Several countries today have established legal frameworks that determine how they relate with other nations. The United States of America has a comprehensive foreign policy which governs its relationship with other countries. “Since independence, the economy of U.S. has been flourishing and it is today one of the most developed countries in the world” (Hastedt 65).
This has given it a dominant position in the world political arena and it has also influenced how it deals with other nations. “The diplomatic affairs of this country are always under the guidance of the secretary of the State” (Carter 82). However, final decisions on diplomatic affairs are only made by the president.
America’s foreign policy has always been shaped in such away that it favors its interests. It protects its corporations and other commercial organizations from any unfair treatment and competition (Kaufman 15). This has always been done to ensure that no country challenge its economic position.
U.S. has been using its power to suppress other nations that may be thinking of emerging as its competitor. For example it checked the influence of U.S.S.R. In order to continue dominating many countries, the U.S. government keeps on extending its authority and power over many nations.
“It has achieved this by simply influencing the social-economic and political institutions of some countries which are vulnerable to political influences” (Carter 130). Such practices are prevalent in countries which are poor and can not sustain themselves economically.
”Peace, prosperity, power, and principle,” have always acted as the guiding principles of U.S. foreign policy, and its interests revolve around them (Hastedt 29). The U.S. government has been striving to maintain these values, but the only thing that has been changing is the prevailing conditions which influence the manner they are achieved (Hastedt 30). We can therefore examine the foreign policies of U.S in the following phases.
America came up with the policy of “isolation” after the end of its revolutionary war. According to this policy, US did not engage in conflict resolution programs and it always remained impartial whenever some European countries had a conflict with each other (Carter 101). For example, this was demonstrated during the First World War and it continued until the beginning of the Second World War. The main interest of US during the 19th century was to develop its economy and this influenced how it conducted its diplomatic activities with other nations.
It forged trade ties with other countries which were ready to do business with it. In addition to these, it also engaged in building its territory through bringing more territories under its control. For example in 1819 it managed to conquer Florida; in 1845 it brought Texas under its control and the Russian Empire agreed to sell Alaska to US in 1867.
Imperialism was also partially practiced by U.S. “Foreign policy themes were expressed considerably in George Washington‘s farewell address; these included among other things, observing good faith and justice towards all nations and cultivating peace and harmony with all countries” (Carter 74). The US government in many cases declined to engage in signing treaties. For example it refused to be part of the “League of Nations” (Kaufman 67).
There was a remarkable increase in U.S. engagement in peace initiatives during the post World War One, and this formed its key agenda in foreign relations. President Wilson came up with guidelines that were used in ending the First World War. The European powers had a meeting in Paris in 1919 in which they discussed the ways of solving the disputes which had previously led to war among them. “The Versailles Treaty was signed by the countries that attended the conference but U.S. government did not” (Hastedt 120).
This is because the US government felt that some of the members had contradicted some of steps which governed the treaty. U.S. also managed to carry out the disarmament program successfully in 1920s and it also helped Germany to reconstruct its economy which had been ruined by over engagement in war. U.S. tried to continue pursuing the policy of “isolation” during 1930s.
However, President Roosevelt joined the Allied powers during the Second World War and they managed to win it. Japan was forcefully removed from China by U.S. and they also stopped its possible invasion of the Soviet Union. “Japan was greatly humiliated and it reacted by an attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the United States was at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy” (Carter 190).
The economy of U.S greatly improved after the second war, while the other European countries grappled with economic challenges. It was now one of the greatest countries and its power and influence was felt in many countries.
The emergence of the cold war in the post war period led to the split of the world into two spheres. These two spheres were dominated by Soviet Union and U.S. Non Aligned Movement was developed as a result of this process. The Cold War period only came to an end towards the end of the 20th century. “A policy of containment was adopted to limit Soviet expansion and a series of proxy wars were fought with mixed results” (Kaufman 117).
The Soviet Union completely collapsed after the U.S. war against Iraq (Gulf War). America joined this war in order to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait so that peace and stability could be restored in that country. After the war, U.S. shifted its policy from Iraq because it was trying to be a threat to its interests in the region of Middle East (Carter 195).
America is still having an important role in world politics. Nonetheless, it is facing much opposition and competition from other countries like China. Its dominant role and influence has gone down and many countries from Africa are currently shifting their diplomatic relationships to the East. “U.S. foreign policy is characterized still by a commitment to free trade, protection of its national interests, and a concern for human rights”. A group of political scientists contend that the super powers seem to be having similar socio economic and political interests, and if they can find a good opportunity to pursue them together then we shall have a prosperous future.
Carter, Ralph. Contemporary cases in U.S. foreign policy: from terrorism to trade. Washington D.C: Press College, 2010.
Hastedt, Glenn. American foreign policy. New York: Longman, 2010.
Kaufman, Joyce. A concise history of U.S. foreign policy. New York: Rowman and Littlefield , 2009.