U.S. Foreign Policy in the 20th and 21st Century

July 6, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The United States foreign policy in the twentieth and twenty first century viewed by allies and adversaries differently depending upon the U.S. engagement viz. modus operandi in the conflicts of the affected regions.

Throughout the twentieth century, the United States direct and indirect dominant role brought peace and chaos to the world order, ominously the Cuban crisis and the infamous Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos war combined with constant interventions in the Korean Peninsula, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa as well as South and South East Asia.

With the exception of sparing the world from Nazi and fascist rule in Europe and elsewhere – a significant contribution to the birth of democracies in Japan and Western Europe,

Ironically, the subsequent U.S. foreign policy mostly enabled the rise of brutal regimes and totalitarianism particularly in the under developed, poor and impoverished parts of the world.

The colonial British dethroned by the Imperial U.S. foreign policy primarily responsible for the status quo in the Middle East, while other European and Mediterranean colonialists – France, Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Portugal leaving their trademark in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

World witnessed the emergence of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Theocracy in Iran following the overthrow of U.S. backed monarchy Shah of Iran including the predecessors and the successors in the entire Middle East aided by the contrived U.S. foreign policy driven by selective internal and external political interests focused on personal agenda.

Much to the operators’ surprise, their misguided policies led to the formation of terror organization such as Al Qaeda and the coronation of its leader Osama Bin Laden, a former Mujahedeen trained by CIA and the U.S. professional armed forces during the confrontation with the Afghanistan invaders, the former Soviet Union.

Given the track record of military aggression and perpetual violence by the profiteers representing the military industrial complex successfully causing carnage and destruction around the world up until now,

The cold war era might have curbed huge conventional and nuclear clashes between the two Superpowers in the 60’s and the 70’s but certainly facilitated the lucrative arms race specifically the nuclear arsenal between the rich and poor nations.

Late twentieth century comprising the Soviet Union disintegration along with nuclear fragmentation in that politically unstable vast region left the field open for U.S. foreign policy dominance in the world.

The United States foreign policy architects wasted no time in the invasions and occupations on the national security pretext and supporting their ‘ally’ Israel in the highly volatile Middle East or promoting ill-conceived democracies in the Western hemisphere through military coups.

The United States reputation until the 2008 Presidential election, as the leader of the free world and the Superpower tarnished because of the failed U.S. foreign policies for most part of the twentieth century and well into the twenty first century. Again, U.S blunders complemented with Iraqi invasion contributed to the neglect of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan to eliminate the strengthening Al Qaeda and Taliban forces from the northwestern Pakistani turf.

Further in the Middle East, as a defense surrogate the United States’ sworn allegiance to Israel against potential threats and attacks from Iran, Syria, Lebanon through Hezbollah, and Palestinian Gaza through Hamas is another factor for skepticism towards the ‘Western partner, USA’ among the Arab nations controlling the ‘oil’, the world’s most required natural resource.

Although, the strange predicament of U.S. surrogacy towards Israel and platonic relationship with the Arab world defended by declaring energy independence to undermine Arab stance in this matter, the reality of it is at least a decade away if not longer considering the Washington stalemate in the energy bill pending Senate approval.

The existing Israeli illegal invasion and occupation of Palestinian territories through settlements expansion must end to resolve the relic Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Meanwhile, in the Iranian political crisis and nuclear program, the recent rhetoric from the key White House representatives is not helpful as it creates unnecessary obstacles on the path towards democracy and stability in the Middle East such as Iraq and inevitably Iran.

Aside from pursuing the independent Palestinian state free of Israeli control in any form or shape and ensuring Israel’s safety and security as a sovereign state, it is paramount for Iran to free itself from the repressive theocratic regime for long lasting peace in the Middle East.

Fortunately, the current developments by the Iranian dissent galvanizing pro-reformist movements and the moderate clerics’ defiance to validate the rigged June 12 election results are optimistic and encouraging in terms of the possible democratic Iran evolving amidst reprehensible pro-democracy crackdown and human rights violation.

Any assertion by the United States proclaiming Israel’s sovereignty as a precursor for military strikes against Iranian hypothetical nuclear proliferation could be immensely detrimental to the United States, Israel, Iraq, and the remaining international security.

Why United States must refrain from controversial political posturing in an effort to defend Israel against alleged Iranian nuclear threat?


Why Israel should abandon any military option against Iran?

1. Firstly, Iran embroiled in the political crisis following the courageous decision by the pro-democratic Iranian population to seek twenty first century governance that guarantees fundamental human rights and economic relief with jobs, distribution of oil revenues through investment in common national growth and development.

2. Iranian theocracy fractured from the political turmoil delineating the moderate clerics from the hardliners with respect to unlawful killings, arrests and clamp down in the wake of forming the theocratic rule with their nominee Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an unpopular choice even among the
Ayatollahs representing the theocracy.

3. During the political transitioning in Iran any such statements by the United States – “Israel has a sovereign right to strike Iran’s apparent nuclear site and that the United States will not interfere in Israeli mission with the reaffirmation from the State Department that strike against Israel will be an attack against the United States” sever than serve the purpose.

ABC’S SUNDAY TALK ON JUNE 5, 2009: “This Week” Host George Stephanopoulos

Three times, I asked Biden if the Obama Administration would stand in the way of an Israeli military strike. Three times, he repeated that Israel was free to do what it needed to do. “If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.”

A subsequent interview with the Secretary of State – Hillary Clinton.

“CLINTON: I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it U.S. policy now?

CLINTON: I think it is U.S. policy to the extent that we have alliances and understandings with a number of nations. They may not be formal, as it is with NATO, but I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that, were Israel to suffer a nuclear attack by Iran, there would be retaliation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: By the United States?

CLINTON: Well, I think there would be retaliation. And I think part of what is clear is, we want to avoid a — a Middle East arms race which leads to nuclear weapons being in the possession of other countries in the Middle East, and we want to make clear that there are consequences and costs.”
Analysis – By Padmini Arhant

President Obama’s candidacy pledged towards relentless diplomacy and peaceful negotiations in all foreign policy matters including the Middle East, assuring a dramatic shift from the Bush administration’s formula involving military action to resolve any political crisis.

The commitment reversal in the Iranian matter would deeply hurt the administration’s credibility in the Middle East as well as among the nations, the President is attempting to outreach for better international relations i.e. Russia and its allies.

United States and Israeli positions could also be misconstrued as provocative and derail the ‘behind the scenes’ progress developing in Iran. Besides fomenting fear and concern among the Iranian population already mortified from the latest violence, it could escalate tension in the neighboring Iraq adjusting to the gradual U.S. troops withdrawal from its cities with the hope of seeing complete timeline withdrawal by 2011.

United States will be officially presenting itself complicit in the catastrophic event with similar overtures not barring double standards in anything related to Israel.

Above all, the economic impact is even greater with respect to crude oil stocks superficially skyrocketing based on the speculative ramifications of Israeli strike against Iran (an OPEC member and one of the leading oil producers) on United States watch.

Moreover, Israel’s unilateral action against Iran would isolate Israel and exacerbate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s status as a hardliner even though the Prime Minister now appearing to reconcile terms with the two states solutions vital for the Israeli-Palestinian future and,

Notwithstanding the proposed Israeli military action jeopardizing the Arab states’ recognition of Israel as a sovereign state and a viable peace partner in the Middle East.

As for the rest of the world, the terror attacks will substantially increase by default, embolden the weakened Al Qaeda in Iraq and Pakistan with vigorous recruitments through mere propaganda that U.S, and ally Israel preparing yet another military action against an Islamic nation Iran after the prolonged occupation in Iraq.

In light of the projected precarious scenarios, United States being the world leader has a moral responsibility to prioritize diplomacy and non-violence over military attacks either directly or by proxy.

It’s time for the United States to make a conscientious departure from the disastrous old ways proven counterproductive and write a new chapter in history by remaining a trustworthy partner and a reliable negotiator for all nations in the establishment of global peace.

Opportunities are rare and power guided by wisdom produce positive outcome.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

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