Why did the United States make so many mistakes in its foreign policy?

In hindsight, mistakes are always easy to point out. Most of the foreign policy actions of the US were supported by public opinion and known data.

Furthermore the US is a global power, it tends to be more scrutinized and mistakes tend to be on a grander scale. Who can point out Swiss foreign policy mistakes? Actually, who knows about Swiss foreign policy (no offense meant)? Switzerland could very practically not have invaded Iraq, even if it wanted to.

At the same time, the US suffers from a few flaws which can lead to foreign policy mistakes.

Firstly, generally (like in most big countries) knowledge and thinking is very self centered. US news is mostly US centric, to a larger extent than let us say British or German news. If you visit the NZZ, you will see that 25% of news is about other countries. Obviously, being small and surrounded by powerful neighbours makes foreign news more important for the Swiss than for US citizens.

Secondly, the US has a presidential system, under which a small number of people manage, publicize and implement foreign policy. Therefore the actions of a President are, until they go wrong, amazingly uncontested.

The US is, by default, invested in many overseas ventures. Obviously to have in-depth knowledge of far flung foreign cultures is more challenging and would deserve greater care than just being involved with immediate and well known neighbours. Yet a strong isolationist streak has resulted in a relative underfunding of foreign policy making.

Americans have a very optimistic outlook. Problems can be solved and people can be made to see reason. This is often a flawed outlook on the world. For example ‘liberation' for Iraq and Libya  did not result in immediate happiness and acceptance, though we all agree, I think, that Saddam and Quadaffi were truly evil men.

US foreign policy is often quite short term oriented. There is often limited staying power and stamina for longer term sacrifices.

As a summary, I do not see the US as being fundamentally unsuccessful and flawed in its foreign policy. Yet there are possibilities for systemic improvement.

Lets go back to 1938 when Hitler was threatening Czechoslovakia. Suppose that instead of Britain and France betraying Czechoslovakia to the Germans, they stood fast and threatened war if Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.

Continuing the alternate timeline Germany invades. None of the countries are anywhere near as ready for war as they were a year later when Poland was invaded. The result is a bloody 2 year long war killing 5 million people and ending in German defeat and Hitler being removed from power.

What would the judgement of history be? The actual events of WWII are unknown in our "alternate" timeline and that reality was far worse than anyone imagined in 1938 or 1939. No one would know the alternate would take years longer, kill 10 times as many people and devastate much of Europe. The Holocaust would be unknown.

I think that there is plenty of reason to believe that the judgement of history would be harsh on Britain and France for going to war when all Germany was trying to do was bring German peoples together under Germany which is all that could be proved in the alternate timeline.

The reality is that imperfect people make decisions based on incomplete and sometimes inaccurate formation. What really would have happened had the "mistakes" claimed for the US NOT happened is unknown. It's easy to paint a rosy scenario where all would be wonderful had those things NOT happened but there is no way to know.

Reality is the true 5,000 pound Guerrilla in the room after WWII was not the US, it was the USSR and later China. Even a casual look at what happened in countries that fell under their influence is enough to make it obvious that resisting their advances was a moral imperative. I will not claim the US did the right thing in all times and all places, however, allowing the USSR and China to do as they chose would have been far worse as demonstrated by what happened in countries that succumbed to their will.

The key element missing from your question is compared to which other country?

Name a country the same age as the US that has not got a similar catalogue of retrospectively appalling foreign policy blunders or human rights transgression's.

The possible exception would be Sweden or Switzerland both of which are special cases for a range of reasons.

Compare the US with China, Iran, India, Russia, UK, France, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia etc no one comes up smelling of roses.

The open system of Government in the US and the freer media make it easier to see and account for the poorest of actions, but that is not a fault in the US system it is an asset.

From a human rights point of view and the damage it does to the US internationally among citizens then Gitto stands out as real problem in the glad bag of US failings along with 3rd party renditions and possibly followed by a large number of the drone killings, which kill civilians and alleged enemies of the US with out trail.

The US's appalling support for Dictators has been a post war failing but no greater crime than Russia's support for Assad or China's funding and support of the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

1.2 million dead and 3 million displaced in Mozambique by Renamo, set up funded and organised by Dick Cheney in conspiracy with the Apartheid era killing and torture machine called BOSS, changed my life for ever but its probably no worse than what other nations did in other places.

Your question needs to be comparative or its trolling for anti US opinion in my view.

There has been a fundamental problem within America since its inception. It's lack of understanding the interconnectedness of all humans while at the same time professing universal truths yet not applying them universally, created a virus like morality within the very culture of America. Everything America does is to empower itself yet it is the most evil social reality on the planet as seen in its prison population where as 6% of the worlds population it house's 25% of the worlds prisoners which it legally defines as slaves and make profits from its justice system not seeing that ethical shortcoming it is the least in need of being empowered.

America is analogous to a crack addicted social reality who's drug has been imbalanced and evil conclusions to gain power for a few hundred years and like a crack addict it is now seeing the downside of that. The quick high capitalism gave it and the strength within its middle class is now being exposed as we go through the withdrawal like economic reality of becoming empowered by greed. Now those that we truly empowered have found our regulations and high wages contrary to their pursuit of money and power and now are trying to exploit emerging markets where they can pay 3 dollars to someone without government regulations.

America has a moral problem as a culture. And while it is striving to hold on to being the idea of a hope in a hellish reality where dreams come true in striving to maintain that only for a few within in its self and as it relates to its foreign policy it has turned the world in to a nightmarish reality where the very planet is being destroyed

In my humble opinion the answer to the question is found in the question. America's a foreigner to the truth of what a society is so when it interacts with others it acts more like a pimp than a human being. Imperialist strive for power so as an imperialist America is a selfish immature childlike social reality striving to empower its self not seeing that it is destroying not only it's self with its policies but the world as a whole in my humble opinion...

This video shows the inner turmoil within American culture that corrupts all of its policies and its foreign policies.

What more a puppet can do? UNSC is no more then a dummy organization which is dictated by power lords. If you see East Timur issue then one will link it to Kashmir and Nagorny Karbakh( Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict on this region). Similarly, case of Sudan is evident which prove that whatever Veto powers dictate to UNSC, she looks helpless and does same.

Finish the difference of powerful and weak. UNSC was made to prevail peace. Peace??

It's hilarious that veto powers are granted to those who are top suppliers of mass-destructive weapons. Then, what would you expect from this organization? Issues will only be solved, when hegemony of power lords will end. Finish the veto powers and grant superiority to the innocents. This is the only way through which politics can end and then issues will be solved.


Even though the US is disliked within the international sphere, its role is almost crucial. I took a brief look at that list and I saw a several unsubstantiated claims and accusations. The US, through its projection of its ideology (Democracy, which I think as everyday citizens would prefer rather than dictatorships, autocracies, military leadership, and one-party states), inevitably makes mistakes with many of its campaign around the world.

We should appreciate the US's power projection around the world as it has kept many nations under peace, albeit in some case begrudgingly, rather than to laissez-faire into chaos. We would much prefer the US as the "world police" rather than countries like China or Russia, no?

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