U S Foreign Affairs Since 1898 Thesis

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Drama - World
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #8617183

Excerpt from Thesis :

President Johnson became even more fearful of a communist take-over.

In 1964, when two American ships were attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin "the American Senate gave Johnson the power to give armed support to assist any country requesting help in defense of its freedom," effectively beginning the Vietnam War without a formal declaration of war (BBC 2009). The wide-scale bombing of the North in 'Operation Rolling Thunder' began in February 1965. By March 1965, the first American ground troops had landed in South Vietnam and by December 1965, there were 150,000 servicemen stationed in the country (BBC 2009).

Richard Nixon was elected to the presidency in 1968, promising a policy of Vietnamization or the taking-over of the war against the North by native Vietnamese troops. However, it would be four more years before substantial withdrawals of American servicemen occurred. Nixon also supported dictators in Laos and Cambodia, and the bombing of Cambodia to terrorize North Vietnamese forces hiding in that nation. In reaction to the continued escalation, "the Senate voted on June 30, 1970 to pass the Church-Cooper amendment with 58 votes. The amendment stipulated that the administration could not spend funds for soldiers, combat assistance, advisors, or bombing operations in Cambodia" (BBC 2009). The war only ended when Congress passed a series of measures, bitterly fought by Nixon, which used the Congressional power of the purse to end funding of the conflict. Finally, American military involvement ended with the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, mainly because "the president knew that he only had a limited amount of time before Congress finally used the power of the purse to bring the war to an end… In 1975, Congress refused President Gerald Ford's last-minute request to increase aid to South Vietnam by $300 million, just weeks before it fell to communist control" (Zelizer 2007).

Q4-Power discusses several issues of human rights and genocide since the 1970s. Select one of these issues -- Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, or Kosovo, and explain what policies the United States pursued and the limitations of American and other outside actions.

The dissolution of communism in Eastern Europe was not a uniformly positive development for all residents of the region. The collapse of the multinational conglomerate nation Yugoslavia into many smaller nations pitted long-standing ethnic rivals against one another. Serbia was widely regarded as the worst aggressor of the many ethnic rivalries that arose because of its policy of ethnic cleansing. The first Bush Administration feared becoming embroiled in a Vietnam-like quagmire, however, and did not send American forces to support the victims of Serbian attacks.

According to Mark Danner, to avoid using U.S. troops to protect vulnerable peoples, such as the Bosnians, against Serb aggression, the U.S. used the specter of Vietnam as an excuse. The result was wide-scale genocide: "mass executions, beatings, mutilations, and rape" of Croats and particularly Bosnian women (Danner 1997). Many analysts claimed that this was mere ethnic strife, not unlike what had occurred when the Vietnamese resisted the French. However, the Serbs were not merely fighting over disputed borders, but openly declared their intention to clear the land of all traces of non-Serbs. The Bosnian Muslims were the most brutalized group, and deemed the most 'alien' to Serbian purity (Danner 1997).

In contrast to the North Vietnamese, who mainly wanted independence, Milosevic wished to expand the borders of Serbia and was emboldened by his view that the U.S. And the UN were unwilling to enforce their disapproval of his policy. He infiltrated the Bosnian army and mobilized the Serbian minority. On May 5, 1992, "all soldiers and officers of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) who came from Bosnia were taken out of the main force, complete with their equipment, and officially became a 'Bosnian Serb Army' of more than eighty thousand fully trained men. Over the objections of the Bosnian government in Sarajevo, the Serb forces took up strategic positions around the country, clearly preparing for war" (Danner 1997).

While the Bush Administration did little to prevent the genocide, other than voice its official dismay, the Clinton Administration's response was slightly more aggressive than the Bush Administration's, but only moderately so. Clinton sent troops into Bosnia to implement the Dayton Accords and rebuild a unified Bosnian state that had been torn asunder by the Serbs. However, Clinton tried to ensure that the troops did not become 'embroiled' in the conflict and severely limited American military actions, fearing "mission creep" or partisanship (Kagan 1997). As a result, "U.S. commanders refused to arrest war criminals -- even those traveling freely through areas which NATO forces nominally controlled. They refused to aid in the resettlement of refugees -- even though soldiers were confronted every month by the demoralizing spectacle of uprooted people being turned back from their old homes by stone-throwing mobs. And they refused to ensure Bosnian citizens safe passage across the bloody ethnic lines that the U.S.-sponsored Dayton peace accords aimed to erase (Kagan 1997). NATO had become actively involved and eventually engaged in air strikes that ultimately brought the Bosnian Serbs into submission. Only a coalition, not U.S. actions alone, brought about something resembling stability in the region -- meanwhile the atrocities perpetrated by the Serbs continued. Critics today say that without aggressive intervention -- that came to late to save many Bosnian lives -- Serbian expansion would have continued.

Q5-What were the major foreign policy issues of the 1950s? Justify your response by addressing the significance of each. (Do not just list them).


The Russian launch of Sputnik touched off the 'space race' between the Soviet Union and the United States. It eventually fostered an international drive to explore space, even after the Cold War ended. The fears instilled in the American public by Sputnik that Soviet space technology could be used to facilitate Soviet military superiority had a positive effect, namely the creation of NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the eventual landing of a man on the moon (Sputnik, 2009, Cold War Museum).

Not all developments in technology were so positive, of course. The arms race, fueled by Soviet fears of American superiority and American mastery of atomic weapons during World War II caused the world to teeter on a terrified precipice that the all of human existence could end due to a misunderstanding between the two superpowers, as nearly occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis. American fears of Soviet superiority created a climate of paranoia and fear. In the U.S., McCarthyism silenced political dissent and even ordinary civilians built bomb shelters.


Such paranoia about communism seemed justified when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were condemned to death for giving the Soviets the necessary technology to build atomic weapons. "Following the first successful nuclear tests by the Soviets in 1949, America quickly began to fear the scientific strides of their eastern-hemisphere rival, and its citizens began to suspiciously eye those around them, believing that Soviet spies must have been responsible for passing the nuclear technology from the United States to Russia" (The Rosenberg Trial, 2009, Cold War Museum). The idea that communists could be 'everywhere' caused the American public to be more supportive of an aggressive containment policy, as pursued by Presidents Eisenhower and Truman.

The spread of communism

The dissolution of the colonial empires resulted in a number of major powers reverting to communist forms of government, often simply because the nationalist forces within nations such as China and Vietnam supported such an ideology, not because of a nefarious plot of Soviet control. In the eyes of the American public who knew little about the history of such nations, however, the 'loss' of China to the communists seemed terrifying and threatening, and seemed to justify the allegations of men such as McCarthy that communism was like a plague that could only be contained through aggressive measures.


An overview of the crisis. (1997). The Cuban Missile Crisis. Crisis Center. Thinkquest.

Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://library.thinkquest.org/11046/days/index.html

The Berlin Airlift. (2010). Cold War Museum. Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://www.coldwar.org/articles/40s/berlin_airlift.asp

Chang, Laurence & Peter Kornbluh. (1998). A national security archive documents reader.

Foreword by Robert S. McNamara, 2nd Edition, New York: The New Press, 1998.

Retrieved from George Washington University on January 1, 2009 at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/declass.htm

Danner, Mark. (1997, December 4). America and the Bosnia genocide. The New York Review

of Books, 44.19. America and the Bosnia Genocide


Kagan, Robert. (1997). Clinton and Cohen in Bosnia: Senseless boredom. Carnegie Endowment

for Peace. Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=265

The Rosenberg Trial. (2009). Cold War Museum. Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/TheRosenbergTrial.asp

Staten, Cliff. (2005, July 30). U.S. foreign policy since World War II. University of North

Carolina. American Diplomacy Publishers. Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2005/0709/stat/staten_reality.html

Sputnik. (2009). Cold War Museum. Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/sputnik.asp

World War II and the Cold War. (2009). Fresno School District. Social Science.

Retrieved January 1, 2009 at http://www.fresno.k12.ca.us/divdept/sscience/history/wwii.cold_war.htm…

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