Looking back on the history of the US global relation for the past 250 years i am struck with the realization of how many of our enemies are now our friends. First off there was Great Britain who we defeated and remained at odds with for the first 50 years of our nation's history. Now they are one of our closest allies. Then we briefly fought Spain and briefly Spain became a strong ally. Next came the big wars, which can be seen as a same set of bookcase, WW1 and WW2. Our enemies were firstly the Japanese, secondly the German, and thirdly the Italians. Japan remains our "UK" island ally in the Far Orient. Germany a hearty ally during the cold war, and the Italians have been with us through thick and thin. Then came the cold war, and our main adversary were the Soviet Unions and their minions. Currently we maintain good relationship with Russia, many of the former Soviet states, and strong relationship with the former Warsaw states.
Our oldest ally is France and there is little new to say about France today.
Of our major adversaries: UK, Spain, Japan,Germany, Italy, Russia, and the Warsaw pact, only Germany and Spain have sought to distance themselves. And for Spain it maybe an aberration rather than a strategic realignment.
Why has our enemies have become our friends? Is it a reworking of Realpolitiks?
My take is more general and less cynical. The main reasons this seeming paradox has occurred is because Americans do not wage war personally; it is not on a racial, ethnic, or even cultural dimension for the wars but for ideology, abstract concept that is available and applicable to all individuals. Freedom and self determination has been the core of American ideology since 1776. Thus when the war is won, whether it be the war for independence or against tyranny, the American ideology is held aloft as the symbol of victory. And this spoil of victory, this american ideology, is shared and granted to the vanquished. It was never us against them; it was our ideals against yours. Nothing personal.
I do not believe this has been the historical pattern for much of the world, and undoubtedly this contributed to the suspicion and reaction against American foreign policy of late.
Thus in this latest war we fight, this war against terror, we again present our ideals of freedom and self determination to combat their ideals of intolerance and oppression. Again we seek to grant to our enemies, men much like ourselves trapped within oppression, the rights deem innate to the human character. Our enemies are not men so much as the ideals that have perverse them. Already Afghanistan has been turned and are now starting to experience growing pain. And Iraq in its last throws of convulsions as the ideals of autocratic oppression die and liberty and self determination take root.
Looking back at the history of what have become those we once waged war against as enemies, i am optimistic that both Afghanistan and Iraq will one day be strong allies and partner with us for a Middle East liberated from oppression and individually empowered for self determination.