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A Look At Us Diplomacy In The 20th Century

By the turn of the century, the United States has kept much to itself and retained its isolationist stance and the ideals laid down in the Monroe Doctrine continued to be swept into the 20th century. In his website, Nat Wilson noted that “after the rise of Napoleonic France and the Monroe doctrine, until Wilson’s presidency, and then again for a brief period of idealism in the time between the World Wars, the primary attitude of most Americans was isolationist.

Monroe doctrine, expressed by the president in 1823, declared that the America would not take kindly to any future European involvement in the Western Hemisphere, pledged America’s neutrality in any European issues. ” One global event changed all that. William Slany, historian of the Bureau of Public Affairs, pointed out that the First World War imposed “global responsibilities” on the government of the United States.

“During the war and the peace negotiations that followed, President Woodrow Wilson, with the help of the Department of State, developed a comprehensive American foreign policy with respect to all the major issues and problems arising from the war and the peace settlement. Mr. Wilson expressed what many Americans believe up to this day. It was President Wilson who eventually allowed the US to be part of World War I. He said this claim is evidenced when President Wilson “catalyzed the defeat of the Gore-McLemore Resolution.

Eventually, the unlimited submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram induced Wilson to commit the United States to the Allied cause, beginning America’s direct involvement in one of the most horrifying wars to that point. Anyone who studies history cannot deny the important role played by the United States during the First World War. One of the most significant after-effects of the first major war the modern world has seen was the founding of the League of Nations, an idea proposed by President Wilson. However, America never joined the League of Nations because of political factors.

The presidents that followed President Wilson went back to America’s initial policy of isolationism in terms of foreign policy. “Presidents of the twenties avoided the Euro-American interaction of the previous decade. Harding concentrated on domestic issues, and increased intolerance towards European immigrants may be illustrated by the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti. It is difficult to tell what, if anything, Coolidge concentrated on, but he certainly avoided major European negotiations like his predecessor.

The following decade contained the infamous stock market crash, the dust bowl, and the resulting depression. Domestic issues took precedence in importance, and little in the way of foreign policy occurred until America entered the Second World War of the century,” said Nat Wilson in his website. If World War I created much effect in the way America ran its affairs with its fellow countries, World War II did pretty much the same thing nearly three decades later. According to Mr.

Nat Wilson, “America was roused out of its resumed isolationism to negotiate the terms of the subsequent peace treaties. ” And unlike what transpired after the First World War and clearly learning from the mistakes it made during the Wilson presidency, the US made a conscious effort to meet and ultimately agree with the leaders of Europe. These discussions, according to Mr. Wilson, took place in significant gatherings such as the Teheran Conference, the Yalta Conference, and the Potsdam Conference. The Post World War foreign policy of the US and its emergence as a Superpower

America’s participation in the Second World War showed that a superpower was starting to emerge. According to Bureau of Public Affairs historian William Slany, the next 15 years after the end of World War II, American foreign policy was “dominated by the series of crises, great and small, that marked the struggle to contain aggressive communism led by the Soviet Union. ” During this time, document Number 68 of the National Security Council was released and it was this document that laid the foundation of the post-war task of the United States, said Slany.

“Document 68 of the NSC postulated a protracted period of world crisis resulting from Communist aggression and urged a major military buildup of nuclear and conventional arms supported by large U. S. budgets and increased taxes. ” Using the Cold War as the backdrop, the US lobbied for lasting peace in both Europe and Asia. The US “took the lead with the Marshall Plan and other forms of economic and technical assistance to rebuild the shattered world economy, and pushed forward, even to the dismay of its great power allies, the decolonization of the Third World.

” Helping President Truman map America’s US foreign policy at this time were Secretaries of State James F. Byrnes, George C. Marshall, Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, and Christian A. Herter. The creation of the United Nations played a significant role in international relations and it likewise became the instrument of the US in the building of a new standard in foreign policy. Mr. Slany wrote “the US and its diplomats gave the postwar peace settlement its direction and stood as a guarantor of its durability.

In the United Nations, the vehicle for the building of a new standard and style of international relations, the United States provided much of resources and initiative and Department of State became the mentor for the extensive multilateral diplomacy that arose to harness the experience of the older nations and the expectations of the newly emergent states. ” Another event that affected the US’ foreign policy was the Cold War and the subsequent war against Communism. According to Mr. Wilson, President Truman began the tradition of assisting people resisting communist rule.

He added that this move by President Truman led to many of the well-known conflicts and negotiations between 1947 and 1991. “Western-Eastern tensions began to rise, and the period is known as the Cold War. The Berlin wall, Lebanon, our adventures is Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, and various atomic weapon advances characterize this era,” Mr. Wilson added. The 60s to the 90s and US Foreign Policy “The last 35 years have seen the cresting of American power and responsibility in world affairs, the climax and end of the Cold War, and the slow emergence of a new and different world order,” wrote Mr. Slany.

He added that presidents from John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to George Bush and Bill Clinton have personally directed the response to challenges to American interests, threats to national security, and disturbances to international peace and stability. “These foreign affairs crises ranged from the imminent danger of war with the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and the confrontation in a divided Berlin in 1963, the involvement in the Vietnam war in the 1960s and early 1970s, to the resort to massive military force against Iraqi aggression during Operation Desert Storm in 1991,” said Wilson.

He added that the emergence of the Third World brought with it unavoidable and ever widening American responsibilities and involvements in the economic well being of developing peoples and their essential human rights. Conclusion It goes without saying that the way the US maps out its foreign policy affects most nations in the world today. With the emergence of the concept of the global village, relation with the international community has become the paramount consideration of every country of the world.

And America is not an exception. And when one takes close attention to the principles behind America’s most recent policies in the international scene, one will have to agree with Bureau of Public Historian William Slany when he said he wrote that it is “respect by nations great and small for the human rights of their people has become an insistent measure by which many Americans gauge the worthiness of foreign policy goals and the effectiveness of the Department of State’s performance.


1. William Z. Slany, Bureau of Public Affairs http://www. state. gov/www/about_state/history/dephis. html (25 Apr. 2006) 2. Nat Wilson : http://www. hypothetic. org/~nat/writ/diplomacy. htm (25 Apr. 2006)

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