Geopolitics has been the driving force of the United States foreign policy for much of the 20th century. However, the age of geopolitics ended at the beginning of the 21st century, ushering in the global politics era. The new era creates new challenges for the policy makers in the United States, among them establishing the effective way of fashioning their foreign policy aligned to its values and interests amid the new reality of the global environment (Rice 3). Clearly, the foreign policy should be designed in such a way that the basic change in the global politics is put into consideration. The United States still maintains unrivaled economic, military, and political power, but the means of fashioning these into a good strategy in the current environment remains a challenge and a topic of major controversy. While it has been possible to establish the kind of policy assumed by the policy makers in the past, within the new environment, only time will tell the kind of direction the policy will take in the near future.
Foreign Policy in the Context of Modernity
Within the context of modernity, the formation of the global foreign policy of the United States is an entirely new challenge. Policy makers have to decide the theoretical and conceptual approaches within the new geopolitical conditions. In fact, there are four possible approaches that the policy makers can assume in making the grand policy, including restraint, or isolationism, selective engagement, cooperative security, or primacy (Trubowit 47). In whichever approach assumed, it is still important to decide whether the country will assume a liberalism or the realist theory of global relations. From a liberalist school of thought, the country would truly embrace the spirit of globalization where the nation would cooperate with other states globally (Democrat’s perspective) (Hartz 7). On the contrary, the policy making from a realist perspective would ensure that America operates in its self-interests (Republican’s perspective) (Lieven and Hulsman 47). The need for any country to protect itself from external threats, whether by intervening in other countries or protecting its borders, informs its grand strategy, although the exact approach to be assumed by the country will have to be debated in the near future.
Controversy Surrounding the Foreign Policy
Within the policy circles, there remain differing positions and approaches proposed for the design of a foreign policy within the modern environment. However, the differences allow the political establishment of the United States to verify the strategies systematically, exposing ones to the test of the doubt. A great deal of the debate surrounding foreign policy is founded on the need to assess the basic significance of globalization and primacy (Lieven 213). Even within the United States, policymakers are divided between those proposing the primacy of the country based on remaining a predominant power without caring about the rest of the world, or the aspect that calls for the need to respect the dictates of globalization, which calls for global cooperation. The supporters of the latter argument have refuted the possibility of America making it on its own.
Historically, different American administrations have assumed differing positions on the approach and strategy to assume in their foreign policy. The room for debate plays a role in identifying the weaknesses in the official positions. Regardless of the controversy, each government ends up creating a policy that long-standing and lasts at least for the period of activity of the Presidential Administration. Besides the two sides of the political divide, Democrats and Republicans have always had differing views regarding the foreign policy.
Disagreements Between Republicans and Democrats
The Democrats have never been in agreement with the Republicans regarding the way the foreign policy ought to be designed. While even the members of the same party might disagree, they appear to assume a position that is in the best interests of America at whatever time. In the recent past, idealist has remained an important school of thought for the Democrats. The perspective supports the idea of making use of the military and diplomatic power in doing what is good for the country as well as for the global system. Another policy approach that has been popular with the Democrats is the internationalist perspective, the view of America being the leader in advancing democracy in the world (Smith 23). On the other hand, Republicans are great supporters of the realpolitik or realism approach to foreign policy (Deudney 15). The school of thought is based on operating in a manner that is in the best interests of the United States regardless of the effects on others to make a better life in America according to the manifest destiny (Cherry 27). The recent politics have seen the Republicans consider a system where the interests of the country take priority over the global system.
The Bush administration saw America completely go against the American exceptionalism, the idea that Americans should not be involved with the affairs of other states (Lipset 4). The grand strategy designed at the time was based on the flexing of the offensive military muscles to fight rogue nations. In the process, there was a great deal of use of preventive war and pre-emptive force. In line with the history of the active American interventionism and as a response to the September 11 2001, attacks, the Bush administration put this policy in force, particularly in the war on Iraq as a part of its global war against terror. The doctrine was based on the strategic national security, which provided the rationale to target the rogue states, which supported terrorism or pursued mass destruction weapons. Interventionism was also interpreted from the perspective of democratic realism, intervening in other nations to promote democracy in the global system. In the process, the government would use its military and financial resources in the intervention process.
Hilary Foreign Policy Proposal
The proposal by Hilary Clinton in her campaign has been for a United States that recognizes the important role played by peoples from all walks life in the building of the country. The views are a sort of nationalist thesis that is founded on the “American creed.” Such a policy is supported by Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish economist who suggested that “Americans of all national origins, classes, religions, creeds, and colors, have something in common: a social ethos, a political creed” (Lieven 8). From the perspective of the proposal and the Democrats in the recent political sphere, there will be greater openness in the United States, based on equality and racial tolerance. After all, America should continue to reflect the model of successful modernity, which is the basis for policy making in the globalized world (Lieven 10). Globalization includes the ease and freedom of movement across the borders of nations, which would be allowed in America.
Trump Foreign Policy Proposal
The proposal for the foreign policy is the opposite of what was proposed by Hilary Clinton and the Democrats. On 20 April 2016, Trump made a declaration suggesting “America First” (Lieven 12). Evidently, this is the basis of the foreign policy that will be designed under the Trump administration. The need to protect America from external threats during the modern era is critical of the new government. The kind of policy that would be based on such a school of thought is one where every policy action assumed by the government advances the interests of the country, which is a realist theory of international relations. Trump and his government are deeply opposed to overseas interventions and military sacrifices by the country. The primary reason is based on his distrust of all foreigners, both inside and outside the United States (Lieven 15). In essence, the policy proposal is basically one where America protects itself above everything else.
Clinton Foreign Policy
Bill Clinton had come into the administration of the United States without much experience in the area of foreign policy, and foreign affairs in general. He entered into the office at a time when there were uncertainties caused by the end of the Cold War and the collapsing of the Soviet Union. As a result, it was a time when the country had serious policy issues challenging the capability of Clinton as a statesman (Trubowitz 137). However, just like the Democrats after him, Clinton focused on the policy to advance democracy in the world. He had inherited the interventionist policies from President Bush; for instance, at the time when his predecessor had sent American troops to intervene in Somali. The cohesive foreign policy that Clinton developed as advised by his advisers was the “doctrine of enlargement.” In this case, the idea was to expand the market democracies globally, embracing capitalism, international alliances, and multilateral peacekeeping. Clinton desired that the country would remain as the principal world leader, a situation that would promote democracy and human dignity.
The Grand Strategy (U.S. Primacy)
Traditionally, the United States has been considered to have a place of dominance and supremacy over other states. As a superpower, the country stood above others in the global community. However, whether the US still assumes the place of hegemony is something that has been questioned in the new world order. Interestingly, despite the changes within the global system, some policy makers in the country still believe in the grand strategy based on US primacy. Within the modern-day policymaking, US primacy is justified by distinguishing it from domination and the argument that it stands in a place of obligation to advance democracy in the world (Bacevich 34). The country retains the military, political, and economic resources that make it possible for it to achieve the objective. Under such a policy, it would be expected that the country would use the resources in intervening in the international platforms, thus advancing the democratic principles.
Grand Strategy after Cold War
Total world annihilation almost dominated the period during the Cold War applying a policy called mutual assured destruction. However, things had to change when the United States defeated the Soviet Union in the war and came out as the world power. Clearly, the end of the war suggested major changes in policy making with many questions arising, including what the interests of America were at the end of the war, the main threats to the country, and the policies that would be effective. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations were players in making the policies after the war (Brzezinski 179). Given that no other threat was as serious as the Soviet Union, the policies that were designed at the time were based on the claims about markets, stability, democracy, as well as American primacy.
Effects of Trump Election on US policy
Much of the policymaking in the past has focused on the interests of the United States as they relate to other states within the global community, such as the need to promote democracy and free trade within the globalized community. It is possible that the United States will remain a military power but its lead in soft power is probably being challenged. The source of the challenge is not from the outside, but from within (Bercovich 18). The era of Trump is expected to be characterized by increased domestic nationalism and protectionism. Trump is mostly focused on making the country better without necessarily caring about what is happening on the outside. Thus, whether there is democracy elsewhere will no longer be the concern of his administration. Under his administration, the policy making will look more to the inside, seeking to make it better for its people than placing it in a place where its interests align with those of the international community. Therefore, the United States might not focus on spreading democracy in the meantime as long as Trump is in office.
Effects on Free Market Capitalism
It is important to note that the Trump government is Americanist in nature as opposed to being globalist. Given this reality, the idea is that it is possible to set up its policies without necessarily depending on other nations. The outcome of such a move would be a situation where America is no longer restricted by international agreements or institutions in its operations, including economic relations. As a globalist country, U.S would have to work in accordance with the dictates of the international institutions and agreements, including free trade (Hernandez Barros, 4). However, the approach will not receive favor from the Trump’s administration. In the name of protecting itself and its markets, the country will no longer assume the dictates of the market capitalism or free trade as they have been proposed in the globalized international system. The possible policy under his administration is one that curtails the free trade, including the potential for entering into new global agreements.
Effects of Globalization on Policy
At the same time, the rapid globalization of the economic sector has caused the U.S. the necessity to have an active adaptation to this process through the increase of the competitiveness of the American goods in the global marketplace (Lieven 7-22). It is important to note that the United States cannot make it on its own within the current economic system. The world has become increasingly globalized; hence, creating a high level of interconnectedness. As a result, even when making the new policy for the country by the new administration, this reality cannot be ignored. The new government faces a major challenge in remaining Americanist in the globalized world where it would have been globalist. Clearly, working out an effective policy under such circumstances will be one of the foreign policy challenges that the country has faced in the recent past.
In fact, there is the facilitation of access to the domestic markets and the strengthening of stability in an increasingly interconnected global economic and financial system. Trump administration faces another major challenge, which include making of the domestic markets stronger to compete effectively with others within the global system. The reality is that the United States faces a major competition from other countries in the world, including China, especially for leadership in global markets. Thus, without strong domestic markets to compete effectively, there are chances that the economic leadership of the country will be challenged very soon.
Norms of Behavior by US
The United States not only determines the norms of behavior in the world but also bears the primary responsibility for ensuring the compliance with them, combining the functions of the legislator, arbitrator, and sheriff. As a world power, the country has a critical role in determining how the rest of the world behaves, including promoting the democratic ideals. From the American perspective, separation of powers, a geologically decentralized political system, federalism, and a dedication to anti-imperialist (or liberal) standards controlled the United States expansion as it moved to be the predominant power from a secondary peripheral power (Ikenberry 26). Indeed, this position has remained the ideal on which the democratic system of government in the country has been founded. In fact, it would appear like a divine role for the United States to spread democracy in the world (Boyer 103). In essence, such initiative has remained one of the basis for its foreign policy making.
Possibility for US Centralized World
The real possibility of creating the U.S. centralized world is rather a problematic issue. Such hegemonic aspirations of the United States often cause a confrontation with the rest of the powers of the world (Lieven 211). The world is no longer a unipolar one, where the United States assumes the center of power. Therefore, there is an increase in the emerging powers, using China as the case study, indicating a possible shift of power from the west to the east. Thus, any international efforts by the United States have to contend with this reality (Brzezinski 182). Policy makers in the country, especially with the reality of the new government will have to take cautious measures in their policy efforts if the importance of America in global politics has to remain.
The modern world has greatly changed, making it a challenge for the United States, especially in the development of its foreign policy. There are things that have to change from the way the foreign policy has been created in the past amid serious alterations resulting from the change of administration. Regardless, one thing should be clear, that it would not be practical for the United States to remain isolated at the time the country is gaining more power and the time when the world is becoming more open to international trade. It is evident that the current government would have wanted to remain uninvolved in international affairs, but it will not be possible. Therefore, the dictates of the global system will always set the necessary dynamics regarding the country’s foreign policy, regardless of the government of the day.