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During its early history, U.S. foreign policy was to not engage in political or economic relationships with other countries. However, after World War 11, America’s international influence increased.

Over the past 50 years or so, America has engaged in some very complicated and antagonistic global issues.  The state department carries out most American foreign policy affairs, along with the CIA and NSA.

Two terms that reflect America’s international engagement are:

Isolationism– a policy of remaining apart from the affairs or interests of other groups, especially the political affairs of other countries.

Interventionism- the policy or doctrine of intervening, especially government interference in the affairs of another state or domestic economic affairs.

America’s early foreign policy was isolationist, but over recent history, America has engaged in an interventionist power throughout the world.  

However, America’s early history shows that even George Washington cautioned against entangling alliances in his farewell address in 1776.

“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world”: it was George Washington’s Farewell Address to us. The inaugural pledge of Thomas Jefferson was no less clear: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.”

Washington’s authoritative counsel set the tone for foreign affairs over the next century. The United States stayed out of most wars during the early 1800s and focused on expanding west in America. This lead to war with Mexico in 1848, which won California and the southwest; native American Indians were slaughtered, removed, and isolated throughout U.S. territory.   

This allowed the European population to settle on land once inhabited by native Indians. The policy of Isolationism existed because of America’s geographic isolation from Europe and Asia.

The Monroe Doctrine from 1823 shaped American foreign policy profoundly and was issued by the administration of President James Monroe.

The Monroe Doctrine is a vital part of U.S. foreign policy. President James Monroe issued the policy in 1823. It stated that North and South America were no longer open to colonialization. It also declared that the United States would not allow European countries to interfere with independent governments in the Americas.

During the early 1800s, Spain’s colonies in Central and South America declared themselves independent. Later, Spain tried to regain control over these colonies, and it appeared that some European powers might help. At the same time, Russia wanted to establish a colony on North America’s Pacific Northwest coast.

Monroe made four essential points:

(1) the United States would not interfere in European affairs;

 (2) the United States recognized and would not interfere with existing colonies in the Americas;

(3) the Western Hemisphere was closed to future colonization; and

 (4) if a European power tried to interfere with any nation in the Americas, that would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.

The Monroe Doctrine worked. No serious European interference happened until 1861. In that year, the leader of France tried to establish a monarchy in Mexico. The United States was entering the Civil War, but it protested to France immediately. When the Civil War ended in 1865, the United States sent troops to the Mexican border and insisted on the removal of the French army. The French left in 1867.

The Monroe Doctrine expanded over the years. In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt added the Roosevelt Corollary. The addition stated that the United States could become involved in a Latin American country’s internal affairs in cases of clear and long-term wrongdoing by that Latin American country. However, this was reversed in the 1930s when President Franklin Roosevelt instituted the Good Neighbor Policy. According to that policy, the United States gave up its right to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. Later, other countries in the Americas agreed to work together to help keep other powers from interfering in the area. Several countries signed an agreement in 1947. The agreement says that an armed attack by any state against an American government would be considered an aggression against all American states.




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