Various commentators have written about the growing influence that Corporate America has assumed over U. S. foreign policy, particularly trade policy, in the Clinton Administration. It has been noted that foreign policy formulation under Clinton has been as much dictated by the Commerce Department as by the State Department. A good question, recently posed by John Mann of the Los Angeles Times, is, what sort of values will be promoted by a corporate-driven foreign policy? An even more relevant and timely question is, what values will drive the foreign policy formulations of the administration that will take office next January? Marc Thiessen, who serves on the majority staff of the U. S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has written an interesting piece contrasting the competing foreign policy visions of the Presidential candidates. Al Gore would like voters to believe that the choice is between Democratic defenders of “internationalism” and the Republican “isolationists”. Not so, says Thiessen. George W. Bush’s vision is old-fashioned American exceptionalism and the choice is really which kind of internationalism we will have, the global multilateralism of Clinton/Gore or Bush’s internationalism, based on the principled projection of American power and freedom of unilateral action within well-defined strategic alliances that promote vital U. S. interests and spread American values. No less an authority than Lady Margaret Thatcher would certainly favor the latter. In fact, she has said that “America’s duty is to lead. The other Western countries’ duty is to support its leadership…….under American leadership, the West will remain the dominant global influence; if we do not, the opportunity for rogue states and new tyrannical powers to exploit our divisions will increase, and so will the danger to all.”The multilateralists do not regard America as a unique nation with a unique role in the world. As deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott has written, “all countries are basically social arrangements…….within the next 100 years, nationhood as we know it will be obsolete. All states will recognize a single global authority.” Multilateralists even now look to authorization from the United Nations as the sole source of legitimacy for the use of force in the world. To them, treaties and international organizations are ends in themselves, not means. The exceptionalists view these instruments as means and the United Nations as “helpful” to a U. S.-led Western alliance. The differences here are real and the policy implications will have significant consequences for the world in the 21st century.
You are here: Home / Foreign and Military Policy / Internationalism and American Exceptionalism