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Legitimacy of U.S. Actions in its International Relations Essay

Over the years, the U.S. has continued to enhance international relations with most nations in the world. In the process, the U.S. has continued to control the governance and economies of most countries and especially those ravaged by war. There are both positive and negative impacts of the U.S. actions regarding relations with other nations. In most cases, the super power steps in assisting other countries either socially, economically, or politically. However, some of the actions can be retaliation to unfavorable policies, attacks, or threats by the victim nations. The paper seeks to discuss the legitimacy of the U.S. actions in its international relations.

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First, the actions of the U.S. military against countries which threaten the peace of the region are legitimate for example, the U.S. controlled coalition military action in Iraq. The military actions were legitimate as provided for by Resolution 678 of the Security Council authority (U.S. Department of State, 2003). The resolution legalized U.S. to “use all the necessary means” to restore international peace in the region. Moreover, Resolution 1441 mandated the U.S. to take military actions against Iraq because it had failed to cease fire. Therefore, the U.S. military actions are legitimate.

Secondly, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) seeks to defend the U.S. national interests using loose coalitions and novel methods. The policy seeks to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It is an interdiction program meant to prevent technology from falling into the wrong hands. Moreover, it prevents hostile states from acquiring dangerous weapons, increases the acquisition cost, and lengthen the time to acquire the weapons. The agreed PSI “Statement of Interdiction Principles” is supported by over 50 countries because they believe the policy will end hostility (U.S. Department of State, 2003). Therefore, the U.S. is legally admissible to conduct interdiction operations.

Despite several legal actions by the U.S. towards other world nations, there have been several actions that can be proved illegitimate. One such actions is the war on terror that led to the death of Osama bin Laden of the Afghanistan. The war failed to meet the three circumstances which grant legitimacy to use force under the international law (Williams, 2011). A thorough scrutiny of the continued war after the 9/11 by the Americans in the Afghanistan cannot be justified and therefore, viewed as retaliation for the attack on their land.

Besides, the U.S. through the United Nations imposed the sanction on the people of Iraq, which lead to the death of thousands of innocent souls (Halliday, 2000). According to Halliday, such actions in economic sanctions amounted to genocide and are contrary to the recommendations of the U.S. charter. In this regard, some of the sanctions imposed by the U.S. in its international relations can, therefore, act as punishment or retaliation. Such actions affect the vulnerable citizens and are contrary to the law.

In conclusion, the actions of the U.S. towards other nations can be both legitimate and illegitimate. The legitimate ones include military actions in Iraq and the Proliferation Security Initiative by President Bush. However, some of the measures do not favor better relations like the war on terror in Afghanistan and the sanctions imposed upon the innocent people of Iraq.


U.S. Department of State. (2003, November 13). “Legitimacy” in International Affairs: The American Perspective in Theory and Operation. Retrieved September 6, 2017, from

Halliday, D. J. (2000). The deadly and illegal consequences of economic sanctions on the people of Iraq. The Brown Journal of World Affairs7(1), 229-233.

Williams, R. T. (2011). Dangerous Precedent: America’s Illegal War in Afghanistan. U. Pa. J. Int’l L.33, 563.

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