16.4 Issues in Foreign Policy
The main aim of American foreign policy has been countering the threat from the Soviet Union. Thus national security issues occupy the foremost position in foreign policy, closely followed by international economic policy and environmental issues.
16.4a National Security Issues
National security cannot be measured only in terms of military combat forces. It embraces the entire fabric of American society, involving a complex organization of men, human knowledge and skills, materials and productive facilities. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. has begun working faster towards nuclear disarmament, with the newly independent countries of Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. However, the major concerns in foreign policy will continue to remain nuclear proliferation, the danger of terrorist groups and renegade states like Iraq, Iran and Libya.
The U.S. attempted to work through coalitions during and immediately after the Persian Gulf War. However these coalitions were not as successful in Bosnia and Somalia. A tentative settlement was brought about in Bosnia through the Dayton Accords. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, the U.S. acts as the sole mediator.
It has thus been found that deterrence and disarmament are
important strategies of national security.
16.4b International Economic Policy
Economic Policy can also be utilized as a tool in foreign policy. Thus American companies are forbidden to do business with countries sponsoring terrorism. With the help of the UN, the US attempted to prevent Iraq from selling its oil to rebuild its military strength. Sanctions were also placed on South Africa to bring an end to apartheid. Threats about revoking China’s Most Favored Nation Status (that permits it to pay lower tariffs) were issued by the U.S., which also encourages countries to adopt free-market reforms, by moving away from state controlled economics.
The ’Alliance for Progress’ was a special program for Latin American countries. It consisted of development and technical assistance activities designed to encourage economic and social reforms.
16.4c Environmental Issues
The Environmental issues are new issues in foreign policy. An issue having global impact is the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer. The production of chemicals destroying ozone has been reduced through international agreements. The issue of biodiversity decline involving the rapidly falling number of plant and animal species in the world, was also discussed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development.