March 9, 2014
What is foregin policy?
• Foreign policy is the face a nation wears to the world. The minimal motive
is the same for all states – the protection of national integrity and interest. But
the manner in which a state practices foreign policy is greatly affected by
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
• Americans constantly take on a different face in their policymaking – like Mr.
• Just as humans can not be identified by collectives and general assumptions,
neither can a state – the internal workings of a state are constantly changing.
Power is not the only aim – national interest varies depends where the state is
located and who is running the state.
What is the national interest?
• We have to know who we are before we can know what our interests are. –
• Can be thought of as dependent on who is in question – like your own personal
interest. Different countries have different factors affect their national interests
and potential gains. Interests shape what policies they pursue and how they react
to external inputs.
• E.g. During the time of the Cold War, deterrence and containment – AGAINST
THE COMMUNIST THREAT – was the goal of American foreign policy. The 90’s
saw the Americans as lost because they no longer had “the other”. Now they
have terrorism after 9/11.
• Context is crucial.
• Security is usually the same, but only up to a certain point: the national interest.
Context defines a security threat.
• E.g. of Context Change: Saddam Hussein.
o The IranIraq War completely changed the American perspective on him.
Until 9/11, Saddam was seen as a containable threat living on bought time
– would eventually fizzle out. After 9/11, he was automatically considered
a threat, to the point where the US went into Iraq preemptively.
• Hard Power
o Military power.
o They are the only country with a functioning aircraft carrier, and have the
world’s most advanced jets.
o E.g. The US is currently mobilizing it’s hard power (sending over ships,
aircraft, etc.) to deter Russia in Ukraine.
o The US has to maintain their strength because of their strategy of
“primacy.” With their success after WWII and the dawn of the Cold War, they just continued to build, and even more so with Reagan (to negotiate
better with the Russians).
o Conservatives argues in maintaining its size, because “you never know
when you’ll need a military.” Liberals on the other hand advocate…
• Soft Power
o Refers to cultural power.
o The more you get to know your supposed enemy, the less you will hate
them and fight them. It is a way to eliminate ignorance and promote
o The US tries to perpetuate the idea of the “American family” – when in
reality, that is not the case for most people living in the US.
o The more people want to buy stuff from America, the less likely you are to
kill them…because they’re your customers.
o Republicans see this type of power as weak that will be exploited by
dictators and terrorists. Liberals argue it ensures security without
*Look at article around the resurgence of Polio due to CIA disguised as doctors giving
polio vaccination, to find Bin Laden
• Often overlooked when looking at the defense budget, the US is actually the
largest contributor to foreign aid. Foreign aid can include fighting famine and
poverty, setting up schools, etc. (changes by country).
• The general consensus is that terrorism is a product of weak and failed states.
Therefore the idea goes that you must treat the cause (nondemocracies, no human
rights, lack of selfrule, etc.) from the grassroots.
• The US is the largest and successful freemarket capitalist nation. They are
actively pursuing free trade around the world (little to no interference by the
government). The US wants to increase this because they buy a sell a LOT.
• For many (especially US critics), this is why the US goes into different countries
– set up another free trade country in (say the Middle East) to start and spread
• Free trade includes NAFTA and the WTO.
• Issues with free trade:
o While free trade exists, the countries that these products are coming from
atrocious conditions for their workers. Free trade e