John Bogue Mr. Corcoran AP American Research Paper 4/1/10
Compare and Contrast United States foreign policy after the First World War and after the Second World War. Consider the periods 1919-1928 and 1945-1950.
United States foreign policy has always been characterized by a commitment to free trade, protection of American interests, and a concern for human rights. Our founding fathers, specifically George Washington, are responsible for much of the influence regarding foreign policy after their time period and up to the present day. Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned the country to stay out of permanent foreign entanglements and to stay neutral. The United States stayed faithful to Washington’s warnings for about 125 years. But, when the age of Imperialism hit, the country was forced to intervene to prevent other countries from rising up and becoming world powers. The atrocities of imperialism caused something that America will always regret; The First World War. After the war, the United States’ foreign policy changed from all out intervention to almost complete isolation, similar to what George Washington suggested. After the Second World War, American foreign policy back once again to intervention to try and make the world a better and more peaceful place. In comparison, each foreign policy have nearly no similarities, but a wealth of differences.
There were many reasons for the Unites Sates’ shift to isolationism after the war. In the period following the war, isolationism could be broken down into political, economic and social isolationism. Politically, America did a lot to avoid entanglements with foreign countries. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson traveled to Europe to deliver his “14 points.” These so called points were designed to maintain world peace with the help of the League of Nations. The league’s goals were to prevent war through collective security, disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration (Jones, 30). Although Wilson’s plan seemed logical, the popular view in America seemed to be that the United States should stay out of the affairs of other countries thus becoming isolated. Not only did the people think this, the congress did too and they proved this when they voted against the League and the Treaty of Versailles in 1920. The rejection of this treaty really showed that the United States wanted nothing to do with European affairs, and wanted to remain politically isolationist.
Economically, as well as politically, isolationism was the key theme of the foreign policy after the war. There were many ways that showed the Unites States wanted to avoid European affairs. Taxing the people was one of many. The Fordney-McCumber Tariff was a tax that was placed on foreign goods. This made them more expensive and made American products more attractive to the customer. This tariff worked very well and helped create the boom of the 1920s. By imposing this tariff, in a way, it made citizens forget more about foreign products and focus on what is in their country, thus creating a decline in international trade. It also protected domestic producers from foreign competition. Further, the protective shield against foreign competition enabled the growth of monopolies in many American industries (Jones, 33). For example, Henry Ford mass-produced his Model-T car forming a monopoly in the United Sates. His car was one of the only ones seen on the streets of the country. An unfortunate result of this tariff along with many other high tariffs that the government imposed was the Great Depression. The economy after World War One was also affected by the amount of money it lent abroad, specifically to Germany to help rebuild.
Socially, it would be...
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Herzstein , Robert. Roosevelt & Hitler. New York City: Paragon House, 1989.
Schlesinger, Arthur. War and the American Presidency. New York City: Norton & Company, Inc., 2004
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