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The U.S’s Predicament Through American Eyes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The latest studies of U.S strategy have sharply criticized the Bush administration’s foreign policy since it began to focus on the war against terror following the September 11 attacks.

It is known that the U.S strategy to fight terrorism was built on two main principles: a pre-emptive strike in order to protect US national security on one hand and the spread of democracy and the use of military might to impose freedom on the other, based on the organic link between spreading democracy and guaranteeing U.S national security.

The latest U.S studies have revealed this strategy had failed in its security, military and political dimensions and some members of the administration have admitted this. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conceded last week, in a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that her country made thousands of tactical errors in Iraq, but said it was the right strategic decision to go to war.

On the military and security front, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, former members of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, in their new book, “The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right,” note that the U.S failure in Iraq demolished the model of “pre-emptive strike”. This concept dealt with terrorism from a traditional perspective represented by transforming the conflict into a confrontation with a regime characterized by its support for terrorism, without examining the characteristics and special attributes of this dynamic which represents a new challenge that cannot be faced with familiar deterrents.

The authors demonstrate that the two pre-emptive wars the U.S has fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, while they succeeded in toppling two regimes opposed to the U.S, did not result in limiting/diminishing the terrorism threat but led to its increase and inflame. The US administration therefore spent huge sums of money on a failing war, without setting aside the necessary funds to protect the country’s national security in the areas where the danger is most grave (such as controlling dangerous technologies, ports and chemical factories).

On the political side, related to the export of democracy, considering it is a strategic and security front related to vital US interests and did not bring about qualified results, especially in the target area of the Greater Middle East. No doubt, the most damaging critique in this regard is that of Francis Fukuyama, the well-known writer who has strongly been identified with the neo-conservative cause. In his latest book “After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads,” he demolishes Bush’s foreign policy after September 11 and strongly criticizes the ideological background for the administration’s strategy which was elaborated by neoconservatives close to the decision-makers. Fukuyama forensically examines the Bush neo/conservative case and dismantles it brick by brick.

Fukuyama summarizes the elements/principles of this ideology in four parts; considering that the internal character of the political system is the key to its foreign behavior (in this respect, dictatorships are bound to represent a danger to democratic countries); military might can be used as a successful tool to sever and embody moral aims/goals (and then to build the legitimacy of war on this moral basis and not on legal authority); mistrust international laws and institutions because they restrict the effectiveness of US strategic decisions and form pressure tools in the hands of rogue or corrupt regimes. Finally, according to Fukuyama, this ideology doubts the efficacy of ambitious social engineering.

He believes that this vision has failed and has not succeeded in making the United States and the world more secure. It also did not lead to the spread of values of democracy and freedom. He considers that the strategy error of the Bush administration goes back to a mistaken comparison between the situation in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the defeat of the Soviet Union, and the situation in the Middle East after the Iraq war, where the capacities of US nation building and of managing peace were exposed.

It is clear that Fukuyama in his latest book assesses his earlier claims about the end of history and the triumph of liberal democracy. He calls for substituting military power with a softer kind of power (based on values and ideas) in order to enable the democratic model to grow in the Middle East.

The above two studies of U.S strategy reveal that the model of reform into which a large political class in our region had put its trust, is suffering from a real crisis as it is ideologically and practically undermined.

The Iraq war imposed a new reality on the Middle East and put into motion the wheels of internal reform, which is no longer a choice but a necessity from which one cannot shirk away. Its developments and consequences inside Iraq and outside have clearly demonstrated the limitations and failings of the US reform project and the exporting of democracy by force.

Undoubtedly, one of the requirements of successful democratic reform is to break the link between the organic needs for change and the ideological exploitation to the demand for reform in the current U.S strategy.