American Foreign Policy from three articles from Annual Edition's American Foreign Policy: Article 33, "Musclebound: The Limits of U.S. Power" by Stephen M. Walt; Article 12, "A Small Peace for the Middle East" by Arthur Hertzberg; and Article 11, "To Be An Enlightened Power" by Wu Xinbo. It answers the following questions: 1) What is the overall foreign policy issue/theme/problem that links the articles together. 2) What are the central arguments of each article? Discuss these noting if they agree, complement, or conflict. 3) Which articles or authors do you tend to support and why? What persuaded you? 4) What should be the final foreign policy responses and solutions to the problem(s)? 5) If you like, you can conclude with any personal reactions to the articles.
American Foreign Policy
All three authors, Walt, Hertzberg, and Xinbo, clearly believe that the United States should change its approach to foreign policy. The authors' views are linked by their portrait of the United States as the major super power in the world and the problems and responsibilities that arise with this reality. They contend that the United States has involved itself in issues that either cannot be solved by U.S. intervention and that the United States tends to paint a picture of all problems being resolved on the White House lawn or through military force. All three authors point to the failures of the U.S. policies throughout the world and each prescribes an alternative approach.
Arthur Hertzberg in "A Small Peace for the Middle East," argues that in wars of religion there can be no peace made between true faith and idolatry. He discusses that in wars of ideology, there can be no true revolutionary compromise with false visions and that the only way to stop them is to abandon ideals and to make pragmatic arrangements that stop the killing (Hertzberg 78).
Hertzberg contends that the Palestinians have no messianic visions, that they simply want to be left alone. They believe that the land was taken from them by conquests and has left them homeless. The Jews, on the other hand, believe that the land was promised by God to the children of Abraham, and that their people will be endangered if they cannot re-establish their base in the ancient homeland (Hertzberg 78). Hertzberg says, "All sides must abandon messianic dreams and remember Isaiah Berlin's message that we cannot resolve great idelolgical problems, only make pragmatic arrangement" (Hertzberg 79).
Hertzberg also points out in his article that the "vehemence of the Palestinian position has never really been faced by the Israelis and the supporters throughout the world" (Hertzberg 79). Zionists, according to Hertzberg, are essentially Westerners who believe that all problems have rational solutions and that ancient religions and nationalists quarrels can be solved by compromise. Moreover, the real reason of the Zionist enterprise is to end the tragedy of the persecuted minority of Jewish existence in the Diaspora and win acceptance for the Jews. In other words, they want to remake Jews as a normal entity (Hertzberg 79).
Hertzberg believes that the United States should simply make life better for the Palestinians, not try to resolve age-old problems with grand solutions. He believes efforts through international foundations should be made to introduce technological education to the Palestinians, thus giving them a choice to throwing rocks. He also suggests that the United States should de-emphasize the conflict, by dispelling the impression that Washington will offer grand prizes for those who help realize the vision of peace. And lastly, he suggests, that the Israeli settlements and the Arab villages be left alone to work out themselves an end to the shooting (Hertzberg 81).
In "Musclebound: The Limits of U.S. Power, Stephen M. Walt describes the double-edged sword policy that United States finds itself. The end of the Cold War left the United States with the largest economy and military forces in the world. Although, the Cold War is over, we spend more on defense than the next five largest military powers combined (Walt 204). However, according to Walt, this title or crown is no guarantee that U.S. foreign policies meet objectives successfully, or at all. Walt cites that even after years of bombing, Saddam is still in power. He further cites that the Balkans are still in upheaval, that India and Pakistan continue nuclear testing despite U.S. warnings of sanctions, and that China simply ignores the U.S. regarding human rights and the sales of military technology (Walt 204).
Walt discusses how even the most powerful nation in the world doesn't get its way all the time on every issue. Although, he say that the U.S. does get its way much of the time, however, unless there is a big fuss, no one notices (Walt 204). Walt believes that the United States doesn't get its way all of the time simply because other countries care more about certain issues than the U.S.
He cites examples of failures such as Vietnam, saying that the other side cared more about rebuilding the country than the U.S. He remarks that Israel and the Palestine pretty much do what they want for the same reason. And that Saddam is willing to endure U.S. punishment for weapons of mass destruction. In all of these issues, the U.S. has been less than successful, and that it is due to the passions of the countries involved (Walt 204). Americans, according to Walt, do not see solving many of these global problems as vital to their own existence. Thus, when other countries care more about an issue than the U.S., then Washington will not use all its power, and therefore will not get what it wants (Walt 205).
Moreover, Walt contends, "The strongest are always a threat" (Walt 206). This, he says, is why France and Russia have joined forces to undercut U.S. efforts to pressure Iraq, and why China and Russia have improved their relations. With the Cold War over, allies are now lining up against the United States (Walt 206). The United States is everywhere around the globe, involved in all issues, and it is this capacity for action that is also self-defeating. Walt suggests that the international community will have to provide the United States leaders with a means to ensure that their voice is heard. However, he is quick to point out that if we reduce out military forces, the U.S. influence would be even smaller. At least this way gives us a choice (Walt 207).
Wu Xinbo, in his article, "To Be an Enlightened Power" believes that the United States takes a black and white approach to foreign policy, especially with regards to China. And moreover, our policies, particularly those involving human rights are filled with hypocrisy. He suggests that the ideal U.S. policy for China would consists of three main issues: "1) how to understand progress and problems in a fast changing China, 2) how to treat a rising China with respect and 3) how to define the nature to China-U.S. relations" (Xinbo 73). Xinbo suggests that the United States consider the sharing advanced science and technology as a public good to all countries. Therefore, it would no longer be the monopoly of developed countries (Xinbo 77). He also suggests that the United States should not be content with the way it has been doing business. He believes that the U.S. should learn about perspectives of others, thus serving the interests of the United States as well as the world (Xinbo 77).
A find credence in the views of all three authors. I agree with Hertzberg argument that age-old religious wars are not going to be solved by the United States, nor anyone else. These wars have been kept alive for millennium by the complexity of religious warfare, and therefore, better left to slug it…