The Vietnam Syndrome refers to the American lack of willpower for warfare that lasts for any amount of time with substantial casualties. It has led to a pubic who likes short, quick wars for very specific goals with few casualties. Hence, it seems that the ruling classes in America have been loathe for substantial military commitments in combat for any length of time (McCormack, 24-26). In fact, since Vietnam itself, the present Gulf War is the longest combat operation that the US has engaged in. The stress has been on the “coalition” nature of the combat forces, thought he US is the dominant element.

Casualties have been relatively low compared to Vietnam or Korea and the attempt to train an “Iraqi”army and police force have proceeded apace. When the US gets involved in a combat operation, the Syndrome shows up immediately. An anti-war movement is quickly organized, usually stressing the economic role of the war decision. Public interest and enthusiasm is initially high, but quickly fades and cynicism develops if the operation is not over quickly. It usually does not take long for the initial reasons for the war to fade into the background, with new objectives quickly piggy-backing one upon another.

Given the current Gulf War, the anti-war movement has been rather sedate because the war itself has seen few casualties comparatively, the 9/11 issue still remains in the public consciousness, and the Israeli-centeredness of this operation (i. e. that Iraq was Israel’s most powerful enemy in 2001) has had people fearing the charge of anti-Semitism. Regardless, it seems that the state system of the US will not engage in combat unless the combat can be over quickly before public enthusiasm and the “rally around the flag” effect has worn off.

But one of the real powerful after effects of Vietnam is that wars cannot be used to distract from public problems domestically, if anything, they seem to highlight domestic problems, as Vietnam itself did. “Rallying around the flag” can only go so far, and since Vietnam, that distance has been very short (McCormack, 569-570). Briefly describe the four approaches on building a new foreign policy consensus a.  Neo-Isolationist – this is a rather pejorative term, but it refers to the idea that the United States is not the “globe’s policeman. It refers to the idea that the American public does not wish to pay for American troops in nearly every country on the globe and is not willing to be involved in combat operations overseas where no obvious American interest is served. The great attribute of this school is that they demand a very specific set of interests that any combat operation is to serve and hold the state accountable if it does not.

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b. Unilateral/realist – this is the classical model of foreign policy, classic Hobbes, the war of all against all. The state in question should engage in combat operations whenever the state can expand its authority and wealth at the expanse of all other states. Here, alliances are all subsumed under this specific goal. State power is the real basis of foreign policy, and ideal approaches are merely smokescreens for power and wealth. Often, the anti-war movement makes this the centerpiece of their arguments – the lofty reasons for combat operations are usually rhetorical covers for more prosaic realpolitik.

c. Democratic or ethical” – This was the approach of the neo-liberal school of the Clinton/Albright/Burger school. When they moved into Yugoslavia, the rhetoric was that it was to stop ethnic cleansing. In other words, this approach stresses that ethical goals are central to a new foreign policy. Self interest is immoral, and only a truly universal mission for the state justifies combat operations. d. Multilateralism – This is a part of the idealist school, and holds that only the consent of the “international community” is sufficient to justify combat operations.

In a way, multilaterialism is a mechanism that assures that “ethical” foreign policy is chosen over the self-interested, since the “international community” would not consent to a combat operation that solely benefitted one power at the expense of others. The multilateral consensus would assure, it is said, that the foreign policy operation of one country is the interest of all concerned (McCormack, 610-615, also see Wiarda, 4-18). Why has America experienced intelligence failures over the years?

There are several approaches to intelligence failures. The first is the simple fact that the gatherers of intelligence have agendas, and they exaggerate or even cover over specific issues for the sake of their agenda. If one wishes to stress the threat of Islamic extremism, it is easy to write intelligence briefs that speak of a huge Muslim conspiracy “against civilization. ” Some have also stressed the excessive reliance on technology that seems to reduce the role of “old fashioned” investigation.

In other words, some intelligence failures might have to do with the interpretation of satellite data, for example, at the expense of one the ground investigation. Bureaucratic infighting is another possible cause of intelligence failure. If military intelligence wants something, and the CIA wants something else, then this causes friction, and the truth is prostituted to making one agency look better than another and hence, should get more money and public recognition from Congress. Another possible cause is the structure of leadership.

One might hold that the heads of the civilian agencies are appointed by the president with the advice of the Senate, and hence, become political appointments – an agency chair is appointed on the basis of their being politically acceptable rather than being competent (McCormack, 435-436). In combination, these can cause intelligence failures of major proportions. The failure to predict the fall of Marxism in the USSR, the failure to predict the resistance of the Iraqi people against the US, the failure to see 9/11 are just a few examples where agendas and politicization have taken precedence over serious intelligence gathering.

How have Think Tanks influenced American foreign policy? Think tanks are both a problem and an opportunity for foreign policy studies. First, they are a problem because they are elite funded, creations of elite economic actors that have agendas. Groups like the Council on Foreign Relations or the Carnegie Institute are run by powerful economic elites and are geared towards a foreign policy that serves these ends. There are few think tanks, it should be said, that advocate neo-isolationism. Possibly the Cato Institute is the closest.

This is a problem because it is oligarchic and leads to information being disseminated that exists for and by the plutocracy against the middle and poorer classes and their interests. On the other hand, they are an opportunity because they offer specialized information from an academic staff that is often better paid than the university or committee staffs. They are able to use their prestige and substantial wealth to attract the best academics in their fields, putting out information that is unavailable from any other source (McCormack, 498-502).

But in terms of foreign policy, groups like JINSA (The Jewish Institute on National Security Affairs) or the Project for a New American Century were at the very heart of the neo-conservative Bush foreign policy. They created policy and did not act as a merely dusty academic beehive. In this case, these two groups were right in the White House making policy that benefitted Israel and the US cause worldwide (Abelson, 201-208). Why has the State Department lost influence in foreign policy making? The first question of State’s decline is resources.

Congress seems to like funding DoD and military branches, but State is often left with a tiny budget by comparison. Many have also said that State is too bureaucratic, with “layers upon layers” of committees and review processes developing over time and hold up serious policy decisions (Dobson, 22-3) These might be attributed to the fact that State does not have the lobbying power in Congress that DoD does. This is likely because State does not demand the production of components like the major arms manufacturers that lobby on behalf of larger DoD and military budgets.

State budgets do not necessarily benefit the major actors in this field like General Electric or Boeing. Many have also claimed that State, since it is largely made up of elite foreign policy specialists, is out of touch with the country at large, and feels more at home in a airport or in the country that they study. A question of confidence is another problem, McCormack reports that “the foreign service does not enjoy the confidence of presidents. ” (McCormack, 374).

Partially, this is because major appointments here are considered politicized and are engaged in as political rewards for major campaign contributors rather than real foreign policy people. Some have also claimed that the public image of State has also been a problem. The public sees the purpose in DoD and certainly the military, even the joint chiefs, but State seems to be left out of this loop, and hence, is considered uninteresting by the public. Why has the Joint Chiefs of Staff been ineffective in foreign policy making? The question of the JCS and their role is a complex one.

Apart from the American problem of having uniformed officers in charge of foreign policy decisions, there are other more prosaic reasons for their problems in the JCS’ developing a foreign policy or influencing it. In a recent work, Reorganizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gordon Lederman holds that the endless battles between centralized and decentralized structures have paralyzed the JCS itself. A balance between a top-down and more populist approach has never been reached either among or within the branches and the problems with the JCS reflect that.

Second, there is the problem of regional specializations (i. e. geographic specializations), which remain a problem because there are problems with the duplication of military resources over regions. Third, the question of branch specialization and branch generalization, which have also helped make the JCS irrelevant. It seems that Lederman’s thesis is that the JCS is a victim of problems within the branches themselves. IN other words, a lack of cross-fertilization among the branches has led to isolation within the JCS.

At the same time, a more holistic approach leads to the ignorance of an increasingly difficult to understand world and increasingly high-tech military apparatus. IN other words, the military itself has not got its institutional act together. Within branches and among them, the debates over specialization/generalization, regionalism/universalism, and autocratic/popular approaches to military command has come to vitiate the JCS’ ability to influence foreign policy.


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