Many think of America as the country that is the resolver, the country that intervenes, and the country that steps in, in order to promote the idea of not having world conflict. As true as this may seem, for many years ranging throughout the early 1920’s to the 1960’s, America’s ideas on foreign policy vastly differed, and there are many historical examples to support this ideology.
What is Foreign Policy?
Foreign policy may be described as, on basic terms, how a nation interacts with other nation, as far as the passage of legislation and peace occurs. Foreign policy is how a nation is able to communicate with another nation, whether it be for the better or for the worse. For example, many presidents either excel in domestic affairs, or foreign policy; however, it may be safe to say that the best presidents of America had succeeded in both areas.
What is Isolationism?
Isolationism is the act of being isolated. In terms of politics and foreign policy, this most closely means that a particular nation would very much rather tend to their own national business instead of interacting with the conflicts and big debates of other nations. The opposite of isolationism would be intervention.
What is Intervention?
Intervention is the act of intervening, which most closely means to be the one to step in, to solve issues, to get involved with matters other than your own, or to be the barrier between two things. In political terms, intervention is most often thought of as a nation intervening with matters rather than their own. An example of intervention would be the policies of Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900’s, as the world as a whole generally said he was “policing the world”.
Foreign Policy After World War I
Before World War I, America the country that would intervene with most issues. America was described as the nation who “polices the world”. However, after World War I, America had dug a very deep hole of economic despair for themselves, and after this the nation did not want to hurt themselves into another war. For about fifteen years after World War I, America’s foreign policy became very isolationist. They sought to keep themselves out of other problems around the globe, and tend to themselves. To support these claims, many historical pieces of legislation and actions are present. Legislation that supported American isolationism after World War I were Immigration Acts, which sets quotas on how many people of each race could immigrate to America. This was established in order to supply jobs to mostly Americans, and Americans only, and have only “higher” class immigrants immigrate to America. Other examples include the Neutrality Acts, which forbade Americans merchants from interacting with belligerent ships. Yet another piece of support includes America’s carelessness to the sinking of the Lusitania, the British ship, or even Germany’s violation of the Sussex pledge, as Germany continued to sink American ships until America finally came into action. With this being said, these are all examples that support the belief that America was a country of isolationism after World War I.
Foreign Policy After World War II
After World War II, America’s foreign policy had greatly transformed. America had realized that is was up to themselves to promote peace throughout the world. After World War II, America had turned primarily to intervention, and all in all, it had worked rather well. The passage of the Marshall Plan was the greatest form of isolationism after World War II, as America had agreed to lend money to “war-torn” Europe to repair its economy. The passage of the Truman Doctrine which would prevent Turkey and Greece from falling to communism was clearly a policy of intervention, and this would be emphasized even more when the Eisenhower Doctrine extended the coverage of the Truman Doctrine into the middle east. Events such as the Berlin Air Lift illustrated America’s support for foreign affairs as well, which further depicts America’s intervention after World War II.
In conclusion, the foreign policy of America after World War I and World War II vastly differed. Two completely different time periods in history required two completely different courses of action. After World War I, America was isolationist, and after World War II America was an intervenor.