How does the United Nations impact American foreign policy?


OCALA, Fla., February 6, 2014 — It is no secret that American foreign policy has seen better days.

Russia is overtaking the United States as an authority in the Arab world, Israel is looking toward China for strategic alliances, and Latin America is now more socioeconomically independent than ever before.

In short, the word appears to be passing our nation by. The time for new approaches to age-old problems has long since passed. 

Above all else, what could be done to build a more flexible Middle Eastern foreign policy?

Few American public intellectuals have done so much brainstorming as John Mearsheimer. A longtime professor at the University of Chicago, his scholarly work has made him world famous. Like one might presume, his ideas have generated ample praise and controversy.

Dr. Mearsheimer tells Communities Digital News that “we should treat Israel like a normal country and go back to the offshore balancing strategy we pursued in the region before 1992.  I might add that we should also stop interfering in the domestic politics of Middle East countries and respect the principle of self-determination.”

In our contemporary global society, what sort of role does the United Nations generally play in American foreign policy?

“The United Nations does not play a major role in American foreign policy and never will,” Dr. Mearsheimer says. “It is sometimes a useful diplomatic instrument, mainly because the United States is so powerful that it occasionally can get the Security Council to back its policies.  But if that is not the case, Washington simply ignores the United Nations.

“No international institution is going to get the United States to pursue a policy that is not in its national interest.”

John Bolton is a man with very different opinions. He served in several Republican administrations, holding the posts of assistant attorney general and undersecretary of state. By far, though, he found most prominence as ambassador to the United Nations, a position secured for him by George W. Bush. 

Last January, Ambassador Bolton told this journalist that “(t)he UN’s specialized agencies have largely pursued their limited, defined missions without political conflicts interfering. Whether in the Universal Postal Union, the International Maritime Organization, or others, this important work should continue. Where the specialized agencies become politicized, however, they can actually become dangerous, as recently demonstrated by efforts in the International Telecommunications Union to impose transnational control over the Internet.”

Considering all of this, might one surmise that the U.N. has lost track of its founding goals over the years?

“The U.N.’s primary founding political goal — holding together the winning Wolrld War II coalition — was never achievable given Soviet efforts to dominate Europe and spread Communist influence globally,” Ambassador Bolton claimed. “While the UN system performs many beneficial activities through the specialized agencies and by providing humanitarian assistance, the UN’s political decision-making bodies function no better today than during the Cold War on the major global issues.  

“Countries pursue their national interests, and until the lions lie down with the lambs, the UN will reflect these disagreements and conflicts.”

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