Five American History Questions - Essay Example

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1. Power is the ability to influence others, but it differs from influence in that it involves the real or perceived use of threat or force (Sharp 2002). Influence stems from moral or other forms of authority such as international legitimacy through the UN or other organizations…
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Five American History Questions
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"Five American History Questions"

2. National interest can be extraordinarily difficult to define for a wide range of reasons. One of the problems is that there is often a wide system of interests within a nation that, in fact, compete with each other. Economic interests are the example where this occurs quite frequently. A protectionary tariff, for instance, may preserve jobs in the short term for a specific industry or group of industries, which could be beneficial for a variety of reasons including increased tax revenue, public perception and short-term maintenance of the economy (as it will prevent layoffs and allow people to continue the job they are currently doing). On the other hand, such protectionism would usually provide a drain on the economy overall, and it would also make it more difficult for a country to export goods because it would encourage tariffs by other countries. So whose interests should be defended? 3. The American public’s response to issues, surrounding foreign policy, are so fickle that they should not be taken into consideration, except, possibly, when those opinions become widespread and growing. Two of the greatest foreign policy disasters of the last twenty years, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, were in many ways the reflection of the the American public’s desire to do something active, to feel that they have power to prevent events like those of September 11th (Kegan, 2004). As a counterpoint, however, American public opinion eventually became more substantial about these wars as they dragged on and got more and more destructive for the country. Likewise, the broad turn against the war in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s represented an ideological shift that was important to notice. So public opinion should usually be ignored, except when it is overwhelming and consistent for years. 4. The power of Congress to declare war overrides the power of the president as commander and chief in terms of the decision to engage in military action against another country. The difference between the two roles is important but subtle, and it stems from an understanding of the word “commander.” Think, for instance, of a commander on a battlefield – would he have the authority to expand military action to a neighboring country? Does the general in charge of the war in Iraq have the authority to invade Iran? The answer is clearly no. The commander-in-chief shares similar limitation – he is a commander, in charge of how the war is run but not whether it is or not. There is increasing grey area with military action taking place in countries that are allies (such as Pakistan) in which some latitude must be given to the president as commander-in-chief, but large invasions, such as those of Iraq and Afghanistan, should have been declared as wars and should stem from the authority of the Congress. 5. The Soviet Union collapsed for a number of political and economic reasons. The fundamental cause was, probably, simple economical in-viability of a rigid communist system; there is a famous saying that the Soviet system could not afford to build both cars and tanks, and they had to build tanks to keep up with America, which led to social unrest. But there were other reasons for the collapse, most notably, Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost, which allowed the Soviet People to actually have a say in their governance in a way they had never been able to (Sandle 2008). The role of Read More
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