U S Foreign Affairs Since 1898 Term Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Subject: Literature - Latin-American
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #23289174

Excerpt from Term Paper :

S. government chose not only to ignore the great humanitarian tragedy but even refused to condemn the killing. The American inaction on the Rwandan genocide places a big question mark on any subsequent action of its government overseas for humanitarian reasons.

Besides being accused of using "humanitarianism" as a smokescreen for pursuing its own narrow national interests, the United States is also accused of undermining the United Nations and International Law in following a policy of unilateralism and pre-emption. The results of pre-emptive action by the United States for purportedly humanitarian reasons in recent times have been far from satisfactory. For example, when the NATO forces started its bombing campaign in Kosovo in 1999, there was a mass exodus of about 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanian minorities as refugees from the province; there was an increase in the Serbs' attacks on ethnic Kosovan Albanians and their ethnic cleansing: as a result more than 300,000 Albanian refugees also fled their homes.

The results of subsequent unilateral action in Afghanistan and Iraq have been similarly catastrophic. Despite a pre-mature declaration of "mission accomplished" by President Bush after just a few weeks of the Iraq invasion by the U.S. forces, the insurgency in Iraq has continued and gathered strength and the country has plunged into a low-level civil war, which is tearing Iraq apart. The situation in Afghanistan is no different as a resurgent Taliban force constantly harasses the NATO and Afghan forces in the mountains and vicious warlords, who have turned the land into the leading producer of heroin in the world, control most of the countryside.

All of above in no way implies that every humanitarian intervention undertaken by the U.S. has been counter-productive in the past. Its involvement in the Second World War in Europe was instrumental in defeating the scourge of Nazism from Germany and U.S.'s post War role -- the Marshall Plan for re-building of Europe and occupation / reconstruction of Japan as a democratic country were unqualified successes.

What were the issues between 1939 and 1941 that led to American involvement in World War II and what were the major issues of the war? Explain.

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the United States was deep into its "isolationist" phase and its public opinion was in no mood to join the war in Europe. In keeping with its declared foreign policy of Monroe doctrine, the U.S. remained neutral at the outbreak of the conflict between Germany and several European countries (the Allies). Because of its deep-rooted historical links with Great Britain as well its common political system of democracy, however, the United States was inclined to support the Allied powers against the fascist Nazis. President Roosevelt also had a close personal relationship with Prime Minister Churchill and the two leaders exchanged extensive correspondence in which Churchill urged the U.S. To join the war on the side of the Allies due to the danger of world-domination by Nazi Germany.

In the initial stages of the War, the U.S. did not give direct support to the Allies because of its declared neutrality. It did, however, initiate a program of "cash-and-carry" whereby it permitted allied ships that could reach the U.S. coast to carry back much-needed war material for cash. The program served a two-pronged purpose -- it helped the U.S. economy that was emerging from a pro-longed economic depression and assisted the Allies in their war effort against Germany.

Apart from a general dislike of fascism and Nazism, and a natural affinity with the British, the other major reason for the United States' eventual direct involvement in the Second World War was its tussle with Japan for the domination of the Pacific region and control over its resources. The Japanese government, like Germany, had come to be dominated by militarists. Being a resource-poor region, Japan adopted a policy of expansionism in the 1930s. It forcibly set up a puppet government in Manchuria in 1931, and invaded China in 1937. The U.S. started to impose embargoes on Japan by 1939, which became stricter when Japan signed a tripartite agreement with Germany and Italy to form the Axis (Arima, 2003). Embargo on scrap metal and gasoline and closure of the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping were particularly problematic for Japan. In response, the Japanese moved into northern Indo-China, looking to capture the oil-rich regions of the Dutch East Indies. The U.S. retaliated by freezing Japanese assets and imposing a complete embargo on oil exports to Japan followed by the 'Hull note' -- demanding a complete withdrawal from China. This was considered to be an ultimatum and unacceptable by Japan, which opted for an all-out war by attacking Pearl Harbor. (Ibid.)

Major Issues of the War: The major issues of World War II involved the aggressive intent of two countries (Germany and Japan) with totalitarian regimes looking to dominate their neighbors, and the need of the rest of the world to stop them. In Europe, Hitler and the Nazis were obsessed with Lebensraum: the need for "living space" for the Germans in the East and the belief that the Aryans (i.e., Germans) were the master-race destined to rule over inferior races. In the East, the Japanese government too was dominated by militarists who were looking to expand Japan's domination beyond its borders. Japanese also considered themselves to be superior to other Asiatic races. The need to capture the available natural resources such as oil, considered necessary for development in an industrial age, was another major issue of the War. The Jewish question, i.e., Hitler's ideology of exterminating or expelling the Jewish population from Europe was another major issue of World War II. Towards the end of the war, positioning of the two future super-powers, i.e., the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. -- though allied on the same side -- in a post WWII world also became an important issue.

Explain the major foreign policy problems of the Wilson years, especially the issues related to World War I.

Woodrow Wilson's predecessors (Presidents McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft) had followed an expansionist policy by annexing Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Guam. Wilson was opposed to such an Imperialist policy and concentrated on protecting democracy rather than aggressively spreading American influence abroad. He took a number of conciliatory measures in his first term to demonstrate the change in direction. For example, he persuaded Congress to repeal the 1912 Panama Canal Act which had exempted American ships from paying toll for passage through the canal, gave greater autonomy to Philippines, and signed a conciliatory treaty with Colombia to reverse for Roosevelt's aggressive policy towards the country. He also spent much of his first term in efforts to keep the U.S. out of the World War I in Europe. Ironically, despite his peaceful agenda, Wilson resorted to military action in Latin America and eventually entered the War in Europe that he so wanted to avoid.

At the beginning of the War, Wilson was determined to adhere to neutrality "in fact as well as in name" and the U.S. traded in material and military goods with both powers. In 1915, Germany, incensed at the naval blockade of its ports by the more powerful British Navy, started to use its newly developed submarines (U-boats) against Allied ships, including merchant ones, in the Atlantic. Since American personnel and goods were also affected by this German policy, Wilson tried to mediate in the war but his efforts were unsuccessful since the Allies and the Central Powers were both confident of victory at the time. In May 1915, German U-boats sank a British ocean liner called Lusitania in which over 120 Americans were killed. The incident sparked widespread outrage in the U.S. Wilson was still committed to keep his country out of the war and he sent a series of communiques to the Germans, appealing for restraint in the submarine attacks. The Germans only partially heeded to the American appeal and continued to attack merchant ships around the European continent. ("Thomas Woodrow Wilson," 2003)

Eventually in February 1917, Germany escalated its U-boat attacks and announced that they would attack every ship, including neutral one, in the European waters. The U.S. responded by cutting-off diplomatic relations with Germany. By this time the public opinion in the U.S. had started to tilt in favor of war against Germany. The situation worsened further when the American intelligence intercepted a secret communique sent by the German foreign secretary, Arthur Zimmermann to the Mexican government, urging Mexico to attack the U.S. And promising it certain concessions at the end of the war, if it did. The last straw in the strained relations between Germany and the U.S. was reached when German U-boats sank three American merchant ships on March 18, 1917. President Wilson declared war on Germany by signing the war declaration on April 6, 1917. (Ibid.)

Wilson got a Military Service Draft bill passed through which about 3 million…

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