U.S Foreign policy

Foreign policy refers to those decisions made within a country that in turn affect entities outside the country. Initially, foreign policy (and most of international relations in general) pertained to the interaction of nation states, as those were the primary factors. Hence foreign policy generally refers to decisions made by one country or nation-state that directly affects the other. According to the book “The crisis of the American foreign policy”, the U. S economy has been said to be in trouble.

The authors say that the problems are deep rooted and systematic, and that they are not merely the product of some immediate crisis of the moment, nor of any one president or administration, but they go to the very fundamentals of who Americans are and what they stand for as a nation. The problems that the American foreign policy has with many countries are just symptoms of even lager underlying problems. In this book, the fundamental problem is that, on far too many fronts, the American political system is simply not working. The problems within the policy are both conceptual and organizational.

Organizationally, the problem is that as it is presently constituted, the American political system is so deeply divided, so partisan, so bureaucratic, so inefficient, and so inept that it is incapable of making clear, rational, well-informed decisions on a host of critical foreign policy issues, let alone implementing them. Another problem stated in this book is that of the Americans continuing to assume that the rest of the world wants to be like them. This is why we fail to understand the foreign countries and their cultures, causing us to make blunders.

The problems have been accumulating for decades, because the U. S foreign policy is divided, and polarized, as reflected by the foreign policy. The policy decisions are not made in a vacuum, but are the results of a number of factors, both domestic and international that are taken in to account. Also, not all factors weigh the same all the time; to be effective the foreign policy must assign different weights to and reflect changing priorities. History of the American policies Kaufman says that the U. S policy has always reflected its interests with the country the relation is made towards, and the policy makers.

The early years of the U. S foreign policy were defined by the policy makers, and they were all men who believed that the highest priority of the country should be to look inward and to build a stable and prosperous country removed from the affairs (and wars ) of Europe. Unilateralism is one of the foreign policy orientations, which presumed that the United States would remain, removed from the political and military affairs of the rest of the world, but would be engaged in limited ways and in areas of its choosing.

Many political science texts refer to the early years as a period of isolationism, meaning that the United States remained removed from the political affairs of the rest of the world. Participation of the U. S in the famous Spanish war in the in the early 1900s made it change its foreign policy. The war made the United States an imperial power, rivaling the major power of Europe. No longer seen as a new, young country, the United States now had its own colonies, which brought with it responsibilities, in that it could neither be removed from the rest of the world, nor could it only look inward.

Its national interests now required that it be protective to its colonial interests, and that it be more involved in the affairs of other nations. This was a major change to its policy. Still in the 1900s, the Roosevelt Corollary, the Monroe Doctrine and the building of the Panama Canal are examples of events showing the growth of the international involvement of the U. S. The expansion of trade by Americans in the United States across its borders meant the greater involvement of the military for the protection of the traders.

Military forces were sent in Nicaragua and Honduras in 1910 to 1911 to protect the lives of the traders and the interests of America. In 1912, the forces were again deployed to Cuba, Honduras, Panama and China, all in the name of “protecting the U. S interests” and “promoting peace and stability. ” Although some Americans were opposed to this idea, their voices were ignored. By 1930, the foreign policy of the U. S had changed dramatically. Since then and up to date, the policy in relation to different nations has been changing, as influenced by the policy makers and the interests of America with the nation.

Alternative approaches to a better policy Foreign policy on military assistance The U. S is the world’s largest participant in offering military assistance. The United States Congress holds the authority and the funds used for military assistance. It is comprised of several forms, although the most common are the grants to the foreign governments for the purchase of the weapons made in America, the training and the services. In 1996, approximately 160 countries were offered either equipment or military training by the U. S government.

However, the problem with America offering military assistance is that it is aids only those countries it has an interest in, and not with an aim to help as it seems. At times, the country receiving the war equipments may use them for war with their enemies. Being a nation with world wide influence, America should not promote wars and invasions through aiding the military equipments. Instead, the military assistance should be offered to the countries that really need it for their protection or defense and not for attacking or disturbing peace. Foreign policy on foreign aid

Developed nations are responsible for offering the foreign aid, especially to the third world countries. The United States Secretary of State holds the authority and the foreign policies to direct USAID to the third world countries. The U. S is the world’s largest donor, and in 2006 its total donations, calculated in monetary value amounted to $22. 7 billion. The U. S aid might seem as a generous gesture; this is hardly the case. Critics say that aid given by the U. S government is a way to reward the military and the political partners in the developing countries.

When the USAID representatives sign the agreement to offer funds with the recipient country, they also make deals. The most common of such deals is that the countries will provide market for goods manufactured in the U. S, and not from any other country. They may also give the aid in return for raw materials available at the receiving countries for use at American industries. I call this hypocrisy. If America really wants to help the struggling countries, then it should do it whole heartedly. Bribing the recipients should never be used as a tactic to get cheap or free raw materials for American industries.

Policy evaluation Foreign policy on military assistance The U. S government should also know when to offer military aid and when not to. Aid is expensive, and careful calculation should be done to avoid any losses. This can best be explained using the recent example where the U. S’s efforts to offer military aid to Iraq were not successful. Efforts by the government, through the military to bring development plans in order to stabilize and to rebuild Iraq after the execution of Saddam Hussein resulted to a destabilization of the region surrounding Iraq. It has also cost the U.

S a lot of money, not to mention other resources. As result of the sufferings experienced when the U. S military was in Iraq, Iraqis labeled the U. S government a dictatorship. The military assistance also contributed to defaming of the U. S government by Iraqis for its failure to withdraw the troops. Although the aid was of benefit to a certain extent, it also caused more harm than good to the Iraqis. Foreign policy on foreign aid Offering aid to the developing countries is a kind, genuine and a humanitarian gesture by the donors. The aid is beneficial to the people struggling at the third world countries.

It also improves the social relationship between America and the receiving country. Such relations are important in that America may seek help from the country whenever needed. Aid also brings economic benefits to America, where the recipient is required to pay the back aid (if it was in form of a loan) with a high interest. However, to the receiving country, aid causes an economic stress, especially when the country has insufficient funds to repay the loan. The raw materials in the receiving country can also be used up by the American government, leading the exploitation.

Policy prescription Foreign policy on military assistance To address the problems caused by the military assistance, the U. S government needs to change the current policies. It should involve the country in which the aid will be offered more while making decisions concerning the aid. This would prevent the disagreements that arise from the decision by America to offer aid, while the citizens of the receiving countries are opposed to it. Foreign policy on foreign aid It is a fact that aid is essential to the people at the developing countries with food shortages. The U.

S does a good job by offering help to the governments in these countries to feed its citizens. However, America needs to realize that these countries should not be exploited. It needs to change the policy that supports exploitations, like the provision of market and the raw materials for America. A new policy on the distribution of aid needs to be written.

The U. S also needs to start calculating its aid as a percentage of the gross national income as other countries do. In 2006, its aid contribution was $22. 7 billion, but when calculated as a percentage of the gross national income, U. S’s aid was 0.2% only, much smaller than that of countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom, whose contributions were 1. 04% and 0. 52% respectively.


1) Kaufman Joyce P. , A concise history of U. S. foreign policy, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, pg 29-47 2) Martha Honey, Tom Barry, Global focus: U. S. foreign policy at the turn of the millennium, St. Martin’s Press, 2000, pg 157 3) Palmer Glenn, Morgan T. Clifton, A theory of foreign policy, Princeton University Press, 2006, pg 123 4) Wiarda Howard J. , Skelley Esther M. , The crisis of American foreign policy: the effects of a divided America, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, pg 1-2