Being a global power the foreign policy of US has remained of key importance in global affairs. Its foreign policy has been through many transitional phases but it has preserved the national interests of Washington. Sometimes it has moral virtues with with or sometimes with display of realist ideas. Whatever has been the shape of foreign policy, the prime goal was to preserve the global hegemony
One key element to observe is that every next president provided America with a new view and sometimes a 360 degrees turn as compared to the former. When Monroe presented the idea of isolationism, Teddy Roosevelt then came up with its “Corollary” to Monroe’s doctrine. In 1904 Teddy Roosevelt came up with the idea that civilized nations have the general right of intervention. He, like any other imperial mind, believed that America is the only hope for the world but he defied the idea of preserving peace through promoting civic values which many didn’t. Then came Woodrow Wilson’s moral diplomacy, among the ideals of his foreign policy one was compelling or spreading the moral values of America to the rest of the world. Being an academic he emphasized the moral and ideological prong of America and imbued it into its foreign policy as well. Its manifestation was observed in Marshall’s plan as well.
Fast-forwarding to the contemporary era. A cardinal aspect of contemporary US foreign policy was the expansion of democracy and proselytizing it across the globe. For many, It was the pre-requisite of the cold war but even when the world became unipolar it remained the idol to be worshiped to sustain American hegemony.
However, recent comments by President Joe Biden came as a shock for many when he said that it was Never about Nation-building, which meant that America was not there to build a nation. While this anti-thesis was presented by the president itself upon the thesis of great America and its long affair moral self-righteousness, one needs to question the objectives of war. what was it about? Was it about OBL, who was eliminated in 2011, was it about Taliban surrender, but they offered it multiple times in the Bush administration yet were denied and Bush went with full force and flexed its military muscle? The last remains, was it about nation-building? This was itself answered by current President Joe Biden in his recent remark. Not to forget that it is the same Joe Biden who praised and was instrumental in the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002 which was centered upon “Economic and Democratic Development Assistance for Afghanistan”. Here it is needed to understand that whether the idea of Americanism and its civic virtues are no longer good enough to be exported or America is backtracking in its foreign policy.
The truth is that it was neither non-interventionism nor neo-liberal interventionism, it has always been the realism of liberal power and it exercised it with full zeal, sometimes under the veil of right to self-defense and sometimes exporting human rights and moral values. The US has excelled at the art of branding its foreign policy in a manner that portrays itself as the deity of liberalism while most of the world is sacrificial animals to this deity. However, the obscure realities of wars the US waged have falsified these claims made by themselves.
As the Afghan war comes to an end what it had done to the Afghan society will be another political trot. From JSOC’s atrocities to neo-colonization of Afghanistan to a plethora of Defense contractors operating and fishing in Afghanistan, there has been only one winner throughout the war which was American Elites. It won at the expense of humanity. This asymmetrical war took 20 years to end and that too with an ironic epilogue. It was a war by policy elites deemed to yield maximum benefit by wounding Afghanistan and it did.
While we toss the blame on Donald Trump and Joe Biden, it shall not be forgotten that it was started by George W. Bush and carried on by his successors. It is America to be blamed not a particular president or administration.
With the end of the Afghanistan war, there would be a generational shift in American foreign policy. What once was wielded with civic virtues will now have an explicit realist perspective to it. America will now execute offensive foreign policy against China, mainly. This more narrowed version of its foreign policy will further recede its global hegemon role and it will ultimately cut itself short of its global imprint. While Beijing will continue with its economic chessboard and will “let the man cut his own throat.
After the foreign policy failures in Afghanistan, US will now revisit its global foreign policy and shift its compass towards Beijing. The future will be to forge new alliances and allies which are suitable to its new interests. US has started working on it in the form of AUKUS strategic pact. While Washington revisits its foreign policy the future of NATO and existing alliance structure is yet to be seen.