Foreign Policy United States Foreign Essay

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Conflict prevention theory may seem contradictory in a country that has just held a civil war, but it remains an important focus of U.S. foreign policy going forward in Libya. Socio-historical problems facing Libya stem from the tribal bonds that divide the nation. The United States must focus on finding a balance between the tribes rather than supporting a single tribe over the others, as it had when cooperating with Qaddafi. Politically, the three major cities of Libya are Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi. These cities will have to find a way to power broker themselves in order to create a thriving democracy, based in Tripoli, but representative of the other two cities, as all three places are cornerstones of Libya's future as well as strong reminders of the country's past, on which a successful future can be built.

Libya is the only country of the four analyzed in this paper that has massive oil revenue potential, which creates a dynamic of possible laziness by politicians and corruption between power holders who will be new to the recently acquired riches of oil wealth. Therefore, the U.S. must not limit its interactions with Libya's economic leaders based solely on oil, as opportunity for shipping in the Mediterranean Sea is also an important potential benefit at which the U.S. can look.


Syria is last on this list for a reason. Its fate as of now is still undetermined; however, it is by far the least likely of the Arab Spring states to succeed. The brutal dictatorship of the Assad Regime, as well as the proximity of Syria to radicalized Iran and its relatively closed border with the West, has meant that there is little Western sympathy and understanding in Washington of Syria's internal affairs. It is impossible to expect some sort of Libya-like NATO operation to lead to the same successes. Further, it would appear that Damascus and Aleppo are still supporting the Assad regime because of the unique minority sects of Christians and Druze in Syria.

Conflict prevention theory is unable to work in a country that is simply inhospitable to Western influence; however, there are still lessons that can be applied from conflict prevention theory into Syria, which can inform us as to how the West should approach this country, if indeed the Assad regime does fall. Socio-historically, for example, retaliations against minority sects, as well as considerations for the massive influence Iran holds in Syria need to both come into consideration if the West is to engage Syria. There is no doubt that Turkey and Iraq will be the two important allies of the U.S. In this situation, and the U.S. must take good stock of these two allies in addressing the eventual collapse of dictatorship and emergence of Syria into a fragile democracy.

Politically, it is unforeseen as to whether the Arab Spring revolters in Syria are actually looking for a democracy or whether they are simply crying out because they are being crushed by the regime. Economically, Syria has been isolated by United Nations sanctions; however, in a post-conflict situation these sanctions would be lifted and Western business would enter from Turkey and Iraq. It is unfortunate, but, again, it must be stressed that of the four countries analyzed here, Syria is unlikely to fall or in any way be swayed by policy makers in foreign countries and in Washington.


After having studied these four Arab case studies, one can clearly see that the United States has immense foreign policy interests, opportunities, and shortcomings in the region. Conflict prevention theory succeeds because it removes political bias, favoritism, corruption, and all the ailments of the Arab dictatorships, and therefore this theory is the best theory applicable to U.S. foreign policy in this region. Having examined this theory's application to a country from three perspectives, one can also see the wealth of knowledge that is to be gained from more in-depth examination of these situations.

However, one must also note that although democracy is the best form of government, this does not necessarily mean that all countries in the Middle East will embrace it. Indeed, some countries may not function well under democracy. For this reason, each country must be treated as its own entity, as well as examined from the point-of-view of conflict prevention theories, whose honesty comes from removal of all things realpolitik and embrace of the demands and desires of any human being, Arab, Muslim, or otherwise.


"Carnegie Corporation of New York: Search Publications." Carnegie Corporation of New York: Home. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. .

"Carnegie Corporation of New York: Search Publications." Carnegie Corporation of New York: Home. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. .

"Carnegie Corporation of New York: Search Publications." Carnegie Corporation of New York: Home. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. .

"QDDR." U.S. Department of State. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. .[continue]

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