No. of Recommendations: 2
A Big Stick


The recent war on Iraq points to a growing hard line in U.S. foreign policy. Since the September 11th terror attacks, the U.S. has adopted a militarily proactive position that is willing to challenge regimes hostile to American interests and values. Diplomacy, economic sanctions and passive military action, long considered the cornerstones of American foreign policy, are yesterday's fashions. Today's policy designers are coming out of the non-governmental policy institutes or "think tanks" which are increasingly influencing U.S. political philosophy. For instance, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), established in 1997, envisions America as a global leader preserving international order based on American moral principles. (PNAC) It is notable that PNAC's roster of members reads like a "who's who" of current American political power, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. They consider aggressive warfare as the strongest deterrent to terrorism against America and the development of weapons of mass destruction (WOMD). However, this use of power is rejected by most of the international community and a growing number of Americans who believe that:
(1) U.S. interventions abroad and inequitable foreign policies are the main cause of terrorism against American interests (2) Overt U.S. military actions create unstable conditions that greatly increase the likelihood that WOMD's will fall into the hands of terrorist groups and (3) America's engagement of preemptive war sets a dangerous example that other countries may follow in their own regional conflicts.
American foreign policy changes with circumstances and administrations, but a recurring policy theme dates back to 1839 when John L. O'Sullivan penned Manifest Destiny. O' Sullivan fervently believed that America was a nation chosen by God to spread freedom and moral dignity around the world. In the ebb and flow of world affairs, the idea of America's manifest destiny has often been the underlying dynamic in our foreign policy rhetoric. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan shared this vision of America in the 20th century. The end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union left the U.S as the lone superpower in a new global landscape. On the coattails of Ronald Reagan's presidency, young conservatives from institutes like the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), saw the opportunity to establish their "new vision" of America in the twenty-first century.
But these young scholars were bitterly disappointed when the first President Bush's administration (1989-93), was softer and more inclined toward containment and diplomacy. During the administration of President Bill Clinton, this group appeared to fade into the background but this was not really the case. Instead, they worked diligently behind the scenes building consensus and understanding with other like-minded individuals. They found funding to develop their ideologies from the Bradley Foundation, a well-funded right wing organization with contacts in media, politics, and academia. (Wilayto) Some, like Vice President Dick Cheney {Halliburton}, Former Secretary of State George Shultz {Betchel}, and campaign manager Bruce Jackson {Lockheed Martin} (Hartung), found places in the private sector helping to establish friendly ties to some major American corporations. The presidential election of 2000 finally created the opportunity to weave these special constituents into the solidarity we see in the current Bush Administration. (Ciarrocca/Hartung)
The September 11th terror attacks shocked the American public and galvanized the Bush Administration into completely reassessing its strategy of global leadership. The perceived weakness of the U.S. in confronting global terror ended with two dazzling
military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Our military strength and willingness to use it, will remain a key factor in our ability to maintain and promote peace," wrote Elliot Abrams in Present Dangers. (Barry) This book of essays published in 2000 by PNAC
became the blueprint for the current National Security Strategy of The United States which states: "The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed. As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.
In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action."(NSS) America has interests and values at stake nearly everywhere in the world and security commitments to many nations. For that reason, the current Administration believes that America must establish a firm global leadership militarily, economically and morally. Global leadership, however it may be defined, will require long-term commitments involving the reorganization of certain countries and redefining our policy towards them. William Kristol, Chairman of PNAC and editor of The Weekly Standard writes, " We committed ourselves to reshaping the Middle East, so the region would no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction. The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably. But these are only two battles. We are only at the end of the beginning in the war on terror and terrorist states."In a world that supports a thriving black market for weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. must preserve its policy of eradicating these weapons through intelligence, inspections and intervention. But the war on Iraq has changed the objective of this policy from eliminating weapons to eliminating regimes suspected of harboring those weapons. By attacking Iraq, the U.S. is sending a warning to a group of countries it has termed the "axis of evil" namely North Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria and Cuba. These countries, governed by despots, have known affiliations with terrorists and some are believed to posses WOMD. But historically, the tactic of deterrence is a misguided strategy.
A study by the Cato Institute in 1998 found empirical evidence that U.S. military interventions overseas were a leading cause for terrorist aggression towards American interests. (Eland) The September 11th attacks on America made it clear that attempting to combat terrorism by deterring or disrupting attacks before they occur does not work.
Time will tell if the after-the-fact retaliation in Afghanistan and the preemptive attack on Iraq will be successful. But with no one questioning the motivations for terrorism against the United States or reviewing some of our lopsided foreign policies, it is likely that terrorist events will continue.
Since 1945, The Federation of American Scientists has catalogued nearly 200 military incursions in which the United States has been the aggressor (Vidal). Americans like to believe that our military force is only used in causes for freedom of oppressed peoples and timely justice against "evil" regimes. In fact, in serving "American interests", the U.S. has taken or backed subversive military actions in many countries that seem similar to the acts of terrorism America is now trying to eradicate. For example:
" 1946-U.S. opens School of the Americas in Panama. Now located in Fort Benning, Georgia, the ” School of the Assassins” has taught over 60,000 personnel from some of the worlds most brutal regimes." (Zapezauer) This was a U.S. terrorist training camp, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
"1963– The CIA has South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem overthrown and assassinated for supporting negotiations with the north. After 20 years of covert war the U.S. turns to direct military invasion, in a war that costs tens of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodian and U.S. lives." (Zapezauer) Thus began the Vietnam War.
"1963-CIA recruits Iraqi Baath Party (including a young Saddam Hussein) to assassinate the new leader, Abdul-Karim Kassem. After the coup, the CIA gave the Baath a long list of communists and others to liquidate. During the 1980s, the CIA would go on to help provide weapons to both Iraq and Iran in a war that would kill over one million people." (Zapezauer) This is the birth of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"1989– US invades Panama to overthrow and “arrest” Manuel Noriega, who has been on the CIA payroll since 1966 and supported through decades of drug running, political assassination and corrupt elections. After the invasion, which included the fire bombing of an entire urban ghetto, human rights observers uncover mass graves and estimate that over 4,000 died during the invasion." (Zapezauer) Noriega is currently serving 40 years in a prison in Miami, Florida. He was the most famous "graduate" of the School of the Americas.
" 1991– US and allies (mostly Britain) invade Iraq after U.S./CIA supported Sadam Hussein invades Kuwait. 200,000 Iraqis are killed, including over 400 civilians killed by two U.S. missiles in the Al-Amerya air shelter. Over the next 10 years another 400 tons of explosives will be dropped on Iraq killing another 300 civilians, and hundreds of thousands more starved through U.S. imposed sanctions." (Zapezauer) Now, thirteen years later, the U.S. permanently removes Saddam Hussien.
The U.S. has done a lot of "global rearranging" since 1945.
So, why did America do nothing when clearly justice and freedom were being violated during the massacres in Rwanda and Burundi in the early 90's and the conflict in Bosnia in 1994? And why are U.S. policies silent concerning China's cultural genocide of Tibet, and yet apparently supportive of Israel's military incursions into Palestinian territories? It all comes down to what serves the American interests. But ignoring lawlessness and atrocity is nothing short of sanctioning it and these contradictions are not lost on the international community. They tarnish America's global image, and in the case of the world's Muslim population, evoke a fanatical hatred of Western culture in general. America, if it is to be effective as a global leader can ill afford to continue these double standards in foreign policy and selective military actions.
Global leadership is an intricate concept that combines economics, ethics, politics, and culture. At its best, America performs as a global leader when we nurture the ideals of democracy and individual liberty by our example. By investing in the future of emerging nations, protecting the diverse cultures of smaller countries, and promoting basic human rights for all people, we are insuring that our own country will survive and flourish. But U.S. global leadership can just as easily turn into global ascendancy with out the checks and balances provided by international laws and treaties. Many of America's recent
actions suggest that the current administration is beginning to take a dominant militaristic posture by: (1) taking aggressive military action in Iraq without the common consent of our allies, (2) refusing to support the International Criminal Court set up to prosecute modern war crimes (Kraus), (3) eliminating the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, (4) planning a new generation of nuclear weapons (Borger), and (5) withdrawing from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. There is no historical precedent for these actions, nor are they the actions of a benevolent superpower redefining its role as a global leader. What we are witnessing is an enormous shift of power within the three branches of government. The transformation focuses the balance of power in the executive branch, which is heavily allied with corporate interests. For example, before the first bombs were dropped on Iraq, the bidding had already begun for the lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's tattered infrastructure and petroleum fields. Through a secret bidding process, legalized by the war, the following corporations offered bids: the Betchel Group, Fluor Corporation,
The Washington Group, and Halliburton Co. All are American owned and have been generous political donors that gave a combined $2.64 million to political campaigns between 1999 and 2002. (ABC) Another case in point is The Defense Policy Board, a government appointed group that advises the Pentagon. Of its thirty members, at least nine have ties to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002 and four members are registered lobbyists, one of whom represents two of the three largest defense contractors. (Pilhofer) This collusion between corporations and the executive branch raises stark questions about the legitimacy of the government's wartime agenda.
As people of other countries toil against their governments for the precious freedoms we enjoy, we must take care not to let fear and apathy erode our own rights of dissent, free speech, privacy and independence. There is no question that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are grave threats to U.S. security. The good news is that according to the latest figures from the U.S. State Department, there has been a 44 percent drop in terrorist attacks since 2001, the lowest figure in more than 30 years. (Gollust) But behind this good news, there is a toll that has no price. We can weigh the loss of human life and estimate collateral damage. We can lament the sufferings caused by terrorism and the wars fought to eliminate it. But there is no figure that can be put on the hidden erosion of democracy. The policies that are being created by our government are the greatest risks to our democracy.

Works Cited

Barry, Tom. "PNAC's Present Dangers as Blueprint for Bush Doctrine"
Foreign Policy In Focus 31 Oct. 2002 20 Apr. 2003
<http://www.presentdanger.org/pdf/frontier/1031neocon.pdf>

Borger, Julian. "U.S. Plan for New Nuclear Arsenal"
The Guardian 19 Feb. 2003. 22 Apr. 2003.
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,898550,00.html>

Ciarrocca, Michele. Hartung, William. "Corporate Think Tanks and the Doctrine of Aggressive Militarism"
Multinational Monitor Magazine Jan/Feb 2003. 28 Apr. 2003.
<http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Think_Tanks/Military_ThinkTanks.html>

Eland, Ivan. "Does U.S. Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism?"
CATO Institute 17 Dec. 1998. 2 Apr. 2003. <http://www.cato.org/pubs/fpbriefs/fpb50.pdf>

Gollust, David. "U.S. Report says Terror Attacks Declined Sharply Last Year"
Voice of America 30 Apr. 2003. 31 Apr. 2003.
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Hartung, William. "Lockheed Martin, World's Largest Weapons Manufacturer"
World Policy Institute undated. 29 Apr. 2003
<http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/dd/lm.html>

Judd, Jackie. "Secret Bids"
ABCNEWS 22 Mar. 2003. 22 Apr. 2003.
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Kraus, Don. "America's Global Leadership Measured by International Law"
Foreign Policy In Focus 17 Jun. 2002. 24 Apr. 2003.
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<http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/osulliva.htm>

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Project for the New American Century 3 Jun. 1997 28 Mar. 2003.
<http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm>

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Zapezauer, Mark. "A Brief History of U.S.-Sponsored Terrorism Abroad"
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