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The United States’ presence and intervention in the international community has been greatly noticed. Engaging in two large-scale world wars, pursuing temporary isolationism, fighting the Cold War, and vigorously promoting democracy has turned the US into an international hegemon. Earning this label, thus, obligates the US to exert its power to correct injustices, promote American values, and maintain order both at home and abroad. This statement, articulated by political scientist Samuel Huntington, reflect these ideas of liberalism in the context of international relations. Liberalism is a theory which has been shaped by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Adam Smith, and Voltaire. It capitalizes on interdependence and connection between states and substate actors as they key actors in the international system. This ideology stresses the importance of individuals, their shapeable human nature, complex interdependence, ideological precedence, the pursuit of the common interest, and economic prowess. In accordance with interdependence, the belief that states’ wealth is inextricably linked to other another, liberalism highlights the effects of globalization, integration within the world. Because the international society is not anarchic and nations rely on one another, concepts of morality hold more weight, and thus, there is a greater significance of political and moral values to liberals. Huntington’s words echo many liberal characteristics, as he mentions the importance of the spread of moral and ideological values such as democracy and freedom, incorporates US’s involvement in the international community and the economic relationships formed, and advocates that the common interest of all nations ought to be pursued, as policies inherently affect individuals both inside and outside the US.
Primarily, Huntington reveals his liberal stance by underscoring the importance of freedom and democracy at both the beginning and at the conclusion of his statement. He draws these values from American exceptionalism, an ideology which sets America apart from other nations due to the unique and important values that Americans fought for. These moral principles are a large part of decision-making for nations and for individuals. Liberals understand that economic, ideological, religious, and cultural issues are a necessary component of the global agenda. Thus, there is an urge for states to be moral actors in the international arena and promote their ideologies to a state that seems unfit to promote them on their own. This mindset coincides with Huntington’s foreign policy views, that the US has a very clear and obvious obligation to spread its influence to other nations and maintain international order. Political realists, for example, staunchly oppose this outlook, arguing that ideology holds no place in international relations and that power solely dictates foreign policy objectives. They further claim that the morality of an individual is distinct from the morality of states. This, however, is contrary to Huntington’s advocacy. The US is promoting virtuous values due to American exceptionalism and for the betterment of the citizens inside and outside the US. The state doesn’t simply value and pursue their own interests. Much like a moral individual would help his fellow citizen if he/she were in some predicament, nations would do that same.
Huntington’s liberal analysis of US primacy also relies heavily on complex interdependence. Interdependence is the belief that states’ wealth and prosperity are inextricably linked to other another. According to the liberal school of thought, states cooperate because it is in their interest to do so. States understand that hostility at the international level harms everyone’s interests and thus, they ought to collaborate. Furthermore, liberalism promotes greater integration within the world by virtue of stronger economic kinship and globalization. Integrating economic systems benefits both the US and the rest of the international community. Therefore, as liberals argue, economic superiority outweighs military prowess in terms of conflict resolution. Military involvement fails to resolve environmental problems, trade imbalances, and exterior conflict. This relates to the the underlying concept of Huntington’s statement. The US ought to engage with other nations and exert itself into the international sphere to promote its values. This would require a level of interdependence and globalization. Furthermore, Huntington champions the thought of “open economies” and welfare, only done through economic means, as liberal propose. Because the US would promote free trade and the amalgamation of economic structures, it would profit the US and countries abroad. However, one of the major points of conflicts between realists and liberals is that of outside reliance and the effectivity of military power. Realists approach international relations with a strong sense of skepticism and doubt the intentions of their foreign counterparts. To a realist, it would be unwise to form alliances and rely heavily on other nations for resources. Similarly, military conflict is both inevitable and effective. The only way to gain and maintain power in the international populace is to exert and dominate through military means.
This statement concludes by conveying the message that the common interest of all nations ought to be pursued because policies the US works towards inherently affect individuals inside and outside the US. Huntington tells the reader that “the sustained international primacy of the US is central to the welfare and security of Americans and to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world.” The essence of his argument is that no policy or regulation is solely bound to the domestic ground or the international network. Guidelines that the US enforces on either scale, domestic or international, eventually impacts one another. For example, pushing for pollution control and pushing for environmental-friendly measures would be enacted for the safety of the individuals within the nation. However, endorsing this policy would impact the nation’s trading partners, as imports and resources must be restricted to conservationist-based equipment. In this fashion, the line between domestic policy and foreign policy becomes blurred and proposals that are meant to impact one group impact the entire international community. Similar to this logical deduction, Huntington argues that foreign policy would begin to merge with domestic concerns: as the US exercises its leadership and dominion outside and toward other countries, the citizens inside the US become safer. Thereby, there is an inherent link between internal concerns and external affairs, as both liberals and Huntington contend. Of course, political realists on the other end of the international relations spectrum refuse to acknowledge the innate link. They divide issues as purely domestic or purely global and strongly prefer to keep those spheres separate. However, both liberals and Huntington concede to a factor which connects the realms of interior occurrences and exterior circumstances.
Samuel Huntington’s words echo many liberal characteristics, as he mentions the importance of the spread of moral values, incorporates US’s involvement in the international community and the economic relationships sustained, and advocates that the common interest of all nations ought to be pursued. His statement reflects the firm belief of many foreign policy makers and American exceptionalists. The US has a moral imperative to correct and amend international injustices and intervene, if necessary. Huntington articulates a very common and optimistic answer, but over exaggerates America’s foreign policy capabilities. Though the US, standing as the world power and hegemon, has an obligation to weaker nations, it should exercise its power with moderation and refrain from complete military intervention. Giving one nation that absolute authority to sculpt global affairs leads to an unnecessary amassing of power. Furthermore, full scale US intervention leads to countries with failed government and ruins the ties US holds with those nations. Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba serve as examples of unnecessary involvement. Rather, the US ought to capitalize on using soft power to avail of opportunities that would present better long-term solutions.
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