A major debate that is being discussed both domestically and internationally is the involvement of the United States of America in international affairs. This debate includes the practicality of where the United States has intervened in foreign affairs, its right to intervene in the first place considering past mistakes and questionable leadership, and whether or not that foreign involvement is in the general public’s best interest.
Obviously, the two sides of the debate refer to the ‘yes’ position, explained by Ivan Eland (as in yes, the United States should limit it’s global involvement) and also the ‘no’ position, backed by President Barack Obama (as in no, the United States should not limit it’s foreign involvement). Eland’s basis for his argument is that the United States has habitually overspent it’s treasure and overextended it’s military power to a point where we cannot keep pace economically and which could bring upon the demise of the American government as we know it. He also points out that continued foreign endeavors increases the risk of the United States being a target for terrorist attack.
Obama’s vision is that The United States of America needs to re-establish its place as a world leader by maintaining an active foreign policy. Obama admits that mistakes have been made where international affairs are concerned, but that is a reason to fix those mistakes and step up as a suitable leader once more. Discussed later in the paper is my own point of view, which supports President Barack Obama and his plan for active engagement in foreign affairs, in a conservative and confidant manner.
In his position, Eland points out that both republican and democratic actors, as of now, support the use of military force and United State intervention in foreign affairs. This begs the question, who is on Eland’s side? His half of the debate offers advice to both the conservatives and the liberals who are currently apart of US involvement decision-making. While he upholds fair and good points, his arguments hold less sway due to his non-direct involvement.
Eland’s first argument has a basis in the research of Christopher Coyne, a professor at West Virginia University. The bottom line of this research is that the Unites States attempts of bringing about democracy in countries where we have tried to intervene militarily has yielded low percent success rates. So it may be that it is time for America to change its tactics from a military to a more democratic approach. Another notion brought up by Eland is that it is in America’s best interest to unextend it’s military power. He points out that is unlikely for another hegemonic power to arise very quickly in the absence of our lessened military power, and also compares the overextending of the United States assets to when the Soviet Union overextended itself and it’s socialistic government collapsed.
However, Eland also points out that economically, European countries and China are achieving much more than the US. Therefore, if America does not keep up its involvement globally, it is likely that one of those countries could succeed us as the new superpower, thus contradicting his earlier statement that there is unlikely to be a new hegemon anytime soon. It is also unfair to liken the demise of Russia to that of the United States, when the governmental systems are very different.
President Barack Obama is in favor of upholding US involvement globally, and maintaining a leadership role. He plans to do this with 5 steps. First, by bringing troops home from Iraq but also leaving some to keep Al Queda and other terrorists at bay. However, the president doesn’t explain exactly how this will be accomplished more effectively since we are already supposedly fighting “The War on Terrorism” with all our best resources.
The main point in Barack Obama’s debate is that the United States needs to stay active in the world to remain on top. To do that, new alliances must be built within NATO, but also keep up with the times and constantly revise our alliances and position within the global community. It is also clear that The United States of America has made mistakes in it’s leadership and economically, but overall, Obama’s plan is fairly clearly outlined in his debate, that mostly makes logistical sense. The first step outlined in order to regain influential leadership is changing the troops and approach in the war in Iraq. Second, to employ a 21st military that is powerful, bright and able. Third, to reinforce allies and stand by other in countries in attempt to keep the world’s deadliest weapons out of the worst hands.