HOW THE EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001 TRANSFORMED THE GEOPOLITICS OF THE USA
The geopolitics of the USA was greatly transformed by the events of September 11th, 2001. It is crucial to look briefly at the twin bombings that brought mayhem to the people of the U.S on that day both in the World Trade Centre in New York and the defense headquarters at the Pentagon in WashingtonD.C. The greatest changes were effected in immigration laws and it has become more difficult to enter America due to the strict vetting laws that were put in place in a bid to check terrorist from entering the country. The government of the U.S had to reconsider its foreign policy in an effort to find ways of dealing with the enemy. This culminated in the infamous war on Iraq and the subsequent overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein. America has made many enemies in its fight against terrorism and some areas have been out of the bounds of unprotected American citizens. The effects of the terrorist attacks have greatly changed America’s foreign policy (Howard, 2002, p. 23).
Tom Barnett, a thought leader in his own right, helped shape the perception of the military in his globetrotting sessions which were largely centered briefings on the military strategy. His sessions helped bring military theory as well as strategy to the general pubic that were in deep confusion about the tumults that would happen in the globe in the wake of the September 11 attacks (World Press Entries, 2010). His sessions were reassuring and helped give new confidence in a demoralized military after an apparent ineptitude to ward off what people largely saw as the first ever human snuff film broadcast live as people watched others they knew die in their full view, broadcast live from a safe distance in New York while the military did nothing. The picture got even murkier as the pentagon, the heart of America’s defense, was also victim of the vicious attackers. Then there was Barnett with his picture of the Pentagons New Map, which stretches from Latin America through Africa towards the middle and Far East, including some parts of Eastern Europe and Central America. Barnet visualized a new America with new frontiers which would enable the country position itself strategically not only in terms of military but also in terms of resources.
America has changed its rules of engagement, borrowing heavily from Barnett view of the New Pentagon Map. A drastic change of foreign policy has been effected, leading to the formation of new allies on the global map. The events of September 11 was a wakeup call to the U.S and other countries that the world needs new rules to be set in order to deal with the changing times occasioned by a change in technology (Barnett, 2010). Barnett envisions that these rules ought to be taken with a vengeance. This is should be done on the realization by America that it was lacking some certain rules that were crucial and hence the haste with which they had to be implemented. These rules include the patriot act, which is about the doctrine of preemption. His caution was that care had to be taken as more harm could result in the rush to fill to fill these obvious rule gaps. This is exactly what happened in the war that followed almost immediately after the September 11 episode (World Press Entries, 2010). Even though few people will agree to this, the war on Iraq was a fiasco and indeed left the Middle East a more dangerous place than it had been before, contrary to the initial plan of bringing order to the chaos that characterize most of the countries in this region which has several U.S interests in military as well as petroleum resources. Barnet is philosophical about the outcome of the war on Iraq as he talked about the possible effects of spontaneous military actions meant to heal a certain disease but instead ends up bringing a worse disease (Vagts, 2001, p. 43).
America has changed the rules of engagement and has moved from the rules that have been in application since the cold war to new tactics which also include a new map; Barnett’s map of the pentagon. Russia does not appear in this map and instead the U.S has repositioned itself with a whole new set of military bases business partners. After 9-11, the U.S realized that it needed to set new rules that would replace cold war-time rules as the political landscape had greatly changed as it was no longer about protracted cold war battled concerning world dominance in terms of trade and military might but rather about war and peace (Barnett, 2010). In Barnett’s view, America needed a new set of rules which were workable for many years to come by taking at an international perspective rather that looking at internal issues only. This is where his New Pentagon Map comes in. In terms of system perturbations, America has developed an ordering principle which is completely new to the military in respond to some unforeseen disasters such as the 9-11 which was the greatest existence proof the military has ever faced. The rule of preemption is relatively new (World Press Entries, 2010).
Besides changing America, the events of 9-11 had on have continued to shape the country’s foreign policy and as such it has altered global history. Barnett’s views concerning the role America should play in the world has had substantial impact although many of them can not be sustained. America has been slowly building an empire encompassing the countries that Barnet included in his map of the pentagon. People may mistake his new pentagon for the five faced military headquarters. His pentagon gave think tanks a map of where America should refocus its efforts in building new, dependable allies in the military and politico-economics spheres. More focus has turned to the countries in his new map of the pentagon, from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. Foreign policy has also centered on its key allies in Eastern Europe, the seat of the European Union, which is a strategic partner of the U.S in terms of military and economic matters. The military has positioned itself in new places to shrink the gap that the terrorists capitalized on (Barnett, 2010).
It is evident to all political as well as economic pundits that everything in America was completely changed by the events of September 11. The American foreign policy has been at the centre stage of the greatest changes that were made in the wake of these vicious attacks by terrorists on American soil (Wood, 2009, p. 695). The biggest portion the U.S budget goes to matters of security as the department of defense is largely preoccupied with foreign wars, most of which have been both unpopular and counterproductive. Some certain countries in the Islam world have had to bear with the military might of America in what it calls fight against terrorism (Vagts, 2001, p. 43).
The change of America’s foreign policy is informed by four schools of thought that have been of great influence in the process of making foreign policy in the country’s history of existence. For over two centuries, the four schools of thought continue to influence the way foreign policy is looked at up to the moment (Trager, 2010, p. 347).
The schools of thought include the Hamiltonians, the Wilsonians, the Jeffersonian and the Jacksonians which dictate the foreign policy making process of America. A clearer look at these theories will lead to a greater understanding of the far reaching changes in foreign policy, the rationale used in making them and their objectives. American foreign and economic policy planners use these four schools of thought as guidelines. The government formed a close alliance with the business sector. This includes the integration of the two into a global economy in a contemporary setting (Mead, 2002, p.14).
Much as the American foreign policy is openhanded, it is too isolationist and violent to be applied on a global scope especially on the economic agenda (Rahman, 2002, p. 31). The four schools of thought and the way they inform foreign policy making points to groupthink. Groupthink has become a dominant paradigm in security and economic policy making which has had the effect of crushing innovation. The change in the American geopolitical landscape after the September 11 has in turn led to a change in political economy. Historical circumstances have cast huge responsibilities on a global perspective for the U.S, something neither the Americans nor the foreign policy makers were adequately prepared for, and the responsibilities are overwhelming. Attempts by the American military to respond to the terrorists with war especially in Iraq has changed things greatly as it was largely seen by the international community as unjustified.
The immediate declaration of war on terrorism was a great mistake. Although conventional policy means are not adequate to address this issue, the policy makers overreacted. However, America has a right to self defense just like any other country. This U.S has as a result tended to act unilaterally, ignoring the international community. American foreign policy has shifted and does not need to be approved of by the international community. Given the way decisions are mad in terms of waging a war against countries that are perceived as a threat to the security of Americans, the U.S, the foreign policy of the U/S can be said to be hegemonic (Howard, 2002, p. 18).
The shift in American policy has in turn led to a change in the way politics is done on a local and international level. This has changed the way business is done, locally and internationally. America’s war on Afghanistan is seen as a way of positioning itself in eh geopolitical landscapes rather than an ordinary fight to crush the terrorists. The country is very strategic to the interests of the U.S economically, politically and in terms of the military. After the attacks, the U.S moved to position itself in the areas which were of strategic importance. In the process of fighting terrorism, America was able to settle over strategic landscape, for example Afghanistan. The change in foreign policy was aimed at deriving the most economic benefit possible out of the fight against international terrorism and this is why it took the war to Afghanistan and Iraq as strategic points. America is the greatest beneficiary of the economic woes that these countries face in the event of a war. A more critical look at the issue can disclose that America got an excuse to reposition itself to access resources and have political as well as military control of Eurasia. America got into cooperation with Turkey and the former was very instrumental in the war on Iraq as it provided logistical support to America throughout the war. America formed new alliances that it saw as friendly and able to help it achieve its goal. Those who did not cooperate with the U.S were viewed as enemies (Mead, 2002, pp. 35-52).
The foreign policy of the U.S is essentially a response to opportunities as well as challenges that have been provided by terrorism in the Middle East, as Barnett put it in his rule of self defense. As a result of this, America has managed to have control over the vast resources found in this region, with little competition from China and Russia. This can be explained by the fact that America did not need the cooperation of NATO member countries in order to carry out the operation in Afghanistan and Iraq because the two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) were of great economic importance to the U.S that it does to the other NATO member countries and as such it did not need their approval. The attacks were very unfortunate for the people of the U.S but it acted to strengthen the Bush administration’s resolve to go to the Middle East through Iraq. (Albright, 1998, p. 51).
It was expected that the U.S would never be the same again after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001. The country had to change its foreign policy in order to secure its borders and protect its interests abroad. The retaliatory attacks on selec5te countries in the middle east, specifically Afghanistan and Iraq were not unexpected although there was little justification. After the bombing America adopted a largely unilateral foreign policy and as such it does not bank on the support of its NATO allies from the west like Britain and France or Germany. This is clear as the U.S instead engage in a war on its own given its military might as the world’s only superpower.
Albright, M, K. (1998). The testing of American foreign policy. Foreign affairs, 77(6), Retrieved December 20, 2002, from Acadsemic Search Premier Database.
Barnett, T, (2010). The Pentagon New Map. Citizens Association of Forensic Economists.
Hirsch, M. (2002). Bush and the world. Foreign affairs 81(5). Retrieved December 21, 2002
Howard, D. (2002). Whats in a name, Foreign Affairs. 81(1). Retrieved December 19, 2002, from Academic Premier Search Database.
Krislov, S. (2001). Americam federalism as American exceptionalism. PUBLIUS, 31(1). Retrieved December 18, 2002 from Academic Premier Search Database.
Mead, B, O (2002) Special providence: American foreign policy and how it changed the world. Routledge: New York. P.17
Rahman, S, (2002). Illiberal democracy five years later. Harvard International Review, 24(2). Retrieved December 13, 2003, from Academic Search Premier Database.
Trager, R. (2010). Diplomatic Calculus in Anarchy: How Communication Matters
The American Political Science Review. Menasha: May 2010. Vol. 104, Iss. 2.
Available at: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?
Vagts, D, F. (2001). Hegemonic international law. American journal of international law, 843-8. Retrieved December 13, 2002 from JSTOR Database
Wood, B, D. (2009). Presidential Saber Rattling and the Economy. American Journal of Political Science. Austin: Jul 2009. Vol. 53, Iss. 3.
Available at: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?
World Press Entries, (2010).The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century. zenpundit.com
Available at: http://zenpundit.com/?p=3545