Changes in American Foreign Policy from Washington to Obama
American foreign policy has been essential in perpetuating American dominance in global governance. However, several changes have taken place in the US foreign strategy since the time of George Washington to the Obama regime (Milakovich, George 14). Foreign policy has been changing with time depending on American national interests worldwide.
George Washington was the first commander of the US. During the regime of President Washington, America was too young and had so many domestic issues (Kissinger 14). It had little military power and little wealth to engage actively in glamorous foreign policy (Matthewson 323). Therefore, Washington advocated for neutrality foreign policy where he did not want America to be actively engaged in a dangerous foreign policy that would put America’s future into destructive nature of politics (Mead 17). John Adams, the second president of the U.S., maintained Washington’s neutrality policy but was entangled into a war crisis with France, during the “Quasi-War.” The Quasi-War was ended through diplomatic relations. However, under President Jefferson, the American approach to foreign policy changed dramatically from neutrality to a more aggressive approach.
Jefferson committed the U.S. to the first military encounter in a foreign country. The U.S. strengthened its military power over time, and it became an important player in the world politics. In the 19th century, America had begun to become more industrialized, and it was looking for markets oversee (Mead 76. The urge to find new markets for goods and services prompted America to change its foreign policy in a bid to fit perfectly in the global market. Engagement in trade had made America become a minor imperial power, and it engaged in a war with Spain for control of Cuba (Nye 14). The World War I increased America engagement with other nations especially most of the European nations (Hook 16). The war provided an important platform for America to engage in trade with most of the warring European nations. However, America declined to become a member of the League of Nations. A lot of economic prosperity, which was hallmarked by increased military strength and increased affairs in the global affairs marked the period between 1920 and 1930 (Hook 16). The second War II marked a new alignment in the America’s foreign policy.
The reverberation of the World War II America emerged as a strong, sole superpower in the world (Hook 19). America took a central role in establishing the United Nations directing crafting of most of the laws (Hook 19). America took a pivotal role in the reconstruction of most of the war-torn the European nation through the marshal plan. That helped America to shape its foreign relationships through treaties and alliances that were aimed at protecting the interests of America overseas. Moreover, the cold war played a significant in shaping America’s foreign policy. America and its allies engaged in military, economic, and ideological competition with the Soviet Union. After the end of the cold war, America remained as the only super power in the globe.
The American policy favored self-independence of nations, democracy, market liberalization, and peaceful co-existence of nations. However, in the recent past, America has become more aggressive in its foreign policy (Hook 43). The national interests such as national security, international economics, and international politics dictate most of their approaches. In some cases, the U.S. has supported dictatorial governments in a bid to achieve its interests. America has been involved in several military raids in the recent past including Iraq and Afghanistan (Jackson 399). In the Obama administration, the approach was more conventional, but military raids were used during the capture of Osama Bin Laden and overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi. The aggressive approach of the American policy was toned down during the Obama administration (Jackson 394). Withdrawal of military troops from Afghanistan, reduced military spending, lenient foreign relations with Cuba, China and Iran, increased foreign aid and trade agreements marked Obama’s conventional approach (Jackson 391)
The culmination of the Cold War was marked by a decline in the economic and military dominance of Russia. The decline of Russian dominance in the global governance has prompted different regimes to take different measures in a bid to restore the countries pride in the international platform. The changing dynamics in the modern world have been central in determining the direction of Russia’s foreign policies. One of the important tenets of the Russian foreign strategy is its ability to form a new world order by leveraging its resources and intensive relations with other nations (Nygren 4). The tenet is premised on controlling the influence of the unipolar structure of the world politics and economics led by America and its European allies. Therefore, Russia seeks to install a multipolar system of international relations through collective resolutions to the problems afflicting the world, democracy and the rule of law (Donaldson, Joseph 17). However, analysts suggest that Russia will change the unipolar structure through subversion, destabilization, and disinformation by use of Russia’s special services (Dunlop 41)
Another important tenet of Russia foreign policy is intensified role in international institutions, economics, and politics (Donaldson, Joseph 27). This is intended to create new allies in a bid to tame the unipolar structure perpetuated by America. Therefore, Russia would acquire significance in the world economics and politics. Globalization will integrate Russia into the system of world economic ties that are vital to the economic growth of the nation (Tsygankov 6). Moreover, involvement in the international economics will help Russia promote fair international trade system that has been lacking for a long time due to the dominance of the U.S.
Strengthening international security is another is another tenet of the Russia’s foreign policy. Russia supports the removal of a unipolar power in determining the direction of international relations (Tsygankov 14). Russia supports the stabilization of regional security in a bid to achieve its national interests and economic interests. Russia supports the creation of a global system of control to counter the proliferation of nuclear weapons and destructive technologies (Shultz 15). Evidently, the global system will subject the U.S. to international control thus curtailing its unipolar role in global governance. Most of the foreign policies adopted by Russia are intended to put it in a polar position that is sufficient to tame the hegemony of the U.S. and European nations in global governance.
Donaldson, Robert H., and Joseph L. Nogee. The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests, 2014. Routledge, 2014.
Dunlop, John B. “Aleksandr Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics.” Demokratizatsiya, vol. 12, no. 1, 2004, 41.
Hook, Steven W., and John Spanier. American Foreign Policy since World War II. Cq Press, 2015.
Jackson, Richard. “Culture, identity and hegemony: Continuity and (the lack of) change in US counterterrorism policy from Bush to Obama.” International Politics, vol. 48, no. 2-3, 2011, 390-411.
Kissinger, Henry. Does America Need A Foreign Policy? Toward A Diplomacy for the 21st Century. Simon and Schuster, 2002.
Matthewson, Timothy M. “George Washington’s Policy toward the Haitian Revolution.” Diplomatic History, vol. 3, no. 3, 1979, 321-336.
Mead, Walter Russell. Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and how it changed the World. Routledge, 2013.
Milakovich, Michael E., and George J. Gordon. Public Administration in America. Cengage Learning, 2013.
Nye, Joseph S. The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Cannot go it alone. Oxford University Press, USA, 2003.
Nygren, Bertil. The Rebuilding of Greater Russia: Putin’s Foreign Policy towards the CIS Countries, vol. 4. Routledge, 2007.
Tsygankov, Andrei P. Russia’s foreign policy: change and continuity in national identity. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
Shultz, George P., et al. “Toward a nuclear-free world.” Wall Street Journal 15 (2008): 2008