Democratizing US Foreign Policy

Stephen Walt is among the most prominent and influential thinkers and analysts of US foreign policy. Here is his short bio-data:Stephen Martin Walt is an American professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. KennedySchool of Government. He belongs to the realist school of international relations. He made importantcontributions to the theory of defensive neorealism and has authored the balance of threat theory.In this essay, Walt engages in a systematic critique of the foreign policy performance ofPresident Bill Clinton. It is a commonly used type of foreign affairs article that you haveencountered before, namely, the “tour d’horizon.” Walt engages in a double tour, using firstthe conventional geographic overview, in which he looks at the entire world. He also engagesin what we call a “subject matter” overview, in which he examines Clinton’s performance inspecific subject matter areas, such as arms control, human rights, and economic policy.Walt also uses a common tactic found often in foreign policy writing, namely, the use of lists.He constructs lists of points he wants to make regarding the various subjects he addresses and tics through the list. This is an often used principle that helps the reader organize the oftencomplex material he/she is reading.Walt, being one of the premier writers on foreign policy in the United States, is clear andconcise in his writing style. He introduces a clearly-stated thesis, and uses clearly-statedindependent variables to analyze his thesis.In this instance, Walt contends that President Clinton has been exposed to virulent criticism regarding the conduct of his foreign policy. Walt’s thesis states that this criticism is inaccurate and not factually based. He argues that Clinton delivered precisely what the American people expected of him, and should be commended for his handling of foreign affairs. Walt points to the mechanics of foreign policy making. He notes that foreign policy, while conducted by the executive branch of the US government, with the President as the principal decision maker, does not take place in a vacuum. Walt argues that to provide an accurate assessment of Clinton’s performance, the analyst must take extraneous factors into account, which limit the capability of the executive to devise and implement the foreign policy of his choice. Question #1 We know from his bio data that Walt is a well-known realist thinker and writer. We also know, that as a Democrat and idealist, Clinton rejected much of the realist paradigm and announced his intention to conduct a liberal foreign policy. If this is the case, why was Walt so effusive in his praise for Clinton, his abilities, and the outcomes of his foreign policies? Question #2 Much of Walt’s thesis is based on his characterization of the state of the world at the time of the Clinton presidency. Walt claims that the world system during the Clinton years was “unipolar.” Explain what Walt meant by this characterization. Question #  makes a number of predictions in his piece. He wrote this essay 17 years ago. Since then, we have had the administrations of GW Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump. Walt introduces the unipolar world and the US position as the world hegemon, and predicts that: “This extraordinary position of power will endure well into this century.” Did this prediction turn out to be accurate? Why? Why not? Question #4 Walt says that Clinton’s freedom to implement policy was hamstrung by a number of factorsthat were beyond his control.Please name some of these factors. Are these same factors still present today?Question #5Walt states the truism that American foreign policy is conducted by foreign policy professionals with the clear assignment of preserving the status quo, especially when the US is in the dominant position. Walt argues that this ensures that there is little or no difference in most regards between the foreign policy of Republican and Democratic administrations. How has the presidency of Donald Trump contradicted this widely accepted view? Question #6 The consensus among foreign policy experts in the US is that the impending long-term conflict between China and the US will dominate foreign policy for some time to come. Walt gives Clinton positive marks for his China policy. The Sino/US relationship has changed dramatically since this article was written. Please describe these changes. Do you think Walt would give Donald Trump the same high praise he extended to Bill Clinton regarding China policy? Why? Why not?

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