Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Is American foreign policy a threat to security?


Is American foreign policy a threat to its very security?

By Muqtedar Khan

The world is becoming anti-American. Not only do most people around the world look on the US with disfavour, they also dislike President Bush, whose popularity is even questionable in the United States, where Tony Blair is more trusted and admired.

More and more people are less keen on cooperating with the US in foreign policy or in the war on terror. Growing anti-Americanism will not only undermine that campaign, but its extreme manifestations in the Muslim world are attracting new and numerous recruits to the ranks of Al-Qa'eda and affiliated or similar groups. Experts are in agreement that the primary reason people now hate America is American foreign policy. Its arrogant unilateralism, its untrustworthy rhetoric and its belligerent posturing are alienating and angering people in the East and West.

A recent poll of perceptions of the United States by the Pew Research Centre that was conducted in 20 countries indicates that since last year America's popularity has declined considerably across the globe. Even in traditional allies such as Turkey, 83 per cent of the population views the US negatively -- up from 55 per cent last year. In Europe, America's, long-time ally and cultural cousin, a majority of people look upon the US with disfavour.

According to the Pew study, there are two basic reasons why anti-Americanism is becoming a global culture: US foreign policy and the persona of President Bush.

The events of 11 September 2001 essentially identified two goals for American foreign policy -- eliminating immediate security threats to the nation and winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. This essentially translated into taking care of Al-Qa'eda and the Al-Qa'eda phenomenon. While Al-Qa'eda posed grave threats in the short term, the Al-Qa'eda phenomenon -- the rise of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world that attracted recruits to the organisation and similar groups -- posed a more severe and long-term challenge. President Bush and his foreign policy team were correct in their initial diagnosis, but unfortunately the policy decisions that they have made since have merely contributed to enlarging rather than shrinking the Al-Qa'eda phenomenon.

The Pew study essentially confirms the claims of most policy analysts outside the government. The war on Iraq has conveyed the impression that the US is determined to exercise force against Arab and Muslim nations more as a revenge for 11 September than as a strategy to prevent attacks. The problems that Iraqis have faced during the continuing US occupation of their country and the failure to find the huge stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that Bush and Powell claimed Iraq possessed, has hurt American credibility and raised serious questions about its motives and its policy objectives. The continuing chaos in Afghanistan and the threats following the Iraq war to Syria and then Iran have created a climate of apprehension and resentment against America.

Citizens of Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia all feel that their country is next on the US list. The fear that the US is out to attack other countries makes the global security environment less stable. It discourages cooperation, makes the world unsafe for Americans to travel and do business and radicalises moderates. It increases the flow of material and moral support to militant groups, weakens and places American allies and pro-democracy intellectuals and groups on the defensive. In general, anti-Americanism makes it difficult to promote peace and stability and fight extremism.

Rather than ensuring American security, it seems that American foreign policy, in particular the invasion and now occupation of Iraq, have created conditions that put the US and its interests at greater risk.

President Bush is surrounded by policy hawks who view 11 September as an opportunity to reassert the prerogatives of the American empire through a unilateral use of force. They wish to reshape the world to perpetuate America's imperial aspirations. Unfortunately for them the world is unwilling to cooperate. The harder they push, the more resentment they'll generate and the more difficult it will become to save the empire and its interests at minimal costs.

It is time to take the world seriously and reassess the tactics that have been employed until now. Perhaps the president would do well to change his foreign policy team as he did with his economic policy team. At the very least, he should return the foreign policy portfolio to the State Department and insist that the Department of Defense execute, not make foreign policy. The president might also do well to focus on allaying the fears of the international community and reassure people throughout the world that the US is neither threatening them nor will it pursue its interests at the expense of those of everyone else.

It is time for the US to once gain become an invisible imperial power, managing the world through multilateralism, diplomacy and leadership and by defining self-interest as shared interests. The current strategy of "in-your-face" politics is seriously damaging the US's reputation and alliances and undermining US security.

  • Dr. Muqtedar Khan is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Centre for Middle East Policy and the author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom. His virtual address is http://www.glocaleye.org

  • © Scoop Media

     
     
     
     
     
    Top Scoops Headlines

     

    Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

    Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

    Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

    The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

    ALSO:

    Buildup:

    Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

    It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

    ALSO:

    Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

    Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

    Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

    Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

    Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

    I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

    Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

    It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

    ALSO:


    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Top Scoops
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news