Simultaneous Contrast: Examining the Use of American National Power
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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After World War II, the United States moved into a position of global pre-eminence. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive and preventive action, expressed in the 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategies, holds that this level of relative power remains, with the United States capable of success anywhere in the world, against any enemy. These claims are ambitious enough to be worthy of some investigation. The United States can point to operations where force has contributed to success, yet a troubling series of failures is equally apparent. The principal question studied in this paper is as follows What is it about U.S. foreign policy and the wielding of military force that can produce great success but also allow such failures An examination of U.S. foreign policy since World War II reveals a nation which has, in the words of Henry Kissinger, oscillated between excesses of isolation and overextension. These swings have taken place in the context of traditions of individual freedom and a resulting focus on private domestic prosperity, and of an idea of military force closely aligned with Just War theories. The consequence is a desire to maintain clear divisions between war and peace, and between political and military decision making. This separation has frequently clashed with the blurred ambiguities surrounding the idea of winning the peace in timeless modern conflict. A helpful apolitical way of appraising the subject is to use the idea of simultaneous contrast wherein two juxtaposed colors give the impression of a third, different color. All areas of foreign policy can be made to produce the conceptual perception of a color different from those initially spread on the canvas. The conclusion of this study is that, if the true nature of Americas foreign policy story is understood, there is a way to produce that third color it is possible to employ the entire palette of national power without compromising Americas basic metaphysical ideals.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics