American Foreign Policy Changes in the 20th Century

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American Foreign Policy Changes in the 20
The essence of a foreign policy is to determine the manner in which a nation, in this case,
America, relates to other countries. The Foreign Policy is enacted to enhance specific goals with
the aim of ensuring security and protection of a nation. The policy’s interest is to shield
America’s interests all over the globe. Some of the major concerns in the American Foreign
Policy include military, influential, political, economic as well as humanitarian concerns
(McCormick, 2005).
The American foreign policy has evolved over time. The key theme of this article centers
on the significant events that took place in the 20
century and had a direct impact on the
transformation of the foreign policy changes in the United States of America (McCormick,
2005). There have been various positive outcomes of the foreign policy changes of the USA such
as the fight against international terrorism as well as democracy and financial empowerment of
the third world countries (Hunt, 1987).
The first significant event that occurred and had a substantial impact on the American
foreign policy was the World War I that took place when President Woodrow Wilson was in
charge. It began with an outbreak of war in 1914 where America distanced itself by declaring
neutrality and advocating for peace (McCormick, 2005). Albeit that, Germany went ahead to
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violate her neutrality by directly attacking and killing much inclusive of Americans and Britons.
The president of the United States went ahead to declare war in the year 1917, and the influx of
American troops in France rendered Germany hopeless hence forcing them to surrender. This
facilitated the United States to place itself as a military and public relation powerhouse (Art et al.
After the end of the war, the President resolved to involve a league of nations to prevent
such occurrences in the future (Hunt, 1987). Although there was some tension between the
president and his Republican counterparts who had already taken control of the Congress, the
government ended up making different peace treaties with diverse European countries
(McCormick, 2005). This had a massive effect on countries across the globe, and President
Wilson’s vision of spreading democracy came into realization after the World War II. This
concept was popularly referred to as “Wilsonianism”.
The Second World War followed a similar pattern as the first with the European powers
beginning the war and America maintaining neutrality. The American policy supported
favoritism to Britain and its close allies. It lent military as well as economic aid to its allies hence
expanding the warfare industry (Art et al. 2004). The United States went in the fight against
Germany, Italy and Japan after a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor by the Japanese (Hunt,
1987). The United States endorsed the Marshall Plan in 1945 where the United States offered
reconstruction aid its European allies ending the isolationist pattern altogether (Dobson, 2000).
Together with many other nations, the United Stated joined hands to form the United
Nations in the same year with a theme to promote peace via consensus between countries
(Dobson, 2000). The Security Council was established to exercise sanctions and military power
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among member nations. The growth, as well as the testing of nuclear warfare machinery, became
detrimental to UN’s peace vision leading to a rebalancing of the global structure (Art et al. 2004).
Later on, the Cold War kicked in where America had to face the Soviet Union and its
cronies. It was characterized by various small-scale regional wars and the hazard of a devastating
nuclear war. The US would subsidize its foreign aid in the form of fiscal and military aid
(Dobson, 2000). Most nations would then either take the Eastern or the Western side with the
Soviets siding with China, whereas a few decided to be neutral. George Kennan, a US diplomat,
developed a containment policy in 1947 (Hunt, 1987). This was to counter the aggressiveness of
the Soviet Union that was anti-Western power. The aim was to match the Soviet’s aggressiveness
whenever required while excluding the use of nuclear energy (Dobson, 2000). The repercussion
would then be the fight for supremacy between the two nations regarding influential, cultural and
military perspectives.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in the year 1991 found the United States having
sufficient economic and military interests in all corners of the globe (Art et al. 2004). A new
American Foreign policy had to be developed as the major issues of interests at this juncture
would be climatic change and the rise of the nuclear terrorism. The United States would serve as
a great peace-keeper in various warring ethnic disputes. Over time, the most significant change
became the shift from a bipolar to a multipolar world. To the Muslim nations, the United States
foreign policy remains to be a force to reckon with.
In the contemporary world, there is a wide variety of issues covered by the American
foreign policy. The major interests remain to be the creation of diplomatic relations with
international organizations and other countries (McCormick, 2005). Business, travel, trade, and
peace-keeping are some of the primary functions of the Foreign Policy.
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Works Cited
Art, R.J. and Waltz, K.N., ed., 2004. The Use of Force: Military Power and International
Politics. 6
ed. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Dobson, A., 2000 U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1945. New York, NY: Routledge.
Hunt, M.H., 1987. Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy. New Haven: Yale University Press.
McCormick, J.M., 2005. American Foreign Policy and Process. 4
ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson

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