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Foreign policy challenge facing the US

One of the most crucial aspects of American foreign policy throughout its history has been the influence of warfare and military intervention in relation to international policies and conflict-resolution. Because the United States, as a Constitutional Democracy is theoretically obliged to attain both the legal and moral consent of its citizenry before engaging in warfare or prolonged military action, the use of the military to address specific foreign policy issues in the twenty-first century, such as global terrorism or nuclear proliferation is a central and quite urgent consideration of America’s future foreign policies.

With the simultaneous proliferation of technology and international conflict in the modern world, strategies for countering the outbreak of violence and war are urgently needed. The century which has recently slipped away — the Twentieth Century — might be crowned as “the bloodiest in history” with hundreds of millions of war casualties and with weapons of mass destruction being created and proliferated. In this same century, state-sponsored genocide and terrorism emerged as “everyday” headlines.

With an international economy in peril, an environment on the brink of disaster, and a globalization process of industry already underway, a central question regarding the future of international politics arises: has the time come to “move beyond” armed conflict? Are global conditions such that a worldwide movement to demilitarize political and cultural conflict is not only possible, but necessary? Against the preceding twentieth-century backdrop of chaos, war, and an increasingly dangerous technological landscape, the philosophy of non-violence, or passive resistance, gained a worldwide momentum.

The achievements of key leaders such as Gandhi, King, and Mandela revealed the potential of non-violence resistance as a method for seizing social initiative and political power. The goal of war is to attain the strategic ends of the particular war: there is no single goal, no single purpose which can be said to encompass all wars; however victory and defeat can be defined as the measurement of whether or not a war’s given strategic goals have been attained, regardless of the impetus, duration, or tactics involved in the overall prosecution of the war.

In modern wars, it may be more difficult to distinguish an “offensive” action from a “defensive” action. The American invasion of Iraq, for example, has applications as a defensive tactic in the larger strategic picture of the “war on terror” but the specific engagement on the ground in Iraq involves an exchange of offensive and defensive tactics depending on the specific engagement and circumstances of individual battles. The US military invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 marked the first elective invasion of a nation-state by the United States military.

The resulting chaos and possibility of all out civil-war in Iraq brings to the forefront the already incendiary debate regarding the role of US military power in global affairs, as well as the question as to whether or not military action is a necessity, or non-utility, in determining the future of American foreign-policy. An important aspect of the future efficacy of military intervention is the issue of coalitions. The Iraq War, while technically conducted under the auspices of a “coalition of the willing” constitutes a fruitful and important model of a weak military coalition in action.

Even a cursory study of the predicaments, challenges, shifting loyalties, and economic burdens which are involved in maintaining this weak coalition reveals certain, inherent strategic flaws and challenges. The supposition of American military superiority which has driven the present interventionist policies in Iraq, should it be extended into future policy, would likely lead to a time when the American military would be deployed sans involvement with any alliance or coalition.

Such a vision of American dominance makes the implementation of unilateral American military action in the global War on Terror highly likely. Ironically, the Iraq War may also indicate the need for US foreign policy to shift from a vision generated from unilaterally dominant vision discussed above, to a vision which may embrace the idea of strong coalitions and alliances, while learning a lesson about prolonged unilateral occupation of foreign nations.

Finding strong alliances will involve cultural, diplomatic, and economic considerations, as well as issues of military preparedness and resolution. Taken in the context of how radical Islam – the enemy of the US — has manipulated the use of strong coalitions and alliances (of convenience) based on race and religion, these notions can be considered instructive in modern affairs as well as being historically profound.

The paradox of unilateralism is, of course, that it implies a potential enemy of every other nation; however, the tenuous nature of coalitions and the perceived military and economic superiority that has driven America’s contemporary foreign policy, if continued, makes it likely that the use of American military operations will continue to be based primarily on a unilateral vision of foreign policy and not upon the definement of strong and enduring coalitions and alliances.

This supposition also implies that the use of military force is still a central aspect of any nation’s foreign-policy and, in fact, all indications, historical and statistical indicate that domestic use of military violence is also on the increase. This ,latter observation resonates with issues of Domestic Intelligence gathering and Intelligence agencies in their theoretically y role of the government and the military.

Although ambiguity persists in the public perception of the contribution of the United States intelligence services to the build up toward the Iraqi War, official statements by high-ranking intelligence officials who served during the time period in question maintain a specific position: that the U. S. possessed credible information that Iraq maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and these weapons posed a potential threat to America.

In point of fact when classified intelligence reports surfaced in 2002 which seemed to indicate that “the United States had no reliable evidence before hostilities that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction” (“Official Rebuts Story of,” 2003, p. A03), Adm. Lowell Jacoby, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency was quick to contradict this supposition, stating for the record that the leaked report “didn’t mean Iraq’s banned weapons program was a myth” (“Official Rebuts Story of,” 2003, p. A03).

Whether or not the leaked DIA report of 2002, in fact, indicates that the intelligence agency realized Iraq posed no threat to the U. S. or whether Adm. Lowell’s assertion, along with myriad others’ during the build-up to war, that Iraq did pose a threat to the U. S. , the incontrovertible fact is that no weapons of significance were discovered post-invasion. The question as to whether or not the war can be considered a fall-out of “bad intelligence” then, would seem to be a non-starter. The simple facts, despite leaked report of 2002, are that the intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the DIA posited and maintained the position through the buildup and afterward that Iraq posed a threat to the U. S. and that Iraq possessed illegal weapons of mass destruction. Since no weapons were found, there was obviously and most tragically a profound failure of intelligence.

A failure so profound, in fact, that the blame for a catastrophe involving potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold trillions of dollars should lie squarely on the intelligence gathering agencies who so grossly mishandled their responsibilities and led America into an unnecessary and dearly costly war.

However, the American intelligence-gathering agencies cannot be said to have acted in a solitary or renegade fashion in regard to their more or less uniform assessment that Iraq did, indeed, possess weapons of mass destruction. As Adm. Jacoby pointed out in his rebuttal of the notion that the intelligence agencies themselves knew there were no weapons of mass destruction: “There was no need to manipulate the reports [… ] because “clearly, there’s a whole body of evidence” since the United Nations began inspecting Iraq at the end of the 1991[…] “that says they, in fact, did have a weapons of mass destruction program.

(“Official Rebuts Story of,” 2003, p. A03). Clearly, there were widespread intelligence reports both in the U. S. and abroad which facilitated the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq was in violation of the U. N treaties under which it was obliged to surrender all of its WMD’s. This widespread appraisal opens the door to two possibilities.

1) the global intelligence network was wrong about Iraq and WMD’s and 2) both the U. S. intelligence and global intelligence networks that supported the idea that Iraq possessed WMD’s were right in this belief, but the weapons simply ere never discovered after the invasion. This latter possibility broaches the subject of just what is meant when it is claimed that absolutely no weapons of mass destruction were found. This is technically true, but “several mobile labs with the capacity to produce deadly chemical agents” (“Official Rebuts Story of,” 2003, p.

A03) were actually “located by coalition forces” (“Official Rebuts Story of,” 2003, p. A03) which leaves open the very strong possibility that Iraq did have ana active weapons program which was in violation of the U. N. resolution. This weapons program may have been very small and may have posed no immediate threat to the U. S. , but its presence would at least to some degree explain the collective intelligence assessments of multi-national agencies which indicated that Iraq’s weapons programs were active.

It would also seem to indicate that the intelligence estimates of the U. S. agencies which suggested Iraq possessed WMD’s were not wholly inaccurate. With regard to the specifically American build-up to the Iraq War, it has been alleged by critics of the Bush administration that the administration “ignored intelligence reports that suggested a lack of weapons, or manipulated vague reports of the presence of chemical agents, to justify the war” (“Official Rebuts Story of,” 2003, p. A03) and this, rather than the reality of a massive, global intelligence failure seems to offer the most reasonable explanation as to just how the case for war was crafted.

A rather chilling explanation for the apparent massive intelligence failure in the lead-up to the Iraq War begins to puzzle itself together, piece by awful piece. First of all, the possibility that the intelligence was misused and a lie perpetrated by the Bush administration leaders who wanted war with Iraq must be seriously considered.

Simple reduction of the argument reveals that there are only a limited amount of possibilities to account for the global nature of the intelligence failure. Although motives for such an action by the Bush administration may or not be demonstrable, such motives are unnecessary to make the case, at least, that it was not an intelligence failure which precipitated the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces, but a wilful misreading of intelligence by an administration bent on political ends.

This latter scenario can can be established by an examination of the CIA’s role in the build-up to war. A key aspect to the CIA was the purge which was facilitated by Bush appointee, Porter Goss. This weakening of the intelligence agency alone with foresworn, like-minded political appointees, alone, constitutes a form of “cherry-picking.

” The conclusion which seems obvious regarding the International intelligence community adn the build-up to the Iraq War is that it was not an intelligence failure which precipitated the invasion but a failure at the executive level of the American government which led to a cherry-picking of evidence, a wilful disregard for opposing opinions or evidences, and a pre-decided ambition to invade and occupy the nation of Iraq despite the information made available to it by intelligence-gathering agencies.

There has been a demonstrable increase in the number of inter-state conflicts, or civil wars, since the end of World War Two, the most obvious hypothetical “causes” of this upswing in inter-state wars can be statistically disproven. Additionally, traditional viewpoints which regard the end of the Cold War as a primary factor re discounted and the rise if civil wars and insurgent wars are viewed by the article’s authors as stemming form the post-colonial fallout after World War Two. Among the three primary determinants, low income can viewed as the motivator among post-colonial states in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia.

The intervention or support of a third-party is also credited as being a primary determinant in regards to the predisposition toward insurgency. This kind of intervention may prove crucial to the finalization of the creating of a “hot” insurgency in an at-risk state. The conclusions are obvious: although non-violent approaches to conflict resolution may provide specific remedies to specific cultural, political, and religious conflicts, the continuation of military action, war, and violence as methods for enforcing one’s will or the will of one’s group upon an adversary are as alive today as in Clausewitz’s time.

The specific nature of war may have changed from symmetrical to asymmetrical, but war remains. Interestingly enough, civil wars and insurgencies do not, of themselves, indicate a “failed” nation state, but rather a state which is the process of cultural and political evolution. This idea seems viable but is not actually backed up by the bulk of the article or the evidence presented in the article which often seems to suggest the opposite: that state’s which employ unjust or unequal policies can be held at a higher risk of an insurgency meant, precisely, to destroy the existing nation-state.

One question suggested is whether or not an increase of income, infrastructure, and opportunity within high-risk states would merely quell the opportunity for insurgent warfare, or actually diminish the divisiveness within a nation and make the nation so strong it would, in turn, be more disposed toward imperialism or intervention in foreign nations. The preceding survey of the way in which warfare or the threat of military action by the United States influences and has historically influenced U.

S. foreign policy, most recently in the build-up to the Iraq War, presents a short primer on what kind of policies have been prevalent up to contemporary times. As noted, global conditions are currently both volatile and quickly-evolving, enough so that the potential factors of “rational actors” and “heroes in istory” will certainly play a role in the extension of or curtailing of U. S. military intervention.

Perhaps one of the most critical and complex issues which faced the framers of the United States constitution was that of how to limit the government and associated governmental beuracacy while ensuring that the Federal government retained enough power and authority to interpret and enforce the constitution itself. The idea of connecting the interests of the individual with constitutional principles is an exceedingly complex idea, but one which would have been explicit, in consequence, to the Colonial framers of the constitution.

The sub-text of this, of course, is that all men’s self-interests are ultimately best-served by a government which enables them to live free and which enables them to pursue their self-interests to a point of true liberty; however, the maintenence of the constitution and the democratic state, which are, in actuality, protections against the propensity of governments to turn oppressive and hostile, must be regarded as more essential, more important than the mere personal self-interests of those who serve in government.

The next generation will face so many different challenges, ranging from war to global poverty, from the impact of technology to the scarcity of natural resources, that it is difficult to assign a single challenge as most crucial or important. However, because the challenges of the twenty-first century, whether economic or environmental, cultural or biological will require new methods of thinking and behaving at both the individual and social levels, the biggest challenge that faces my generation is one of changing the perceptions which many people have about the nature of personal responsibility and personal empowerment.

While it seems obvious enough to say, as Presidential Barack Obama asserts, that new generations of Americans are waiting for a politics of optimism and maturity, the ramifications of such a politics of maturity and realism extend to many important areas of American society including economics, technology, and philosophy and religion. What is necessary for America to meet the challenges of the future is a social cultural acceptance of the fact that responsibility, and not merely the pursuit of self-interests, is a path to personal empowerment.

This last statement may seem contradictory to many Americans. A great number of people view themselves in purely materialistic terms and want what they can get out of society without taking any personal responsibility for the consequences. For some people, life holds no meaning outside of its material dimension and this loss of meaning in American culture has consequences beyond the immediately personal. As strange as it sounds, the only way to break the cycle of endless anxiety over our limitless freedom is by accepting responsibility for the choices we make.

This is a kind of paradox in American society; the less one begins to value their own existence the less responsibility they will feel for their actions. To accept responsibility is, in itself, to accept that life is meaningful and to accept that life in meaningful is an act of self-empowerment. In this way, a change in the basic philosophical vision present in American culture may help us to begin to make inroads against the challenges which face us in the new world.

By accepting responsibility for our actions we will understand the connections between the injustices and disparities in society and the damages which have been inflicted upon the environment. Considering the modern paradigms of asymmetrical warfare, insurgency warfare, civil-war, and unilateral intervention, there is scarcely a case to be made, credibly, that violence, war, and military action are outmoded methods of political, cultural, and ideological influence. Although non-violent strategies may, at some point in humanity’s future, take precedence over violent means, that day has not yet arrived.

Despite the obvious drawbacks and cost in blood and treasure which accompany military actions, both governments and non-governmental groups will continue to resort to violence and military force to forward their agendas. The concern, as always, will be whether or not the escalation of destructiveness and tension between nations and groups which is engendered by war will be overcome by the simultaneous global evolution toward international interdependency. Reference Official Rebuts Story of Iraq Intelligence Shortcomings; Says Leaked Classified Report Was Misread regarding Weapons Program. (2003, June 7). The Washington Times, p. A03.

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