American Foreign Policy - Prologue
â€œHow did things ever get so far?â€ â€“ Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather
As I sit down to write about the current state of Americaâ€™s foreign policy the above line from Francis Ford Coppolaâ€™s 1972 cinematic masterpiece comes immediately to mind. As such I think farther and farther back into history to events leading up to todayâ€™s situation.
I could try to begin on September 11, 2001, the day when â€œeverything changedâ€ according to some. But we know it goes much farther back than that. And as I examine the historical events which led up to what has become known as 9/11, I find there are events that predate each of these occurrences that are of significance.
The attack on the USS Cole, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the first Gulf War and the attack on the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon all have been used as examples of when the current conflict with what are often called Islamist extremists actually began and as such the beginning of what is Americaâ€™s current foreign policy.
But to start at any of those events does not give a true historical perspective. And in as much as I do not intend to write a doctoral thesis on the subject of foreign policy but rather give a brief historical overview, I shall examine historical events and persons that have had an effect on our current situation but leave it up to the reader to delve deeper into the historical details.
To start with, a definition of what is meant by the term â€˜foreign policyâ€™ is in order. Simply put, foreign policy is the actions taken by a nation to achieve its political and economic goals in relation to the other nations and non-state actors.
The current foreign policy of the United States is commonly referred to as the Bush Doctrine after the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. The Bush Doctrine asserts that the United States has the moral right to unilaterally attack any nation that is viewed as an emerging threat to the position of the United States as the sole military superpower in the world. According to the National Security Strategy of the United States, published by the National Security Council on September 20, 2002, the "United States has, and intends to keep, military strength beyond challenge". This is in contrast to the foreign policy of containment and deterrence that was pursued during the Cold War years after World War II and the policy of non-interventionism that was advocated by the founding fathers of our nation such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
In subsequent installments of my examination of American foreign policy I shall try to examine those people and events that have had a profound influence, whether directly or indirectly, on said policy. In the next installment I shall examine a group of historical figures whose lives predate the establishment of the United States of America by over one thousand years yet who undoubtedly are highly influential in the events of today.