1. Credibility being essential to effectively dealing with other nations is a myth- the US is the dominant actor and shouldn’t fixate on boosting its credibility. Focusing on credibility stunts effective foreign policy
Stephen M. Walt [Professor of International Relations at Harvard]¶ Tuesday, September 11, 2012¶ Why are U.S. leaders so obsessed with credibility?¶ http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/11/the_credibility_fetish
What's the biggest mistake the United States has made since the end of the Cold War? Invading Iraq? Helping screw up the Israel-Palestine peace process? Missing the warning signs for 9/11, and then overreacting to the actual level of danger that Al Qaeda really posed? Not recognizing we had a bubble economy and a corrupt financial industry until after the 2007 meltdown?¶ Those are all worthy candidates, and I'm sure readers can think of others. But today I want to propose another persistent error, which lies at the heart of many of the missed opportunities or sins of commission that we made since the Berlin Wall came down. It is in essence a conceptual mistake: a failure to realize just how much the world changed when the Soviet Union collapsed, and a concomitant failure to adjust our basic approach to foreign policy appropriately.¶ I call this error the "credibility fetish." U.S. leaders have continued to believe that our security depends on convincing both allies and adversaries that we are steadfast, loyal, reliable, etc., and that our security guarantees are iron-clad. It is a formula that reinforces diplomatic rigidity, because it requires us to keep doing things to keep allies happy and issuing threats (or in some cases, taking actions) to convince foes that we are serious. And while it might have made some degree of sense during the Cold War, it is increasingly counterproductive today.¶ One could argue that credibility did matter during the Cold War. The United States did face a serious peer competitor in those days, and the Soviet Union did have impressive military capabilities. Although a direct Soviet attack on vital U.S. interests was always unlikely, one could at least imagine certain events that might have shifted the global balance of power dramatically. For example, had the Soviet Union been able to conquer Western Europe or the Persian Gulf and incorporate these assets into its larger empire, it would have had serious consequences for the United States. Accordingly, U.S. leaders worked hard to make sure that the U.S. commitment to NATO was credible, and we did similar things to bolster U.S. credibility in Asia and the Gulf.¶ Of course, we probably overstated the importance of "credibility" even then. Sloppy analogies like the infamous "domino theory" helped convince Americans that we had to fight in places that didn't matter (e.g., Vietnam) in order to convince everyone that we'd also be willing to fight in places that did. We also managed to convince ourselves that credible nuclear deterrence depended on having a mythical ability to "prevail" in an all-out nuclear exchange, even though winning would have had little meaning once a few dozen missiles had been fired.¶ Nonetheless, in the rigid, bipolar context of the Cold War, it made sense for the United States to pay some attention to its credibility as an alliance leader and security provider. But today, the United States faces no peer competitor, and it is hard to think of any single event that would provoke a rapid and decisive shift in the global balance of power. Instead of a clear geopolitical rival, we face a group of medium powers: some of them friendly (Germany, the UK, Japan, etc.) and some of them partly antagonistic (Russia, China). Yet Russia is economically linked to our NATO allies, and China is a major U.S. trading partner and has been a major financier of U.S. debt. This not your parents' Cold War. There are also influential regional powers such as Turkey, India, or Brazil, with whom the U.S. relationship is mixed: We agree on some issues and are at odds on others. And then there are clients who depend on U.S. protection (Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Taiwan, etc.) but whose behavior often creates serious headaches for whoever is in the White House.¶ As distinguished diplomat Chas Freeman recently commented, "the complexity and dynamism of the new order place a premium on diplomatic agility. Stolid constancy and loyalty to pre-existing alliance relationship are not the self-evident virtues they once were. We should not be surprised that erstwhile allies put their own interest ahead of ours and act accordingly. Where it is to our long-term advantage, we should do the same."¶ What might this mean in practice? As I've noted repeatedly, it means beginning by recognizing that the United States is both very powerful and very secure, and that there's hardly anything that could happen in the international system that would alter the global balance of power overnight. The balance is shifting, to be sure, but these adjustments will take place over the course of decades. Weaker states who would like U.S. protection need it a lot more than we need them, which means our "credibility" is more their problem than ours. Which in turn means that if other states want our help, they should be willing to do a lot to convince us to provide it.¶ Instead of obsessing about our own "credibility," in short, and bending over backwards to convince the Japanese, South Koreans, Singaporeans, Afghans, Israelis, Saudis, and others that we will do whatever it takes to protect them, we ought to be asking them what they are going to do for themselves, and also for us. And instead of spending all our time trying to scare the bejeezus out of countries like Iran (which merely reinforces their interest in getting some sort of deterrent), we ought to be reminding them over and over that we have a lot to offer and are open to better relations, even if the clerical regime remains in power and maybe even if -- horrors! -- it retains possession of the full nuclear fuel cycle (under IAEA safeguards). If nothing else, adopting a less confrontational posture is bound to complicate their own calculations.¶ This is not an argument for Bush-style unilateralism, or for a retreat to Fortress America. Rather, it is a call for greater imagination and flexibility in how we deal with friends and foes alike. I'm not saying that we should strive for zero credibility, of course; I'm merely saying that we'd be better off if other states understood that our credibility was more conditional. In other words, allies need to be reminded that our help is conditional on their compliance with our interests (at least to some degree) and adversaries should also be reminded that our opposition is equally conditional on what they do. In both cases we also need to recognize that we are rarely going to get other states to do everything we want. Above all, it is a call to recognize that our geopolitical position, military power, and underlying economic strength give us the luxury of being agile in precisely the way that Freeman depicts.¶ Of course, some present U.S. allies would be alarmed by the course I'm suggesting, because it would affect the sweetheart deals they've been enjoying for years. They'll tell us they are losing confidence in our leadership, and they'll threaten to go neutral, or maybe even align with our adversaries. Where possible, they will enlist Americans who are sympathetic to their plight to pressure on U.S. politicians to offer new assurances. In most cases, however, such threats don't need to be taken seriously. And we just have to patiently explain to them that we're not necessarily abandoning them, we are merely 1) making our support more conditional on their cooperation with us on things we care about, and 2) remaining open to improving relations with other countries, including some countries that some of our current allies might have doubts about. I know: It's a radical position: we are simply going to pursue the American national interest, instead of letting our allies around the world define it for us.¶ The bottom line is that the United States is in a terrific position to play realpolitik on a global scale, precisely because it needs alliance partners less than most of its partners do. And even when allies are of considerable value to us, we still have the most leverage in nearly every case. As soon as we start obsessing about our credibility, however, we hand that leverage back to our weaker partners and we constrain our ability to pursue meaningful diplomatic solutions to existing conflicts. Fetishizing credibility, in short, is one of the reasons American diplomacy has achieved relatively little since the end of the Cold War.
2. Multiple alt causes to US relations with Cuba & Latin America
LARRY BIRNS [COHA-Council of Hemispheric Affairs- DIRECTOR]AND FREDERICK B. MILLS[COHA SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW ]¶ Best Time for U.S.– Cuba Rapprochement Is Now¶ –JANUARY 30, 2013¶ http://www.coha.org/best-time-for-u-s-cuba-rapprochement-is-now/
The Obama Administration should be prepared to take, in quick progression, three important initial steps to trigger a speedy rapprochement with Cuba: immediately phase out the embargo, free the Cuban five, and remove Havana from the spurious State Department roster of nations purportedly sponsoring terrorism. These measures should be seen as indispensable if Washington is to ever mount a credible regional policy of mutual respect among nations and adjust to the increased ideological diversity and independence of the Latin American and Caribbean regions. Washington’s path towards an urgently needed rehabilitation of its hemispheric policy ought to also include consideration of Cuba’s own pressing national interests. A thaw in US—Cuba relations would enhance existing security cooperation between the countries, amplify trade and commercial ties, and guarantee new opportunities for citizens of both nations to build bridges of friendship and cooperation. For this to happen, the Obama Administration would have to muster the audacity to resist the anti-Castro lobby and their hardline allies in Congress, whose Cuba bashing has no limits. Nevertheless, it is time to replace belligerency with détente.
3. US/ Latin American relations are always in a state of flux
LIZA TORRES ALVARADO[serves as Second Secretary of the Embassy of Venezuela to the OAS GUEST CONTRIBUTOR | 13 MAY 2013¶ The U.S. Must Re-evaluate its Foreign Policy in Latin America¶ http://www.diplomaticourier.com/news/regions/latin-america/1457
Historically, relations between Latin America and the United States have been complex, yet constantly evolving. During the 1960s, political changes and social movements challengedthe structural basis of United States’ hegemony in the hemisphere. The election of Salvador Allende in Chile, the arrival of Peronism in Argentina, and the development of relations between nationalist governments of the time such as Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico became an obstacle for the United States.
4. Relations are resilient and inevitable
LIZA TORRES ALVARADO[serves as Second Secretary of the Embassy of Venezuela to the OAS GUEST CONTRIBUTOR | 13 MAY 2013¶ The U.S. Must Re-evaluate its Foreign Policy in Latin America¶ http://www.diplomaticourier.com/news/regions/latin-america/1457
Although there has been a decline in U.S. influence in the region, its presence is still there. In Venezuela, for example, U.S. oil companies have seen their actions limited, yet they still operate there. The United States is Venezuela’s top commercial partner, as Venezuela supplies 12 percent of U.S. oil imports.¶ Relations between the United States and Latin America have experienced cyclical ups and downs. Geographically, the United States and Latin America are linked and have a natural shared market, so there will always be a relationship of one sort or another. The United States will continue to seek to exert its influence over the region, whether through future plans for the placement of military bases or the promotion of bilateral trade agreements.¶ Leftist governments will have to address challenges such as those caused by social divisions and economic inequality. They will likely continue to focus on implementing their leftist discourse, particularly in the wake of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death. However, it is important to consider that neoliberal philosophies are also still pervasive in many countries of Latin America. This is an advantage for the United States, giving it an opportunity to push for further privatization, but Latin American leftist movements should evaluate themselves and take actions to if they are to avoid a return of neoliberal policies of the 1990s.
1NC 1 Ext – Inevitable
US leadership is inevitable
Stokes and Raphael 10 (Doug Stokes is a senior lecturer in international politics at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He is the author of America's Other War: Terrorizing Colombia. Sam Raphael is a lecturer in politics, human rights, and international relations with the Kingston University's School of Social Sciences.JHU press Global Energy Security and American Hegemony p. 51)
Despite partial reemergence of rivalry between core powers, therefore, we would argue that accounts that stress the coming fracture in global politics (apparently brought into stark relief by dwindling oil supplies) ultimately underplay the durability of the US-led international order. Washington will continue to play a coordinating role for the capitalist core, and it is this role which means that- to the extent that US hegemony over oil-rich regions remains untrammeled – overt competition for the world’s oil stocks will continue to be overwhelmingly pacified, as rival centers of power opt primarily to work under the American strategic umbrella.
1NC 2 Ext – Alt Causes
Iran and Sequestration tank US credibility abroad
Jeff Lightfoot [Jeff Lightfoot is a deputy director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security] March 04, 2013¶ Sequestration's Credibility Costs¶ http://www.acus.org/new_atlanticist/sequestrations-credibility-costs
The debate over sequestration is focused nearly entirely on the impact of spending reductions on the U.S. economy. Far less attention is given to how the automatic spending cuts would undermine the credibility of American power abroad. As sequestration comes into force, the White House and Congress signal a dangerous lack of resolve to both allies and adversaries. In doing so, they run the risk that a nervous Israel and an adventurous Iran could plunge the Mideast into a war the United States can ill afford.¶ U.S. defense officials warn that sequestration’s $43 billion cuts to U.S. defense spending in 2012 would “hollow out” the armed forces and reduce readiness. Already, sequestration has forced the U.S. Navy to cut the number of deployed aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf from two to one and reduce training of active duty soldiers. Recently retired Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta alerted civilian Pentagon staff that sequestration may require them to take one day per week of unpaid leave. These steps would certainly harm U.S. national security. But ultimately, their true impact on the defense capabilities of the United States is difficult to quantify.¶ Sequestration’s real harm is the damage it poses to American credibility abroad. The ability of a superpower to deter enemies and reassure allies is a product not just of its raw power, but also its willingness to exercise it. In allowing sequestration to occur, the president and Congress will demonstrate a bipartisan willingness to sacrifice U.S. defense interests in order to achieve tactical political gains. This has important implications for Washington’s friends and enemies alike.¶ No two countries are watching the charade of sequestration more closely than Israel and Iran. The timing of sequestration is particularly unfortunate for President Obama, who will make his first visit as U.S. president to Israel in March. The goal of his trip is to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, including through use of military force if necessary. In doing so, Obama hopes to convince the Israelis not to launch a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could plunge the United States into a regional conflict. Netanyahu will only launch a unilateral strike if he doubts the credibility of U.S. willingness to use force against Iran. The nonchalance of the president and Congress in the face of sequestration undermines U.S. credibility with Israel in advance of Obama’s visit to a key ally and increases the risk of an Israeli strike on Iran.
1NC 3 Ext – Relations Flux
Relations in a state of flux
Perry 5-2-13 (Mitch Perry, http://cltampa.com/tampa/winds-of-change-blowing-around-cuba/Content?oid=3720875#.UbaBNfmThu4)
Winds of change blowing around Cuba With U.S./Cuba relations in flux, Tampa politicians are making history. On a Friday evening in late March, over 100 people jammed into the back room at Tampa’s Mise en Place restaurant for the beginning of a two-day conference on U.S./Cuba relations. Many in the audience had come to hear the keynote speaker, Miami Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia. Garcia failed to appear as scheduled, but it’s doubtful his comments would have resonated as much as the remarks by Tampa’s own Kathy Castor. The congresswoman stunned many in the audience when she forcefully declared that the U.S. government’s 51-year restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba no longer made any sense — going further in condemning the sanctions than any Florida lawmaker has ever gone. Alluding to the fact that significant issues still remained, Castor insisted that they could be dealt with diplomatically. “I am confident that change is on the horizon,” she began. “Think about what can happen at the Port of Tampa, ports all across the Southeast. All across America. These are values that we share as Americans — trade, travel and the ability to have a productive dialogue. There’s no reason any longer that it should not move forward.”
Heg is self-reinforcing and there’s no impact to decline.
Brooks and Wohlforth – 2 (Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, Both are Associate Professors in the Government Department at Dartmouth, “American Primacy in Perspective,” Foreign Affairs, July / August 2002)
PICK A MEASURE, ANY MEASURE TO UNDERSTAND just how dominant the United States is today, one needs to look at each of the standard components of national power in succession. In the military arena, the United States is poised to spend more on defense in 2003 than the next 15 -- 20 biggest spenders combined. The United States has overwhelming nuclear superiority, the world's dominant air force, the only truly blue-water navy, and a unique capability to project power around the globe. And its military advantage is even more apparent in quality than in quantity. The United States leads the world in exploiting the military applications of advanced communications and information technology and it has demonstrated an unrivaled ability to coordinate and process information about the battlefield and destroy targets from afar with extraordinary precision. Washington is not making it easy for others to catch up, moreover, given the massive gap in spending on military research and development (R&D), on which the United States spends three times more than the next six powers combined. Looked at another way, the United States currently spends more on military R&D than Germany or the United Kingdom spends on defense in total. No state in the modern history of international politics has come close to the military predominance these numbers suggest. And the United States purchases this preeminence with only 3.5 percent of its GDP. As historian Paul Kennedy notes, "being Number One at great cost is one thing; being the world's single superpower on the cheap is astonishing." America's economic dominance, meanwhile -- relative to either the next several richest powers or the rest of the world combined -- surpasses that of any great power in modern history, with the sole exception of its own position after 1945 (when World War II had temporarily laid waste every other major economy). The U.S. economy is currently twice as large as its closest rival, Japan. California's economy alone has risen to become the fifth largest in the world (using market exchange-rate estimates), ahead of France and just behind the United Kingdom. It is true that the long expansion of the 1990s has ebbed, but it would take an experience like Japan's in that decade -- that is, an extraordinarily deep and prolonged domestic recession juxtaposed with robust growth elsewhere -- for the United States just to fall back to the economic position it occupied in 1991. The odds against such relative decline are long, however, in part because the United States is the country in the best position to take advantage of globalization. Its status as the preferred destination for scientifically trained foreign workers solidified during the 1990s, and it is the most popular destination for foreign firms. In 1999 it attracted more than one-third of world inflows of foreign direct investment. U.S. military and economic dominance, finally, is rooted in the country's position as the world's leading technological power. Although measuring national R&D spending is increasingly difficult in an era in which so many economic activities cross borders, efforts to do so indicate America's continuing lead. Figures from the late 1990s showed that U.S. expenditures on R&D nearly equaled those of the next seven richest countries combined. Measuring the degree of American dominance in each category begins to place things in perspective. But what truly distinguishes the current international system is American dominance in all of them simultaneously. Previous leading states in the modern era were either great commercial and naval powers or great military powers on land, never both. The British Empire in its heyday and the United States during the Cold War, for example, each shared the world with other powers that matched or exceeded them in some areas. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the United Kingdom was clearly the world's leading commercial and naval power. But even at the height of the Pax Britannica, the United Kingdom was outspent, outmanned, and outgunned by both France and Russia. And its 24 percent share of GDP among the six leading powers in the early 1870s was matched by the United States, with Russia and Germany following close behind. Similarly, at the dawn of the Cold War the United States was clearly dominant economically as well as in air and naval capabilities. But the Soviet Union retained overall military parity, and thanks to geography and investment in land power it had a superior ability to seize territory in Eurasia. Today, in contrast, the United States has no rival in any critical dimension of power. There has never been a system of sovereign states that contained one state with this degree of dominance. The recent tendency to equate unipolarity with the ability to achieve desired outcomes single-handedly on all issues only reinforces this point; in no previous international system would it ever have occurred to anyone to apply such a yardstick. CAN IT LAST? MANY WHO ACKNOWLEDGE the extent of American power, however, regard it as necessarily self-negating. Other states traditionally band together to restrain potential hegemons, they say, and this time will be no different. As German political commentator Josef Joffe has put it, "the history books say that Mr. Big always invites his own demise. Nos. 2, 3, 4 will gang up on him, form countervailing alliances and plot his downfall. That happened to Napoleon, as it happened to Louis XIV and the mighty Hapsburgs, to Hitler and to Stalin. Power begets superior counterpower; it's the oldest rule of world politics." What such arguments fail to recognize are the features of America's post -- Cold War position that make it likely to buck the historical trend. Bounded by oceans to the east and west and weak, friendly powers to the north and south, the United States is both less vulnerable than previous aspiring hegemons and also less threatening to others. The main potential challengersto its unipolarity, meanwhile -- China, Russia, Japan, and Germany -- are in the opposite position. They cannot augment their military capabilities so as to balance the United States without simultaneously becoming an immediate threat to their neighbors. Politics, even international politics, is local. Although American power attracts a lot of attention globally, states are usually more concerned with their own neighborhoods than with the global equilibrium. Were any of the potential challengers to make a serious run at the United States, regional balancing efforts would almost certainly help contain them, as would the massive latent power capabilities of the United States, which could be mobilized as necessary to head off an emerging threat.