Monday, January 28, 2013

American Foreign Policy


1.0 Introduction

            Presidential elections and nominations in America have always been greatly impacted by the foreign policy as well as the guiding principles that the presidential aspirants intend to utilize in their administration of the American nation, as well as on the international arena[1]. As a matter of fact, many of the current presidential aspirants in America promise to come up with a workable foreign policy particularly in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe[2]. Presidential candidates, as demonstrated by Obama, usually campaign by highlighting the mistakes of their predecessors and promising to correct them[3]. When the American nation headed towards the 2009 presidential elections, and nominations, a great dissatisfaction was expressed by the American public towards the George W. Bush administration. There were many reasons for this state of affairs; apart from the fact that president Bush was perceived as lacking the persona and eloquence that a president of the American nation ought to portray, the Bush administration had conducted a great deal of blunders in their foreign policy[4].  Apart from his inclination towards the unilateral (acting alone) approach towards foreign policy which led to the alienation of the allies, the American mission in Iraq as well as the adoption of “enhanced interrogations” by President Bush were also considered great mistakes in foreign policy by the American public[5]. As a consequence of the general feeling in America about President Bush and his administration, by the time President Obama was running for presidency in the year 2009, the Republicans were greatly disadvantaged. The Democrats, on the other hand, seemed to be more advantaged due to the fact that their presidential aspirant, Obama, was not only vibrant and young in comparison to his predecessors, but also with the capacity to “rebrand” the United States of America.
[6]The main debates, however, have been on the foreign policy approaches of the Republicans as contrasted to that of the Democrats. Many political analysts in the United States of America argue that in the current days the characteristic of foreign and defense policies as political has declined. A November national survey by the CBS News/ National journal Survey indicated that 45% of the American address were well pleased with Obama’s foreign policy approach, 34% his economic policies and 63% his general performance. In most, if not all, of his actions, President Obama has indicated that he has learned from the mistakes of his predecessors; this is particularly indicated by his abandonment of unpopular approaches to terrorism for example the shutting down of Guantánamo Bay prison. This paper aims at conducting an evaluative assessment of the foreign policy by President Obama in contrast to that by the former American president George W. Bush[7]. More over, this paper will also elucidate that Obama has not delivered on the promises he made during his presidential campaigns and that he has attained success only when he pursued policies similar to those of his predecessor.

2.0 George Bush’s Foreign Policy

[8]Many political experts and analysts have portrayed the former American George W. Bush as a leader who was inclined to the unilateral approach of formulating foreign policy strategies; as a matter of fact, George W, Bush was responsible for unilaterally withdrawing the American nation from the Kyoto Protocol deal which was established to ensure environmental conservation[9]. [10]More over, during the War on terrorism after the September 9th 2001 attacks in New York, President Bush made it very clear to the rest of the world that if no alliance was formed to support America on its fight against terrorism, the United States of America would act unilaterally to ensure that America’s national security was safeguarded. [11]In the year 2001 President Bush then went ahead to divert the American financial resources, manpower and valuable machinery into the search for the then Al Qaeda leader-Osama Bib Laden- who was believed to be hiding in the Tora Bora area in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, until his coming from power President Bush was never able to capture Osama. [12]Another factor that led to the quenching of President Bush’s political wick is his foreign policy of “freedom agenda” in which he advocated for an increased level of democracy in the Middle East and Muslim world[13].
[14]It was during the George W. Bush administration that many scholars perceive the American nation to have gone through the most damaging foreign policy incidents; As a matter of fact, the Iraq crisis which led to the Killing of Iraq President Saddam Hussein is perceived as the worst Bush foreign policy blunder due to the adverse effects and loses that the crises brought the American nation. Apart from suffering damaged relationships with nations in the Middle east, the American nation lost 4,400 of its soldiers, $ 3,000,000,000 in its financial systems and a great number of physical, psychological and mental damages to the American troop and their families[15]. What made the crisis worse was the fact that, it was not necessary for America to get involved in this war; this was just a case of a wrong decision made by the person vested with the responsibility of safeguarding the interest of the American nation and its people-the president. [16]Despite all his shortcomings, however, President George W. Bush is accredited for being in possession of admirable capabilities in political street fighting as well as a great determination and resilience in ensuring that the United States of America did not lose its position as a dominant nation in the world. A number of scholars have also been able to successfully illustrate that the success achieved in the foreign policy by President Obama have only been attained when he followed on the footsteps of President George W. Bush, for example in the Libya and Iran crises.

3.0 Barrack Obama’s Foreign Policy

            [17]The foreign policy employed by President Obama in the United States of America is perceived as an amalgamation of multilateralism as well as a series of courageous and daring deeds. Despite the fact that the American president does not reveal much about particular foreign policy issues in any of his campaign websites, his past actions in his last term as well as the promises he made in the campaigns for his second term as president can be utilized in the assessment of his foreign policy strategies. In direct contrast to unilateralism which refers to a nation acting alone, the multilateralism approach to foreign policy refers to the process of a president establishing foreign policy strategies with consideration to the collaboration and acquiesces of other nations. Since becoming the president of the United States of America Obama has given much preeminence to the utilization of the multilateralism approach in formulating foreign policy actions to different nations of the world, particularly in the Middle East and African regions[18]. A feasible example of the American President applying this approach was indicated in the NATO involvement in the civil conflict that broke out in Libya. President Obama acted in a very multilateral manner when he assigned the American air force and naval military officers to deter the President Muammar Qaddafi from killing the rebels in Libya; this was achieved by the American forces obtaining a no fly zone in the Libyan nation. After doing all this, the American president then allowed the NATO group to take the lead in giving their support to the rebels in Libya[19].
There have however been a number of criticisms, most of them by the Republicans, which have been directed towards President Obama’s approach in the American foreign policy. According to the republicans President Obama has a propensity to “lead from behind[20]. In addition to this, President Obama has also been accused of being very ‘inconsistent’ in his foreigh policy techniques. This was demonstrated in the year 2009 after President Obama assumed office[21]. Obama had been inclined to the multilateral approach of foreign policy and when he assumed power he immediately organized for the American intelligence and armed forces to find and arrest Osama. Nevertheless, upon receiving news that Osama was hiding in Pakistan, President Obama instantly utilized the unilateral approach and ordered for the American military to strike without first informing the other nations which comprise the allied group. This was a very courageous act by President obama as indicated by the US Secretary of Defense who asserted that Obama’s giving a directive to strike and arrest Osama was “one of the most courageous calls…..that I think I’ve ever seen a president make.” After finding out that Pakistan had been the haven for the Al Qaeda leader for some years, Obama did not seem as concerned as many Americans would have wanted him to be. As a matter of fact, when the American Congress stated the intentions to put a stop to the foreign aid given by America to Pakistan, Obama was not as cynical to the Pakistani country as well as its alliance with the US. Obama has also been the point of criticism from American civil liberty agencies due to his order that Al-Awki- a top Al Qaeda leader of Yemen-American descent, be targeted and killed.
[22]President Obama has been accused of failing to deliver on the promises that he made regarding his policies on foreign policy during his campaigns. When President Obama came into power he had promised to do away with the offensive approach that his predecessor-George W. Bush- utilized towards the theocratic nation; this was particularly aimed at determining the fate of the Israeli nation through deterring the Iran nation from its development of nuclear weapons. Obama had made a pledge that rather than utilize the military approach applied by President George W. Bush[23], he would make use of negotiation and increased levels of legality[24]. Nevertheless, when this approach by Obama did not elicit the desired outcomes from Tehran, President Obama resorted to the imposition of sanctions-a George Bush approach- without much success. As a matter of fact, in the month of November the International Atomic energy Agency publicly announced that Tehran was almost certainly developing a nuclear weapon. The failure of the President Obama administration to do what it did in Syria and Iraq in Iran is perceived by the republicans as turning their back on the promise they made to ensure the fate of Israel. There are many other criticisms that have been leveled by the Republicans against the foreign policy approach by President Obama in a number of occasions. Many Republicans feel that the actions taken by President Obama in his foreign policy in the Arab Spring is not in the bets interest of America. One such action is President Obama’s involvement in the Libyan Crisis as well as his haste in abandoning America’s long time ally-President Hosni Mubarak- of Egypt. [25]Obama failed when he asserted that America had succeeded in reestablishing its relationship with Russia. In order to restate this association Obama’s administration had annulled the intended transfer of a missile defense structure in Czech and Poland and even isolated the allies all in the hopes of reconciling with Russia[26]; this has however not happened. Another area in which barrack Obama tried to bring about transformations so as to pursue a different policy to that of George bush, and failed, is in the matters of climate change; Obama and his administration failed to establish an accord by the end of the Copan Hagen Summit in the year 2009.
Despite such criticisms, however, President Obama has been able to achieve a number of successes; firstly, the Libyan crisis was resolved after the rebels killed ousted from power and their killed their authoritarian president. Secondly, president Obama was able to bring about the conclusion of the American conflict with Afghanistan; this conflict which began in the year 2001 was concluded in the year 2011 when President Obama made the announcement that the number of American soldiers in Iraq was to be reduced and the missions by the American armed forces halted. [27]Before the end of December in 2011 the American war forces were to officially withdraw from Iraq; nevertheless, the constant conflicts and attacks from the Taliban necessitated the prolonged stay of the troops, with President Obama announcing that the American troops would leave by the year 2013[28]. In addition to this, President Obama has been very valiant and courageous in carrying out his duties as President. In the year 2011, for example, Obama gave a directive for the American air force to target and eliminate Al-Awki- a top Al Qaeda leader of Yemen-American descent; never before in the history of America had a president ordered for the particular targeting and killing of an American national; Al-Awki was killed on the 30th of September. More over, Obama has achieved other great feats in his foreign policy endeavors: President Obama guided the American nation as well as other from the west to impose harsh sanctions on the nation of Iran so as to deter it from financially supporting the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. Obama also directed that the state department of the United States of America enforce sanctions against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad so as to prevent him from massacring protesting Syrian nationals[29].

4.0 Conclusion

Regardless of the fact that the foreign policy of the American nation has been cumbered with many interesting debates both in the Bush and Obama administrations, the position for the worst ever president in terms of American foreign policy is generally agreed to be occupied by America’s 43rd president-George W. Bush. Notwithstanding the fact that Obama’s initial campaigns were heavily bent towards the America foreign policy, the rhetoric of the American president has changed and inclined more towards the financial systems of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, President Obama has indicated more enthusiasm for the reformation of the American health systems, the passing of the health care bill and the generation of employment opportunities in America than in the solving of the Iran crisis. Unlike President Bush who made it very clear from the beginning that he would pursue a “humble” foreign policy, President Obama made many promised regarding his foreign policy approach which he is perceived as not having lived up to. The economic challenges that currently face the American nation have caused the general public to shift their focus from the issue of fighting terrorism, which was very attractive recently; Americans concern is now focused on how to repay the huge debt that America owes China as well as how to deal with the intended trillion dollar reduction in the American armed forces budget. As China rises speedily and aims at take over the Pacific and Europe is confronted with the Euro ignominy the future of America is worrying.












5.0 References

Ambrosius, Lloyd E., (2006), Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush: Historical Comparisons of Ends and Means in Their Foreign Policies, Diplomatic History(periodical), 30, pp.  509–43


[1] Lane, Charles, (2012), The Candidates and Foreign Policy, The World Affairs Journal
[2] Chang, Gordon G. (2012), Around Asia, World Affairs Journal

[3] Fever, Peter and Popescu, Lonut, (2012), ‘Is Obama’s foreign Policy Different to George Bush’s, E-International Relations

[4] Jentleson, Bruce W., (2003), American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century, Second Edition

[5] Ambrosius, Lloyd E., (2006), Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush: Historical Comparisons of Ends and Means in Their Foreign Policies, Diplomatic History(periodical), 30, pp.  509

[6] Lane, Charles, (2012), The Candidates and Foreign Policy, The World Affairs Journal
[7] Daalder, Ivo H. and James M. Lindsay, (2005), America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy

[8] Jones, Steve, (2012): Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform: Running on His Record, p. 1
[9] [9] Jones, Steve, (2012): Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform: Running on His Record
[10] Britton, Gregory, (2006), September 11, American ‘Exceptionalism’, and the War in Iraq, Australasian Journal of American Studies 25, pp.125

[11] Moens, Alexander, (2004), The Foreign Policy Of George W. Bush: Values, Strategy And Loyalty

[12] Lane, Charles, (2012), The Candidates and Foreign Policy, The World Affairs Journal
[13] Wright, Steven, (2007), The United States and Persian Gulf Security: The Foundations of the War on Terror, Ithaca Press

[14] Miks, Jason, (2012), Who Was the Least Successful Foreign Policy President, CNN World

[15] Pressman, Jeremy, (2009), Power without Influence: The Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy Failure in the Middle East, International Security 33, no. 4, pp. 149

[16] Fever, Peter and Popescu, Lonut, (2012), ‘Is Obama’s foreign Policy Different to George Bush’s, E-International Relations

[17] [17] Jones, Steve, (2012): Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform: Running on His Record, p. 2
[18] Stokes, Bruce, (2012), Post Election America Still Divided, CNN World

[19] [19] Jones, Steve, (2012): Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform: Running on His Record, p. 3
[20] Jones, Steve, (2012): Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform: Running on His Record, p. 4
[21] Margon, Sarah, (2012), What A Values-based Foreign Policy Would Look Like, CNN World

[22] Lane, Charles, (2012), The Candidates and Foreign Policy, The World Affairs Journal
[23] Dalby, Simon, (2005), Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, and the Bush Doctrine, Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies Working Papers (Singapore), no. 90

[24] Lane, Charles, (2012), The Candidates and Foreign Policy, The World Affairs Journal

[25] Fever, Peter and Popescu, Lonut, (2012), ‘Is Obama’s foreign Policy Different to George Bush’s, E-International Relations

[26] Vajdic, Daniel, (2012), What Obama Needs to do About Russia, CNN World

[27] Jones, Steve, (2012): Obama’s Foreign Policy Platform: Running on His Record, p. 5
[28] Nehru, Vikram, (2012), Memo to Obama: South East Asia Comprehensive Partnership, CNN World

[29] Roth, Kenneth, (2012), Keep Arab Spring on Track, CNN World