World politics and
international relations have fundamentally changed since the ending of the Cold
War. Geopolitics once drove the United States’ foreign policy agenda. However,
global politics are now what shape the United States’ military, economic, and
political actions. The effects of globalization then further influence global
politics and the United States’ political agenda. American foreign policy
makers are now faced with the challenges brought on by globalization and its influence
on global politics.
During much of the 20th century,
geopolitics were responsible for determining the United States’ foreign policy.
Presidents, ranging from Truman to H.W. Bush, struggled with the conflict of
the Cold War and the idea that one single country could dominate much of the
world’s territory. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the struggle for
territorial control had ended and therefore, the goals of the United States
foreign policies had been reached.
Post-Cold War success, the
United States has made it clear that no power will be able to threaten the
hegemony of other nations without its involvement. This has further taken the
focus off regional, geographical, and territorial politics. However, it has
shifted American foreign policy to encompass the United States’ incomparable power
in global politics and the impact of expanding globalization on international relations.
Today, the United States is the largest global superpower. Militarily,
its reach is never-ending. Economically, it is responsible for stimulating the
world’s trade system and industry. Politically, it influences global politics
while promoting its own interests. Culturally, it is considered to be a pioneer
and often sets precedents for other nations. No other country has yet to rival
the status of the United States.
With all of these factors in mind, it could be said that the United
States’ status paired with the idea of globalization are what have led to its influence
on today’s international environment. However, with power and superiority comes
resentment. A trend in the perception that the United States solely cares about
its own interests and will stop at nothing to reach its goals is growing at the
international level. Many people often criticize the United States for its
brutality but, to sustain control the United States needs to convince other
nations that it is not afraid to exercise its power.
Furthermore, to extend the power of the United States, other
nations need to feel that their interests are protected as well. After World War
II, the United States established the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization and other organizations that promoted development and boosted the
global economy. Institutions and organizations such as these are what extended
the United States’ power in the past and benefitted other nations involved. One
major challenge for the United States is to continue to establish organizations
and agreements that continue to promote desires of all participating nations,
as well as its own.
Globalization is defined as being the connections
of the world via political, economic, and social aspects. It builds over time
while cultures collide and spread. Globalization is rapidly expanding in the 21st
century and is responsible for the dynamic interactions between individuals,
countries, and the international system (Lecture, 11/6/2017). Historically, globalization began
prior to the First World War when the steam engine reduced the cost and time of
transportation and the telegraph increased the ease of sharing information
across the globe. Today, we find that globalization has led to massive amounts
of cross-border contact and this contact can occur instantaneously, yielding
positive and negative results.
Globalization has many benefits
associated with it. For example, it increases the flow of goods, services, and capital,
which then leads to boosted economies and increased prosperity. Additionally,
with the spread of the aforementioned, cultural ideas tend to distribute as
well. This leads to the broadening of cultural horizons and often empowers people,
who may then challenge autocratic rulers, spread democracy, and increase human
rights. This is precisely why globalization was a key point in President
Clinton’s foreign policy agenda. Robert Schulzinger states that “The Clinton administration
thought the United States had a predominant role to play as the world’s only
super-power and that globalization and trade expansion held enormous promise
for people everywhere. (Schulzinger,
p. 321)” Schulzinger further explains that the Clinton administration
embraced the interdependence among nations and that this could be the future of
the United States’ foreign policy. If channeled correctly, the United States
would be able to practically influence and control a large majority of events
in the international system.
On the other hand, globalization presents a
new challenge to the world; it has made it incredibly easy for the status quo
of the international system to be thrown off. As stated by the British Prime
Minister Tony Blair in his speech at the Economic Club of Chicago, “Many of our
domestic problems are caused on the other side of the world. Financial
instability in Asia destroys jobs in Chicago… Poverty in the Caribbean means
more drugs on the streets in Washington and London…These problems can only be
addressed by international cooperation. (Engel, Lawrence, and Preston, p. 349)” ADD ANALYSIS HERE?
large amount of today’s debate surrounding the United States’ foreign policy
lies in the utilization of power, American primacy, and globalization itself.
Americanists support the notion that the United States’ goals are more
important than other nations and that support is not needed from other
countries, while Globalists emphasize international cooperation to promote
peace and unity.
Americanists view American primacy as
having two virtues. First, it allows the United States to create its own
foreign policy goals without having to rely on other international actors to
achieve its goals. Second, Americanists believe that United States foreign
policy should preserve, and strengthen its power to maintain global influence. This
would allow the United States to place its interests and security concerns as a
priority over other countries. This benefits the United States domestically,
but this attitude could further resentments of other nations.
Contrastingly, Globalists consider both the
limitations and the ability of globalization to create a new capacity for the
United States to use its power and influence. Globalists deem that the United
States is unfit to deal with the challenges created by globalization alone, but
rather the cooperation of other nations is needed to solve world issues. Rising
humanitarian crises, furthering democracy, battling terrorism, and maintaining
the environment are all issues that require cooperation of other nations.
It must be said that both Globalists and
Americanists are right to some degree. Although globalization is increasing, the
most powerful nation is generally who determines the flow of global politics.
American primacy, if applied correctly, will further the United States’ interests,
and maintain the status quo in global politics. This can be seen in cases such
as Haiti, Kuwait, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. The United States’ military power
was able to remove Haiti’s military junta, eradicate Iraqi troops from Kuwait,
end Serbian violence in Kosovo and break terrorist group holds in Afghanistan.
Additionally, American primacy not only
progresses the United States’ interests, it progresses the desires of other
nations as well. The United States is the only country able and willing to
break stalemates that often prevent the progress of other nations. This can be
seen in the Balkans, Northern Ireland and the Middle East. As Madeleine Albright
said, “we are the indispensable nation. (Engel, Lawrence, and Preston, p. 347)” She suggests
that the United States is the only country capable of seeing into the future
and that there is danger for all. Contemporarily, the United States differs from
previous hegemons in the way that its primacy stimulates other nations to seek its
assistance in their issues as well. Yet, the United States often harbors
resentment from other nations for interfering in their affairs.
Nevertheless, Globalists are correct in
thinking that the United States must cooperate with other powers. The world is
faced with problems, such as global warming or fighting terrorism, that invoke
the participation of all nations to fix the issues at hand. Moreover, economic
globalization rests on the intricacies of financial institutions all around the
world. All countries must participate to maintain a balanced world economy that
benefits everyone involved.
Cooperation between the United States and
other nations also allows for the broadening of the United States’ foreign
policy agenda. Issues such as poverty, and infectious diseases are more easily
solved with less time, money and resources devoted if there is cooperation
between actors involved. Additionally, it helps to secure the United States’
security by building bonds with other countries, therefore, lessening the
chances of future aggression. Both power and cooperation continue to matter in
today’s affairs and both need to be considered to shape the United States’
So, that leads to the question of what the
United States should seek to accomplish in its foreign policy agenda. The first
goal of the United States should be to protect the liberty and security of
itself from aggressors. The best way to ensure this is to promote democracy,
human rights, and free enterprise at the international level. If the United
States were to succeed in creating this international order, it would lead to
increased prosperity, and security for the entire world. Spreading democracy
would eliminate threats to the United States and maintain other nations’
sovereignty, which is the basis for the United States’ self-interests. Globalization
allows for this to be a potential reality in the future.
Guaranteeing that democracy and free
enterprise spreads at a global level includes four things. First, the United
States must strengthen and sustain its power both economically and militarily. The
economy must remain healthy to prevent economic weakness and the same can be
said for the United States’ military. Second, the United States should extend
proven international institutions and agreements to encompass the needs of
other nations. This will allow for the United States’ self-interests to be
embedded and spread by said institutions, yet it will allow for other nations
to grow and prosper as well. Third, the United States’ foreign policy should
enforce compliance with current international agreements and strengthen the
ability of international institutions to monitor the compliance of other participating
nations. For example, since North Korea has refused to comply with United Nations
Security Council resolutions, military force should be considered if necessary.
Force may be necessary to persuade North Korea to comply by laws of the
international community and if there are no consequences given for such
actions, the precedent will be set for other rebellious nations. Lastly, the United
States is often responsible for creating international agreements and
institutions. The United States should be willing to listen to other nations’
issues to aid in overcoming them. This will further international cooperation
and therefore, lead to an overall well being of the entire world.