American Foreign Policy and U.S. Relations with Russia and China after 11 September

By Gladkyy, Oleksandr | World Affairs, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

American Foreign Policy and U.S. Relations with Russia and China after 11 September


Gladkyy, Oleksandr, World Affairs


The White House's "National Security Strategy for a New Century" names three categories of American national interests. (1) The first is vital interests, which include the physical security of American territory, the safety of American citizens, the economic well-being of American society, and the protection of critical infrastructures (energy, banking, telecommunication, transportation) from paralyzing attacks. According to the security strategy, to defend vital interests, troops "might be used unilaterally and decisively." The second category consists of important national interests that do not affect national survival but do influence national well-being. For instance, protection of the global environment, elimination of crises in the regions where American interests are the greatest, prevention of refugee flows, and commitment to allies are in this category. The third category includes humanitarian and other interests, whose basis is American values. These interests include responding to natural disasters, promoting human rights, and supporting democratization and the rule of law.

It is evident that the 11 September terrorist attacks, which killed more than three thousand innocent civilians on American soil, shaped the most important category of U.S. interests: vital interests. (2) As a result, we can see changes in U.S. domestic and foreign policies that emphasize U.S. security. President George W. Bush has declared that "[t]he Government of the United States has no more important mission than (1) fighting terrorism overseas and (2) securing the homeland from future terrorist attacks." (3) The United States today pays major attention to security, implementing both domestic and foreign policies to protect U.S. citizens from possible attacks by terrorists and rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the recently established Office of Homeland Security and Department for Homeland Security are the main agencies that protect Americans through enforcement of domestic policy. The Office of Homeland Security, whose mission is "to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks," was established by the president's order in October 2001. (4) The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the Department for Homeland Security in January 2002 to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism at home, and minimize the damage and assist in the recovery from any attacks that may occur. (5) Furthermore, $37.7 billion was devoted to homeland security in the proposed 2003 budget, twice the amount that has been dedicated to this type of security in the past. Twenty-eight percent of that money is to be spent for securing U.S. borders, 18 percent for funding outside initiatives by the Department of Defense, 16 percent for defending against biological terrorism, and 13 percent for ensuring aviation security. (6)

The U.S. State Department is the main institution that protects American citizens through foreign policy, by creating the antiterrorist coalition, facilitating cooperation with important allies in the war against international terrorism, and cooperating with the United Nations to disarm rogue states. The change in U.S. national interest in security after 11 September has also affected U.S. foreign policy. The Department of Defense's new strategy for America's defense is just one of the tools through which the change has been implemented. The strategy's premise is that America, to be effective abroad, must be safe at home. (7) That denotes the dominance of security issues in American foreign policy. At the same time, U.S. defense policy will not overshadow foreign policy because "the nation can be safe at home only if it is willing and able to contribute to effective security partnerships abroad. …

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