OM Monitoring Desk


Military aid (USD Billions) Iraq

6.50 Afghanistan

5.60[46] Israel

2.75[19] Egypt

1.75[20] Pakistan

1.60[47] Colombia

.834[48] Jordan

.300[49] Palestine

.100[20] Yemen


List of United States treaties




Peter, a slave from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1863. The scars are a result of a whipping by his overseer, who was subsequently discharged. It took two months to recover from the beating.


Rendition, in law, is a transfer of persons from one jurisdiction to another and the act of handing over, both after legal proceedings and according to law. Extraordinary rendition, however, is a rendition which is extralegal, i.e. outside the law (see: kidnapping). As rendition refers to the transfer; the apprehension, detention, interrogation, and any other practices occurring before and after the movement and exchange of extrajudicial prisoners do not fall into the strict definition of extraordinary rendition. In practice, however, the term is widely used to describe such practices, particularly the initial apprehension. This latter usage extends to the alleged transfer of suspected terrorists by the US to countries known to torture prisoners or to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise to the level of torture.

  Why terrorism couldn’t be curbed?

The Bush administration has freely admitted this practice; stating, among other provisions that they have specifically asked that torture not be used. Torture can still occur, however, despite these provisions, and much documentation exists alleging that it has happened in many cases. In these instances, the initial captor allows the possibility of torture by releasing the prisoner into the custody of states that practice torture.

The next distinction of degree is that of intent, where much of the search for evidence continues. It has been further alleged that some of those detainees have been tortured with the knowledge, acquiescence or even participation of US agencies. A transfer of anyone to anywhere for the purpose of torture would be a violation of US law. However, New York attorney Marc D. Falloff stated that such evidence ( i.e. transfer for the purposes of torture ) was an operational practice. In a court filing Falloff describes a classified prisoner transfer memo from Guantanamo as noting that information could not be retrieved, as torture could not be used, and recommending that the prisoner be sent to a nation that practiced torture.

So-called "rendition" illegal flights of the CIA, as reported by Rzeczpospolita

Other cases

This is a non-exhaustive list of some known examples of extraordinary rendition.

  • A Pakistani newspaper reported that in the early hours of October 23, 2001 a Yemeni citizen, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, a 27-year-old microbiology student at Karachi University, was spirited aboard a private plane at Karachi's airport by Pakistani security officers.[75]
  • In October 2001, Mamdouh Habib, who lives in Australia and has both Australian and Egyptian nationality (having been born in Egypt), was detained in Pakistan, where he was interrogated for three weeks, and then flown to Egypt in a private plane. From Egypt, he was later flown to a US airbase in Afghanistan. He told the BBC that he did not know who had held him, but had seen Americans, Australians, Pakistanis, and Egyptians among his captors. He also said that he had been beaten, given electric shocks, deprived of sleep, blindfolded for eight months and brainwashed.[72] After signing confessions of involvement with al-Qaeda, which he has now retracted, Mr Habib was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was released without charge in January 2005.[76] Former Pakistani Interior Minister Makhdoom Syed Faisal Sawleh Hayat told in an interview by the Australian current affairs programme Dateline that Mr Habib was linked with the "terrorist element" operating at that time. However, he contradicted himself a few minutes later, in the same interview, saying that Habib had been assumed guilty because he was in the restricted province of Baluchistan without proper visa documents.[77]
  • In 2002, captured Al Qaeda leader Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was rendered to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. The information he provided to his interrogators formed a fundamental part of the Bush administration case for attacking Iraq, alleging links between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted his story and it is generally believed that his stories of contact between the Saddam Hussein regime and Al-Qaeda were fabricated to please his interrogators.[78]
  • Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, two Egyptians who had been seeking asylum in Sweden, were arrested by Swedish police in December 2001. They were taken to Bromma airport in Stockholm, had their clothes cut from their bodies, suppositories inserted in their anuses and in diapers, overall, handcuffs and chains put on an executive jet with American registration N379P with a crew of masked men. They were flown to Egypt, where they were imprisoned, beaten, and tortured according to reports by Swedish investigative pogramme "Kalla fakta"[79] The Swedish ambassador visited them only six weeks later. Agiza was previously charged and sentenced in absentia with being an Islamic militant and was sentenced to 25 years, a sentence that was reduced to 15 years due to the political pressure after the Rendition became known. Al-Zery wasn't charged, and after two years in jail withouth ever seeing a judge or prosecutor he was sent to his village in Egypt. In 2008 AL Zery was awarded 500 000 dollars in damages by the Swedish government for the wrongful treatment he received in Sweden and the subsequent torture in Egypt.
  • In March 2002, Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen with Moroccan origins, was arrested in Pakistan and subsequently interrogated by Pakistani and US officials. He was then rendered to Moroccan authorities, detained and torture in a secret detention center in Temara. He was finally released without any charges brought against him, before being rearrested in May 2003 at the border crossing of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa. He is currently imprisoned in Äin Bourja prison in Casablanca after having been sentenced to nine years in January 2004 for membership of a subversive organisation and for activities including the holding unauthorised meetings. This in spite of conclusions in September 2006 by Italian Justice, after a five years investigation, that there was "an absolute lack of grounds of evidence of charge which may be used in trial" and that the suspicion motivating the inquiries had proved unfounded. Nonetheless, allegations in the Italian press and the judicial proceedings that were underway in Italy influenced court proceedings against Britel in Morocco that led to him being sentenced. MPs from Italy and from the European Parliament are set to ask the Moroccan Royal Cabinet to grant a pardon to the Italian citizen[80] According to the European Parliament Temporary Committee on the Alleged Use of European Countries by the CIA for the Transport and the Illegal Detention of Prisoners headed by rapporteur Giovanni Claudio Fava, documents demonstrated that "the Italian judicial authorities and the Italian Ministry for Home Affairs (the latter, acting on behalf of the Direzione Centrale della Polizia di Prevenzione cited in connection with the investigation by the Divisione Investigazioni Generali ed Operazioni Speciali) cooperated constantly with foreign secret services and were well aware of all Britel's movements and whatever unlawful treatments he received, from the time of his initial arrest in Pakistan."[81]
  • In 2003, an Algerian named Laid Saidi was abducted in Tanzania and taken to Afghanistan, where he was imprisoned and tortured along with Khalid El-Masri.[82] His detention appears to have arisen through a mistranslation of a telephone conversation, in which U.S. officials believed he was speaking about airplanes (tairat in Arabic) when he had in fact been speaking about tires (tirat in Arabic).
  • Binyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian student who lived in London, was apprehended in Pakistan in April 2002. He allegedly spent three years in "black sites," including in Morocco and Afghanistan. He was supposed to be part of a plot involving José Padilla. The Observer reported: "He went to Pakistan in June 2001 because, he says, he had a drug problem and wanted to kick the habit. He was arrested on 10 April at the airport on his way back to England because of an alleged passport irregularity. Initially interrogated by Pakistani and British officials, he told Stafford Smith: 'The British checked out my story and said they knew I was a nobody. They said they would tell the Americans." He was deprived of sleep by having heavy rock music played loudly throughout the day and night.[72][83]
  • In late 2001 Saddiq Ahmad Turkistani was freed by US forces from a Taliban prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan. At a news conference he told reporters and U.S. officials he had been wrongly imprisoned for allegedly plotting to kill Osama bin Laden. He was then taken to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, where he was stripped, bound and thrown behind bars. According to U.S. lawyers who represent him, in January 2002 he was sent to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly four years later, Turkistani remains there, despite being cleared for release early 2005 after a government review concluded he is "no longer an enemy combatant." It is unclear exactly when that determination was made, but Justice Department lawyers gave notice of it in an October 11 court filing.[84] According to a June 26, 2006 press release from the Saudi Arabian embassy,[85] Turkistani was released from Guantanamo to Saudi custody
  • On 5 April 2006, Amnesty International released details of the United States' system of extraordinary rendition, stating that three Yemeni citizens were held somewhere in Eastern Europe.[86]
  • On February 22, 2008 a report from Amnesty International stated that there was an "admission by the US and UK governments that two rendition flights had landed in Diego Garcia in 2002."[87]
  • The case of Mohammed Haydar Zammar.


Syria: 1949

In Spring 1949, the elected government of Syria is overthrown and ‘according to former CIA agent Miles Copeland, …he and another CIA officer who was Assistant Military Attaché at the U.S. embassy in Damascus engineered the March 1949 coup in which Chief of Staff Husni Zaim overthrew [President Shukn al -] Quwatli.’ This resulted in the establishment of a dictatorship under Colonel Za’im.

Mosaddeq and the Shah

For more details on Mohammed Mosaddeq, see Mohammed Mosaddeq.

Opposed to foreign intervention in Iran and a keen nationalist, Mohammed Mosaddeq became the prime minister of Iran in 1951. Thus, when Mosaddeq was elected he chose to nationalise the Iranian oil industry, where previously British holdings had generated great profits for Britain through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Furthermore, prior to the nationalisation of Iranian oil Mosaddeq had also cut all diplomatic ties with Britain.
The Sha of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was opposed to the nationalisation of Iranian oil as he feared this would result in an oil embargo, which would destroy Iran’s economy and thus, the Sha was very concerned with the effect of Mosaddeq’s policies on Iran. Equally worried were workers in the Iranian oil industry, when they experienced the economic effect of the sanctions on Iranian oil exports which Mosaddeq’s policies had resulted in, and riots were happening across Iran. Thus, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi asked Mosaddeq to resign, as was the Sha’s constitutional right, but Mosaddeq refused, which resulted in national uprisings. The Sha, fearing for his personal security, fled the country but nominated General Fazlollah Zahedi as new Prime Minister. Although General Fazlollah Zahedi was a nationalist, he did not agree with the Mosaddeq’s lenient attitude towards the communist Tudeh party, which the United States had also become increasingly concerned with, fearing Soviet influence spreading in the Middle East. Therefore, when in late 1952, the British government asked the U.S. administration for help with the removal of Mohammed Mosaddeq, the U.S. administration agreed and ‘Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA , approved one million dollars on April 4, 1953 to be used “in any way that would bring about the fall of Mossadegh” Consequently, after a failed attempt on August 15, ‘on August 19, 1953, General Fazlollah Zahedi succeeded [with the help of the United States and Britain] and Mossadegh was overthrown. The CIA covertly funneled five million dollars to General Zahedi’s regime on August 21, 1953’.
This CIA operation, often referred to as Operation Ajax and led by CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., ensured the return of the Sha on August 22, 1953.

Egypt 1956: The Suez Crisis

For more details on Egypt 1956, see The Suez Crisis.

Today ‘more than a quarter of the world’s oil are shipped through the Suez Canal’Although accepting large sums of military aid from the United States in 1954, by 1956 Egyptian leader Nasser had grown tired of the American influence in the country. The involvement that the U.S. would take in Egyptian business and politics in return for aid, Nasser thought ‘smacked of colonialism’. Indeed, as political scholar B.M. Bleckman argued in 1978, that ‘Nasser had ambivalent feelings toward the United States. From 1952 to 1954 he was on close terms with U.S. officials and was viewed in Washington as a promising moderate Arab leader. The conclusion of an arms deal with the USSR in 1955, however, had coded the relationship between Cairo and Washington considerably, and the Dulles-Eisenhower decision to withdraw the offer to finance the Aswan High Dam in mid-1956 was a further blow to the chances of maintaining friendly ties. Eisenhower’s stand against the British, French, and Israeli attack on Egypt in October 1956 created a momentary sense of gratitude on the part of Nasser, but the subsequent development of the Eisenhower Doctrine, so clearly aimed at “containing” Nasserism, undermined what little goodwill existed toward the United States in Cairo’. ‘The Suez Crisis of 1956 marked the demise of British power and its gradual replacement by USA as the dominant power in the Middle East.’ The Eisenhower Doctrine became a manifestation of this process. ‘The general objective of the Eisenhower Doctrine, like that of the Truman Doctrine formulated ten years earlier, was the containment of Soviet expansion.’ Furthermore, when the Doctrine was finalised on March 9, 1957, it ‘essentially gave the president the latitude to intervene militarily in the Middle East … without having to resort to Congress.’ indeed as, Middle East scholar Irene L. Gerdzier explains ‘that with the Eisenhower Doctrine the United States emerged “as the uncontested Western power…in the Middle East’Meanwhile, in Jordan nationalistic anti-government rioting has broken out and the U.S. decides to send a battalion of Marines to Lebanon in case of possibly having to intervene in Jordan later that year. Moreover, attempting to keep the pro-American King Hussein of Jordan, pro-American and in power, the CIA starts to make secret payments of millions of dollars a year to King Hussein. In the same year, the U.S. supports allies in Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia and sends fleets to be near Syria as Syria’s government has executed nationalistic and pro-Soviet policies the same year. However, 1958 is to become a difficult year in U.S. foreign policy; in 1958 Syria and Egypt are merged into the “United Arab Republic”, anti-American and anti-government revolts are occurring in Lebanon, causing the Lebanese president Chamoun to ask America for help, and the very pro-American King Feisal the 2nd of Iraq is overthrown by a group of nationalistic military officers. It was quite ‘commonly believed that [Nasser]…stirred up the unrest in Lebanon and, perhaps, had helped to plan the Iraqi revolution.’

  Pakistani Remittance rise by 16.5% to $18.4 Billion

Afghanistan and Pakistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan, though situated in Asia, are considered part of the Greater Middle East. U.S. intervention in both Afghanistan and Pakistan started with the Carter Administration after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The relations of the U.S. with Afghanistan and Pakistan have been closely tied to the War on terrorism that has happened there. American policy has been instrumental in coordinating the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. In recent times, political situations of both countries have been bracketed under a single theater of operations, denoted by the newly-coined American term "AfPak."

Criticism of American foreign policy

Common criticisms

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with George W. Bush at the Prairie Chapel Ranch.

Critics charge that the U.S. supported brutal dictators such as Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Richard Nixon with Shah of Iran in 1971.

  • Support of dictatorships. The US has been criticized for supporting dictatorships with economic assistance and military hardware. Particular dictatorships have included Musharraf of Pakistan, the Shah of Iran, Museveni of Uganda, the Saudi Royal family,warlords in Somalia, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile
  • Opposition to independent nationalism.[clarification needed] The US has been criticized by Noam Chomsky for opposing nationalist movements in foreign countries, including social reform.
  • Interference in internal affairs. The United States was criticized for manipulating the internal affairs of foreign nations, including Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, various countries in Africa including Uganda. See also Covert United States foreign regime change actions
  • Support of Israel. The US has been accused of condoning actions by Israel against Palestinians.
  • Democracy promotion. Some critics argue that America's policy of advocating democracy may be ineffective and even counterproductive. In World On Fire, Yale professor Amy Chua suggested that promotion of democracy in developing countries is not always a good idea since it may result in breeding ethnic hatred and global instability. Zbigniew Brzezinski declared that "[t]he coming to power of Hamas is a very good example of excessive pressure for democratization" and argued that George W. Bush's attempts to use democracy as an instrument against terrorism were risky and dangerous.[9][9][9] Analyst Jessica Tuchman Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agreed that imposing democracy "from scratch" was unwise, and didn't work. Realist critics such as George F. Kennan argued U.S. responsibility is only to protect its own citizens and that Washington should deal with other governments on that basis alone; they criticize president Woodrow Wilson's emphasis on democratization and nation-building although it wasn't mentioned in Wilson's Fourteen Points,[  and the failure of the League of Nations to enforce international will regarding Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in the 1930s. Realist critics attacked the idealism of Wilson as being ill-suited for weak states created at the Paris Peace Conference. Others, however, criticize the U.S. Senate's decision not to join the League of Nations which was based on isolationist public sentiment as being one cause for the organization's ineffectiveness.
  • Imperialism. According to Newsweek reporter Fareed Zakaria, the Washington establishment has "gotten comfortable with the exercise of American hegemony and treats compromise as treason and negotiations as appeasement" and added "This is not foreign policy; it's imperial policy." Allies were critical of a unilateral sensibility to US foreign policy, and showed displeasure by voting against the US in the United Nations in 2001.
  • Hypocrisy. The US has been criticized for making statements supporting peace and respecting national sovereignty, but military actions such as in Grenada, fomenting a civil war in Colombia to break off Panama, and Iraq run counter to its assertions. The US has advocated free trade but protects local industries with import tariffs on foreign goods such as lumber and agricultural products. The US has advocated concern for human rights but refused to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US has publicly stated that it is opposed to torture, but has been criticized for condoning it in the School of the Americas. The US has advocated a respect for national sovereignty but supports internal guerrilla movements and paramilitary organizations, such as the Contras in Nicaragua. The US has been criticized for voicing concern about narcotics production in countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela but doesn't follow through on cutting certain bilateral aid programs.[  The US has been criticized for not maintaining a consistent policy; it has been accused of denouncing human rights abuses in China while supporting rights violations by Israel. However, some defenders argue that a policy of rhetoric while doing things counter to the rhetoric was necessary in the sense of realpolitik and helped secure victory against the dangers of tyranny and totalitarianism. Another agrees.

The US is advocating that Iran and North Korea should not develop nuclear weapons, while the US, the only country to have used nuclear weapons in warfare, maintains a nuclear arsenal of 5,113 warheads. The US has also turned a blind eye to the Israel's nuclear weapons.

  • Undermining of human rights. President Bush has been criticized for neglecting democracy and human rights by focusing exclusively on an effort to fight terrorism. The US was criticized for alleged prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib in Iraq, secret CIA prisons in eastern Europe, according to Amnesty International. In response, the US government claimed incidents of abuse were isolated incidents which did not reflect U.S. policy.
  • American exceptionalism. There is a sense in which America sometimes sees itself as qualitatively different from other countries and therefore cannot be judged by the same standard as other countries; this sense is sometimes termed American exceptionalism. A writer in Time Magazine in 1971 described American exceptionalism as "an almost mystical sense that America had a mission to spread freedom and democracy everywhere." American exceptionalism is sometimes linked with hypocrisy; for example, the US keeps a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons while urging other nations not to get them, and justifies that it can make an exception to a policy of non-proliferation. When the United States didn't support an environmental treaty made by many nations in Kyoto or treaties made concerning the Geneva Convention, then critics saw American exceptionalism as counterproductive.[28]
  • Arrogance. Some critics have thought the United States became arrogant, particularly after its victory in World War II. Critics such as Andrew Bacevich call on America to have a foreign policy "rooted in humility and realism." Foreign policy experts such as Zbigniew Brzezinski counsel a policy of self-restraint and not pressing every advantage, and listening to other nations. A government official called the US policy in Iraq "arrogant and stupid," according to one report.[
  • Excessive militarism. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. criticized excessive U.S. spending on military projects. And suggested a linkage between its foreign policy abroad and racism at home. Even in 1971, a Time Magazine essayist wondered why there were 375 major foreign military bases around the world with 3,000 lesser military facilities and concluded "there is no question that the U.S. today has too many troops scattered about in too many places." In a 2010 defense report, Cordesman criticized out-of-control military spending. Expenditures to fight the War on Terror are vast and seem limitless. The Iraq war was expensive and continues to be a severe drain on U.S. finances. Bacevich thinks the U.S. has a tendency to resort to military means to try to solve diplomatic problems.[  The Vietnam War was a costly, decade-long military engagement which ended in defeat, and the mainstream view today is that the entire war was a mistake.[citation needed] The dollar cost was $111 billion, or $698 billion in 2009 dollars.[36] Similarly, the second Iraq war is viewed by many[who?] as being a mistake, since there were no weapons of mass destruction found, and the war continues today.
  • International law violations. Some critics[who?] assert the US doesn't always follow international law. For example, some critics assert the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not a proper response to an imminent threat, but an act of aggression which violated international law.[37][38] For example, Benjamin Ferencz, a chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein for starting aggressive wars—Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq. Critics point out that the United Nations Charter, ratified by the U.S., prohibits members from using force against fellow members except against imminent attack or pursuant to an explicit Security Council authorization. A professor of international law asserted there was no authorization from the UN Security Council which made the invasion "a crime against the peace." However, US defenders argue there was such an authorization according to UN Security Council Resolution 1441. See also, United States War Crimes
  • Commitment to foreign aid. Some critics charge that U.S. government aid should be higher given the high levels of Gross domestic product. They claim other countries give more money on a per capita basis, including both government and charitable contributions. By one index which ranked charitable giving as a percentage of GDP, the U.S. ranked 21 of 22 OECD countries by giving 0.17% of GDP to overseas aid, and compared the U.S. to Sweden which gave 1.03% of its GDP, according to different estimates. The U.S. pledged 0.7% of GDP at a global conference in Mexico. According to one estimate, U.S. overseas aid fell 16% from 2005 to 2006. However, since the US grants tax breaks to nonprofits, it subsidizes relief efforts abroad, although other nations also subsidize charitable activity abroad. Most foreign aid (79%) came not from government sources but from private foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, universities, religious organizations and individuals. According to the Index of Global Philanthropy, the United States is the top donor in absolute amounts.
  US Failure in Afghanistan

Kyoto, Japan in 2008. The Kyoto Protocol treaty was an effort by many nations to tackle environmental problems, but the U.S. was criticized for failing to support this effort in 1997.

  • Environmental policy. The U.S. has been criticized for failure to support the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Critics charge that savvy dictators such as Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni have manipulated U.S. foreign policy by appealing to its need to fight terrorism. Others suggest U.S. should adopt a policy of realpolitik and work with any type of government who can be helpful.

  • Other criticisms. The U.S. has been criticized for its historical treatment of Native Americans. For example, the treatment of Cherokee Indians in the Trail of Tears in which hundreds of Indians died in a forced evacuation from their homes in the southeastern area, along with massacres, displacement of lands, swindles, and breaking treaties. It has been criticized for the war with Mexico in the 1840s which some see as a theft of land. It was the first and only nation to use a nuclear bomb in wartime. It failed to admit Jews fleeing persecution from Europe at the beginning of World War II, as well as immoral policy for the Vietnam War.
  • Lack of vision. Brzezinski criticized the Clinton presidency as having a foreign policy which lacked "discipline and passion" and subjected the U.S. to "eight years of drift."[30] The short-term election cycle coupled with the inability to stick with long term decisions motivates presidents to focus on acts which will appease the citizenry and avoid difficult long-term choices.
  • Presidency is over-burdened. Presidents have not only foreign policy responsibilities, but sizeable domestic duties too. In addition, the presidency is the head of a political party. As a result, it is tough for one person to manage disparate tasks, in one view. Critics suggest Reagan was overburdened, which prevented him from doing a good job of oversight regarding the Iran–Contra affair. Brzezinski suggested in Foreign Affairs that President Obama is similarly overburdened.[49] Some suggest a need for permanent non-partisan advisers.[26]
  • Dollars drive foreign policy. There are indications that decisions to go to war in Iraq were motivated by oil interests; for example, a British newspaper The Independent reported that the "Bush administration is heavily involved in writing Iraq's oil law" which would "allow Western oil companies contracts of up to 30 years to pump oil out of Iraq, and the profits would be tax-free."[5][29] Whether motivated by oil or not, U.S. policy appears to much of the Arab world to have been motivated by oil.[10] Some critics assert the U.S. decision to build the Panama Canal was motivated largely by business interests despite claims that it's motivated to "spread democracy" and "end oppression."[5] Andrew Bacevich suggests policy is directed by "wealthy individuals and institutions."[50][50] Some critics say U.S. foreign policy does reflect the will of the people, but blames the people for having a "consumerist mentality" which causes problems.[35] In 1893, a decision to back a plot to overthrow the rulership of Hawaii by president Harrison was motivated by business interests in an effort to prevent a proposed tariff increase on sugar; Hawaii became a state afterwards.[5] There was speculation that the Spanish-American War in 1898 between the U.S. and Spain was motivated by business interests in Cuba.[5]
  • Presidents may lack experience. Since the constitution requires no prior experience in diplomacy, government, or military service, it is possible to elect presidents with scant foreign policy experience. Clearly the record of past presidents confirms this, and that presidents who have had extensive diplomatic, military, and foreign policy experience have been the exception, not the rule. In recent years, presidents had relatively more experience in such tasks as peanut farming, acting and governing governorships than in international affairs. It has been debated whether voters are sufficiently skillful to assess the foreign policy potential of presidential candidates, since foreign policy experience is only one of a long list of attributes in which voters tend to select candidates. The second Bush was criticized for inexperience in the Washington Post for being "not versed in international relations and not too much interested."[28]
  • Presidency has too much authority. In contrast to criticisms that presidential attention is divided into competing tasks, some critics charge that presidents have too much power, and that there is the potential for tyranny or fascism. Some presidents circumvented the national security decision-making process.[28] Critics such as Dana D. Nelson of Vanderbilt in her book Bad for Democracy[51][52] and columnist David Sirota[53][54] and Texas law professor Sanford Levinson[55][56] see a danger in too much executive authority.
  • Difficulty removing an incompetent president. Since the only way to remove an incompetent president is with the rather difficult policy of impeachment, it is possible for a marginally competent or incompetent president to stay in office for four to eight years and cause great mischief.[57][58] In recent years, there has been great attention to this issue given the presidency of George W. Bush, but there have been questions raised about the competency of Jimmy Carter in his handling of the Iran hostage crisis.
  • President may be incompetent. The presidency of George W. Bush has been attacked by numerous critics from both parties as being particularly incompetent, short-sighted, unthinking, and partisan.[12] Bush's decision to launch the second Iraq War was criticized extensively;[29][30] writer John Le Carre criticized it as a "hare-brained adventure."[59] He was also criticized for advocating a policy of exporting democracy.[7][9][9] Brzezinski described Bush's foreign policy as "a historical failure."[30][30] Bush was criticized for being too secret regarding foreign policy and having a cabal subvert the proper foreign policy bureaucracy.[28] Other presidents, too, were criticized. The foreign policy of George H. W. Bush was lackluster, and while he was a "superb crisis manager," he "missed the opportunity to leave a lasting imprint on U.S. foreign policy because he was not a strategic visionary," according to Brzezinski.[30] He stopped the first Iraq War too soon without finishing the task of capturing Saddam Hussein.[60] Foreign policy expert Henry Kissinger criticized Jimmy Carter for numerous foreign policy mistakes including a decision to admit the ailing Shah of Iran into the United States for medical treatment, as well as a bungled military mission to try to rescue the hostages in Teheran. Carter waffled from being "both too tough and too soft at the same time."
  • Congress excluded from foreign policy. Critic Robert McMahon thinks Congress has been excluded from foreign policy decision making, and that this is detrimental. Other writers suggest a need for greater Congressional participation.
  • Lack of control over foreign policy. During the early 19th century, General Andrew Jackson exceeded his authority on numerous times and attacked American Indian tribes as well as invaded the Spanish territory of Florida without official government permission. Jackson was not reprimanded or punished for exceeding his authority. Some accounts blame newspaper journalism called yellow journalism for whipping up virulent pro-war sentiment to help instigate the Spanish-American War. Some critics suggest foreign policy is manipulated by lobbies, such as the pro-Israel lobby, although there is disagreement about the influence of such lobbies. Nevertheless, Brzezinski wants stricter anti-lobbying laws.
  • Alienating allies. There is evidence that many U.S. allies have been alienated by a unilateral approach. Allies signaled dissatisfaction with U.S. policy in a vote at the U.N. Brzezinski counsels listening to allies and exercising self-restraint.
  • U.S. foreign policy manipulated by external forces. A Washington Post reporter wrote that "several less-than-democratic African leaders have skillfully played the anti-terrorism card to earn a relationship with the United States that has helped keep them in power" and suggested, in effect, that foreign dictators could manipulate U.S. policy for their own benefit.[3][3][64] It is possible for foreign governments to channel money through PACs to buy influence in Congress.
  • Ineffective public relations. One report suggests that news source Al-jazeera routinely paints the U.S. as evil throughout the Mideast. Other critics have faulted the U.S. public relations effort. As a result of faulty policy and lackluster public relations, the U.S. has a severe image problem in the Mideast, according to Anthony Cordesman. Analyst Mathews said that it appears to much of the Arab world that we went to war in Iraq for oil, whether we did or not. In a 2007 poll by BBC News asking which countries are seen as having a "negative influence in the world," the survey found that Israel, Iran, United States and North Korea had the most negative influence, while nations such as Canada, Japan and the European Union had the most positive influence.
  • Ineffective prosecution of war. Amy Chua thinks the Iraq war has been managed inefficiently, with wasteful spending. One estimate is that the second Iraq War along with the so-called War on Terror cost $551 billion, or $597 billion in 2009 dollars. Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich has criticized American profligacy and squandering its wealth. There have been historical criticisms of U.S. war making capability; in the War of 1812, the U.S. was unable to conquer Canada despite several attempts and having superior resources; the U.S. Capitol was burned and the settlement ending the war did not bring any major concessions from the British.

The Vietnam War is largely viewed as an expensive and tragic decades-long mistake.

  • Problem areas festering. Critics point to a list of countries or regions where continuing foreign policy problems continue to present problems. These areas include South America,[69] including Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil. There are difficulties with Central American nations such as Honduras. Iraq has continuing troubles. Iran, as well, presents problems with nuclear proliferation. Pakistan is unstable; there is active conflict in Afghanistan. The Mideast in general continues to fester, although relations with India are improving. Policy towards Russia remains uncertain. China presents an economic challenge. There are difficulties in other regions too. In addition, there are problems not confined to particular regions, but regarding new technologies. Cyberspace is a constantly changing technological area with foreign policy repercussions. Climate change is an unresolved foreign policy issue, particularly depending on whether nations can agree to work together to limit possible future risks.
  • Ineffective strategy to fight terrorism. Critic Cordesman criticized U.S. strategy to combat terrorism as not having enough emphasis on getting Islamic republics to fight terrorism themselves.[79] Sometimes visitors have been misidentified as "terrorists."[80] Mathews suggests the risk of nuclear terrorism remains unprevented.[10]

Historical instances of ineffective policies.Generally during the 19th century, and in early parts of the 20th century, the U.S. pursued a policy of isolationism and generally avoided entanglements with European powers. After World War I, Time Magazine writer John L. Steele thought the U.S. tried to return to an isolationist stance, but that this was unproductive. He wrote: "The anti-internationalist movement reached a peak of influence in the years just before World War II." But Steele questioned whether this policy was effective; regardless, isolationism ended quickly after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Analysts have wondered whether the U.S. pursued the correct strategy with Japan before World War II; by denying Japan access to precious raw materials, it is possible that U.S. policy triggered the surprise attack and, as a result, the U.S. had to fight a two-front war in both the Far East as well as Europe during World War II. While it may be the case that the Mideast is a difficult region with no easy solutions to avoiding conflict, since this volatile region is at the junction of three continents; still, many analysts think U.S. policy could have been improved substantially. The U.S. waffled; there was no vision; presidents kept changing policy. Public opinion in different regions of the world thinks that, to some extent, the 9/11 attacks were an outgrowth of substandard U.S. policy towards the region. The Vietnam War was a decade-long mistake.