American history, business interests have played a role in influencing foreign
policy. Foreign policy determines how America conducts its relations with other
countries. It is designed to further certain goals such as security and trade.
More importantly foreign policy seeks to ensure America’s security and defense
and its ability to protect America’s national interests around the world.
National interests that shape foreign policy covers a wide range of political,
economic, military, ideological, and human fields. This is the stand the United
States has taken in the last decades in regards to foreign policy. While the US
government conducts its foreign policy. The public is kept unaware of the motives behind some major
decisions it takes and most of the operations related to foreign policy. Even
though the US foreign policy is set to protect its your being and to spread
democracy, I think the US foreign policy is not only influenced by business but
is controlled by those with business
interests as well. In this essay I will argue the the influence of business on
foreign policy in the United Sates.
For most of America’s history, foreign policy has reflected an obsession with
open markets for American business. Democracy and capitalism are associated
with open markets, and the US has made the spread of democracy and capitalism
across the world a priority. The US has been anticipating the Arab Spring; the
fall of the tyrants in the Middle East opens unexploited markets. This opens
new markets that have been controlled by dictators like Muammar Qaddafi who
expressed their hatred to the US and anything associated to it. The spread of
democracy has also been used as a tool to fight terrorism, democracy can help
put a stop to terrorism and violence because “democracy leads to liberty and
liberty is good” (Sean M. Lynn-Jones 1998).
What do Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Qaddafi all have in common? All
three of these people have tried to set up an alternative market for oil, where
oil could be traded in Euro, thus threatening the supremacy of the U.S. dollar
as the world’s reserve currency. The US foreign policy has taken a strategy of
democratization in specific countries that have resisted cooperation on
political and economical levels. The US already has the power and control over
a sovereign state like the Saudi Arabia whose regimes has been run misogynistic
monarchs. The United States has set up army camps in Saudi Arabia during the
war with Iraq, which gives them direct control over one of the richest
countries in oil in the world. The relationship between the United States and
Middle East is different from country to country; the more a country shows
economic cooperation better the relationship. To the extent that the US has
turned a blind eye to human right violations and women’s rights in order to
secure the oil supply from Saudi Arabia.
America’s economic interest in improving the lives of people in emerging
markets goes well beyond enhancing their incomes so that they can purchase more
products and services—important as that may be. If foreign governments do not
seek to protect basic human rights, they are more likely to ignore or
circumvent other basic laws of great commercial relevance, such as those that
protect intellectual property rights, combat corruption, and mandate the
disclosure of critical financial information. (Garten, 1997). Improving
international trade improves both the US economy as well as other countries’
economy; hence widening the market for US products and services increases
international dependence on the US. Whether or not the international market
appreciates US interference is unknown and is based on the country in question.
We gather our news from everywhere around us, from the radio, news and friends
and family around us. We may live being affected by many relevant things we see
on TV, like the social security program and others not so much. That’s all true
for domestic news but not international news; the only information we get about
international news we get is from the mass media. This has made the American
public ill informed and unaware of their government’s conduct in foreign lands.
The media, we all know how deceiving it can be; we still watch and follow its news.
The power of the mass media sets in agenda setting. Attitudes and behaviors are
usually governed by cognitions – what a person knows, thinks, and believes.
Hence, the agenda-setting function of the mass media implies potentially
massive influence whose full dimensions and consequences have yet to be
investigated and appreciated. (Shaw, 1979)
Do organized interest groups seeking narrow bene?ts for their members drive
American foreign policy? Or is policy more in?uenced by the views of epistemic
communities that use their expertise to identify the national interest?
This question is raised by Lawrence R. Jacobs when approaching the role of
interest groups in influencing policy. Interest groups pursue their benefits by
making the government implement profitable policies, and politicians seek power
by constructing coalitions among those groups. At the international level,
national governments seek to increase their own capacity to please local
pressures, while reducing the consequences of foreign advances. Globalization
has made interest groups extend their outreach to the international level,
since the US economy is not only affected by other economies but dependent on
them. Interest groups want to steer policies in their favor, by pushing for decreasing
taxes and quotas in their position in the market and increase taxes and quotas
on their competition. This is vital in international trade, since trade on an
international level needs interest groups and lobbyist to facilitate commerce
Another example of business steering foreign policy is the US’s ever growing
and dependent relationship with China. Being a communist country, China’s
values and way of conduct opposed the US’s idealized capitalist and democratic
values. As America became more and more dependent on China it became more and
more lenient in its foreign policy. It expanded its trading potential and
encouraged China to further open up its market and make it easier for US
businesses to set up factories with the intention of increasing employment in
China and the Chinese standard of living. In the past, the US avoided
interactions with China and would reprimand its government on human rights
issues and had excellent relations with its democratic, capitalistic ally
Japan. According to Michael Mandelaum, ” it is not easy for the US to be
too harsh terms with its banker.”(Mandelaum, 2010) The same can be seen,
however in a different form, with the vague relationship the US has with the
Iraqi and Pakistani governments.
It has recently been known that the US has been temporarily controlling Iraqi
and Pakistani officials by paying them. The US government is aware of the
fickleness and unsustainability of this relation, however, it is the only way
it could control Iraq and Pakistan for the meanwhile as it ‘seeks to stabilize
the countries and make them democratic allies’ and not to mention maintain its
oil supply at its relatively cheap price. Entering a war against Iraq with
pretenses that weapons of mass destruction were built in Iraq to sell to
terrorist was a massive turning point, people lost trust in the Bush
administration after the economy collapsed and the legitimacy behind going to
war was put in to question. At that time liberals in American politics cried
“No Blood for Oil”, these people were against the war on Iraq in
2003. (Ells, 1998) Weapons of mass destruction were a vague and ambiguous
phrase used by the Bush administration, the weapons turned to be imaginary and
non-existed. The motives behind US foreign policy can be questioned on
different accounts though the fact that they are steered by business is always
in mind. The US government’s concern with its economic well being is it rights
and a valid concern to be sought and taken care of, however, the motive and intentions
must be clear and known by the public and more importantly and method in which
they were obtained should be ethical. The role of ethics and business in
influencing foreign policy are seldom aligned in a majority of governments
throughout the world, which might cause more secrecy and hidden agendas.
In conclusion, I have presented the United States interests and securities in
different parts of the world and policies that accommodate these interests. We
have seen how business is conducted with Saudi Arabia and China in the shadow
of unusual regimes and ideologies, in the mist of public uncertainty that is
uncovered with economic struggles within the country. Countries like Iraq and
Pakistan have not been cooperative with the US on a political and economic
level. Business is difficult with these countries; the US has been successful
in disrupting stability in order to exploit natural recourses. In this essay I
explore the size of the influence of business on foreign policy in the United
Sates government. The United States should revise their foreign policy in order
to preserve what is left from the economy.
For those who heed historic trends and observed the way civilizations rise and
fall, we come to notice that beneath a multitude of causes influencing the flow
of history, lays a valid and strong economic one.
Ells, Mark Van. 1998. “No Blood For Oil: Protesting the Persian Gulf
War”. Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict
Garten E. Jeffrey. 1997. ” Business and Foreign Policy”.
Office of Foreign Affairs
Jacobs, R. Lawrence . 2005. ” Who In?uences U.S. Foreign Policy?”
Vol. 99, No. 1. American Political Science Review.
Mandelbaum, Michael. 2010. The Frugal Superpower: America’s Global Leadership
in a Cash-Strapped Era. New York: PublicAffairs books.
Sean , M. Lynn-Jones. 1998. “Why the United States Should Spread
Democracy.” Discussion Paper 98-07, Center for Science and International
Affairs, Harvard University
Shaw, F. Eugene. 1979. ‘Agenda-setting and mass communication theory’, 25, 2 ,