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1874-1974 Americas Foreign Policy Essay

Between the years of 1874-1974 America’s foreign policy was strongly motivated by ideological concerns. America’s view was having an imperialistic drive with Ferguson concluding that America had an empire but America did not see it clearly. America had imperialistic motivations behind Manifest Destiny, acquisitions of Philippines and Roosevelt ‘Big Stick’ policy. Before the Pearl Harbour attack in 1941 America had strong periods of isolationism implemented in their foreign policy. This according to Rossini was a political ideology that created during the 20th century.

It still was a motivation for their foreign policy, meaning the ideology had a strong motivation for America’s decisions. After Pearl Harbour, there was seen a different stance of ideological motivations. Beliefs changed with isolationism fading and being replaced with a stance to prevent America desire of capitalism to be the strongest with threats from Communism mainly during Cold War. Cold War was a battle of capitalism vs communism that was believed by the Americans. Capitalism vs Communism was motivation for containment that was believed by Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson with the Truman Doctrine.

Known expansionist Teddy Roosevelt’s views motivated Big Stick Diplomacy was to be used as a deterrent and encourage expansion. Also, the Big Stick policy encouraged imperialism in surrounding countries. According to Hodge, the Big Stick diplomacy had ‘five central foundations’, which included(). In summary it meant that America had interest in the surrounding countries such as Venezuela and Panama. Meaning America had a position of authority and no threat from European countries like Britain and Spain, who known for their empire’s at the time.

The most notable example of Teddy Roosevelt Big Stick diplomacy was in 1902 when Roosevelt threated Britain and Germany to send 54 war ships. If they did not allow Venezuela to accept international arbitration. [30] Ferguson concludes that around this time Britain recognised United States ‘as one of those rival empires enough to be worthy of appeasement’. [31] This is seen with America agreeing the Platt agreement in 1903, which gave the US the right to intervene in Cuba’s domestic and foreign affairs. 29] It meant that America could be a great power and that delegation that Roosevelt had influence within the Latin countries. It shows that imperialism is shown with the beliefs behind the Big Stick diplomacy. America were acting in South America to maintain their influence over the Latin countries on their administration. America’s Foreign Policy was also influenced by the Teddy Roosevelt belief in Imperialism. Imperialism is seen after acquisition of the Philippines, when Teddy Roosevelt announced the Big Stick diploma.

He was known as an expansionist in newspapers and writers like Tolstoy, who described him as a’ militarist and an imperialist’ [46] . This is supported by Ferguson concluding that America was an empire just as Britain was and America were just in denial. He acknowledged the whole idea of Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny was America expansion to the west and that the attitude was America was destined by God to claim the land [26]. The idea was extended to Mexican land and Cuba in the 1850’s.

Manifest Destiny was a way to deter the fact that it was ultimately gaining of land and using to their own advantage. Then by beginning of the 1900s, America had influence to the Pacific and Caribbean basins. These were tactics employed by expansionists such as Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge as believed America were ‘supremely fit’. [27] Manifest density was a way to allow the imperialism become a motivation in America foreign policy. Example of expansionist was the decision to whether to annex the Philippines when McKinley decided for annexation he was criticised.

As people, media, like Randolph Hearst thought he weak and pressured [28] by expansionist and such as Lodge and Teddy Roosevelt who said in 1900 ‘The taking of the Philippines does not violate the principle of the Declaration of Independence, but will spread them among a people who have never known liberty’. It showed that decisions by McKinley were a way to increase America’s push towards imperialism with being more prominent in the later years with Teddy Roosevelt. Isolationism is seen as the main reason why entry into World War One was delayed.

This can be seen with the response of the sinking of Lusitania, March 1915 where [7] 1288 American people died who were on this ship. It caused a shift of American opinion against Germany. However, even though there was hatred towards Germany, ‘America did not want to go to war’. This was seen as they did not enter the war until 1917. Meaning America’s beliefs of isolationism was seen as, America did not want to get tangled with European affairs. It was appearance of a political ideology that was created in 20th century according to Rossini. It shows the continuation of isolationism as ideology that motivated decisions in foreign Policy.

Though Hartmann disagree, explaining the delay was to prevent it the ‘nation to divide’ due to the many nationalities emigrating to America, however they eventually to war, with no problem created within America. Additionally in January 1917 the Zimmerman telegram was a message that Germany had sent to Mexico to enter the war, so that they could recover Texas, Arizona and New Mexico from America. This note was intercepted by the Americans. Even with the interception of the note President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war in March.

According to Ziegler Wilson was still unsure about the possibility of declaration of war. Ziegler concludes that Wilson wanted ‘United States retain the moral authority and practical capability of ending the war’. It meant America could not allow isolationism to continue to motivate of foreign policy, with the affect Germany had with trade and public opinion. This means that it can be seen as Woodrow Wilson saw the Germans as a ‘nuisance’ with America affairs. Meaning America joined the war in April 2 to prevent any further disruption in isolationism, then to continue with isolationism in their foreign policy after.

Most importantly, isolationism by the Republican Party was implemented in the American foreign policy as an ideological concern. Previously they had ideological beliefs of isolationism with George Washington in his farewell address that was eminent during 1920s and 1930s. As said by him in his farewell address was ‘Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition’ [22]. Isolationism was seen with the Republican administration passing of Ford-McCumber Tariff 1922.

The tariffs were the highest in history and emphasise America’s desire on becoming isolationist as they wanted less reliance of other country with trade. As to lessen their ‘involvement in affairs of other countries’ as said by Michael Cox. Its aims were to make America products the cheapest to encourage sales of their own products with their country. [21] While trade was reduced, Republican administration also passed Immigration Acts in the 1920s of Emergency Quota Act 1921 and the Reed Johnson Act 1924. The Act only allowed two percent of countries population to have a visa and a literacy test.

It shows that the beliefs of remaining isolationist were shown with the limits of immigrant to enter America. [20] These acts were representative of the George Washington’s farewell address which always wanted isolationism and better America. The exclusion of immigrants was reintroduced by Harding after Wilson vetoed the initial plan to pass the immigration Act 1917 and Emergency Quota Act 1921. This was pushed through as an act by Congress. So Harding’s beliefs of wanting a self-sufficient and superior America with help motivates the decision to keep America out of world affairs with congress wanting the same policy making.

Harding’s beliefs according to Lindop was that ‘he was fed up with war’. [16] It shows that Harding wanted America to remain isolationist. Rossini agrees with idea with saying that the reality of the 20th century isolationism grew more into a political ideology, meaning its beliefs promoted decisions with Foreign Policy. This can be seen with Harding beliefs who was the voice for America during the early 1920s, that America needed to return to ‘normalcy’ which he voiced throughout his presidency, meaning that isolationism motivated foreign policy with strong republican support who were in administration during 1920s.

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