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The Internal and External Defense Policy of the U.S.

The U.S. Defence Policy

The US defense policy has undergone a series of transitions from the Great War era up to the present time. In analyzing the US defense policy, the mention of US foreign policies cannot be ignored at all. The modern US defense policy under the Obama administration cannot be purely classified into any singly known international relations theory. There a sharp and surging contrasts between his administration and that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. The hot pursuit of adopting a comprehensive realist/liberalist internal and external defense policy theory is eminent and cannot be ignored either. The contemporary US defense policy undoubtedly appears to strike a balance between realism and liberalism. A critical and more pragmatic argument can be directed towards Obama’s move to move the US troops out of Iraq. He has equally been emphatic on the dignity of international organizations alongside weaving and binding together mature democracies. Mixed criticisms have hitherto followed, with some perceiving it as a replica of the Bush administration while others feel that this is in favor of US capitalistic ideology (Hillen, p. 74). To be precise, however, proponents of this power and military defense strategy may see it as the most adept means of harmonizing foreign policy in a world which is politically at quagmire. This paper gives an in-depth analysis of the US defense policy both at the local and international platforms. The interaction between the foreign policy and defense system is also elaborated.

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Liberalism focuses primarily on the initiation, care, and universal promotion of liberal democratic governments which do not abet unjust human practices. There is inevitably a strong foundation for the rule of law as well as in-fights among the mature democracies. The 1980s witnessed serious aggression between the US and the Soviet Union with the eminent enmity that communism brought. The political ideology of communism was a big threat to the Americans at this time. Ronald Reagan, a soldier during the cold war, was then implored by the US to go to Washington and divert any possible threat that could be posed by communism. Even as this was happening, the United States was highly alarmed at how Japan was growing economically. Unfortunately, Japan’s economic strategies failed, and as a result, its economy slumped while the US enjoyed about one decade of positive economic progress. In a nutshell, the US was in a hectic search for allies bearing in mind that it had gained superpower status by this time. It deployed a defense policy of “fit or quit” by embracing those who gave it support and punishing the “rogue ones”. Up to date, the US has tirelessly and consistently attempted to persuade and convince several countries to acknowledge their free and capitalistic practice.

Recent events have shed more light on this debate. For example, the historic September 11, 2001 attack of the twin towers was a wake-up call in the US, probably in the wrong direction altogether. Hays, Vallance, and Tassel (p. 80) referred to it as the “power of weakness” in the sense that the weapon that was used to shake this world power was merely a box cutter and a fellow ready to sacrifice his life. This was like an impotent attack that surprisingly left too much pain and terror to this nation. How then did the US react to this? Was the attack a national or global affair? It developed a desire to have full control of the so-called terrorists and terror countries. Besides, it aimed at assimilating technological advancement for the sole purpose of solidifying its foreign defense power as part of its foreign policy.

Tracing back from history, the US was quite relieved when communism collapsed. This meant one thing: its expansionist plan would be right on track, spreading its tentacles far and wide and upholding the superpower status. This was a special defense tactic bearing in mind that communism had become a serious threat to the United States. Inevitably, this was about power, influence, control, and dominance well calculated to infer the protection of global security. In one of its many defense policies, the US has instituted its internal control mechanisms in targeted countries.

The US invasion of Iraq over the alleged weapons of mass destruction and consequent execution of Saddam Hussein is a vivid example of its external defense policy. As Hillen (p. 92) notes, there are many advantages that are enjoyed whenever power and supremacy are on board. This is the policy that the United States pursued prior to engaging itself in the Iraqi War. The writer further expounds that power does not guarantee influence all the time. This is the very reason why the US did not get the simple majority support in the Iraq War. The nine out of fifteen votes could not be reached by the United Nations Security Council to allow this superpower to stamp its authority on Iraq. Surprisingly, even those countries that were mostly assisted by the US, like Chile and Mexico rejected to support it. Owing to the bear reason that no country could compare itself with the US in military and arms race, she went ahead and attacked Iraq (Hillen, p. 68). This was a foreign defense policy that left thousands of innocent Iraqis with dire consequences. The innocent civilians are yet to come to terms with the humanitarian crisis that followed after the war. What about the US allegations that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction? Indeed, he was later executed on the basis of these claims. The world is still skeptical over what the US targeted in this Middle East country under the George W. Bush administration.

Is the Defence Policy Constructive?

Has the Obama administration been on the persuasive end to solicit for international support as a power pyramid plan? Some proponents of these foreign defense policies may perhaps be right in their own judgments. If the US foreign defense policy is anything to go by, then the empirical outcome of these strategies should be applauded by all and sundry.

All the same, the US is likely to be overcommitted with international matters at the expense of its own affairs. Political analysts argue that this is the very reason why such a flimsy set of weapons was used to bring down a giant superpower in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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International Business Publications (p. 56) elaborates that the September 11 terrorist act was overwhelmingly condemned by the US. Although acts of terror are as old as mankind, this seemed like the climax. The underlying rationale why Al Qaeda launched this terror attack was to topple the monarch that was reining Saudi Arabia by that time. The U.S was a close associate of this dynasty by “stationing of American troops within the country’s borders.

It must be Something Else.

It is imperative and inevitable to explore the contemporary US defense policy under President Obama in order to evaluate and conclude on the past and modern policy genetic traits. To begin with, the Obama administration has often reiterated that Islam is not a foe and that the war on terrorism has little to do with US engagement. Moreover, the United States needs to have a breathless pursuit over nuclear programs alongside other issues. There is a myriad of external defense policies as stipulated in the current administrative structure. The US desire to control Saudi Arabia was a critical issue at hand during the Republican rule under Bush. Was it a strategy to fight terrorism emerging from the Middle East? But then, is it the only US facing the threat of terrorism in the contemporary world?

In order to drive away from the Iraqi army from the Kuwait region, the United States of America, on one of its foreign defense policies, attacked Iraq under the approval of the United Nations Security Council. President George Bush received a lot of compliments, having successfully achieved the mission. There was much relaxation on the US side following a coup attempt in the Soviet Union, which later saw the collapse of the union (Sapolsky, Gholz &Talmadge, p. 95). This also marked the end of communism, which was a great threat to the US; however, when President Clinton took over the leadership mantle, he opted for a slightly different defense policy approach. He preferred rules of engagement contrary to divide and rule. Nevertheless, not so much was resolved in terms of defense system conflict, which had historically existed. Both Mexico and Latin America were key interests in the Bush foreign defense policy.

The military policy which Bush adopted after 2001 was basically meant to deal with the fight against terrorism. The government had to act swiftly to resolve terrorist attacks. The huge causality arising from the al-Qaeda attack compelled the Republican administration to enact defense policies that would ensure the protection of its citizens and infrastructure. To begin with, President George W. Bush declared a total crash on all acts of terror. As a result, the Homeland Security office was incepted. Its first mandate was to crack down on the established Taliban government, which was hosting the al-Qaeda crew. The Bush’s approach was coercive, and it led to the defeat of the Taliban. After the September 11 incidence, the US government changed its defense strategy from a reactive to a proactive one. This is the reason why Bush launched a proactive invasion of Iraq even before he could fully establish the alleged Weapons of Mass destruction (WMD). The argument was that Iraq was a potential breeding ground for terrorists and consequently required government change. Indeed, this change came faster than the world could imagine when Saddam Hussein was toppled over before the close of 2003.

The foreign policy on matters of defense is largely affected by the executive arm of the government. The President has tangible powers over the decision-making process on matters of defense. This is also true even with the Obama administration. The huge Congress totaling 535 in number is quite slow when it comes to the decision-making process, and as a result, the President with a small advisory team usually performs well and has been expeditiously deliberating on matters of national interest like security. This is sometimes done in a more secretive manner. The Presidential regulations on matters of foreign defense policies became a reality with the advent of the Second World War as well as the Cold War era when there was a need for the executive branch to make prompt and expedited decisions on security matters.

The Departments of State and Defence

The daily affairs concerning issues of external defense in the US are taken care of by the above departments. There are several agencies that have been incorporated into the two departments. For example, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency is mandated to deal with the regulation on the usage of arms as well as withdrawal of the same. The Department of Defence has well-organized military wings, which are allowed by the defense policy to either help in peacekeeping or stop the war against terror groups (International Business Publications, p. 96).

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Moreover, the defense policy has allowed the creation of intelligent systems through the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency. These two bodies were incepted in 1947 so as to help with the data collection and analysis on security matters. They also have the task of advising the President on the security and defense of the country.

There was a very sharp criticism which was leveled against the Intelligence team of having failed to detect and possibly prevent the 9-11 al-Qaeda attacks (O’Hanlon, p. 132). Consequently, the post of Director of National Intelligence was formed to play the advisory roles to the President alongside information gathering, analysis, and interpretation top the President.

The Office of Homeland Security was later transformed into a full department within the cabinet so that its policy mandate could be widened (Gates, p. 73). It responds to all matters of terrorism right from the attack stage to the process of recovery. The Department of Homeland Security condensed several agencies to improve their efficiency in service delivery.

Besides, the federal Congress has express authority on defense issues. One such power is that of declaring war whenever there is an emergency to do so. However, there are rules of engagement that must be followed before such action can be taken.

The US has perceived itself as a nation engulfed by war (International Business Publications, p. 144). There are several security threats facing the US today, although there is an overall belief that these challenges can be converted into opportunities. The National Security Strategy adopted in 2002 aimed at creating a secure country where democracy and human dignity could be upheld. The pursuit of peace has been the key agenda of this strategy. In achieving this strategy for peace and security, each individual state has been given the go-ahead to govern its own territory in a manner that will benefit all its occupants. However, for the sake of internal security, each state is obliged to exercise its independence in the most decent manner possible. The application of both newly created and customary laws in the management of states is acceptable so long as such laws do not violate the rule of law or endanger the very existence of humanity through security. The principle of sovereignty should be used as a scapegoat in a bid to claim independence and possibly undertake activities that may enormously jeopardize the safety of people.

The US Defense Budget

The defense budget is one of the huge monetary allocations by the US government each year (Eland 45). Although the White House and Congress might soon resort to slashing down this huge spending on defense, there is a lot to be desired at present. To begin with, the US commitment in Afghanistan is gradually going down as the NATO members are attempting to size down their spending on defense matters.

The forecast on this budgetary deficit reveals that it might go extremely high before 2020 and lead to a huge national debt. At present, there are about 2.3 million civilian and military officers who are working on a full-time basis. This does not include that personnel who are working on shifts. This will definitely not be easy to handle within the next decade or so if special budgetary cut measures are not put in place. Currently, the Department of Defence budget makes use of about 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the United States earnings. The allied nations happen to spend less than 2 percent of their GDP on matters of defense. The 2011 financial year might top 861 million dollars, especially if the Department of Homeland Security and other related budgetary allocations are included in the overall expenditure (Hays, Vallance &Tassel, p. 162). Nevertheless, the US foreign spending on Afghanistan is still on the rise, with more troops expected to pitch tents during the second half of 2010. The costs are projected to rise to 110 billion dollars in 2011from, less than half that amount spent in 2009. However, there is a general feeling that President Obama will move with speed to bring to a halt the Afghanistan military expedition before he seeks to be re-elected in 2012.

Overall, both policymakers and the US citizens have a feeling that the country’s defense policy is a very expensive one, and unless some foreign missions are reduced or brought to an end completely, the nation will not find reprieve soon as far huge budgetary spending coupled with deficits are concerned.

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Works Cited

  1. Eland Ivan. Putting “defence” back into U.S. defence policy: rethinking U.S. security in the Post-Cold War Word. CT: Praeger Publishers, 2001.Print.
  2. Gates Robert Michael. Understanding the New US Defence Policy. Maryland: Manor, 2008. Print.
  3. Hays L. Peter, Vallance J. Brenda and Tassel Alan R. Van. American defence policy. Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print.
  4. Hillen John. Future visions for United States defense policy. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2000. Print.
  5. International Business Publications. U.S Defence Policy Handbook. Washington D.C: International Business Publications, 2008. Print.
  6. O’Hanlon E. Michael. Defense policy choices for the Bush administration. Washington D.C: The Brookings Institution, 2002. Print.
  7. Sapolsky M. Harvey, Gholz Eugène and Talmadge Caitlin. US Defence Politics: The Origins of Security Policy. New York: Routledge, 2009. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 29). The Internal and External Defense Policy of the U.S.

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"The Internal and External Defense Policy of the U.S." StudyCorgi, 29 Dec. 2021,

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StudyCorgi. "The Internal and External Defense Policy of the U.S." December 29, 2021.


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