The United States has been embroiled in world politics for more than a hundred years. In that regard, its foreign policy has been a major investment with regard to time and money. After World War II, the foreign policy aimed at halting the spread of communism, which came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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Today, the United States foreign policy goals include the promotion of democratic ideals and human rights, promotion of world peace, the maintenance of a power balance among nations, and the preservation of its national security. In addition, it aims to promote cooperative foreign trade and solve international problems. In that regard, some policies have had a significant positive global impact while others have had a negative global impact. On balance, I would argue that the US is a benevolent hegemon.
Examples of Initiatives with a Global Impact
United States’ foreign policy initiatives have had both positive and negative impacts. Three initiatives that have impacted the world positively include the maintenance of world peace and a secure global environment, the maintenance of power among nations, and working with allies to solve global problems (Anderson 45). On the other hand, three policy initiatives that have had a negative impact on other countries and the world include the weakening of Hezbollah, the prevention of North Korea from owning nuclear weapons, and the plan to stop China and Russia from becoming superpowers (Abrams 76). These initiatives have significantly affected global security, the global economy, and international relations between countries.
Power Balance among Nations
The United States’ initiative to maintain a power balance among nations has had a positive impact on certain countries and the world at large. For example, several US presidents sought to prevent the supremacy of a single country over others in Asia and Europe (Anderson 49). In that regard, the US participated actively in World War I and II that lasted four decades. The major goal of the US’s foreign policy was attained because the dominion of the Soviet Union was annihilated after its collapse in 1991 (Gries 44).
In the contemporary world, the United States is keen on preventing multipolarity in the world like France, Germany, Britain, and Russia fight for supremacy in Europe and China, Japan, and Korea in Asia (Hixson 54). The US was determined to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in 1990, which showed that the US was ready to defend weaker nations and maintain its sovereignty.
One of the most successful foreign policy initiatives is the halting of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The United States oversaw the signing of a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Instead of coercing Iran to abandon its nuclear program entirely, it held talks with Tehran and reached a deal (Aistrope 47).
The US did not use its military supremacy to compel Iran to give up its nuclear program. This one of the rare instances that the US refrained from military force and overt coercion to enforce its foreign policy. The disarmament of Iran was a relief to neighboring states that were victims of Iran’s purported superiority because of its nuclear program (Hixson 41). The US also brokered a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan and created the Proliferation Security Initiative that stopped the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technology.
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Maintenance of World Peace and Security
The United States has on several occasions applied its economic and military supremacy to foster peace and security in the world. For instance, it used its military forces to dispel Iraqi troops from Kuwait and end al-Qaida’s dominion over Afghanistan (Gries 53). Moreover, it stopped the atrocities that were being spearheaded by Serbia in Kosovo. Many foreign policies have argued that these actions are usually aimed at promoting the interests and values of the United States. Though true, many countries and regions of the world have benefited significantly from the United States’ implementation of its foreign policy (Anderson 74).
The US has been described as an indispensable nation that uses its economic and military strength to mobilize the world to action toward the promotion of peace and security (Aistrope 87). In that regard, the US can be described as a benevolent hegemon because its foreign policy initiative of promoting peace and security is not implemented in order to expand its power through territorial gains. They are implemented because as the global superpower, it has the responsibility of promoting peace and enhancing security.
In addition, the US has played a significant role in fighting terrorism after September 11, 2000. President Obama expanded the struggle against terrorism by using drone strikes, covert operations, and other military strategies to fight the Islamic State (ISIS). The US did not win the war against terrorist groups. However, it has lowered the incidence of attacks on American soil since the September 11 attack.
The Invasion of Iraq by the US was aimed at defending international peace against the oppressive regime of President Saddam Hussein (Gries 51). In recent years, China has been expanding and strengthening its military, a move that has been viewed by its neighbors as disturbing the peace (Abrams 59). China’s claim to the Spratly Islands is likely to cause conflicts in the region, and the US is determined to deter China from destabilizing the region through its agenda of military and economic global expansion.
Solving Global Problems
The US solves global problems by giving foreign assistance to developing economies. The major problems solved include poverty, diseases, and insecurity (Hixson 65). Giving foreign aid benefits the recipient countries as well as the US because it is a strategic and economic imperative that enhances national security (Abrams 63). Globalization has played a significant role in the broadening of the United State’s foreign policy agenda because of its involvement in solving global problems.
For instance, several organizations that offer aid to developing countries aim to end poverty, poor governance, ignorance, and infectious diseases. For example, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) provide aid to developing countries in an effort to fight poverty and diseases (Gries 67).
Foreign aid also helps developed countries. For instance, after World War II, the US gave foreign aid to Europe to aid in the rebuilding of infrastructure, economic revival, and promotion of peace (Abrams 83). The Marshall Plan was highly successful, and as a result, the US created several programs to offer foreign aid to needy countries and regions of the world.
America’s foreign policy initiative to solve global problems has been beneficial to many countries. Currently, over 20 government agencies offer foreign aid to more than 100 countries around the world (Aistrope 98). The aid helps to combat terrorism, address poverty, fight diseases, promoting democracy, and expanding free markets. Numerous countries and regions benefit from the US foreign assistance funding that is classified into 9 groups: health, peace and security, humanitarian assistance, environment, education, and social services, democracy, human rights, and governance, multi-sector, economic development, and program management.
Examples of government agencies that fund and execute foreign assistance activities include the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Department of State, Peace Corps, Inter-American Foundation, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Hixson 76).
The United States foreign policy has both positive and negative outcomes on countries and regions of the world. Since World War I, America has been providing foreign assistance to many countries in the world as part of its economic and political strategy. Developing economies in the contents of Arica and Asia have benefited from America’s foreign aid. Financial assistance has led to the rapid growth of certain economies.
However, the US uses the assistance to further its interests. Some of the policy initiatives have caused negative outcomes: trying to stop China and Russia from becoming superpowers, preventing North Korea from owning nuclear weapons, and the weakening of Hezbollah. Many countries of the world are enjoying more economic prosperity, better health services, political prosperity, and peace because of America’s foreign policy initiatives. In that regard, America is a benevolent hegemon that is responsible for numerous global successes: enhanced economic development in poor countries, improved global peace and security, and the protection of weaker nations’ sovereignty.
Abrams, Elliot. Realism and Democracy: American Foreign Policy after the Arab Spring. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Aistrope, Tim. Conspiracy Theory and American Foreign Policy. Manchester University Press, 2016.
Anderson, Perry. American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers. Verso, 2015.
Gries, Peter Hays. The Politics of American Foreign Policy: How Ideology Divides Liberals and Conservatives over Foreign Affairs. Stanford University Press, 2014.
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Hixson, Walter L. American foreign Relations: A New diplomatic History. Taylor & Francis, 2016.