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Duty of Superpower: Waging War or Making Peace?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hormoz Baradaran
Expert on International Politics

US presidential candidates may easily sell their plans for a better economic future and prosperity to fellow Americans but they lack a real roadmap to change the destiny of the volatile Middle East, one of the focal points of their foreign policy speeches.

In their final presidential TV debate, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama found common ground to "maintain the US leadership" over the world, especially with respect to the Middle East, in the 21st century to "make the world a safer place." Their foreign policies are based on the supposition that US must be omnipresent in Middle East to manage and control the crises and events as the duty of a superpower.

In a speech on foreign policy delivered at the Virginia Military Institute a few weeks ago, Romney boasted of "America's exceptionalism" and "principled global leadership" and its "duty to shape events" to "make the world a better place." His speech gained a prophetic tone when preaching his audience that America is "the best hope of humankind." But, does he full-heartedly denounce war for the sake of humanity and peace, when it comes to Israel?

Romney is seemingly a copycat of former President George W. Bush and neoconservatives who are advising him on foreign policy in his campaign trail. Bush felt obligated to bring about democracy and stability to Middle East by launching wars and toppling Taliban in Afghanistan and unseating Saddam Hussein in Iraq. However, the ramifications of his “preemptive war” severely tarnished the legitimacy of the US as the sole superpower. A striking sign of Romney's war-mongering was exhibited when, during a trip to Israel late July, an aide made it clear that the Republican candidate would 'respect' Israeli decision to attack Iranian nuclear facilities aimed at sabotaging its nuclear program.

Obama shares this belief but utters it in other words and takes other paths to achieve the goals of his foreign policy. In a 2007 essay for Foreign Affairs magazine, Obama articulated his plan for "renewing American leadership." During his tenure in White House, he managed to restore the US image by changing the face of war. Obama avoided direct military interventions, waging proxy wars in Libya and Syria, and imposing sanctions on Iranian banking and industrial sectors. He also utilized Internet malwares against Iran's nuclear facilities as a sign of changing nature of wars in the global village. Meanwhile, he has extensively flown drones to kill extremists in Pakistan and Somalia.

Wars or proxy wars seem to have "decimated Al Qaida’s core leadership" but extremism is alive. Syrian rebels are financially and logistically backed by the US and its Arab allies but Syrian President Bashar Assad hasn't budged an inch.

Iran's nuclear facilities came under cyber attacks but centrifuges are still spinning. Any meaningful change in Middle East would be simply done by the people who overthrew US-backed dictators in the region. So, at a time when the Americans are suffering from the harsh consequences of economic crisis, mainly as a result of two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US foreign policymakers need to turn inward and make peace with the outside world. 

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