American Grand Strategy and Foreign Policy has changed drastically after the Cold War. This change was inevitable due to the fact that the Soviet Union fell and communism no longer posed the direct threat to the United States and its allied nations. As a result, Presidents William “Bill” Clinton and George W. Bush were faced with the task of providing America with a new Grand Strategy. Grand strategy is a term that is used in reference to the plans and policies that are implemented by a nation in order to strengthen their economic, military, diplomatic and political areas of policy to strengthen the nation on a global level.
This term requires a nation to act on the threats or issues that face the country. Grand Strategy is the big picture of nation’s goals and outlines them in such a way that policy makers and political and military leaders can discuss and formulate plans and contingences which, in theory, will allow the nation to overcome their obstacles and flourish in success. Barry R. Posen and Andrew L. Ross’s work Competing Visions for U. S. Grand Strategy illustrates that multiple Grand Strategies can be proposed to deal with and overcome a problem in very different ways, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
What is absurd about this concept of different ways to handle a single problem is that the results are drastically different. This kind of debate illustrates the diversity of the United States as a nation and how a Grand Strategy may seem like the best course of action on paper, but when implemented could have a negative impact on moral of the citizens, public opinion of the current administration and how the nation appears on an international level.
During the Clinton Administration, United States Grand Strategy shifted from a policy of containment to a wide variety of focuses from the economy to involvement in nations which require humanitarian aid. The Clinton Administration focused primarily on the domestic policies in his early years as president such as the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Bill Clinton’s phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” highlighted a key aspect of his questionable Grand Strategy early on in his presidency. In addition, Clinton had a lack of experience with regards to foreign policy.
This resulted in broad foreign policies which impacted the way Grand Strategy was defined under the Clinton Administration. President George W. Bush and his administration faced several obstacles with regard to grand strategy, most notably the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. The president’s policies had changed drastically as a result of these events. Pre-September 11, 2001, Bush’s stance on global affairs was primarily on “issues of Great Power politics, rogue states, and disdaining nation building,” (Daalder 1).
In other words, they focused their policies on great power politics, strengthened diplomacy with nations such as Russia and China to further U. S. prosperity, reduction in nuclear arms as well as a focus on rogue states such as North Korea, Iran, the nations which are preserved to threaten world peace. Although there were some similar policies, Bush focused more on the War on Terror and spread of democracy primarily through the Middle East as opposed to the whole global community. The Bush Doctrine served as a key component in his latter Grand Strategy.
It could be illustrated that Grand Strategy is a necessary part in any nations survival, but could also result in a lack of support of the citizens of that nation, in this case the United States of America. It is important to realize that this concept has the potential of resulting in a time of prosperity and security. The danger of any strategy is it failing and, pending the size of the nation, it can cause itself to collapse and fail as well as nations that are dependent. Although the United States is no longer in competition with the Soviet Union, Grand Strategies were formed and sustained under the Clinton and Bush Administrations.
In the beginning of Clinton’s two term in office, he was faced with several difficulties with regards to foreign policy and international affairs. These difficulties arose from issues concerning Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Serbia. Clinton’s lack of knowledge in foreign politics and affairs directly had an effect on his overall Grand Strategy or lack of. John Dumbrell makes the argument that Clinton’s administration lacks unification (Dumbrell 43). However, the aspect that can be most closely linked to a Grand Strategy is the Presidents stance on humanitarianism.
This aspect lead to the several military conflicts that occurred such as the nations listed above. While the Bush administration was coming to a close, the United States of America sent about 25,000 troops into Somalia to assist the ongoing United Nations relief effort by aiding in the distribution of supplies. When President Bill Clinton took, the number of American troops have been reduced and replaced by a growing U. N. peace keeping force. Conflicts with the local warlords became more wide spread which cause the United States to continue its military involvement in the region. As a result of a mission going bad, 18 U. S. Army Rangers were killed in a firefight in Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. They were originally tasked with the capture of a local Warlord. The United States then reinforced its troops in Somalia but abandoned the notion to mold Somalia into a more industrial nation. This idea is also an aspect that President George W. Bush had in his grand Strategy. The next year, Clinton and his administration make the decision to send United States troops into Haiti with the mission of restoring democracy, which was lost due to political instability, to provide aid and stop human rights violations and to restore stability in the nation.
This invasion was a result of General Raoul Cedras not ignoring the international pressure for him to leave Haiti and to turn the county over to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is the elected official. Although the United States proved to be successful in outing the military regime and restoring the elected president, Aristide also proved to be oppression but in addition he held anti-capitalistic views. This instability ultimately forced the U. S. troops to withdrawal five years later. Also, the same year as the Haiti incident, the Rwandan Genocide started to take place.
It is this event that contradicts the statement that Clinton’s Grand Strategy was Humanitarian efforts. Bill Clinton’s administration knew that Genocide was occurring in Rwanda by April 1994, yet failed to act appropriately to the situation. The administration did not want to repeat the disaster of US intervention in Somali. In addition to this the Clinton Administration did not find Rwanda to be significant enough to provide aid for, in other words, this nation does not hold strategic or economic importance.
One of the Clintons biggest foreign relation policies occurred as a result of the events that occurred in the former Yugoslavia region. The Lift and Strike Policy, which had strong opposition in Western Europe, and the use of Air power to strike Serbian targets were significant policies that occurred during the Bosnian Civil War. The goal of this policy was to lift the embargo that was issued by the U. N with regards to fire arms.
Originally this policy was beneficial because it was designed to keep the amount of fighting and violence to a minimum, however, the weapons that belonged to the Yugoslav army ended up with the Bosnian Serbian people who wanted to keep who wanted Bosnia to remain in the Yugoslav federation. As a result the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims were being defeated. Clinton made the decision to conduct air strike on various Serbian targets and with the help of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) reached an eventual settlement after the Serbs withdrew from Kosovo in 1999.
These series of event does not only demonstrate humanitarian aid but Clinton’s reliance on air power to accomplish humanitarian goals. Domestically, the North Atlantic Free Treaty Agreement (NAFTA), a policy the Clinton administration implemented to help the overall Grand Strategy of strengthen the nation, proved to aid the economic stage of the United States. NAFTA was created as a free trade agreement between Canada, The United States of America, and Mexico which allows for exportation between the countries at a much lower cost.
As a result, NAFTA is responsible for billions of dollars in goods annually which helps the economy. Although not directly linked to other operations and foreign relations, this policy allowed the government more funds to work with when in military conflicts. All of the efforts of the Clinton Administration to correct human rights and provide humanitarian aid were accomplished through the use of military force. Although the term “Clinton Doctrine” is not well established it is safe to assume that this doctrine and Grand Strategy that was used throughout his administration was based off the idea of interventionism.
This term covers the various defining factors such as Unilateralism and Humanitarianism into a single concept with more effective defines the Clinton Administration. These concepts are present under the George W. Bush administration. On March 23, 1999, President Clinton said “I want us to live in a world where we get along with each other, with all of our differences, and where we don’t have to worry about seeing scenes every night for the next 40 years of ethnic cleansing in some part of the world. ” This quote is the closest that Clinton came to describing his Grand Strategy in Simple terms.
His focus on Humanitarianism and providing aid was a significant part of his presidency. It is now apparent that President Clinton struggled with Grand Strategy due to the fact that there was no more a singular entity that posed a direct threat to democracy and the United States that existed in prior administrations. However, Clinton left his mark on foreign affairs and his focus on building the economy helped in next administration. Once Clinton left office in 2000, President George W. Bush took office and began his own Grand Strategies.
Unlike former President Clinton, President Bush was more aware of foreign policies and international relations, which allowed him to be more effective in policy making and diplomacy. Also, President Bush was seen a war time president. Although the Clinton administration actively used the military and became involved with other nations, there was no declaration of war against any other nation. It is important to recognize that the Bush administration had to drastically adjust their Grand Strategy as a result to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
This resulted in a foreign policy that was much more military based then it would have been of not for the attacks. Before September 11, 2001 and during the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush had his focus on items that were unrelated to foreign policy, they were tax cuts and education. One thing, however, Bush practiced in the international realm was great power politics. As a result of the administration practice of great power politics, which is the protection or attempted acquisition of national nterest through threats of force, both militarily and economically, Bush had a focus on military preparedness as a way to pressue other nations. Also, similar to the Clinton Administration the Bush administration believe in unilateralism, but believed in this concept at a much higher level . Bush and his administration emphasized relations through power politics other large nations such as China and Russia. Bush also ran and won this election on the platform that nation would in fact cut back on U. S. commitments abroad while focusing on national security.
Once the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred, President Bush had to change his foreign policy completely, as well as his grand strategy. This event caused a strong sense of patriotism in the United Sates and started a strong anti-terrorist platform which resulted on the President’s “War on Terror”. As a result, Bush declared war in Afghanistan and the conflict began on October 7, 2001, and is referred to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). This decision, although favorable at the time by the people, made the president look hypocritical due to the fact he opposed the extent of military involvement under the Clinton administration.
This declaration was justified by the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine had two key components: To stop to international terrorism and rouge nations, and to encourage the spread of democracy. The third part of this Doctrine is the United States would act unilaterally if necessary with the use of preemptive strikes. Preemptive strikes are used to neutralize a potential threat, or to gain a distinct advantage against an enemy, before the enemy attacks first. The most recognizable operation of this doctrine would be the war in Iraq.
Bush made the decision to attack Iraq to prevent the use of their alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to overthrow Saddam Hussein and spread democracy into the region. Reasons the Iraq war is an issue in politics and a criticism in Bush’s Grand Strategy is because on May 1, 2003, Commander-in-Chief declared the war was over but did not withdrawal forces. He was correct in saying so because Saddam’s regime has been overthrown but the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction was continued till the mid 2000s.
Yet no Weapons of Mass destruction were found and troops are still stationed in Iraq to maintain stability until a new democratic government is established and a sufficient amount of homeland security has been developed (Military and Paramilitary forces). This conflict also illustrated the stance the United States held, under the Bush administration, on rouge states. The Bush U. S. National Security Strategy in 2002 (USNSS) offers a clearer definition of Grand Strategy. The administration makes its intention apparent to achieve American military supremacy and the nation’s ability to use this military force to spread democracy globally.
This document makes the Bush Doctrine more comprehensive in the sense that it is noted in an official document. The similarities between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and their respective Grand Strategies are as followed: the use of military power as a solution to foreign conflicts, the ability of the United States to act alone (Unilateralism), and the fact that both administrations failed to have a clear and concise Grand Strategy. Their policies failed to address a specific event or threat or enemy and were to general to be considered a Grand Strategy.
However, it is important to recognize that the Bush administration has a clear Doctrine and created a label of “war on terrorism” to single out the enemy that they are facing. But the administration’s policies were not effective enough to be considered a Grand Strategy. It does remain important for a nation to have a Grand Strategy in a post – Cold War era due to several factors. First, having a Grand Strategy allows nations to have a plan of action in the event a threat arises. This is significant because it would act to preserve the security and safety of the nation.
Second a Grand Strategy would allow think tanks, intellectuals, military leaders and politicians to voice their opinions which will reinforce democratic ideals. Lastly a Grand Strategy is necessary because without a plan of any kind a nation risks becoming stagnant and is not able to advance economically, politically or militarily which would inevitably result in a failed nation. This is most important because without people working together to overcome obstacles progress cannot be made and society would not be able to move forward.
Advancement in society, at any level, is directly dependent on problems that exist within society. This is so because society must work to overcome such obstacles such as terrorism and communism due to the fact that it is this work which results in advancement in science, technology, political theory or any field that may exist.
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