American foreign policy

6 June 2016

The United States foreign relations are considered to be highly influential. In its international foreign policy, it includes military intervention and deployment as some of the most important policies, they use these policies to help countries change regimes that are oppressive to the citizens. In its policies, the United States intends to enable the people of America and the world in general benefit from a democratic, secure and prosperous environment.

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Their policies aim at non-proliferation of nuclear technology and hardware. It also aims at putting in place all measures that would be used to enhance the businesses conducted by Americans abroad. It also aims at protecting the American business with the international community. Furthermore it is used internationally in the business and education sector to ensure the protection of Americans who live abroad and those who are expatriates.

The American policy has been shaped over the years in an aggressive manner and this is reflected in the aggressiveness of their policies. Since its conception, it has been involved in various wars of which most of them have been against states and powers that were superior to them. After the second word war in 1945, the united states was divided between choosing the isolationist policy that it had adopted towards the world or to involve itself in the world politics. In the early 1940s, it had upset the world’s balance of power when it completely tore off the power that Germany had.

Once this happened, a vacuum was created which needed to be filled and the Soviet Union and the United States strived to fill it. The interests of either power were so different such that none allowed the other to assume the superior role. This is what led to the cold war. The cold war in turn shaped the American policy for the next fifty years (Becker 1999).

However, some scholars claim that the “communist threat” was not the only determinant of how the American policy was shaped in the ensuing period after the Second World War. The reason given is that, although America is seen as being aggressive in terms of world politics, the Soviet Union could also be seen in the same way.

There is however an assumption by a number of scholars that American aggression was not due to spiteful intentions but rather was due to misunderstandings that occurred. At this time, America was seen by many to be an intimidator instead of the image it tried to project of a protector.

In the 1940s, it gained the title of world superpower after it invented the atomic bomb. However, the Soviet Union also built its own atomic bombs thus diminishing America’s power and effectively removing it from the military pedestal that it was on worldwide. Both powers increased their stock of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear bombs to epic proportions. They did this under the pretext of aiming at checking the powers that each had in the world. This policy was a determent policy, which they each practiced.

During this time the American policy was aimed at retaliation for every provocation that occurred. It however saw the need to change this policy into one that could be used bearing in mind that the Soviet Union had its match in the weapons of mass destruction.

The new policy that was adopted was the containment policy whose strategy would encompass an economic, political as well as a military aspect. This policy mainly targeted the third world countries that could be affected by the policies advanced by the Soviet Union

The Balance of Power system was used from 1500-1945 whereby countries that were at war would choose to either bandwagon or to balance power. Bandwagon is when weaker countries decide to join stronger countries, which seem to be able to win in the war. On the other hand, some weak countries may decide to join together to avoid being overridden by the stronger countries. By doing this, there is an equilibrium being struck and this is what is termed as the balance of power.

The balance is struck once it has been ensured that there is no one country that is too powerful such that it can impose its will on others. The weaker powers join together in order to serve as checks on eh power s held by the more powerful countries.

The introduction of balancing of power as a foreign policy was introduced in the world as from the 15th century in the Italian city-states. The period between 1500-1945 saw many coalitions formed between weaker states and stronger states so as to seek protection and empowerment in times of war.

The united states established itself as a power to be reckoned with and in the period before the second world war it was seen as a power that could be counted on to bring about a balance of power. However, it preferred to adapt a policy of non-involvement and when the war started preferred not to be involved. It had already amassed a considerable amount of nuclear weapons, which it finally used in order to stop the war and defeat Germany and it allies.

When one views the world as a global community, one is then able to understand how comes there is so much interference of a states affairs by the rest of the world. States can interfere with the running of another states affairs if at all they see it as oppressing the citizen or to having a negative impact on the rest of the world. This has been displayed by the actions taken by the United States against Iraq in order to free the citizens from the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein.

Apart from this, there are international there are international organizations like the UN which go further to intervene in areas where they identify a problem. Also the non-state organizations, which are the non-governmental organizations, have been using their power to transcend over borders to assert their influence in ensuring that human rights are observed (Iriye A. 2002).

There has been a change in how the world order is controlled. The term Raison d’Etat has found new use in the current state of affairs. It is a French world that is translated to mean national interest. It can also be taken to mean the “justification of overriding state power” (Robertson D. 1986).

In line with this term, the international and non-governmental organizations have the power and ability to interfere with the running of a country for the best interests of the country as a whole. Their influence extends up to the regional and local levels of a country. This has been the case in Darfur Somalia whereby UN peacekeepers have been sent to the region to reduce the war and bring about peace. It also facilitates peace talks between the warring factions (Joachim J & Locker B. 2006 March).

In the United States, the president does not make the foreign policy decisions alone. They have to be ratified by the tow thirds majority of the senate. This is because the president may make the wrong decisions and hence the need to introduce checks and balances in the powers bestowed on the chief executive. It has had different positions when it comes to diplomacy over time. It initially avoided any diplomatic ties with the world but conducted business with it.

It then moved towards the formation of alliances with European and other strategic military partners and finally it has become involved in global issues. The diplomatic immunity provided to diplomats ensures that they are not sued or prosecuted in the host country instead in case of legal problems they can be expelled.

In the period ranging from 1200BC-1950AD, the negotiation skills put in place were the win-lose sort of agreement. There had to be a winner and a loser in any agreement that was arrived at in other words, one of the parties had to lose while the other one won. However during the cold war, the strategies changed to a win-win situation being advanced by both sides (Snyder S. 2002). Prior to the cold war, the dissatisfied partisan of the discussion could just walk away but during the war, none had the luxury of doing so. This was because all were after the same limited resources and could only move away from the talks after reaching an agreement.

1. Becker Z. 1999 Americas Approach to Foreign Policy: 1945-1985 Retrieved on 20th October 2007 from ForeignPolicy/page 001.html

2. Iriye A. 2004 Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World University of California Press

 3. Joachim J. & Locher B. March 2006 Multi-Level Governance and Civil Society: Comparing Non-State Actors in International Organizations Theoretical Aspects on NGO-Participation in the United Nations and the European Union Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Associations Town & County Resort and Convention Center San Diego California USA online Retrieved on 20th October from

4. Robertson D. 1986 The Penguin Dictionary of Politics London Retrieved on 20th October from

5. Snyder S. 2002 North Korea on the Edge Ch. 6 of Negotiating on the Edge US Institute of  Peace

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