US Foreign Policy – Coursework Example
US Foreign Policy Introduction America’s foreign policies are highly controversial especially after the 9/11 World Trade centre terrorist attack. George Bush Jr. used the scenario created by the 9/11 incident for political gains. He declared a war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan immediately after 9/11 incident. Moreover he created a sense of belief among the people that Muslims all over the world in general are advocates of terrorism. Even though war on terror was started in Afghanistan and Iraq, immediately after the 9/11 incident, Bush kept a blind eye towards the Middle East issue. It should be noted that Israel is committing lot of terrorist activities in Palestine for the last few couple of decades. However, Bush never tried to prevent Israel from doing so. The arrival of Obama as the president of America has changed the scenario considerably. Obama is not a blind advocate of Israeli massacres in Palestine or the American war against the Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has taken a cautious approach towards all these issues and a change in American foreign policies is evident at present. This paper analyses the major changes the Obama administration made to US foreign policy in the context of the international system level, state level, and individual level.
US Foreign Policy
In the post-September 11 context, Israelis hope that the United States-now a victim of massive domestic terrorism-will have more sympathy for them while Palestinians hope that the United States will revive peace talks, and thus solidify Arab support for the war on terrorism (Avineri, 2001).
George Bush acted based on the beliefs of Israelis and he conducted massive strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. He never tried to interfere in the matters of Middle East and was silently supporting the Israeli activities in Middle East. In short, 9/11 incident not only created problems to the Iraqis and Afghanis but also to the Palestinians. It should be noted that Muslims were at the receiving end in all these countries. US-Israel relationships have both historical and cultural dimensions. “There are several lenses through which one can interpret US policies aimed at the Arab-Israeli conflict like, contrasting national interests, special relationship politics with Israel, bureaucratic politics and individual beliefs” (Shannon, 2003, p.3). It should be noted that Christians and Jews have almost similar beliefs and customs. Moreover, both are believed to be related to each other in many ways. Historically, no US presidents tried to isolate Israel from global politics because of this cultural similarity. However, president Obama is not approaching America’s relations with Israel through historical or cultural perspectives. He is keen in extending support or criticism to Israel based on issues and facts rather than histories or preconceived notions.
“Increasingly fractious relations between the US and Israel hit a low unseen in nearly two decades after the Jewish state rejected President Obamas demand for an end to settlement construction in the West Bank and Washington threatened to "press the point"(McGreal, 2009). Unlike his predecessors, Obama is taking a stern stand with respect to Middle East conflict. His recent actions especially the recent Cairo university speech clearly reveals his stand on Middle East issue. Moreover, he has not met any of the Israeli officials until now even though he met many prominent Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas. Obama has already sent signals to Israel regarding a policy change in near future itself. “A map of where Obama and McCain stand on the peace process and other issues crucial to Israel—the War on Terror, the Iraq War, Iranian nuclearization” (Oren, 2008).
America’s foreign policy changes may affect Israelis at the international level, state level, and individual level. It should be noted that no other country in the world is getting such big financial and military aids from America as Israel does. Mearsheimer & Walt (2008) have pointed out that “As of 2005, direct US economic and military assistance to Israel amounted nearly to $ 154 billion, the bulk of it comprising of direct grants rather than loans” (p.24). If Israeli’s act against the will of Obama, they may not get such massive aids from America in future. Obama is not at all happy about the false promises given by the Israeli officials with respect to Middle East problems. “Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises” (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2006). All these factors are encouraging Obama to rethink about America’s foreign policies towards Israel.
“Despite the widely-held tail-wagging-the-dog assumptions, history has shown that the United States has frequently used Israel to advance its strategic interests in the Middle Eastern region” (Zunes, 2006). However, Obama seems to have other ideas. It should be noted that Israel is reluctant in attacking Iran now even though they have strong conflicts with Iran over Iran’s ambitious nuclear projects. Israelis know that they may not get any support from US if they conduct any raids over Iran’s nuclear plants. In fact Obama’s policies are helping America in avoiding the opening of another war front in Iran. Obama has already announced the timely withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama believes that “If the United States had not been a strong supporter of Israel, it would have been very difficult for Soviet Union to win friends and allies in the Islamic world” (Sheffer, 1997, p.32). The presence of Soviet Union in Middle East or any other Islamic countries is indigestible to US. It should be noted that presence of Soviet troops in Afghanistan forced America to support Osama in his fight against communism in a Muslim country.
In conclusion, Obama is trying to change the face of America in international politics. He is not at all interested in relying on traditions or histories while taking decisions about foreign policies.
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Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (September 2, 2008)
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Books. Retrieved from http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html
McGreal, C. (2009). US-Israel Relations Hit Low After Jewish State Rejects White House
Demand. guardian.co.uk, 11 June 2009.
Oren, M. (2008). The U.S.-Israel Partnership: Forks in the Road. Retrieved from
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Foreign Policy and Conflict in the Islamic World) Ashgate Publishing (August 2003)
Sheffer G (1997). US-Israeli Relations at the Crossroads Publisher: Routledge (February 28,
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Policy Report. Retrieved from http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/3251