World politics andinternational relations have fundamentally changed since the ending of the ColdWar. Geopolitics once drove the United States’ foreign policy agenda. However,global politics are now what shape the United States’ military, economic, andpolitical actions. The effects of globalization then further influence globalpolitics and the United States’ political agenda.
American foreign policymakers are now faced with the challenges brought on by globalization and its influenceon global politics. During much of the 20th century,geopolitics were responsible for determining the United States’ foreign policy.Presidents, ranging from Truman to H.W. Bush, struggled with the conflict ofthe Cold War and the idea that one single country could dominate much of theworld’s territory.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the struggle forterritorial control had ended and therefore, the goals of the United Statesforeign policies had been reached. Post-Cold War success, theUnited States has made it clear that no power will be able to threaten thehegemony of other nations without its involvement. This has further taken thefocus off regional, geographical, and territorial politics. However, it hasshifted American foreign policy to encompass the United States’ incomparable powerin global politics and the impact of expanding globalization on international relations. Today, the United States is the largest global superpower.
Militarily,its reach is never-ending. Economically, it is responsible for stimulating theworld’s trade system and industry. Politically, it influences global politicswhile promoting its own interests.
Culturally, it is considered to be a pioneerand often sets precedents for other nations. No other country has yet to rivalthe status of the United States. With all of these factors in mind, it could be said that the UnitedStates’ status paired with the idea of globalization are what have led to its influenceon today’s international environment. However, with power and superiority comesresentment. A trend in the perception that the United States solely cares aboutits own interests and will stop at nothing to reach its goals is growing at theinternational level. Many people often criticize the United States for itsbrutality but, to sustain control the United States needs to convince othernations that it is not afraid to exercise its power.
Furthermore, to extend the power of the United States, othernations need to feel that their interests are protected as well. After World WarII, the United States established the United Nations, the North Atlantic TreatyOrganization and other organizations that promoted development and boosted theglobal economy. Institutions and organizations such as these are what extendedthe United States’ power in the past and benefitted other nations involved. Onemajor challenge for the United States is to continue to establish organizationsand agreements that continue to promote desires of all participating nations,as well as its own. Globalization is defined as being the connectionsof the world via political, economic, and social aspects. It builds over timewhile cultures collide and spread. Globalization is rapidly expanding in the 21stcentury and is responsible for the dynamic interactions between individuals,countries, and the international system (Lecture, 11/6/2017).
Historically, globalization beganprior to the First World War when the steam engine reduced the cost and time oftransportation and the telegraph increased the ease of sharing informationacross the globe. Today, we find that globalization has led to massive amountsof cross-border contact and this contact can occur instantaneously, yieldingpositive and negative results. Globalization has many benefitsassociated with it.
For example, it increases the flow of goods, services, and capital,which then leads to boosted economies and increased prosperity. Additionally,with the spread of the aforementioned, cultural ideas tend to distribute aswell. This leads to the broadening of cultural horizons and often empowers people,who may then challenge autocratic rulers, spread democracy, and increase humanrights. This is precisely why globalization was a key point in PresidentClinton’s foreign policy agenda. Robert Schulzinger states that “The Clinton administrationthought the United States had a predominant role to play as the world’s onlysuper-power and that globalization and trade expansion held enormous promisefor people everywhere. (Schulzinger,p. 321)” Schulzinger further explains that the Clinton administrationembraced the interdependence among nations and that this could be the future ofthe United States’ foreign policy. If channeled correctly, the United Stateswould be able to practically influence and control a large majority of eventsin the international system.
On the other hand, globalization presents anew challenge to the world; it has made it incredibly easy for the status quoof the international system to be thrown off. As stated by the British PrimeMinister Tony Blair in his speech at the Economic Club of Chicago, “Many of ourdomestic problems are caused on the other side of the world. Financialinstability in Asia destroys jobs in Chicago… Poverty in the Caribbean meansmore drugs on the streets in Washington and London…These problems can only beaddressed by international cooperation. (Engel, Lawrence, and Preston, p. 349)” ADD ANALYSIS HERE? Alarge amount of today’s debate surrounding the United States’ foreign policylies in the utilization of power, American primacy, and globalization itself.Americanists support the notion that the United States’ goals are moreimportant than other nations and that support is not needed from othercountries, while Globalists emphasize international cooperation to promotepeace and unity. Americanists view American primacy ashaving two virtues. First, it allows the United States to create its ownforeign policy goals without having to rely on other international actors toachieve its goals.
Second, Americanists believe that United States foreignpolicy should preserve, and strengthen its power to maintain global influence. Thiswould allow the United States to place its interests and security concerns as apriority over other countries. This benefits the United States domestically,but this attitude could further resentments of other nations. Contrastingly, Globalists consider both thelimitations and the ability of globalization to create a new capacity for theUnited States to use its power and influence. Globalists deem that the UnitedStates is unfit to deal with the challenges created by globalization alone, butrather the cooperation of other nations is needed to solve world issues. Risinghumanitarian crises, furthering democracy, battling terrorism, and maintainingthe environment are all issues that require cooperation of other nations.
It must be said that both Globalists andAmericanists are right to some degree. Although globalization is increasing, themost powerful nation is generally who determines the flow of global politics.American primacy, if applied correctly, will further the United States’ interests,and maintain the status quo in global politics. This can be seen in cases suchas Haiti, Kuwait, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. The United States’ military powerwas able to remove Haiti’s military junta, eradicate Iraqi troops from Kuwait,end Serbian violence in Kosovo and break terrorist group holds in Afghanistan. Additionally, American primacy not onlyprogresses the United States’ interests, it progresses the desires of othernations as well. The United States is the only country able and willing tobreak stalemates that often prevent the progress of other nations.
This can beseen in the Balkans, Northern Ireland and the Middle East. As Madeleine Albrightsaid, “we are the indispensable nation. (Engel, Lawrence, and Preston, p. 347)” She suggeststhat the United States is the only country capable of seeing into the futureand that there is danger for all.
Contemporarily, the United States differs fromprevious hegemons in the way that its primacy stimulates other nations to seek itsassistance in their issues as well. Yet, the United States often harborsresentment from other nations for interfering in their affairs. Nevertheless, Globalists are correct inthinking that the United States must cooperate with other powers. The world isfaced with problems, such as global warming or fighting terrorism, that invokethe participation of all nations to fix the issues at hand. Moreover, economicglobalization rests on the intricacies of financial institutions all around theworld. All countries must participate to maintain a balanced world economy thatbenefits everyone involved. Cooperation between the United States andother nations also allows for the broadening of the United States’ foreignpolicy agenda.
Issues such as poverty, and infectious diseases are more easilysolved with less time, money and resources devoted if there is cooperationbetween actors involved. Additionally, it helps to secure the United States’security by building bonds with other countries, therefore, lessening thechances of future aggression. Both power and cooperation continue to matter intoday’s affairs and both need to be considered to shape the United States’foreign policies. So, that leads to the question of what theUnited States should seek to accomplish in its foreign policy agenda. The firstgoal of the United States should be to protect the liberty and security ofitself from aggressors.
The best way to ensure this is to promote democracy,human rights, and free enterprise at the international level. If the UnitedStates were to succeed in creating this international order, it would lead toincreased prosperity, and security for the entire world. Spreading democracywould eliminate threats to the United States and maintain other nations’sovereignty, which is the basis for the United States’ self-interests. Globalizationallows for this to be a potential reality in the future.
Guaranteeing that democracy and freeenterprise spreads at a global level includes four things. First, the UnitedStates must strengthen and sustain its power both economically and militarily. Theeconomy must remain healthy to prevent economic weakness and the same can besaid for the United States’ military. Second, the United States should extendproven international institutions and agreements to encompass the needs ofother nations. This will allow for the United States’ self-interests to beembedded and spread by said institutions, yet it will allow for other nationsto grow and prosper as well. Third, the United States’ foreign policy shouldenforce compliance with current international agreements and strengthen theability of international institutions to monitor the compliance of other participatingnations.
For example, since North Korea has refused to comply with United NationsSecurity Council resolutions, military force should be considered if necessary.Force may be necessary to persuade North Korea to comply by laws of theinternational community and if there are no consequences given for suchactions, the precedent will be set for other rebellious nations. Lastly, the UnitedStates is often responsible for creating international agreements andinstitutions. The United States should be willing to listen to other nations’issues to aid in overcoming them. This will further international cooperationand therefore, lead to an overall well being of the entire world.