The new shift in American foreign policy | By Syed Nasir Hassan 

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The new shift in American foreign policy


THE tumultuous foreign policy of the United States has been of vital importance as it is one of the key drivers of global politics. It has evolved over the period of centuries to shape America into what it is today.

From Monroe’s isolationism to Wilson’s institutionalism coupled with moral diplomacy and then to Truman’s containment, the list goes on of experimenting different variants to ensure global hegemonic role.

One key element to observe is that every next President provided America with a new view and sometimes a 360-degree turn as compared to the former.

When Monroe presented with idea of isolationism, Teddy Roosevelt then came up with its “Corollary” to Monroe’s doctrine.

In 1904 Teddy Roosevelt came up with the idea that civilized nations have the general right of intervention.

He, like any other imperial mind, believed that America is the only hope for the world but he defied the idea of preserving peace through promoting civic values which many didn’t.

Then came Woodrow Wilson’s moral diplomacy, among the ideals of his foreign policy one was compelling or spreading the moral values of America to rest of the world.

Being an academic, he emphasized on moral and ideological prong of America and imbued it into its foreign policy as well. Its manifestation was observed in Marshall Plan as well.

Fast forwarding to the contemporary era: A cardinal aspect of contemporary US foreign policy was the expansion of democracy and proselytizing it across the globe.

For many, it was the pre-requisite of cold war but even when the world became unipolar it remained the idol to be worshiped in order to sustain American hegemony.

However, recent comments by President Joe Biden came as a shock for many when he said that it was never about nation-building, which meant that America was not there to build a nation.

While this anti-thesis was presented by President himself upon thesis of great America and its long affair moral self-righteousness, one needs to actually question the objectives of war.

What was it about? Was it about UBL, who was eliminated in 2011, was it about Taliban surrender, but they offered it multiple times in Bush Administration yet were denied and Bush went with full force and flexed its military muscle.

The last remains, was it about nation building? This was itself answered by current President Joe Biden in his recent remark.

Not to forget that it is same Joe Biden who praised and was instrumental in Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002 which was centred upon “Economic and Democratic Development Assistance for Afghanistan”.

Here it is needed to understand that whether the idea of Americanism and its civic virtues are no longer good enough to be exported or America is backtracking on its foreign policy.

Apparently the truth is that it was neither non-interventionism nor neo-liberal interventionism, it has always been realism of liberal power and it exercised it with full zeal, sometimes under the veil of right to self-defence and sometimes exporting human rights and moral values.

The US has excelled the art of branding their foreign policy in a manner which portrays itself as deity of liberalism while most of the world is sacrificial animal to this deity. However, the obscure realties of wars US waged have falsified these claims made by themselves.

As Afghan war comes to an end what it had done to the Afghan society will be another political trot.

From JSOC’s atrocities to neo-colonization of Afghanistan to plethora of defence contractors operating and fishing in Afghanistan, there has been only one winner throughout the war which was American elite. It won at the expense of humanity.

This asymmetrical war took 20 years to end and that too with an ironic epilogue. It was a war by policy elites deemed to yield maximum benefit by wounding Afghanistan and it did.

While we toss the blame on Donald Trump and Joe Biden, it should not be forgotten that it was started by George W. Bush and carried on by his successors. It is America to be blamed not particular President or Administration.

With the end to Afghanistan war there would be generational shift in American foreign policy. What once was wielded with civic virtues will now have an explicit realist perspective to it. America will now execute offensive foreign policy against China, mainly.

This more narrowed version of its foreign policy will further recede its global hegemony role and it will ultimately cut itself short of its global imprint.

While Beijing will continue with its economic chess board and will “let the man cut his own throat. Facing global humiliation in Afghanistan, US will now dedicate its resources to counter China threat.

In this endeavour it will engage in calibrating and solidifying new alliances which are valuable to accompany US’s interests.

Washington has started materializing it, AUKUS strategic pact be the first step. In these circumstances the future of NATO and other American allies would be full of uncertainties which will open strategic avenues for Beijing.

—The writer is a Research Fellow at Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR). He regularly writes of National and international newspapers and websites.

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