With the dust finally settling from the 2004 US Presidential election it is the American foreign policy of the next four years that comes back into the foreground. Without sounding too repetitive, what is the future of American foreign policy? What will four more years of George W. Bush bring the United States and the rest of the world? Only time will truly tell, but educated guesses can go a long way into determine what direction American foreign policy will take during the next Presidential term.
Though the War on Terror is assured to last into the immediate future, what shape will it take? Iraq, though going through the growing pains of a budding democracy, will not become fully stable for some years to come. Nearly sixty years have passed since the beginning of US occupation of Germany and Japan and American soldiers remain stationed in both those countries even today. Though we may have the majority of our soldiers out within the next four years there will be a heavy American presence in that country for at least another ten if not more. Iraq will be the manifestation of the War on Terror for the immediate future. Until that country can develop an army and police force capable of protecting its civilians from internal terrorism and external aggression it will be the American soldier, airman and sailor who bears the cross.
Far too many are crying that Iran and North Korea will be next, as will the new American draft, but this is more fear mongering then anything else. North Korea possess nuclear capabilities and therefore will never become the target of American invasion, unless the US can find a way to protect all of its Pacific assets from North Korean missiles. The only way war will come to Pyongyang is if Pyongyang wants it. To be more blunt, barring any North Korean aggression against South Korea or Japan war will not blossom on that peninsula. That is not to say that America will turn a blind eye towards Pyongyang, but powers closer to that rogue state, China, Japan and South Korea, will remain involved in matters as well. The proximity of old allies is the key to US policy on the peninsula. That and the knowledge that militaristic societies like North Korea have never lasted long, be it the Anglo-Saxons of Britain centuries ago or Nazi Germany of only sixty years past.
Iran too, considers itself a target of the United States. Unfortunately the United States will not invade Iran, at least not within the next four years. First off, the US military is stretched far to thin for any such invasion to be feasible until American soldiers can successfully, and successfully is the key word, withdraw from Iraq. Of course this could be off-set by the much anticipated American draft. Once again it is fact that dispels this notion. Any political party that embraces the draft, no matter what light it is cast in, sets itself up for political suicide. If a draft is put into motion we will see Democrats retake congress in two years time, that thought is enough to keep any politician, any Republican politician, from endorsing and voting for a US draft. Ironically it is the politicking side, the part Americans by and large find so distasteful about their elected officials, that will keep this young generation from ever facing a draft. History too shows that drafts in democratic society often leads to problems both external and internal. During the American Civil War, drafts sparked the bloodiest riots in New York City history, so bloody that federal soldiers were called in to put down the mob. It was a nearly all draft army that could not defend South Vietnam and it was the draft that led to civil disorder throughout the sixties and seventies in America.
This is all not to say that America will not have a hand in Iran in the coming four years. Already it is apparent that the Mullah's do not enjoy much good will outside of their fellow religious leaders and European political and economic contacts. Certainly the sudden arrival of several hundred thousand American soldiers just next door has bolstered the Iranian dissidents. During the theocratic nations last 'election' it was the opposition party that did so well, despite being formally disqualified from competing in the electoral process. It will be these people, yearning for the end of their own oppressive regime that will bring freedom and democracy to Iran. Americans will, however, have a hand in it, though undoubtedly a small one. Were rebellion to ensue in Iran it would be American special forces that would see action in that particular nation. If indeed Iran possesses nuclear weapons they would need almost immediate protection. US special forces would have to seize any nuclear weaponry or facilities out of necessity. No doubt it would be American money that would support these insurgents, as would American intelligence agencies. We can only hope that the CIA will be far more successful this time around then it was all those years ago.
That is the picture of the immediate future. Heavy United States involvement in the affairs of the Middle East, but no more so then in the years behind us. Nations such as Syria and Lebanon will too become targets in the War on Terror, but United States progress there will only be determined by the events still unfolding in Iraq. If a stable democracy, stable in the same sense the United States was in its own early years, is attainable in a nation made up of an Islamic populace (we have yet to see one) then US involvment will continue in the Middle East and the policy of preemption and nation building will be validated and rise as the corner stone of American foreign policy.