How effect was America's foreign policy during the Cold War. Specifically was it a mistake to support many third world dictators who would fight "Communism" and ally with the United States at the expense of causing many populations to resent the United States.
In the Cold War, it was worth the anti-American sentiment in the region, as the Soviet Union was always the bigger problem. Now, we're still feeling the long term repercussions. Ultimately, no, we didn't really have a choice when the USSR did the same thing elsewhere.
>Specifically was it a mistake to support many third world dictators who would fight "Communism" and ally with the United States at the expense of causing many populations to resent the United States
You have to ask two questions:
1. To what extent are you willing to go to fight Communism?
JFK and Reagan were willing to watch the world burn in a end-game nuclear exchange. That's obviously excessive and self-defeating.
If, like the second of the men mentioned above, you're willing to train and fund death squads to kill nuns and priests preaching liberation theology in El Salvador, fine, that's far less excessive. But I'm still inclined to question your moral fiber.
2. To what extent was the US's efforts in the Cold War related to fighting Communism?
The War on Indochina is a clear case of that in fact not being the case. The declared intentions (internally, at least) were to stamp down the Third-World nationalist movements which were becoming a danger to the economic privileges of the West. Kissinger, who was the mastermind behind much of the destruction taking place in that part of the world, was no ideologue. He didn't fear Communism per-se, he feared whatever threatened the American hegemony to which he was wedded.
If you are to consider that, you may well come to the conclusion the "Red Threat" had very little to do with the White House's power plays.
It's certainly helped the US economy (particularly the arms sector), but an economy built on war can only lead to one conclusion: self-destruction.
Gore Vidal has some very penetrating essays on this subject.
Besides the arms sector, was the cost of supporting the dictators greater than the return that western companies were able to reap. I would believe that the answer is yes, but governments have done political moves that hurt them economically (late European colonialism) so I'm not sure.
It made great economic sense in the short term to support crackpot dictators. For a start there was none of that nasty nationalization of resources which prevents external exploitation. If the Iranians maintain a hold on the oil beneath their feet there's no way Exxon Mobile, or the IRS, can get their grubby hands on the profits from its sale.
Secondly, there's the labour consideration. Ever since the unions pushed up wages in the States, corporations sought cheaper workers elsewhere. In those right-wing totalitarian states - Pinochet's Chile, Central America's beleaguered banana republics (a phrase which originates in United Fruit Company's dominance in the region) and Suharto's Indonesia - they had their candidates in droves. Mostly these new employees were former peasants driven out of the countryside by thugs like the Contras.
Following the rush to out-source the United States may soon begin to feel a pang of remorse however. Whole cities which relied on manufacturing are dying - most notably Detroit and Oakland - requiring the federal government to bail them out at a massive cost (and find reasons to jail as many of the unemployed citizens as possible).
Yet again, the short term considerations of men like Reagan may well be the cause of the US's downfall in the long-run.
The Cold War led to ideas of "containment" and "preemptive war" setting the US on a path of unadulterated aggression and imperialism after the Soviet threat was gone.
The Cold War never ended on America's side, they will keep going until the world is liberal-democratic and pro-America like in Syria right now. I know that the term "New World Order" has been highly mystified but this is what it specifically means after the Cold War: the absence of communism and uncontrolled ever-growing liberalism.
Resentment, justification, prestige and ideology will become increasingly problematic for America now that the world doesn't have Bolsheviks to fear, and "muh Putin" isn't nearly as effective especially when America many times appears to be worse than the Russians themselves.
tl;dr: fun times ahead, build a bunker
I guess this leads to the question would you say that is a result of corporations having too much influence over the government. Or would you say that the class that runs the largest corporations is the same that runs the government.
Also is this amother sign that democratic governments are terrible at long term plans.
>would you say that is a result of corporations having too much influence over the government
Yes. Some of the leading political scientists are suggesting that the US is a plutocracy, and not democratic in any classical sense of the word. It used to be a lot worse, particularly under Eisenhower who had family connections with the powerful and extremely under-handed United Fruit Company.
Chomsky on corporate control (his references are good):
>is this another sign that democratic governments are terrible at long term plans
Yes, this too. But the answer isn't less democracy in my opinion, it's more. If you'd allow me to be slightly romantic: give ordinary people and communities more control and they're unlikely to bomb people in faraway lands or throw away their children's future in the pursuit of short-term profit.
AND often presidents circumvented Congress and the democratic system in order to do the more nefarious things they did. Nixon (bombing of Laos and Cambodia) and Reagan (Iran-Contra affair) most notably.
This suggests that a functioning democracy can prevent these sorts of things from happening.
Hope this has been helpful.