The 18 months since the launch of the Iraq war have left the country's hard-earned respect and credibility in tatters. In going to war without a legal basis or the backing of traditional U.S. allies, the Bush administration brazenly undermined Washington's long-held commitment to international law, its acceptance of consensual decision-making, its reputation for moderation, and its identification with the preservation of peace. The road back will be a long and hard one.
America should use its post-Cold War hegemony wisely by deepening its ties with its NATO allies and thereby save itself from the temptations of overwhelming power.
George P. Shultz rescued the Reagan administration from its dogmatism. By using America's growing strength, yet insisting on negotiations, Shultz created a commandingly favorable position for the United States at the dusk of the Cold War.
The USSR is finished as a great power, and NATO will break up in consequence. Future tensions between world powers are likely to take the form of disputes over trading relations. The USA's foreign policy posture as 'defender of the free world' pre-1989 in no way implies a continued posture as 'world policeman' -- a role likely to prove harmful to US interests. Lead article in a FA feature under the rubric 'A world transformed'. See next four items.
Jefferson's conceptions of the US national interest, and of the diplomatic postures by which it was most fit to be advanced, still inform US foreign policy today, in respect of uneasy contrast between withdrawal and reformation. "For Jefferson, as for subsequent American statesmen, the desire to change the world was at war with the desire not to be corrupted by the world... The combination of universalism and parochialism is the result of a self-consciousness over role that forms a constant in the nation's history". Yet "the conventional contrast of the roles of exemplar and crusader has often obscured the affinity that may always exist between them", as between thought and action. Jefferson's own statecraft illustrated the hazards of crusadership, as his early sympathy for the French Revolution and desire for American territorial expansion led to a 'neutralism' which effectively supported Napoleon Bonaparte and brought about war with Britain.
Generally praises President Reagan's achievements in foreign policy, contrasting the bleak end of the Carter years with the break-throughs made at the close of the Reagan era. Reagan's successes would not have been possible had he been the ideologue he was often depicted as; his flexibility can be seen in his tolerant attitude towards the collapse of the Contra effort in Nicaragua. While Reagan enjoyed good fortune in his conduct of foreign policy, recurring budget deficits and the tarnished image of American democracy must also be included in any assessment of his presidency. Professor of American diplomacy, Johns Hopkins University.
In the almost four decades since the appearance of nuclear weapons, concern over the dangers these weapons raise has varied markedly. A preoccupation with nuclear weapons has characterized only a very few, and even among these few anxiety over the prospects of nuclear war has not been a constant. Beyond the nuclear strategists and a small entourage, the nuclear question has not evoked a steady level of attention, let alone of anxiety. On the contrary, the attention of foreign policy elites, and even more the general public, has swung from one extreme to the other and within a brief period of time.
Once again we have reached a major turning point in American foreign policy. On this, at least, there is widespread agreement. The conviction that the nation has come to a critical juncture in its foreign relations is broadly shared by those who may disagree on virtually everything else. Everywhere the signs point to the conclusion that for the third time in the post-World War II period we are in the throes of far-reaching change in the nation's foreign policy. What these signs do not divulge are the eventual scope and magnitude of the change.
The last year of the 1970s confirmed and carried measurably forward the major trends of a decade. Viewed from an American perspective, the principal developments of 1979 registered the continued decline in the nation's international position. The decline was most apparent in the Middle East, the area that apart from Western Europe and Japan represents the center of America's strategic interests.