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Essay Question #2

posted Apr 29, 2012 23:34:20 by GabyPerdomo

To what extent was the foreign policy of Isolationism upheld by the United States, and what pushed it to the point of intervention?
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2 replies
David_Berghoff said May 04, 2012 13:47:08
The United States throughout its history has attempted to uphold a policy of diplomatic neutrality, but with varying degrees of success. This policy was obviously violated in times of war, but in addition to this they were violated even in times of peace. The United States failed to uphold its policy of isolationism throughout its history, as exemplified by its interventionist policy during the cold war. Hey if you're reading this then FYI this question was really vague, as it didn't even pose for us a timeline for this analysis. And writing an entire essay about the entire history is very difficult, so I chose the Cold War.

After World War II, the Unite States emerged as a world superpower as a result of the economic prosperity brought to the country by the war, but did not emerge as an isolationist power. Almost immediately, it formed the United Nations, a revised form of the League of Nations, which was meant to be a center for diplomatic relations in the world, which on its own could have been an isolationist policy. However, the United States pushed for it to be formed in order for it to be able to negotiate with the Soviet Union, and such a negotiation was not considered isolationist at all. Second, the United States broke its isolationist policy when it passed the Marshall Plan, a plan which offered to countries in economic crisis free of charge from the United States. This was a policy not fueled by isolationism, but fueled by interventionism, as it was tailored to attempt to prevent certain countries in Europe from turning communist, and as such was as interventionist as it gets. In addition to this, America's policy of fighting in various proxy wars in fear of the domino theory was in no way isolationist, as it was intended to intervene in order to aid those countries find the "right" government.

In conclusion, the United States policy during the Cold War was anything but isolationist, instead being more towards a policy of interventionism as a result of our status as a world superpower.
avatar said May 06, 2012 21:42:57
The American policy of isolationism has been that of an on and off policy especially during times of war. Although with the principles of neutrality, Americans still intervened within both world wars. Isolationism seems to be a temporary policy in some cases even during post- war terms.
Isolationism was imposed greatly on Americans after the disillusionment of the First World War. With that came the American principles of self- sufficiency and nativism for the next few years. Self- sufficiency was upheld with the advent of mass production with Ford's assembly line reinforced by multiple import tariffs such as the Fordney- McCumber tariff and the Hawley- Smoot tariff-- urging domestic commerce rather than international causing national prosperity (although later a contributor to the Great Depression). The government also encouraged the growth of American businesses and industries as a way to prop up the economy. Mass consumerism urged for steady domestic economic growth especially with the creation of credit and advertising. Nativism was reinforced with multiple Immigration Acts and Quota Laws that limited European immigration with fear of communism and fascism especially with Russian overtaking of a communist government. This nativism eventually led to radical events such as the Palmer raids and the revival of the Ku Klux Klan evidently calling for a national cleansing.
Although, internationally besides the tariffs, American isolationism was fantastical especially with multiple international treaties for disarmament as to avoid another tragic war. Although rejected a shoe in within the League of Nations, treaties created within the Washington Conference of 1921 with other nations such as that of Great Britain, Italy, Japan and France- American isolationism becomes fictional. However, the American government did try to impose policies that contributed to an isolationist country and an enforcement of peace with the Kellog- Briand Pact even though thoroughly ineffective had intentions of holding back upon aggressive actions in order to prevent wars for the future. President Hoover was a great believer of the isolationism policy, thus as a result created agreements to remove troops in countries such as Haiti and Nicaragua. Throughout his presidency he supported the same intentions as the K-B Pact-- aggression can lead to military intervention. President Roosevelt also imposed some isolationist qualities with his undertaking of three Neutrality Acts from 1936-37 which implied no intervention within international wars or conflicts which was tested with the lack of American aid during the Spanish Civil War. However, this neutrality and isolationism begins to change with the evident gain of power of the Nazis in Europe which threatened international democracy. Roosevelt changed policies to that of a war ready nation with acts such as the Selective Service Act. Even before true American intervention of World War Ii after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, policies of neutrality thoroughly change as a defender of democracy especially with the craetion of the Four Freedoms. American intervention within World War II and its negotiations with other nations post World War with the creation of the United Nations and the Big Three Conferences ends the American isolationism policy and creates an interventionist one as US becomes a global super power.
During the Cold War, Truman's containment policy and the Marshall plan was truly guided by an interventionist mindset- the theory of America as a defender of democracy and capitalism against the evil communists doesnt truly call or isolationism anymore especially with the military budget increase under Truman. In fact, this interventionist attitude evidently will cause further wars due to the fear of communism such as that of the later Vietnam War.
(not thoroughly finished.... 25 mins.. is not enough time... )
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