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The US as a hyperpower: what gives us the right?

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posted on Dec, 9 2010 @ 03:17 PM
Since the 1990s the US has been what realists in international relations would call a hyperpower. It is the most powerful nation in the world and no other nation comes close to challenging it. Our government has been engaging in military intervention since the 1950s or so around the rest of the world more frequently since it became a super power. It's done a lot of good things in the past like defending the rest of the world from Communism which was another imperial power but at the same time for the past 30 years since the Carter doctrine or so it's been driven by a foreign interventionist policy to secure our oil supply in the Middle East. Now granted, the US was in the Cold War with the Soviet Union at the time so it's understandable-- but the doctrine still has considerable influence on the US foreign policy today.

The president clarified the new situation one month later in his State of the Union Address of 23 January 1980. Referring specifically to the Soviet invasion, Carter declared that "an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." By the following morning, the New York Times had given that policy a name: the Carter Doctrine.

Although the Soviet invasion was the proximate trigger for the Carter Doctrine, momentum for the president's policy shift had been building over the previous two years. Much of that energy flowed from concern over the fate of Iran. One of the "two pillars" undergirding America's security structure in the Middle East, Iran had been supporting U.S. interests for close to twenty-five years. Its position was so vital that the administration rarely, if ever, questioned Iran's ability to play that role; Carter himself labeled Iran "an island of stability" as late as January 1978. Yet in just over a year, the shah would be deposed, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini would return from France and transform the country into an Islamic republic, and fifty Americans would be taken hostage by Iranian students and militants. With the Nixon Doctrine in tatters, U.S. policymakers sought to fashion a new strategy for the region.

Fears of regional instability were only partly responsible for Carter's movement toward a new strategic posture. According to the president, an amalgam of three distinct forces had combined to prompt his declaration of U.S. policy: "the steady growth and increased projection of Soviet military power beyond its own borders; the overwhelming dependence of the Western democracies on oil supplies from the Middle East; and the press of social and religious and economic and political change in the many nations of the developing world, exemplified by the revolution in Iran." In all, a host of events had led the administration to conclude that American interests in the Persian Gulf were under grave threat. Only a more forceful statement of purpose could begin the process of redressing the regional and—in the administration's calculation—global balance of power.

There are of course other people that believe that the US can be a force for good for the rest of the world and that the US can be used as a force for good as this one person does in this video and that the US isn't outreaching its military forces-- but that other nations like those in Europe and in the Middle-East are letting it go in there.

So-- might does make right. But what gives us the right? Is the only reason why we are able to impose our will on other nations or that other nations are so willing to go along with us because we're so much more powerful than any other nation so we're able to continue our unilateralist policies without fear of restraint (except for foreign policy disasters like the Iraq war that turn the whole rest of the world against us)?

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