American Foreign Policy
One of the considerable destabilizing factors in the international political situation is regional conflicts. In the early 1980s, in the Middle East, there were three different conflicts: Arab-Israeli, Iran-Iraq, and Afghan. At the heart of these conflicts, there were primarily internal reasons: territorial, national, ideological, or religious differences, as well as clash of ambitions of individual leaders. By the end of 1980s of the 20th century, mainly due to the persistent efforts of the Soviet Union and the United States, the necessary preconditions for the beginning of the Arab-Israeli peace process and comprehensive Middle East regulation were created.
The beginning of the 21st century largely opened a completely new page of relations between the Middle East and the United States. During the 1990s, the world watched the events in the region with hope. The American government made every possible effort for the establishment of peace between the countries. However, in the connection with the beginning of intifada in 2000, the U.S. President Bill Clinton faced the fact that the level of conflicts in the Middle East increased. The end of Clinton’s presidency and the beginning of the presidency of George Bush were marked not only by the collapse of the peace process, but also by the risk of escalation of the confrontation and the outbreak of major hostilities. Thus, Bush made a number of changes in foreign policy strategies. The militant political course of the President and administration of George W. Bush was replaced by no less adamant political strategy of the new President and the U.S. administration of Barack Obama. Nevertheless, the policy of George W. Bush is the most effective in the history of American foreign policy in regard to the Middle East, because it contributed to overcoming economic American crisis, developing a new comprehensive national security strategy, and eliminating international terrorism.
Foreign Policy Of George Bush
Legacy of Ronald Reagan. The administration of George Bush faced the need to resolve the consequences of ineffective foreign policy of Ronald Reagan. Reagan initiatives in the policy towards the Middle East did not reach goals, which, in turn, caused a political crisis in the United States. Contradictions and conflicts in targets that laid down in Reagan’s conservatism contributed to their downfall. The President made a plan, nominal purpose of which was to establish peace in the region. It contained the following cornerstones: Camp David agreement remained the foundation of the U.S. policy; the United States did not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state; Israel had to withdraw. The U.S. force policy turned the Middle East into an explosive and unpredictable area. As a result, Bush administration had a lot of issues to resolve after Reagan’s foreign policy.
General Changes. In 2000-2001, after the Republican government headed by the President George Bush came to power, the American ruling elite made significant changes in its geopolitical orientation of the project in the international arena. Moreover, this transformation was related primarily to the content of the geopolitical goals of the United States in the international arena tactical level. First of all, it should be noted that the conceptual content of the strategic objectives of the U.S. foreign policy in 2001 – 2008 was actually left unchanged. The main geo-strategic geopolitical priority of the U.S. policy in the international arena in this period, as well as during the administration of Bill Clinton, was the establishment of the total American domination over the entire space of the Eurasian continent. However, as the main geopolitical priorities of the operational level, the new American leadership considered geopolitical suppression of the independent power centers. The circle of main geopolitical opponents of America in Eurasia was significantly enhanced compared with the priorities in this sphere of the government of Bill Clinton. In addition, in contrast to the government that was headed by Clinton, the administration of George W. Bush used primarily geopolitical scenario, which was aimed at so-called violent suppression in order to achieve neutralization of leading states of Eurasia. To perform operational and tactical programs, the political leadership of the United States led by President George W. Bush used primarily military-political and subversive practices of geopolitical struggle.
Firstly, the establishment of direct control over the richest hydrocarbon reserves that were concentrated in the Middle East was very favorable to the leading oil and gas corporations, whose profit increased significantly. As a result, income of senior representatives of the administration of George W. Bush, whose interests were also associated with the oil business, increased. In addition, the intensification of military efforts would inevitably lead to increased military spending of the U.S. government, thus, increasing the volume of state orders from leading companies in the military industrial complex of the United States to purchase weapons. Therefore, the escalation of military-political activity would bring considerable profit to the owners of the largest American corporations that were associated with military production. Finally, the increase of the U.S. government's defense spending would also provide more opportunities to overcome the systemic crisis in the American economy, which began to manifest itself as a steady trend in 2000 – 2001.
National Security Strategy. September 11 began a new era in the American strategic thinking. The attacks caused an effect that could be compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor that immersed the United States into the World War II. Before September 11, the Bush administration gradually developed a new comprehensive national security strategy. This work was carried out within the framework of the defense review for a period of four years, as well as through other channels. However, the September 11 attacks changed the climate of international security in an instant. Completely new and ominous threat suddenly became real and dictated a new strategy for the United States. Terrorism has ceased to be one of the dangers for the United States and has become a fundamental threat to America, its lifestyle, and its vital interests.
Published in 2002, the national security strategy became the quintessential of non-conservative foreign policy philosophy. Its fundamental basis was postulating a direct link between democracy and security, as well as an excuse to spread of democracy through law enforcement action to ensure the security of the United States. According to this doctrine, the U.S. foreign policy relies on unparalleled American military superiority (the United States must strengthen its military power to maintain the status of world superpower), the idea of preventive war, and willingness to act alone. The countries that support terrorists should be identified and isolated. In addition, the United States should make efforts to change their ruling regimes.
Fight with Terrorism. After September 11, the United States was at war, the purpose of which was the elimination of international terrorism. Without a dissentient voice, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks on America as a threat to international security. The resolution called upon all states to take joint efforts to bring terrorists to justice and strengthen international cooperation in order to prevent and eliminate acts of terrorism. The Bush administration tried to declare that the United States had the right to take military action against terrorists in Afghanistan without any control by the Security Council. The U.S. President declared five requirements for Afghanistan, namely handing over Ben Laden, releasing of imprisoned foreign nationals, ensuring protection of foreign journalists and diplomats, immediate closing all terrorist camps, and allowing the U.S. inspection of these camps.
Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy
One of the characteristics of the U.S. foreign policy of the last decade is the desire to counteract the geopolitical threats, which were inherited by Barack Obama from the previous administration of the White House. The threats are primary associated with the countries of the Middle East. Obama tried to get rid of “Bush's Middle East legacy”. From the very beginning of his administration, new President outlined the priorities of American policy in the Middle East. In the first place, it should note a shift in emphasis from the end of the war in Iraq to the Afghan problem, which provides increasing American military forces, law enforcement and administrative structures, as well as connecting Pakistan to fight the Taliban. Serious challenges to the U.S. security also include the situation around Iran's nuclear program. To respond to these interrelated threats adequately, Obama appointed special commissioners in sub-regions. However, despite taken measures and significant costs, the policy of current U.S. administration in the Middle East is characterized by lack of integrity and duality.
In particular, Washington administration twice changed the decision on the future of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Firstly, it made a decision on the increase in the number of troops, and then their withdrawal was announced. This inconsistency indicates Obama's attempts to resolve a strategically important issue before the expiration of his term. In addition, although solving problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan needs a common interconnected policy in regard to the countries in the Middle East, the U.S. administration has no clear idea on how to construct right relationships with Islamabad. In addition, American diplomacy did not manage to achieve tangible progress on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. Further escalation of the crisis is likely to cause Obama to take serious political decisions. The U.S. efforts in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular the negotiations with Israel to freeze settlement construction, ended in vain. Arabs illusions about the ability of Washington to solve this problem successfully were finally dispelled.
The main and perhaps the only success of the American policy in the Middle East was Obama's appeal to the Muslim world, with which he addressed at Cairo University. In his speech, the President promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to prohibit the use of torture in interrogations of prisoners. He urged the Muslim world to start relationships with the United States from scratch, saying that new White House administration refuses the term ‘war on terror’ that was invented by the Bush regime. Nevertheless, it should be taken into account that the implementation of new approaches to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran largely contributed not only to the complexity of the problems that were left by previous administration, but also to the global financial and economic crisis, which exacerbated the situation within the United States.
Obama’s administration had a number of goals which include resolving conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “rebuilding America’s soft power and standing in the region”, and forming more pragmatic strategy in regard to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. New tendency of the U.S. strategy on Afghanistan is characterized by two features. The first one could be considered a tendency to Americanization. Although contingent of the U.S. allies in Afghanistan is rather numerous, the relative share of the U.S. military is constantly growing. Washington is trying to maintain its leading role in the actions of the coalition. The second one is the attempts to implement Afghanization of the war through the establishment of a capable Afghan security forces to fight the Taliban. Taking into account the huge national debt and internal problems that are associated with the financial and economic crisis, Obama seeks to avoid additional financial costs and significant loss of lives in Afghanistan.
The administration of George Bush continued the policy of Ronald Reagan in regard to the countries of Eastern Europe. The second Reagan administration, which took advantage of the restructuring and real economic difficulties in the Soviet Union, marked the beginning of the erosion of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe. The administration of Bush faced the task of further developing the Eastern European policy under the priority doctrine of spread democracy, which was obtained as political legacy of Ronald Reagan. However, this situation existed for a short period. After September 11, the first priority of American policy was the fight against international terrorism. Eradication of global terrorist organizations that posed a threat to the United States became the main focus of the U.S. strategy. Barack Obama continues the strategy of foreign policy of the Middle East that was formed by previous administration. The President also focuses on eliminating possible dangers and threats to the security of the United States, as well as contributing to the establishment of peaceful relations between the countries in the Middle East region. Nevertheless, the policy of George Bush is considered the most effective as it managed to achieve positive result in the formation of common grounds for handling the difficulties of the relationship with the Middle East. Bush’s administration contributed to overcoming American economic crisis, developing a new comprehensive national security strategy, and elimination of international terrorism.