History of Foreign and Security Policy

Defining Foreign and Security Policy from the Cold War to Present

Today’s increasingly globalised community has seen more diplomatic and social evolution in the past half-century than the civilized world has seen in recent memory. The advent of multinational trade and military alliances such as the North Atlantic Trade Organization has increasingly intertwined security policies with foreign policies, which in turn entail more than just military alliances. Foreign subsidies by way of fiscal aid grants and weapons contracts warrant the need for nations to adopt solid, transparent foreign and security policies as the traditional global threat of warfare changes. The most notable examples for security and foreign policies as well as the need for a national and supranational governmental monitor are the United States and the European Union. The aforementioned two bodies share between them diplomatic ties to most every member of the international community. The onus of foreign and security policies becomes more apparent through examination of diplomatically fragile and militarily-temperamental regions such as the Middle East, whose international agreements and regional alliances are the basis for subsequent American and EU policy, without which allies and trade partners would find little benefit from trade and security agreements. Foreign policy amounts to little more than a series of political guidelines and rules of engagement by which any country implementing it best gains at a certain point in time. Foreign policies are known to change radically from one year to the next; the Cold War is perhaps the greatest testament to the temporal nature of international relations and foreign policy. Robert John Myers notes in his US Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century how quickly Western countries changed their approach to the Soviet Union. Prior to 1945 “during the savage struggle of World War II, the primacy of the wisdom of political realism seemed to have been learned” by the Allies, who interlocked “interest, power, and morality in the councils of the principal Allied power”[1]; the USSR at the time was an indispensable ally against Germany and Japan. Much to the chagrin of their current political detractors, the Soviets were perhaps the most powerful ally America had in the war against the Axis powers, with borders spanning the heart of the Nazi regime and maritime waters bordering the Imperial Japanese. Foreign policy then had nothing to do with the civil liberties, democracy, and freedom of the press so touted today in the same countries that huddled together in opposition to Moscow during the Cold War. Prior to the partition of Germany at the close of the war, it was easily recognizable that “wartime cooperation to defeat the Axis was clearly important” and Allied foreign policy toward its Soviet contingent was one of camaraderie and mutual interdependence[2]. Once the war ended, however, the close ties between the powers dissipated and politically malignant antipathy filled the void. With a barely nascent United Nations absent as policy moderator, the US and the USSR led a series of proxy wars starting with “the attack by North Korea on South Korea on 25 June 1950,” marking “the limited cooperation [and mediation] that came to be expected from the UN in the security field”[3]. International mediation, which should have taken place given the alliance that transpired between the US, USSR, and Europe during WWII was all but gone in the years of reconstruction and the escalation of the Cold War. There are two points of speculation given the rise of the Cold War: the first is that the United Nations failed as an international mediator, and the second is that the United Nations was obsolete, serving only to keep other countries out of the periphery of the Soviet-American struggle for dominance. The difference between foreign and security policy during the Cold War was elementary. The American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union was one of mutual trade and sales, the development of which was speculated by many to be a financial insurance policy; if the two superpowers intertwined economically, the idea of armed struggle would be so financially devastating that neither side would be willing to continue along the path to war. American security policy was markedly different given the proxy wars fought in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East. Foreign policy essentially existed in the case of the Cold War to ensure that security policy would never be employed.

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