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A Trenchant Yet Flawed Analysis of American Foreign Policy

September 12, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Angelo Codevilla’s analysis of the many problems associated with U.S. foreign policy provides an abundance of important insights. He is devastatingly on the mark when he contends that since the beginning of the 20thcentury, U.S. officials have transformed the Founders’ emphasis on shielding the American people against external dangers into an arrogant, unattainable objective of leading (and improving) all mankind. That is the essence of the approach first embraced by Woodrow Wilson and subsequently practiced by several generations of disciples.

Codevilla’s litany of the negative consequences from such hubris, while depressing, is supported by ample evidence. The situation has become especially unpleasant in recent decades and continues to get worse. Since the end of World War II, the United States has been entangled in some nine significant armed conflicts: Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. That total does not even include numerous “minor” interventions, such as those in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Libya.

A nation that burdens itself with nearly 43 percent of all global military spending, that is experiencing a chronic fiscal bleed of more than half a trillion dollars a year, and that finds itself mired in numerous murky quarrels around the world, badly needs to reassess its foreign policy.”

Moreover, the pace of Washington’s global meddling is accelerating, especially under the umbrella of the so-called war on terror following the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Codevilla is correct that the U.S. government’s attempts to cope with terrorism have further endangered the republic while changing it for the worse. Wasting nearly two trillion dollars (and counting) in the futile nation-building crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan has intensified America’s fiscal and economic woes, but even worse are the changes to the country’s social and political character. The NSA’s appalling conduct, especially the spying on ordinary Americans; the militarization of America’s local police forces; and the further empowerment of an already dangerous imperial presidency are just a few of the worrisome consequences flowing from a promiscuous, global interventionist foreign policy.

Whether Codevilla is correct that destructive U.S. actions overseas have occurred despite good intentions on the part of policymakers is debatable. Some officials appear to have been true believers in the Wilsonian dream, but much of Washington’s conduct has reflected less savory motives. The willingness of U.S. leaders to back an assortment of sleazy rulers, such as Anastasio Somoza, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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