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A clear foreign policy strategy for the United States of America in Europe and Eurasia

As twenty-first century draws near, there appears to be in the world an era of unprecedented peace. Contrary to the predictions that the end of the Cold War will bring about the fragmentation of international order and the emergence of multipolar rivalry among atomistic national units, today the world’s major powers enjoy co-operative relations and world economy is progressively liberalising and integrating. The peace and prosperity of the current era, however are sustained by the constant operation of a single factor: American relative power capability (Kupchan, 1998, p. ).

In this paper, a clear foreign policy strategy for the United States of America in Europe and Eurasia will be outlined. Such an outline should be necessarily made from the perspective of American national interests. America is a global power and it has vital global interests. The perception of the global interests of America is shaped by the desired future that the American political elite is envisioning.

A viable foreign policy strategy then will be simply the roadmap for achieving, to the greatest extent possible, the objectives which are substantiated by that desired future starting from the present condition of the international landscape. The means to achieve these objectives are determined by the relative power capability that America has at present, as well as the capability self-image in the context of the international landscape of the political elite; its world view.

The prevailing world view often shapes the motivations of the decision-makers and consequently determines the perceived foreign policy objectives , as well as the very means to achieve these objectives. Misperception of the behaviour of other actors within the international context leads to erroneous foreign policy motivations on behalf of the decision-making elite, which in turn result in a foreign policy strategy that may be, at best misguided, at worst—catastrophe.

That has been the sad, costly lesson from the Cold War—a global low-intensity conflict caused by a mutual misperception of threat with excessively high risk potential for escalating into a thermonuclear war. To downsize the potentiality of similar perceptually-based geopolitical disasters, a clear understanding of the true motivations of the other actors on the international scene is vital. The true motivations can best be outlined through the inferential analysis of the foreign policy behaviour of the other actors.

Once clearly identified, these motivations will determine the response of the United States in terms of political behaviour. The result will be a viable and systematic foreign policy strategy. The starting point in outlining the American foreign policy strategy will be an overview of the vital American national interests. Then, a critical review of the means to achieve the ensuing objectives is due.

As review of American foreign policy aims and objectives for the world as a whole is positively beyond the scope of this paper, the focus of the analysis will be on Europe and Eurasia. In the preface to a 1997 report by the State Department titled A National Security Strategy for A New Century, President Clinton sets forth a national security strategy to advance American national interests in “this era of unique opportunities and dangers” (“National Security Strategy,” 1997, p. ).

The three core objectives of the strategy are stated as follows: “ To enhance our security with effective diplomacy and with military forces that are ready to fight and win. To bolster America’s economic prosperity. To promote democracy abroad” (“National Security Strategy,” 1997, p. ). The implementation of this strategy is guided by the strategic priorities President Clinton has laid out in his 1997 State of the Union Address.

These explicitly stated priorities are: “ foster an undivided, democratic and peaceful Europe forge a strong and stable Asia Pacific community continue America’s leadership as the world’s most important force for peace create more jobs and opportunities for Americans through a more open and competitive trading system that also benefits others around the world ncrease co-operation in confronting new security threats that defy borders and unilateral solutions strengthen the military and diplomatic tools necessary to meet these challenges” (“National Security Strategy,” 1997, p. ).

Viewed within the context of the international political system, these strategic priorities are consistent with American foreign policy direction described as Pax Americana. The term was coined by George Liska in his book Imperial America. It generally described a foreign policy strategy, aiming to create a world in which America, working through surrogate powers, could eliminate conflict, disorder and instability. Liska envisioned America that is “the New Rome [which is] beneficently granting the world an era of peace and stability” (qtd. n Cottam, 1977, p. 145).

American engagement in the world and provision of leadership to the international community are vital for American security and to the extent that America is a global power with vital global interests, the world becomes a safer place when American interests are pursued and achieved. The Clinton Administration seeks to create conditions in the world so that American interests are rarely threatened, and when they are threatened America should have effective means of addressing those threats.

America should seek a world in which no critical region is dominated by a power hostile to the United States and regions of greatest importance to the United States are stable and at peace (“National Security Strategy,” 1997, p. 6). The ability of the Administration to achieve these core strategic objectives, depends on the degree of support granted to it by Congress, special interest groups and the American politically attentive public in general.

In other words, a factor of fundamental importance to the ability of Clinton’s administration to achieve the defined set of foreign policy objectives is the decisional latitude that the President has as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and diplomat-in-chief of the nation. Therefore, a brief analysis of the decisional latitude granted to President Clinton is essential to establishing the parametric values of the foreign policy decision-making process carried out by this Administration. The general public in the United States grants progressively less attention to international affairs.

Bruce Chapman, president of Seattle-based Discovery Institute and a columnist in Seattle Post Intelligencer, points out that: “Not for six decadesince 1936has a presidential election year [1996] played out with so little attention to international affairs. Regrettably, the national Administration takes its leadership cues from polls and focus groups, which, like the weather before a hurricane, give no sign of disturbance. For the Clinton White House the significance of foreign policy pertains mainly to domestic voter groups.

If there is an American strategy anymore it is a well-kept secret” (Chapman, 1996, p. 1). Criticism towards Clinton’s foreign policy coming from conservative and moderate Republican circles in the United States has not been always so benign. The chairman of The Heritage Foundationa moderate non-partisan think tank, Edwin J. Feulner attacks the President for his inability to define properly America’s vital interests, thus confusing them with “some liberal do-gooders’ marginal interests” (Feulner, 1996, p. 1).

Feulner refers to the foreign policy of Clinton’s Administration as “a feel-good foreign policy” elaborating on the article “Foreign Policy as Social Work” by Michael Mandelbauma moderate foreign policy scholar who initially supported the Clinton Administration. The basic argument of this 1996 article from the journal Foreign Affairs is that American foreign policy is misconceived as it aims at relieving suffering in conflict-ridden regions of the world rather than promoting American national interests (qtd. n Feulner, 1996, p. 2).

In the meantime that conservative and increasingly moderate politically active groups insist upon fundamental re-examination of what American national interests really are, the “impeachment” proceedings in the U. S. Congress against the President threaten to put an end to the present Administration’s hold on the Executive power in the country. Although the probability that the U. S. Senate will vote in favour of the President’s removal from office is sufficiently small, the implications for Clinton’s decisional latitude in regard to domestic policy initiatives are dire. Therefore, a decisive foreign policy success is seen as the only means to restore the shaken confidence of the general public and Congress at home in his viability and ensure, if not his own, at least the hold of the Democratic Party on the Executive power (Scenario, Fall 1998, p. 1).

As a consequence from these domestic political dynamics, a major foreign policy motivation for the President is, according to the classification developed by Richard Cottam, domestic personal power drive (Cottam, 1997, p. 41). In order to regain a portion of the lost popular support for the Presidential elections in the year 2000, Clinton has to deal with foreign policy issues which have the strongest impact on U. S. domestic politics. These issues involve the areas of the world with which large segments of the American public have an intense self-identification.

The argument might be made that the majority of the foreign policy issues are connected with the region that is the focus of the present paperEurope and Eurasia, as an unproportionately large segment of the American population is of European and Eurasian descent. A special discussion on what are these issues and which actors on the Eurasian continent they involve will follow shortly. However, the analysis of the foreign policy motivation of the Executive decision-making elite is due to be completed.

Other interests that shape the foreign policy motivational system, and thus the foreign policy initiatives of the Clinton Administration include the economic vested interests of the oil and arms production industries and the bureaucratic vested interests that the large national security establishment in the U. S. governmental meta-structure have in preserving and extending U. S. commitments to its international alliances and treaty agreements (Scenario, Fall 1998, p. 1).

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