Policy Analysis No. 191

Present at the Re-Creation: The Need for a Rebirth of American Foreign Policy

By Jonathan Clarke
March 31, 1993

Executive Summary

The end of the Cold War presents a unique opportunity for a radical overhaul of America’s foreign policy commitments and consequent annual savings of as much as $150 billion on the defense budget. This study examines the prospects for reform of American foreign policy under the Clinton administration.

Despite their rhetoric, Clinton and his key national security advisers seem to accept the tenets of George Bush’s “neo-Cold War orthodoxy,” which assumes that the end of the Cold War has made the world a more dangerous and unstable place, putting more, not fewer, demands on American leadership.

This study shows that, on the contrary, the level of global threat today is far less than it was during the Cold War. Although there may be numerous local conflicts, they will rarely affect America’s security. The end of the super-power rivalry has made the world a safer place where disputes can be treated on their merits, often without any U.S. involvement. The moral, economic, and strategic arguments that the U.S. military budget must remain at its present level are examined and refuted.

“Aggressive unilateralism” (whether American or foreign) on trade issues is identified as the principal threat to global stability, and strong support of multilateralism and open markets is shown to be a key U.S. interest.

Read the Full Policy Analysis

Jonathan G. Clarke is a retired British Foreign Service officer whose most recent assignment was with the British embassy in Washington. He is now a consultant on European affairs.