Plan by 4:1, NATO by 6:1, and support for the Korean War by 10:1. This was not all the result of anticommunist hysteria, though that played its part. Containment was in fact not such a sharp break with the past after all, but meshed well with the previous traditions. It was based on the premise that the nation’s Liberty at home was under assault by a global conspiracy that reached into American labor unions, government agencies, schools, churches, Hollywood, even atomic facilities.
Nor did Containment necessarily violate Unilateralism, for whereas the U.S. now made alliances all over the map, it was clearly the boss of them and so retained its freedom of action. Containment meshed well with Progressive Imperialism since it justified projecting American power across the oceans and made parts of the world into virtual protectorates. It did excellent duty on behalf of Expansionism in that it opposed both the communist and European colonial empires and opened up half the world to American enterprise. Containment even honored Wilsonianism insofar as it served liberal values and worked through the UN when possible. Finally, global anticommunism amounted to a veritable religious war for many millions of Americans, both secular and sectarian. It was a foreign policy expression of the American civil religion even more fervent and un-conflicted than Wilson’s war to end war had been.
Containment was by far the most successful twentieth-century U.S. strategy, but the cost was very high. At home, the Cold War meant conscription, high taxes, federal intervention in science, education, business, and labor, militarization of the economy, domestic surveillance, and loyalty oaths. Critics on the Left and Right echoed the Neutralists of the 1930s by predicting that global involvement would push America itself in the direction of fascism or socialism. And Containment was frustrating and wearisome abroad. If pursued too vigorously, it risked nuclear war; too feebly, it amounted to appeasement; and pursued moderately, it risked dragging the U.S. into limited wars in which stalemate was all it dared hope for.
In the end, Containment not only triumphed, it outlived the Soviet Union itself. George H. W. Bush applied it against Iraq, then against Iraq and Iran in “dual containment,” while pundits have repeatedly discussed the need to embrace Containment versus China, Putin’s Russia, or radical Islam. It is our seventh hallowed tradition.
How, one may ask, can Containment be construed as a success when it inspired such obvious disasters as the Vietnam War? Perhaps it did not, which leads us to the eighth and last tradition. Since 1898, the U.S. has sought a practical means of coping with a world ravaged by revolution and war. Wilson offered a legal, institutional answer; Truman a political, military one. Global Meliorism is the socioeconomic and cultural answer to how to make the world a better place by promoting economic growth, human rights, social reform, and democracy. The core belief is that the root causes of revolutions and militarism are poverty, ignorance, oppression, and despair. Hence we ought to seek to cure the disease rather than just combat the symptoms.
I trace Global Meliorism back to the nineteenth-century missionaries in the Pacific and East Asia. But it began to influence official policy in the Caribbean and Philippines under the Progressive Imperialists, then became a centerpiece of U.S. strategy with the Democratization pursued by Wilson and the massive famine relief pursued by Wilson’s food czar for Europe, Herbert Hoover. A Quaker pacifist, he pleaded for food to be shipped to the enemy lest starving Germans turn to extremists. He urged Wilson to fight Bolshevism in Russia with bread, not guns. Thanks in part to Hoover, the U.S. bankrolled European reconstruction in the 1920s.
During World War II Global Meliorism moved to the forefront of U.S. policy. Inspired by Hoover’s relief agencies, the New Deal, Keynsian economics, and the hardship and inflation of the interwar years, the U.S. founded the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. The postwar occupations of Germany and Japan and the Marshall Plan seemed to prove America’s power to democratize and prosper whole nations.
This American mission to uplift the poor and oppressed was given new urgency by the Cold War, and the rhetoric and methods behind Truman’s Point Four Program for foreign aid were boldly Meliorist. Eisenhower at first was skeptical of governmental foreign aid, but the emergence of the third world—where the Soviets played the anti-imperialist card, supported guerilla wars, and claimed that communism was the best road to development—gradually convinced Ike that the U.S. had to try to export economic growth and democracy. Meanwhile, economists developed theories on how American investment and technology could lift any nation into economic takeoff and self-sustained growth.
John F. Kennedy, a convert, established the Peace Corps, Alliance for Progress, and USAID. But his most aggressive Meliorist offensive was in South Vietnam. Granted, the commitment to Vietnam grew out of the extension of Containment to Asia. But when Truman helped Greece, Turkey, and South Korea he did not ask those countries to become model democracies. JFK’s advisers, by contrast, believed that state-building, nation-building, and the “winning of hearts and minds” through social reforms were the keys to victory. So where Eisenhower, a military man thinking in terms of Containment, saw control of Laos as the key to South Vietnam’s security, Kennedy bargained away Laos, then overthrew Saigon’s Diem regime in 1963—not because Diem wasn’t anticommunist enough, but because he refused to push the reforms that Americans deemed necessary. When his successors proved even worse, the Americans had no choice but to go in and remake the country themselves.
Vietnam was the first war in which large U.S. forces were sent overseas not to defeat the enemy, but just to keep their ally from losing until such time as U.S. civilian agencies could fashion a state able to stand up to Hanoi on its own. Lyndon Johnson waged a Great Society war based on the same methods of social engineering that he practiced at home. The Vietnam War was a thorough repudiation of America’s Old Testament traditions. That is why the most effective critiques of it came not from the radical left, which shared most of the Meliorist assumptions, but from conservatives like George Kennan, Walter Lippmann, and J. William Fulbright, who saw the Vietnam War as arrogance and presumption.
Failure in Vietnam dealt Global Meliorism a serious blow, but did not kill it. Nixon and Ford practiced it in the form of billions of loan guarantees and a subsidized wheat deal to the Soviet bloc. Jimmy Carter then clearly separated Meliorism from Containment when he asked Americans to let go of their “inordinate fear of communism” and focus on human rights and third-world development. Of course, Soviet provocations culminating in their invasion of Afghanistan caused Carter to rediscover Containment, which in turn allowed Ronald Reagan to redeploy human rights rhetoric against the Soviets even as his administration ratcheted up the military and economic pressure on Moscow. That turned out to be just the right mix of policies needed to promote Gorbachev’s internal reforms and so bring the Cold War to an end.
George H.W. Bush shared Eisenhower’s skepticism about nation-building. He wanted no part of governing Iraq and confined the Somali intervention to humanitarian relief. But Global Meliorism returned in force when Carter veterans such as Anthony Lake and Warren Christopher returned to office under Bill Clinton. Their post-Cold War doctrines of assertive multilateralism and enlargement, and occupations of Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia, attested to their abiding faith that the U.S. had the power, duty, and know-how to reform and uplift whole countries. They were roundly criticized: Jeane Kirkpatrick observed that the military “doesn’t do windows,” and Michael Mandelbaum called Clinton’s “a Mother Teresa foreign policy.” Even Jimmy Carter noted that the U.S. had sent 20,000 soldiers to Bosnia while ignoring the holocausts occurring in Africa; he called Clinton’s policies racist. Most ironic, it was Clinton’s mentor, Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright, who questioned most sharply the United States’ ability “to create stability where there is chaos, the will to fight where there is defeatism, democracy where there is no tradition of it, and honest government where corruption is a way of life.”
Promised Land was published in 1997, hence that was the end of my story. Indeed, my FPRI colleague Paul Dickler recently reminded me that I had written precisely the following in that final chapter:
“For no international bureaucracy, much less a single nation, however powerful and idealistic, can substitute itself for the healthy nationalism of an alien people. Almost everyone agrees, for instance, that Saddam Hussein is bad for his country. But can Americans can be better Iraqis than Iraqis themselves, or presume to tell the Chinese how to be better Chinese”?
So what did I subsequently make of 9/11, the global war on terror, and the Bush Doctrine? Do the events and decisions of the Bush years mark a radical departure for U.S. traditions because our first Middle East-born existential crisis has created unprecedented circumstances? And may the Bush Doctrine yet qualify as a ninth tradition of American foreign relations?
Taking the second question first, the answer is not yet, because of my criteria for a tradition, and probably not at all, since Operation Iraqi Freedom may turn out to be a one-shot deal. Most telling, preemption is not new at all if we are at war. Since the seventeenth century at least, almost the whole world has understood a state of war to mean the declaration of hostilities between two or more sovereign states. After World War II, however, that clear definition began to break down.
The U.S. itself has played a major role in that breakdown, for not since 1941 has the U.S. Congress declared war against anyone. Korea was called a police action, engaged in with approval by the UN. Vietnam was called a conflict, engaged in on the dubious grounds of the Congressional Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti were likewise executive police actions launched in the name, not of U.S. security, but universal human rights. Even the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were not preceded by declarations of war, although they clearly involved U.S. security as well as human rights. Does the existence of transnational, non-state terrorist movements imply that the U.S. and its allies are in a permanent state of something like warfare against people who may be lurking in every country on earth? If so, can the U.S. or any other government claim the right to intervene anywhere according to their traditional right of self-defense? Perhaps a major theme of twenty-first century international relations will be a great global debate over the redefinition of war itself.
Whether the Bush policies were a radical departure from our traditions is also a complicated issue. I believe the Bush Doctrine is rooted to a surprising degree in American traditions. Terrorism against the U.S. homeland is surely a devastating assault against our Exceptionalism, our Unity, Independence, and Liberty at Home, our Freedom to pursue our American Dream. If the Boston Massacre and Britain’s Intolerable Acts demanded an American Declaration of Independence, certainly 9/11 did. The War on Terror as waged by Bush also echoed some themes of Progressive Imperialism and Containment, and it brought to a deafening crescendo the theme of Global Meliorism. The Iraqi occupation has been called Wilsonianism with Guns. It is really Global Meliorism with Guns, which, to me, is the most persuasive analogy between Iraq and Vietnam, and therefore the most troubling as well.
How the Iraqi crusade comes out will be of surpassing importance for the short-range future of American statecraft and the place of the U.S. in the world. State-building, much less democratization, in Iraq and even more in Afghanistan is a fantastic proposition. But if I am wrong, then Bush’s stock may rise in decades to come as Truman’s did, the lessons of 2003-06 will be forgotten, and at some point Americans will over-reach all over again someplace else. Alas, failing to reckon with our own history and those of the countries we presume to invade and redeem is also a venerable U.S. tradition.
- ^ The leaflet was authored by two American officials and one local agent. See Anthony Cave Brown, Oil, God, and Gold: The Story of Aramco and the Saudi Kings (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), pp. 104-105; see also http://www.meforum.org/45/fdr-addresses-the-arabs.
- ^ See Promised Land, Crusader State, p. 10.
- ^ See William Imboden, Religion and American Foreign Policy: The Soul of Containment (Cambridge, 2008).
- ^ Promised Land, Crusader State, p. 220.
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U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East
On July 28, Senator Chuck Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Select Intelligence committees, participated in The Brookings Institution’s 90th Anniversary Leadership Forum series with an address on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Chaos continues in the Middle East as Israel confronts attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon, following Israeli incursions into Gaza. Recent events, including Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms, the continued violence and instability in Iraq, Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian elections, and talk of further Israeli disengagement from the West Bank, have created new political terrain in the Middle East.
Senator Hagel discussed the new challenges this presents for U.S. foreign policy and our national security, as well as our relationship with other countries in the Middle East and around the world. He offered his perspective on the need for new strategic thinking, creative diplomacy, and recognition of the varied perspectives and values of other countries.
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July 17, 2012, Noah Shachtman
July 17, 2012
July 17, 2012, Omar Ashour
July 2012, Wei-chin Lee
The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For nearly 100 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter—for the nation and the world. More ›
- JULY 20, 2012
How the U.S. is using the Gulf states to deter Iran.
BY JOHN REED | JULY 19, 2012
Monday’s incident off the coast of the UAE — in which the U.S. Navy support ship Rappahannock killed an Indian fisherman with heavy machine gun fire after his 30-foot boat came too close — occurred just miles from Jebel Ali, one of the Navy’s busiest ports in the region and a port that is only going to become busier. In fact, despite the much-publicized renewed emphasis on Asia, a lot of the Pentagon action in the coming years is actually going to focus on the Gulf. That’s why, when they unveiled the Pentagon’s 21st century security strategy in January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter repeatedly emphasized that the strategic “pivot” would include the Middle East as well as the Far East.
The reasons aren’t difficult to discern. The Persian Gulf’s energy reserves make it a region of vital strategic interest for the United States, and the American departure from Iraq has left something of a security vacuum, dramatically reducing the U.S. presence in the region. Meanwhile, Iran is building up its navy and making threatening noises about closing the Strait of Hormuz. The United States is not necessarily prepared for the new situation. “We have a Navy that was really developed to fight the Cold War,” while “the Iranians have been spending money to create capabilities that exploit the U.S. Navy’s vulnerabilities in the Gulf,” says Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Navy “belatedly came to the recognition that there are gaps in our capabilities that need to be filled.”
The Navy is now filling those gaps. But, in addition to beefing up its own military presence, the United States is quietly strengthening its links with the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — to “promote regional stability, provide a counterweight to Iran, and reassure partners and adversaries alike of American resolve,” according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report released in June. This effort to “formalize” coordination on security and economic issues and “further broaden strategic ties” was kicked off at the Strategic Cooperation Forum in March. Talks to discuss the actual steps necessary to strengthen these ties are slated for September 2012.
But what precisely will the physical footprint of this new “security architecture” look like?
What’s already there is pretty impressive. Take Jebel Ali. Built in the 1970s and located roughly 20 miles southwest of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the port has the largest man-made deep-water harbor in the world; and, covering 52 square miles, it’s the largest port in the Middle East, with more than 1 million square meters of shipping container storage. A quick look on Google Earth reveals a U.S. Navy Nimitz class aircraft carrier tied up alongside the service’s fenced in R&R facility there. And where there are carriers, there are Aegis radar-equipped guided missile cruisers and destroyers, frigates, at least one attack submarine, and several supply ships similar to the Rappahannock nearby. While it’s not officially a major Navy base, it sees a steady stream of ships that are rotating through the region on deployments from their homeports in the United States.
Next up is the headquarters for the Navy’s Middle East operations, in Manama, Bahrain, a site the sea service describes as, “the busiest 60 acres in the world.” While Naval Support Activity Bahrain, as it’s formally known, isn’t necessarily bustling with as many large ships as Jebel Ali, it serves as the nerve center for the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a variety of U.S. and international task forces that do everything from protecting Iraq’s oil platforms to hunting pirates off the Somali coast. It’s also the home port of numerous U.S. Navy minesweepers and patrol boats, while bigger Navy ships often pull into Bahrain’s extensive repair and resupply facilities that sit just across the harbor from the base.
Much as Jebel Ali does for the Navy, the UAE air force’s Al Dhafra Air Base serves as a major hub for U.S. and allied jets. American KC-10 and KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, E-3 Sentry AWACS jets, U-2 spy planes, and even F-22 Raptors regularly deploy there. The base is also home to the Gulf Air Warfare Center, a facility that brings together the air forces of the GCC states, the U.S. Air Force, and other nations for air combat exercises. Al Dhafra is also rumored to be a potential home for U.S.-made high-altitude missile defense systems.
Perhaps more important than Al Dhafra is the American base at al Udeid, Qatar, U.S. Central Command’s hub for allied forces in the region, as well as host to a number of bombers, cargo planes, tankers, and spy jets. Again, a Google Earth overview reveals B-1 heavy bombers, KC-135 tankers, RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence collection planes, E-8 Joint STARS ground-scanning radar jets, C-130 tactical airlifters, P-3 Orion submarine hunters, an EP-3 Aries signals intelligence plane, a C-5 Galaxy airlifter, and C-17 airlifters on the ramp there.
Meanwhile, Camp Arifjan in Kuwait has served as the regional depot for U.S. military ground vehicles in the Gulf, most recently thousands of tanks, trucks, MRAPS, and other armored vehicles departing Iraq. Camp Arifjan is closely linked with the Kuwaiti port of Shuaiba, where the ground vehicles are loaded and unloaded from cargo ships. The Air Force maintains a wing of C-130 Hercules tactical airlifters at Ali al Salem Air Base in Kuwait.
However, Pentagon planners have realized that the current make-up of its forces in the Gulf, which have been largely focused on supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not adequate for deterring Iran. Therefore, the Defense Department is rushing equipment to the region aimed at countering the Iranian threat.
The recent buildup of U.S. naval forces in the Gulf includes the 1970s-vintage USS Ponce, a transport that was converted this spring into a floating “lily pad” base for minesweeping operations (it can also accommodate special operations troops) and that arrived in the Gulf this month. Four additional Avenger class minesweepers arrived in the Gulf in late June, bringing the total in the region to eight. The Navy is also arming its anti-mine forces in the Gulf with Seafox mine-hunting undersea drones that can be launched from Avengers or MH-53 helicopters. The Defense Department also announced that the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis will leave for the Gulf in December, four months ahead of schedule, in order to maintain the presence of two aircraft carriers and their strike groups in the region through next year.
The Pentagon is also purchasing 40 Raytheon-made Griffin missiles and their associated launchers for use by the Navy’s Cyclone class patrol craft stationed in the Gulf. (The Griffin is seen as a tool to defend against swarms of fast-moving speed boats. “Swarming” is a tactic frequently espoused by Iranian sea services as a way to confront large U.S. warships.) The Cyclone class boats are also reportedly having laser targeting devices added to their Mk 38 25 mm chain guns.
The United States is also reportedly set to open a powerful AN/TPY-2 X-Band radar in Qatar that will likely be used, along with two others in Israel and Turkey, to monitor Iranian missile launches, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. U.S. Central Command may also deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to Qatar in coming months.
The United States and Europe are also helping the Gulf nations modernize their militaries. “Our approach has been to respond to Iran’s ramping up of its nuclear program with large arms sales to the Gulf,” said Eisenstadt. “The idea is, developing nuclear weapons or advancing your nuclear program will harm rather than hurt your security because we’ll respond by bolstering your neighbors and therefore you will be more vulnerable to your neighbors.”
Most recently, the United States finalized a deal to provide Saudi Arabia with 84 brand new Boeing F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter-bombers and to upgrade 70 of the kingdom’s existing F-15S Strike Eagles. The Saudis also received 24 brand new Eurofighter Typhoons in 2011, the first of 72 Typhoons ordered by the Saudis. The Typhoon and the latest versions of the Strike Eagle are among the world’s most advanced fighters, designed for both high-end air combat and bombing campaigns. The Saudis have also recently purchased three stealthy air-defense frigates from France and are reportedly considering buying two U.S. made DDG-51 class Aegis-equipped destroyers and an unknown number of littoral combat ships.
Qatar is set to decide on a fleet of 24 or more fighter jets to replace its fleet of French-made Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters. (Six to eight of Qatar’s Mirage’s participated in NATO’s campaign to oust former Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi.) The tiny nation is eyeing the Typhoon, Strike Eagle, Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and Dassault’s Rafale.
Meanwhile, the UAE, whose Mirage 2000s and Lockheed-made F-16s also flew in Libya, is looking to buy new fighters, possibly financing the development of an entirely new aircraft despite the fact that it bought the most advanced versions of the F-16, known as the F-16E/F Block 60, in 2007. (The UAE actually paid for the development of the Block 60 F-16, making it the first country to fly a better version of an American-made fighter than the United States itself.) The UAE’s navy is also financing the development of six brand new stealthy corvettes designed to do everything from mine-laying and coastal patrols to light anti-ship warfare.
Oman has recently purchased 12 new F-16s and will refurbish its older F-16s. It is also buying three British-made corvettes.
This infusion of new radars, planes, ships and missile defenses may be enough to deter Iran’s military today, but Mark Gunzinger, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says the long term is a different matter. Given the fact that Iran has increasing numbers of missiles and rockets that can reach existing facilities, it makes little sense to keep American forces and command centers on the coast of the Persian Gulf.
Gunzinger has called for the U.S. to pull back its headquarters facilities from the shores of the Persian Gulf and establish a network of smaller, more widely distributed bases further back on the Arabian Peninsula that would be harder for the Iranians to target. “We need to maintain a presence in the Gulf but one that doesn’t maintain a [command center] at al Udeid and Navy headquarters in Manama.”
For the time being, however, the new security architecture seems to mean strengthening the existing foundation of U.S. forces in the Gulf, while beefing up GCC forces through arms sales, training, and encouraging increased military cooperation between the GCC nations. The question now is whether it will work, providing the deterrent to Iran that so many in Washington and elsewhere feel we need.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
John Reed is FP‘s national security staff writer.
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I spent (nearly) all my adult life in what is called advertising, sometimes, promotion, otherwise, spin doctoring, for money.
I bet my silver dollar, I couldn’t have done a better job.
Guys, stay away from major conflicts. You are poorly trained.
Join the army and see the navy, kind of thingy.
What was your point, unless I missed it, altogether?
…and I am Sid Harth@webworldismyoyster.com
Time for regime change in the United States. This endless warmongering is obnoxious.
My latest conversation: Why do people love action hero stories that bear little resemblance to the novels?
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…and I am Sid Harth@webworldismyoyster.com
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