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US FOREIGN POLICY
Ali Aleghfeli, Akwasi Boakye & Thomas Mee
Introduction to US Foreign Policy
Reflection on the reading
US Foreign Policy: Afghanistan
Did you know?...
US Foreign Policy: Syria
US Foreign Policy today
US Foreign Policy and the intervention in Iraq
Main Case Study: US Foreign Policy during the ‘Cold
Conclusion of Case Study
INTRODUCTION TO US FOREIGN POLICY
The foreign policy of the United States is the way in which it interacts with foreign nations and sets
standards of interaction for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens.
The global reach of the United States is backed by a $15 trillion economy, approximately a quarter of
global GDP, and a defence budget of $711 billion, which accounts for approximately 43% of global
The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign
Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are "to build and sustain a more democratic, secure,
and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community."
REFLECTION ON THE READING
What are the core themes of Feldstein’s article “America’s Foreign
Policy in a Changing World (It’s the End of the World As We Know It)”
What approach does Feldstein propose for US foreign policy in the
next two decades?
Feldstein notes how America is facing a decade of irrefutable decline, and will
soon be replaced by the emerging Asian powers, namely China.
He mentions the ‘restraint’ perspective, drawing comparisons between America
today and Britain post WW2; America must stick to a narrow national security
mandate, and protect core interests, all whilst down sizing the military and
abandoning a broad global program.
US FOREIGN POLICY ON AFGHANISTAN
The history of US-Afghan relations is a relationship that does not stem from very far back in time.
Afghanistan was traditionally seen as and took on the role as a ‘buffer’ state which prevented it from going
into the orbit of any superpower or joining any military alliance.
However, the Soviet influence increased and the Soviets provided military training and arms supply to
Afghan army.The US adopted a flexible approach in its relations with the Soviets, which resulted in the
increasing influence of communism and ultimately, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan on December 27,
1979, which totally altered the geo-strategic situation. Pakistan became a frontline state and the US made
arrangements to supply military assistance to resistance groups without its direct involvement.
In 1981, President Reagan took power with his tough anti-communist stance and made Moscow pay a high
military and political price for the intervention in Afghanistan.The Soviet left Afghanistan after signing
Geneva Accords in February 1989. In the absence of a central government, a civil war erupted which
brought the Taliban in power.
The US interest in the post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan was limited to expression of its concern for
the establishment and support of a stable government.The main aim of the US was to weaken the Soviet
US FOREIGN POLICY ON AFGHANISTAN CONTINUED…
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on NewYork and Washington drastically changed the
whole scenario and the US once again reviewed its policy towards Afghanistan and launched a war
These attacks caused 3000 causalities and numerous missing.To retaliate it, the US led international
coalition, an anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan.
The US began its military operation in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 after the failure of the political
and diplomatic efforts for solving the US Taliban stand off over the question of handing over bin
Laden to the US government. After dismantling the Taliban regime, the US did not abandon its search
operation in Afghanistan, as it wanted to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and destroy the Al-Qaeda
According to the US, Al-Qaeda network is not confined to a single state and terrorism is multifaceted
phenomenon. In other words, being the superpower, the US can strike any country, group and
individual, anywhere in the world for so-called terrorist activities.
It is generally viewed that the US moves for the strengthening of its relations with Afghanistan are for
expanding its influence beyond the Afghan frontiers into Central Asia, and vis-à-vis China.
DID YOU KNOW?…
Osama bin Laden was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihad. He
was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerrilla training camp.
Under the Reagan administration, US foreign policy evolved towards the unconditional support and
endorsement of the Islamic “freedom fighters”. In today’s World, the “freedom fighters” are labelled
In absolute dollar terms, the United States is the largest international aid donor ($22.7 billion in
2006), but as a percent of gross national income, its contribution is only 0.2%, proportionally much
smaller than contributions of countries such as Sweden (1.04%) and the United Kingdom (0.52%)
US FOREIGN POLICY ON SYRIA
In 2013, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is believed to have crossed Obama’s so-called “red line” in
terms of using chemical weapons in that country’s ongoing civil war.
Obama briefly attempted to rally an international military response, but was deterred by Russian
President Vladimir Putin who parlayed an agreement allowing Syria to dispose of its chemical
weapons rather than face a military intervention.
In addition there was significant opposition in Congress to committing the United States to yet
another foreign military intervention.
Also complicating diplomatic efforts in this conflict is the complex nature of the resistance against the
Rebel fighters have been just as brutal with Assad loyalists as the Syrian army has been with the
rebels. Furthermore,some components of the Syrian resistance are believed to be connected to
international terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.This makes it difficult for the U.S. and other actors to
give more direct support to the rebels.
US FOREIGN POLICY TODAY…
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in a speech recently delivered to the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland, launched a defence of America’s foreign policy, strongly rebuffing claims that
President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to deploy force in troubled regions meant it was
withdrawing from the world stage.
In the speech, Kerry said the US expected Iran to deliver on its nuclear proliferation pledges,
demanded the departure from power of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and urged the Israelis and
the Palestinians to reach agreement on a two-nation settlement.
He also said that the US was working for an agreement to end the violence in Ukraine, prevent North
Korea from getting nuclear weapons and to secure new transatlantic and transpacific trade deals
Perhaps there is an argument to be made that US Foreign Policy will always be critiqued and never
garner full backing and support.Whether that support is from Congress, or the general public.
US FOREIGN POLICY AND THE INTERVENTION IN IRAQ
US FOREIGN POLICY: IRAQ
Numerous military force by USA: Iraq war, largely known on the content of nuclear weapon (Rosati &
Scott, 2014. P.184).
In 2003, Bush invaded Iraq (Rosati & Scott, 2014. P.123).
The major concern for foreign policy is deciding when US is supposed to engage in military force.
This aspect differ with public notion.
hence, community fail to comprehend on what is termed as national interest.
MOTIVE FOR INTERVENTION
Claims of illegal possession of weapon for mass destruction (WMD) (Hay, 2010).
Saddam Hussein alleged collaboration with al-Qaeda.
The need to protecting human right that was infringed by Iraq government.
As an effort to spread democracy in the country (Hay, 2010).
Saddam Hussein was always supporting the Palestinian case.
Allegations of Violating UN resolutions.
HOW THE DECISION WAS TAKEN?
The entire idea was illegal as it was declared publicly by Kofi Annan.
Seen as supremacy battle because it required UN endorsement (Hay, 2010)..
The operation carried out prior to invasion, showed no presence of WMD .
Iraq vowed to stop nuclear weapon production.
Thousand were killed including military and civilians.
This contradict human right act, which they were fighting for (Hay, 2010).
CASE STUDY: US FOREIGN POLICY DURING THE
Following WW2, two new superpowers emerged, the USA & the Soviet Union.
Both dubbed themselves as the respective leaders of Capitalism & Communism,
and were in competition to showcase the benefits of joining their ideology.
The Cold War was a period of great change in US Foreign Policy, with many new
doctrines and policies being created, some were successful in achieving their aim
however others faulted to differing degrees.
Each change in policy had one core objective however, to protect the world from the
dangers of communism.
GEORGE KENNAN & THE LONG TELEGRAM
Historians often dispute the true beginnings of the Cold War, some believing the Yalta Conference to be the official start of
the Cold War, however George Kennan’s (1904-2005) Long Telegram is a good starting point for American Foreign policy
during the Cold War.
Kennan sent a 5500 word telegram to the US Secretary of State, advising on how to handle diplomatic relations with the
Kennan noted how Stalin needed a hostile world to legitimise his autocracy, and in response to this penned the term which
would be used greatly in US Foreign Policy for the remainder of the Cold War, Containment.
In the words of Kennan, Soviet pressure had to “be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a
series of constantly shifting geographical and political points.”
THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE
President Harry Truman made a speech on March 12th 1947, which stated that the USA would offer military &
economic aid to Turkey & Greece, to prevent them falling into the Soviet sphere of influence.
It was a commonly held belief that Communism flourished in poor economic conditions, so by offering aid to
poorer countries,Truman hoped that they would not be swayed into the Communist sphere of influence.
The Domino theory also played a large part in the Truman Doctrine. If Greece or Turkey were to fall under the
influence of Communism, the US was wary that the other country would offer little resistance and too eventually
fall to Communism.The Truman Doctrine was put in place to avoid this eventuality.
The Truman doctrine also followed up on George Kennan’s ideology of containment, actively containing
Communist expansion through continued support of Countries under the threat of Soviet interference.
THE MARSHALL PLAN
The Marshall Plan was a major part of the Containment Policy. Being put into place on March 30th
1948, US Secretary of State George Marshall proposed offering economic aid to the countries of
Europe to help rebuild after the devastation of WW2.
The Marshall plan was also put in place to try and stop Communism breeding amongst European
countries. It was hoped that continued economic aid would not only deter Communism, but also show
off the benefits of democracy.
Marshall Aid was offered to the Soviet Union, however they declined the aid as they did not wish for
the USA to have a degree of influence in Communist economies.
Under the Marshall Plan, the USA gave 13 billion dollars worth of aid. Adjusted for inflation that is the
equivalent of the US offering 148 billion dollars today.
THE EISENHOWER DOCTRINE
President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the Eisenhower Doctrine in January 1957, and it was met
with widespread approval from both houses of Congress.
The Eisenhower Doctrine declared that the USA would use military force if requested by another
State under the threat of armed aggression.
Eisenhower made note of the Soviet threat in the doctrine, sanctioning the use of US troops "to secure
and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid
against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism”.
The Eisenhower Doctrine was also important as it marked a distinct change in America’s Foreign
Policy stance.The Policy of Containment had been changed tremendously to a new Policy of
THE POLICY OF ‘ROLLBACK’
The Policy of Rollback was first coined by Republican spokesman John Foster Dulles in 1949 and was
taken on as a replacement for Containment.
Differing massively from Containment, Rollback actively sought out to annihilate an enemy and
occupy the Country, as was done during the American Civil War to the Confederacy.
Rollback was attempted during the Korean War (1950-1953) however failed miserably, it was also
contemplated to be used in the Hungarian Revolution of 1953, but was not used due to fear of Soviet
intervention and a major War occurring.
The Policy of rollback was never used in the same way as Containment, however it proved to be an
effective mechanism in deterring Soviet aggression.
The various American Policies taken on during the Cold War are numerous and varied, each
depending on a number of factors. Different Presidents, Parties, Domestic affairs and economic
affairs dictated how Cold War Foreign Policy was assimilated and they can overall be seen as
effective, as full blown War & Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D) was avoided.
However it can be argued that the Policies of the USA had little to do with avoiding further escalation
with the Soviet union as Communism was bound to fail irrespective of American & Capitalist
Even today Cold War Foreign Policy plays a major role in America, as the President and Congress
use knowledge of how relations were conducted during the Cold War to ensure relations between
superpowers remain amicable.
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