Dr. Janda25 November 2018
Take Home Essay
In this essay I will be discussing the evolution of American foreign policy from the Spanish-American War until the end of the Cold War. I will be explaining the impact of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. American foreign policy in the years leading up to the Spanish-American War was limited, due to lack of knowledge of foreign policy. Due to the American military force growing, they easily won this short lived war that lasted less than four months. The Americans were helping Cuba gain their independence from Spain. The United States gained the territories Guam and Puerto Rico after signing the 1898 Treaty of Paris. This expansion resulted in very talented foreign policy experts, like Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft.
Before World War I foreign policy was largely decided by President Woodrow Wilson. He never showed interest in expanding his foreign policy experience until the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand Of Austria in 1914. It tested America’s foreign policy skills when the July Crisis resulted in the beginning of World War I. Complicated alliances in Europe helped keep the United States out of the European conflict originally, which the United States had wanted to stay out of. After Germany sunk American merchant ships, the United States declared war on Germany three years after the beginning of the war. It is obvious by how late the United States entered World War I, they did not want to be involved. They attempted to help bring peace before their involvement. The economy was doing better, technology was improving in many different areas especially in weapons like machine guns. However, after World War I, one of the biggest changes to American foreign policy was the start of League of Nations and their involvement. American foreign policy became very active in international materials but were never part of the League of Nations. America grew rich and powerful. Presidents after Woodrow Wilson, like Calvin Coolidge really tried to stay away from international political commitments or going into alliance with other countries.
The Great Depression affected foreign policy leading into World War II, the Neutrality Acts passed between 1935-1938 did not allow trade of arms to countries at war and didn’t allow American ships to travel to countries at war and prevented the trade of war materials. As the war escalated and before the United States involvement, the United States started to soften their rules on Neutrality and started to trade war materials and ships with the British in exchange for bases in their country and territories. They extended credit to countries allied with Britain and lent money towards war needs. Again, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, who were part of the Axis powers which included Germany. This act of aggression and Hitler’s Euthanasia Program against the Jews propelled the United States foreign policy to become active in this second war. The United States joined the Allied Forces which included Britain and other countries. The advancement of military technology to include nuclear weapons proved that America was a dominant player in the world. Relations with Japan created by the conflict made Americans see the Japanese people in America as enemies. The Holocaust brought death to more than 6 million Jews. The United States commitment to them as people and country grew and they were supported financially after the war. The government of the United States grew twice its size in 150 years and depended their expansion as a world super power in all corners of the world. The creation of the United Nations as a world problem solver was the highest achievement of the foreign policy initiatives by previous Presidents like Roosevelt.
The Vietnam War was a war of how many people could be killed. It was a war that the United States did not win. The foreign policy strategy used during this time failed the United States because they wanted to bring democracy by any means to this country. American expansionism made us feel like we could police the world. The failures of the government to release the correct facts of losses to the American people caused a push by American people and anti-war protesters to end the war. The war lasted almost 20 years and was a front for the bigger Cold War going on between Russia and the United States. Foreign policy was dictated by who was being used by who in the faces of Vietnam.
After the Vietnam War the Truman Doctrine still said foreign policy by continuing to try and stop the spread of communism around the world. The United States would support free people all over the world to fight against communism. The Cold War kept pushing American foreign policy to more secretive relationships with countries, for fear of information gathering by Russia. The creation of the CIA in 1950 with the National Security Act and the National Security Council. The Marshal Plan of 1948 was intended as a way of buying loyalty from other countries after World War II. The Cold War also pushed the space race into overdrive. Foreign policy during the Cold War was simply a time of distrust and the constant attempt to find out what the other country was thinking or going to do next. The United States had many embassies and military bases around the world to protect their interests.
The evolution of American foreign policy since the Spanish American War to the Cold War has moved from a hands off approach to being deeply fixed with many countries around the world. World War I effectively forced the United States into getting involved and going into complicated European allies and conflicts. After World War I the attitude changed the United States to have a better understanding of foreign policy and what role the United States plays. Between World War I and World War II the depression in America and the conflict in Europe started by the German lead to the United States attempting to remain neutral again by applying acts that prevented trade with countries at war. When the war escalated more, the United States sided with Britain and their allies allowing trade of war materials to resume and extend loans and leases on equipment. With the involvement in World War II, it brought more power and greater strength. The Vietnam War was a war that was the conclusion of the Cold War. A long and deadly unwinnable fight where Russia backed the communist North Vietnamese and the Americans backed the Southern Vietnamese. The Cold War was primarily with Russia and its allies and brought the foreign policy experts in America to their reasons end with threats of the Holocaust.
In conclusion, I have discussed the evolution of American foreign policy from the Spanish-American War until the end of the Cold War, and explained the impact of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War on U.S foreign policy.