Global Challenges And The Focu Essay, Research Paper
In the years since the end of the Cold War, the United States has confronted global challenges on many different fronts. Of the many, economic, environmental, and strategic challenges pose the greatest of problems to the U.S. Currently, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, U.S. policymakers have focused around these issues in an attempt to prioritize certain global challenges in future U.S. foreign policies.
One of the goals of U.S. foreign economic policy has been economic security, including a promotion of domestic prosperity and minimization of negative foreign economic impact. However, the U.S. has had trouble realizing this goal. The U.S. role in global economics took off shortly after WWII. The U.S. emerged from the war having not suffered destruction, as many other countries had. Taking advantage of this situation, the Marshall Plan was implemented. The Marshall Plan entailed giving monetary aid to developing democracies, which would aid the replacement of the old model with a new liberal, free trade, free-market capitalist system. It also established international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, to regulate the free markets. However, the global economic situation began to take a turn for the worse. Between the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, U.S. power declined as the balance of trade became negative. The U.S. went into one of the largest debts in the world. Consequently, the value of the dollar decreased and was no longer the world’s currency. From this spawned the Euro market, autonomous to U.S. control. In the next decade, the U.S. would try to promote more globalization, get even more liberal, and reduce trade barriers. However, this plan backfired resulting in declined wages and growing unemployment within the states. This is the dilemma facing the U.S. economic policy. An increase in free trade and free markets can result in one of two situations: lower global conflicts but dependency on other countries (deficit) or an increase in internal conflicts such as unemployment or U.S. companies relocating to other sites with less pay. The other alternative is protectionism, which only goes against the very reason the U.S. entered the global economic race over half a century ago, global exploitation.
At a more alarming level is the issue of the strategic dilemmas facing the U.S. in this post-cold war era. The main threats to U.S. and global security are the rouge states including countries, such as China, Iraq, and Cuba, terrorism, and regional conflicts such as with India and Pakistan. These threats are amplified by the possibility of the use of nuclear, biological, and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as aids to rogue states, terrorism, and regional conflicts. As WMDs have been a concern of the U.S. since the cold war era, efforts have been taken to control the production of such weapons. Both the U.S. and USSR engaged in a number of negotiations in the past to reduce significantly the number of WMDs possessed by each power. Proliferation is still as much, if not moreso, an interest of the U.S. and is present in its policy towards strategic challenges. However, as there is an uncertainty as to whom has these weapons or when they will be used, a sense of urgency has been created along with this problem.
The last of the global challenges to the U.S. is what is viewed by many as the least important while being the least controllable and potentially having the most global impact. Environmental problems have always been a concern in the global arena. However, as it has yet to manifest itself, this problem is ignored. The environmental problems are two part: global and regional. The global problems have been cited as climate change (global warming), erosion of the ozone layer, preserving biological diversity, rainforests, and oceans, and toxic chemical. Regional problems include water resources, air quality, energy resources, and land use (overpopulation). This is truly a global problem as it involves both domestic actors (Executive, Congress, Beuracracy (state dept., DOE, DOC, DOD), Interest groups (business, environmental), non-governmental organizations (Greenpeace), experts, the media, and the public) and international actors (154 different governments, non-governmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations (UN)). These problems are human made. In addition, as the most industrialized power, much of the blame has been placed on the U.S. To solve this problem requires some global initiative with leadership. Thus, the dilemma facing the U.S. is taking this leadership role (as it is responsible for the majority of the problem) while at the same time not making more concessions than it has to.
In addition to the presence of these dilemmas, the U.S. faces another one, arriving at a solution. In any of these situations, environmental, strategic, and economic, there are possible but difficult answers. In terms of global economy, I believe that the U.S. should essentially stop being greedy. The U.S. does not have to have its hands in everything that occurs in the world. If the U.S. is going to engage in global economics, it should act as a regulator or establish a body that will indeed act as a regulatory force and not let companies abuse power. Domestically, the U.S. should conduct an economic policy that will preserve jobs while at the same time satisfy the companies so that they do not flee to other markets. One of the major obstacles in this realm is the conflict of interest between the U.S. government, companies, and other government. As for the environment, global regulation is needed to reduce the amount of pollution produced per country. This problem cannot be solved by military force (except in a situation like Hussein using biological weaponry) but by diplomacy with a global body and a leader. The U.S. should be this leader as it contributes greatly to the world pollution percentage. Furthermore, there needs to be an incentive to force countries and companies to cut down on pollution. This incentive will most likely need to be in the monetary form. If countries are uncooperative, then perhaps legislation needs to be established to make these companies buy the right to pollute or tax on pollution that surpassed a certain set level. Regardless of the specifics, the fact is that to even begin to solve this global environmental problem, a global collective effort is imperative. Lastly, towards what, in my opinion, should be the number one priority of the U.S., the strategic dilemma requires certain actions before it can begin to be solved. First, the U.S. must define its security interests and identify the threats to those interests. After prioritizing these threats, methods to deal with them can be developed. Most likely these methods will be in the forms of military (terrorism and rogue states) and diplomatic negotiations (regional conflicts). Out of these three main policy challenges facing the U.S., I believe that the U.S. should focus on the strategic problem. The fact is that in this post-cold war era, one of the main problems is WMD use. Global warming is at least 50 years away, and the U.S. economy is doing well, because of the Clinton administration. However, there is still ambiguity as to the location of the nuclear weapons possessed by the USSR at the time of its collapse. The issue surrounding WMDs is so volatile because of the reality that tomorrow some radical terrorist can enter the U.S. borders and detonate a weapon. It is because of the very nature of this problem that I believe special attention should be dedicated to this problem over the others in U.S. foreign policy.