Belief of U.S Founding Fathers to Avoid Excess Involvement in Foreign Affairs
Foreign policy of a country is shaped by its image of the world, its self-perception and some primary inarticulate premises, specifically formed over years. The foreign policy of Britain was based on the fundamental principle of balance of power maintained in Europe and also supremacy at sea. United States, on the other hand, imposed its Monroe Doctrine directly in Latin America and seemed to cherish its isolation. However, the World War II and the Cold War altered the entire scenario.
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The involvement of United States in the international affairs was duly accompanies by an exclusive surge of some intellectual endeavors in the dominion of foreign affairs which particularly went far ahead to alter informed opinion. The authorities responsible to safeguard the national security of U.S. consider it necessary that the nation should sustain its global commitments and its overall leading role in international affairs. It is pertinent to mention that most of the Americans might approve increased aggressive measures to be adopted in the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, antiwar protestors are in favor of avoiding yet ‘another Vietnam’ and as such there exists a relentless criticism and opposition of programs of foreign aid. (Schmidt & Shelly & Bardes, 132-167).
It is, however, should be acknowledged by both school of thoughts that there has been a long tradition in the U.S of disagreement with war and foreign involvement. The founding fathers of the nation, in particular, firmly believed that the nation should avoid itself to be involved excessively in foreign affairs. Yet, the real phenomenon is that the United States from the Founding Fathers, all the way through Theodore Roosevelt, recognized the significance of Europe to the nation and at times adept specific manipulators of the balance of power by Europeans.
In the decade of 1790, the two political parties in the United States were; the Federalists who primarily supported the foreign and economic policies implemented by Washington administration; the second was Jeffersonian Republicans, mostly opposing them. Although a general difference of opinion existed between both parties on the main issues such as tariff and tax policy and plan for a central bank, but both preferred that U.S should adopt the policy of remaining neutral in the developing controversies between France and Britain. However, the Federalists were in favor of Britain, while Jeffersonians supported French. Washington feared that the factionalism of the party would ultimately drag the nation into this dispute and favored the policy of avoiding excessiveness in foreign affairs, rather preferring moderation and temperance.
The vision set by Washington was to make the U.S a great nation in true sense. As such he called people to unite and put aside affiliations with party. He regarded it as an ‘American character’ independent of any king of foreign attachments. The founding fathers mostly concentrated on American interests, as the nation ought to be pleasant and open its entire commerce activities to all countries. The nation, they believed, should avoid being engaged in foreign wars. But Washington, in particular, did not require isolation, but avoiding particularly entangling alliances. For a long period, Washington’s views were accepted by the subsequent generations purely as gospel. Moreover, in any type of debate between involvement and neutrality in foreign issues would provoke the views as disposition of entire questions. He asserted that the great rule and philosophy for Americans in regard to foreign countries is , in strengthening commercial associations to have with them as insignificant political relation as possible.
Overview of the History of U.S Military Intervention in Foreign Countries
The United States has been involved in the military interventions for a long period. The purpose of these interventions was to expand its power not during war but also during peacetime. In 1898, U.S declared a war with Spain. A Cuban insurrection was followed by the war against Spanish rule. The United States subsequently acquired Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines through their military operations. The United States, in fact, not created any type of colonial empire as established by Britain and France. Yet, over the years, the overwhelming and devastating military power has been used. Although, United States deploys ‘soft power’ regularly through diplomatic and economic pressure, it has infrequently delayed to employ paramilitary and military means, as is evident in different cases including Indochina, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. (Schmidt & Shelly & Bardes, 132-167).
During the years ranging from 1906 to 1909, forces of United States sought to protect foreigners, restore order and establish a particular government after grave revolutionary activity. In the World War I, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917 and against Austria-Hungary in 1917. The entrance of U.S forces into the Great War was precipitated by the submarine warfare of Germany against neutral shipping.
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The period of 1941to 1945 signifies the inclusion of United States in World War II. In 1941, United States declared war against Japan and three days after against Italy and Germany and later on June 5, 1942 with Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. The United States now maintains a large number of foreign bases, even in wealthy and large countries like Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Italy. During the period 1946 to 1989, United States was engaged in Cold War with Soviet Union. Recently the forces along with allied counties are involved in war against terrorism in countries of Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, with supreme air and naval forces, United States possesses an exclusive capability to involve in foreign operations anywhere in the world. The major purposes are to pursue interests as well as affirm ‘full spectrum dominance’, a term used by military planners. (Hippel, 234-321).
The Reasons for Presence in Foreign Countries
The missionary instinct in most of the foreign affairs, in much cautious ways, reveals a deficiency instead of excess self-confidence. The major reason in the case of America for presence in foreign countries is, in fact, the evidence of a specific lack of self-confidence which is an integral need for reassurance and constant proof, the desire for popularity, confusion and bitterness when foreigners do not acknowledge good intentions and generosity.
In order to ensure self-assurance it is essential to show magnanimity as two are directly interrelated. In the wake of events on September 11, 2001, a wave of patriotism and horror swept entire United States. Practically, everyone was of the view that terrorists and those who work practice against innocent civilians should be tackled and brought to justice. This could remove the deficiency of self-assurance and exhibit magnanimity. It is pertinent to mention that despite his avoidance of excessive involvement in foreign affairs, George Washington ordered his forces to destroy and burn native villages in New York. Till then, every president of United States has virtually ordered his military forces to intervene in no less than one foreign territory or country. United States, in 1898, in the famous Spanish-American War acquired Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines through military forces, extracting control from the previous Spanish colonial power. A turning point in the foreign policy of United States is the event of Spanish-American War. The U.S became prominent and acknowledged as a super power in the world and assumed the role of global leader. Government as well as large business planned to increase involvement in foreign affairs to make the world a better and safe place particularly for commerce activities. (Hippel, 234-321).
The countries like Nicaragua and Haiti were occupied for decades. Nicaragua, for example, failed to make payment of its debt towards U.S firms. As such President Taft dispatched the Marines. Few years later, Marines were dispatched by President Wilson to Haiti and Dominican Republic. Troops of United States stayed in Haiti for almost nineteen years. President Wilson reasoned that the involvement of United States was, in fact, a struggle to control international economic fortunes. After Second World War, due to the decline in power of former French and British colonies, the interventionist activities of United States increased to a huge extent.
The events of 9/11 in particular have created a deficiency for self-assurance in American people. Such acts of terrorist necessitate breeding an amplified mission and sense of power. This also provides justification for the Untied State’s foreign policy to exhibit their increasing presence in the foreign countries. The excess involvement in foreign affairs is based on the belief that it is more capable in exercising its overall responsibility to combat terrorism, ensure safety and security and creative a favorable environment for trade activities.
Hippel, Karin. “Democracy by Force: US Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World.” Cambridge University Press. 2000. P.234-321.
Schmidt, Steffen, G & Shelley, Mack, C & Bardes, Barbara, A. “American Government and Politics Today, 2007-2008.” Wadsworth Publishing, 2006. P. 132-167.