The United States has undertaken unilateral and multilateral military operations throughout its history see Timeline of United States military operations. In the post-World War II era, the country has had permanent membership and veto power in the United Nations Security Council , allowing it to undertake any military action without formal Security Council opposition. With vast military expenditures, the United States is known as the sole remaining superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United Nations Charter requires that military operations be either for self-defense or affirmatively approved by the Security Council.
Though many of their operations have followed these rules, the United States and NATO have been accused of committing crimes against peace in international law, for example in the Yugoslavia and Iraq operations. As of , according to Fox News, the U. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service , the U. President Ronald Reagan on March 23,  to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles ,  later dubbed "Star Wars". Though it was never fully developed or deployed, the research and technologies of SDI paved the way for some anti-ballistic missile systems of today.
In February , the U. Russia threatened to place short-range nuclear missiles on the Russia's border with NATO if the United States refuses to abandon plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic. On August 14, , the United States and Poland announced a deal to implement the missile defense system in Polish territory , with a tracking system placed in the Czech Republic. Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G.
Press, argue in Foreign Affairs that U. The authors note that Washington continues to eschew nuclear first strike and contend that deploying missile defenses "would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one; as an adjunct to a US First Strike capability, not as a stand-alone shield":. If the United States launched a nuclear attack against Russia or China , the targeted country would be left with only a tiny surviving arsenal, if any at all.
At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes. The DPG declares that the United States should use its power to "prevent the reemergence of a new rival" either on former Soviet territory or elsewhere.
The authors of the Guidance determined that the United States had to "Field a missile defense system as a shield against accidental missile launches or limited missile strikes by 'international outlaws'" and also must "Find ways to integrate the 'new democracies' of the former Soviet bloc into the U. The National Archive notes that Document 10 of the DPG includes wording about "disarming capabilities to destroy" which is followed by several blacked out words. In United States history, critics have charged that presidents have used democracy to justify military intervention abroad.
Studies have been devoted to the historical success rate of the U.
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Some studies of American intervention have been pessimistic about the overall effectiveness of U. Professor Paul W. Drake argued that the U. Drake argued that this was contradictory because international law defines intervention as "dictatorial interference in the affairs of another state for the purpose of altering the condition of things". The study suggested that efforts to promote democracy failed because democracy needs to develop out of internal conditions, and can not be forcibly imposed.
There was disagreement about what constituted democracy ; Drake suggested American leaders sometimes defined democracy in a narrow sense of a nation having elections; Drake suggested a broader understanding was needed. Further, there was disagreement about what constituted a "rebellion"; Drake saw a pattern in which the U. State Department disapproved of any type of rebellion, even so-called "revolutions", and in some instances rebellions against dictatorships.
Mesquita and Downs evaluated 35 U. Pei, based on study of a database on worldwide democracies called Polity , agreed with Mesquita and Downs that U. Professor Joshua Muravchik argued U. Tures examined cases of American intervention from to , using Freedom House data. A plurality of interventions, 96, caused no change in the country's democracy. In 69 instances, the country became less democratic after the intervention. In the remaining 63 cases, a country became more democratic.
Hermann and Kegley found that American military interventions designed to protect or promote democracy increased freedom in those countries. Peceny stated that the United States attempted to export democracy in 33 of its 93 20th-century military interventions. These trends were also seen in other European countries. United States foreign policy also includes covert actions to topple foreign governments that have been opposed to the United States.
According to J. Dana Stuster, writing in Foreign Policy , there are seven "confirmed cases" where the U. Stuster states that this list excludes "U. This had the effect of restoring and strengthening the authoritarian monarchical reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The coup triggered a decades long civil war which claimed the lives of an estimated , people 42, individual cases have been documented , mostly through massacres against the Maya population perpetrated by the U.
During the massacre of at least , alleged communists in s Indonesia, U. Embassy in Jakarta supplying Indonesian forces with lists of up to 5, names of suspected members of the Communist Party of Indonesia PKI , who were subsequently killed in the massacres.
Schneider was shot in the botched attempt and died three days later. According to one peer-reviewed study, the U. Since the s, issues of human rights have become increasingly important in American foreign policy. As "part of a growing assertiveness by Congress about many aspects of Foreign Policy,"  Human Rights concerns became a battleground between the Legislative and the Executive branches in the formulation of foreign policy.
‘Game of Thrones,’ War Crimes, and the American Conscience
David Forsythe points to three specific, early examples of Congress interjecting its own thoughts on foreign policy:. These measures were repeatedly used by Congress, with varying success, to affect U. Congress argued the opposite, in favor of distancing the United States from oppressive regimes. John Green contends that the United States was an "essential enabler" of "Latin America's political murder habit, bringing out and allowing to flourish some of the region's worst tendencies".
On December 6, , Obama instructed agencies to consider LGBT rights when issuing financial aid to foreign countries. United States foreign policy is influenced by the efforts of the U. This is especially true in Latin America, a focus for the U. War on Drugs. Those efforts date back to at least , when the U. Over a century later, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act requires the President to identify the major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing countries. Two of these, Burma and Venezuela are countries that the U. Notably absent from the list were Afghanistan , the People's Republic of China and Vietnam ; Canada was also omitted in spite of evidence that criminal groups there are increasingly involved in the production of MDMA destined for the United States and that large-scale cross-border trafficking of Canadian-grown cannabis continues.
Critics from the left cite episodes that undercut leftist governments or showed support for Israel. Others cite human rights abuses and violations of international law. Critics have charged that the U. Edgar Hoover aggressively recruited more than 1, Nazis, including those responsible for war crimes, to use as spies and informants against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Journalists and human rights organizations have been critical of US-led airstrikes and targeted killings by drones which have in some cases resulted in collateral damage of civilian populations.
Regarding support for certain anti-Communist dictatorships during the Cold War , a response is that they were seen as a necessary evil, with the alternatives even worse Communist or fundamentalist dictatorships. David Schmitz says this policy did not serve U. Friendly tyrants resisted necessary reforms and destroyed the political center though not in South Korea , while the ' realist ' policy of coddling dictators brought a backlash among foreign populations with long memories. Many democracies have voluntary military ties with United States.
Those nations with military alliances with the U. This may give a false impression that the U. Research on the democratic peace theory has generally found that democracies, including the United States, have not made war on one another. There have been U. Weart argues that part of the explanation was the perception, correct or not, that these states were turning into Communist dictatorships. Also important was the role of rarely transparent United States government agencies, who sometimes mislead or did not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders.
Empirical studies see democide have found that democracies, including the United States, have killed much fewer civilians than dictatorships. Studies have found that The New York Times coverage of worldwide human rights violations predominantly focuses on the human rights violations in nations where there is clear U.
Human Rights Reporting and U.S. Foreign Policy | Council on Foreign Relations
Niall Ferguson argues that the U. He writes that it is generally agreed that Guatemala was the worst of the US-backed regimes during the Cold War. However, the U. Intelligence Oversight Board writes that military aid was cut for long periods because of such violations, that the U. Today the U.
According to the U. State Department, "Democracy is the one national interest that helps to secure all the others. Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health.
President Bill Clinton , "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don't attack each other. State Department, democracy is also good for business. Countries that embrace political reforms are also more likely to pursue economic reforms that improve the productivity of businesses.
Accordingly, since the mids, under President Ronald Reagan , there has been an increase in levels of foreign direct investment going to emerging market democracies relative to countries that have not undertaken political reforms. The United States officially maintains that it supports democracy and human rights through several tools  Examples of these tools are as follows:.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. National foreign policy. Federal Government. Constitution of the United States Law Taxation. Presidential elections Midterm elections Off-year elections. Political parties. Democratic Republican Third parties Libertarian Green. Other countries Atlas. Main articles: History of U. Main article: Cold War. Further information: List of United States treaties.
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Further information: Associated state. Further information: List of treaties unsigned or unratified by the United States. Further information: Energy policy of the United States and Petroleum politics. NATO member states, including their colonies and overseas possessions.
Main articles: National missile defense and Strategic Defense Initiative. Main article: Foreign electoral intervention. Main article: War on Drugs. Main article: Criticism of American foreign policy. Constitutional and international law [ edit ] Advice and consent List of United States treaties Missouri v. Department of State. Retrieved April 20, Retrieved February 18, Archived from the original on April 15, Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.
Kennan," Diplomacy and Statecraft , Nov , Vol. November 3, Miller Simon and Schuster. Gvosdev January 2, National Interest. Archived from the original on August 26, Retrieved January 13, Rather than focusing on the negatives, however, they believe that these six powers have the same vested interests: All are dependent on the free flow of goods around the world and all require global stability in order to ensure continued economic growth and the prosperity it engenders.
Northedge, F. S Retrieved October 14, Western Hemisphere Economic Integration. Peterson Institute. Global Policy Forum. Archived from the original PDF on August 12, Retrieved June 4, Collective Defense Arrangements". Archived from the original on October 22, Retrieved August 18, Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.
Expect more of this to come. Pushing allies away could sap popular support in allied countries to assist American efforts to take on national security challenges in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Korea. The next time America is attacked, Europe may not respond in the same way. While it takes a lot to break an alliance, if the United States does not change course, it risks isolating itself and undermining its alliances to the point where its allies will think that it is the problem.
In the wake of the debacle at the G-7 summit, German Foreign Minister Maas signaled that Europe may already be heading in this direction. One can imagine policymakers in the capitals of U. Do we need to begin hedging against America by cutting deals with China and Russia? Today, these questions may still seem extreme. Yet it is possible. Michael Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center. Download the PDF here. When given the same hypothetical dilemma as the earlier study, Americans who agreed that attacking civilians was morally wrong were less likely to approve the fictional strike on a civilian city than those who did not agree.
In addition, Americans who understood that the Geneva Conventions prohibited such attacks were less likely approve the strike. Even respondents who were just asked to think about law and ethics before deciding whether to strike a city full of civilians were much less likely to approve of doing so, regardless of how they answered those ethical questions.
Audience anger serves as a warning about indiscriminate violence.
Why did the earlier Iran study miss this? But their fictional scenario was unrealistic in an important way. In the real world, these rules and standards would definitely be a part of the conversation. There is another reason why many respondents in the original Iran study choose to strike civilians: the way the poll questions were structured. The Stanford-Dartmouth study forced respondents to choose on a six-point scale between two terrible options: continuing a bloody, pointless ground war or striking a defenseless civilian city presumably to end that war, although saturation bombing has never ended a war.
When our respondents were given the opportunity to evaluate the same fictional Iran scenario in their own words, we found by analyzing their comments that half of Americans rejected both the strike and the ground war, demanding other options: precision air power against military targets, diplomacy, or retreat. Similarly, the new North Korea study asks for the level of support for a strike without allowing for other policy options. Given the way these earlier studies stacked the deck in favor of support for war crimes, it is heartening that so many Americans still register a preference for following the laws of war.
Indeed, in the more recent Stanford-Dartmouth study on North Korea, the only time a majority of the public preferred a strike was if U. Navy sailors had been killed—the one scenario in which a strike would not violate the United Nations Charter. Why does this matter? As research by the political scientist Sarah Kreps has shown, and as new research confirms , the structure of poll questions affects the measures you get. When researchers say Americans approve of war crimes, and it gets reported in the media, it can have a political impact.
We worry that these media stories could inadvertently increase the drumbeat for war and for green-lighting war crimes in Iran or North Korea, especially among Trump supporters. This is a dangerous time. Ordering and then canceling strikes on Iran aside, the sitting U. Knowing that Americans care about enemy civilians may be the thin red line separating current war planning from the firebombings of World War II. For Iran, North Korea, and their allies, the belief that Americans would not cheer such acts could be the thin red line protecting U.
Fortunately, our research shows that the red line is not as thin as some surveys say.