The Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy

By Goodman, Mel | Foreign Policy in Focus, March 8, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy


Goodman, Mel, Foreign Policy in Focus


February 2004

The fall of the Soviet Union handed the U.S. a unique opportunity, as the surviving superpower, to lead the world toward a period of greater cooperation and conflict resolution through the use of diplomacy, global organization, and international law. This great opportunity is being squandered, as the world becomes a more dangerous place. Military force is now looming larger than ever as the main instrument and organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy. In our new national security doctrine, in the shape of our federal budget, and in the missions of the agencies the budget funds, our government is being reshaped to weaken controls on its use of force and further incline our country toward war.

The U.S. decision to use force against Iraq was both rash and senseless, ignoring the fundamental premise that force should be the last, not the first, option. There was no near-term threat to the U.S. or to U.S. interests, let alone a clear and present danger. Yet Washington repeatedly passed up opportunities to use diplomacy or to build a coalition. Rather, it approached the problem assuming that, as the world's dominant military power, it had no need to gain the cooperation of the international community already organized to meet such challenges.

Since the 2000 election, and particularly in the wake of the Afghan War and the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, diplomacy has been shamefully abused. Rather than using international law to deal with suspected terrorists captured during the Afghan War, the U.S. opted for its own military tribunals and the suspension of accepted judicial procedures. It ignored such institutions as the United Nations International Court of Justice, which could have provided legal procedures based on international law. And it rejected established judicial civil procedures that guarantee the rights of the accused, including the representation by an attorney, a speedy trial, and access to evidence and witnesses for defense. In conducting a campaign of deceit to justify the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration created the greatest intelligence scandal in U.S. history.

With the invasion and occupation of Iraq, we have witnessed the end of the so-called post-cold war era and the escalation of a continuous, worldwide war on terrorism that has increased global insecurity. Nearly 150,000 American forces are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and the result is growing anarchy in both countries. President Bush has declared that the war against terrorism centers on Iraq. This has the ring of self-fulfilling prophecy, since Iraq had no terrorism problem the U. …

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