Chapter 19: Foreign and Defense Policy

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Chapter 19: Foreign and Defense Policy

I Roots of U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy

  1. The U.S. followed a policy of isolationism in its beginning.

  2. Isolationism—a national policy of avoiding participation in foreign affairs.

  3. Unilateralism is another constant policy in US foreign affairs

    1. Unilateralism—a national policy of acting without consulting others.

  4. Moralism—the policy of emphasizing morality in foreign affairs

  5. Pragmatism—the policy of taking advantage of a situation for national gain.

A The Constitution

  1. The power to formulate and implement foreign policy was given to the national governments to keep America out of European affairs and Europeans out of American affairs.

B The Early History of U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy

  1. From the beginning the US remained isolationist in terms of getting involved with world affairs but eagerly pursued trade with foreign powers to better the country.

  2. 1790’s, the United States fought an undeclared naval war with France because France was seizing U.S. ships trading with France’s enemies.

  3. 1780 U.S. fought the Barbary Wars against pirates on the Barbary coast.

  4. 1807 Embargo Act—Passed by Congress to prevent U.S. ships from leaving U.S. ports for foreign ports without the approval of the federal government.

  5. Continued British impressments of U.S. sailors furthered hurt US relations with Great Britain which led to the War of 1812.

  6. 1814 Treaty of Ghent ended the war, with Great Britain and the United States accepting prewar borders and treaty obligations.

  7. President James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 over fears that European powers especially France in Latin America and Russia in Alaska and the Northwest would try to expand their control in the Western Hemisphere.

  8. Monroe Doctrine—President James Monroe’s 1823 pledge that the United States would oppose attempts by European states to extend their political control into the Western Hemisphere.

  9. The U.S. had little capacity to enforce it.

  10. Great Britain also wanted to keep other European powers out of the Americas. The Royal Navy thus protected British interests and promoted US preferences.

C The United States as an Emerging Power

  1. 19th Century the US began to emerge as a world power.

  2. This process centered on three areas: trade policy and commerce, continental expansion and manifest destiny, and during the last half of the century, interests beyond the Western Hemisphere.

Trade Policy and Commerce

  1. 1791-1816 The US relied upon the principles of trade reciprocity and most favored nation (MFN) status.

  2. Reciprocity meant that the United States would treat foreign traders in the same way that foreign countries treated US traders and MFN status meant that US exports would face the lowest tariffs, offered to any other country.

  3. Tariffs—taxes on imports used to raise government revenue and to protect infant industries.

  4. Congress passed the first protectionist tariff in 1816.

  5. Next 8 years Congress adopted the “American System” of trade protection by adding increasingly higher tariffs.

  6. While high tariffs protected the U.S. market for American producers, they also cut off foreign markets for American producers as foreign countries retaliated with their own high tariffs.

Continental Expansion and Manifest Destiny

  1. Manifest Destiny—Theory that the United States was divinely mandated to expand across North America to the Pacific Ocean.

  2. It permitted Americans to rationalize expansion as legitimate and moral. Americans criticized other for acquiring territory as colonialism but did not criticize US expansion b/c the acquired territory was connected to the United States.

Interests Beyond the Western Hemisphere

  1. By the mid-nineteenth century, the United States concluded a commercial treaty with China, limited Europe’s ability to restrict U.S. trade with China, and opened Japan to Western trade.

  2. As American economic interests in the Pacific expanded, so did U.S. interest in acquiring Pacific islands to support expansion.

  3. 1890’s US acquired the Hawaiian Islands, Midway Island, Wake Island, and part of Samoa.

  4. 1898 Spanish American War. US vs. Spain over Spanish policies and presence in Cuba saw the US emerge as a rising power.

  5. The US won and acquired Puerto Rico, Phillipines, Guam, and Cuba for a few years.

  6. The US was clearly becoming a colonial power.

D The Roosevelt Corollary

  1. Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine which advocated a more interventionist posture for the United States in policing world affairs.

  2. Roosevelt Corollary—Concept developed by President Theodore Roosevelt early in the twentieth century that it was the US responsibility to assure stability in Latin America and the Caribbean.

E World War I

  1. World War I: 1914-1918. US tried to stay neutral.

  2. Several events; US economic involvement, Zimmerman note and Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare which sank the Lusitania, finally forced the US to enter the war in 1917.

  3. Even though the United States entered the war late, its armed forces and economic assistance swung the tide of victory to the Allies’ side.

  4. Post WWI US president Woodrow Wilson put great faith in collective security to maintain the peace.

  5. Collective security—the concept that peace would be secured if all countries collectively opposed any country that invaded another.

  6. President Wilson was instrumental in creating the League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference.

  7. League of Nations—created in the peace treaty that ended WWI, it was an international governmental organization dedicated to preserving peace.

  8. The US Senate failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles which formalized the terms for the end of the war and the US never joined the League.

  9. Reasons why Wilson failed:

    1. A democratic president with a Senate controlled by Republicans, Wilson failed to include GOP senators among US delegates to the peace conference.

    2. Besides partisan reasons, many senators believed that US membership in the League of Nations would fly in the face of traditional US isolationism and unilateralism.

F The Interwar Years

  1. Following WWI the US followed a policy of isolationism and unilateralism.

  2. During the 1920’s, the United States became the world’s leading source of credit and goods as the American economy prospered.

  3. The Great Depression destroyed the US economy as well as that of most industrialized countries around the world.

  4. The US and the rest of the world did little to oppose German, Japanese, and Italian aggression in the 1930’s.

  5. Congress was particularly isolationist passing Neutrality Acts to keep the US from becoming involved in foreign conflicts.

II The United States as a World Power

  1. World War II: 1939-1945

  2. September 1, 1939—Germany invaded Poland and WWII began.

  3. Pearl Harbor—Naval base in Hawaii attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, initiating US entry into World War II.

  4. The United States was then fully engaged in a global war, participating in the Grand Alliance of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and several other nations against the Axis powers of Japan, Germany, and Italy.

  5. Before the war the US was an isolationist country with a sizeable power base that it rarely used.

  6. By the end of the war, the United States was the leader of the most powerful military coalition that the world had ever seen.

  7. The US had the only major economy in the world that had not been decimated by the war.

A World War II and Its Aftermath: 1941-1947.

  1. The war transformed American society, cost tens of billions of dollars, and cost the lives of more than 400,000 members of the American armed forces.

  2. The war ended in Europe on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day)

  3. The war against Japan ended after the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945)

  4. August 15 Japan surrendered and the allies celebrated V-J Day and the end to World War II.

  5. Before the end of WWII the US and 51 of its allies met in San Francisco to create the United Nations (UN)

  6. United Nations (UN)—an international governmental organization created shortly before the end of World War II to guarantee the security of nations and to promote global economic, physical, and social well-being.

  7. The five permanent members of the UN security council were the US, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and France.

  8. The UN is an international governmental organization (IGO)—an organization created by the governments of at least two and often many countries that operates internationally with the objectives of achieving the purposes that the member countries agree upon.

  9. Bretton Woods Agreement—International financial agreement signed shortly before the end of World War II that created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

  10. This agreement was signed because it was believed that the collapse of international trade in the 1930’s created conditions that led to the rise of dictators and the beginning of WWII.

  11. International Monetary Fund (IMF)—international governmental organization created shortly before the end of World War II to stabilize international financial relations through fixed monetary exchange rates.

  12. The Bretton Woods Agreement also create the World Bank—international governmental organization created shortly before the end of WWII to provide loans for large economic development projects.

  13. These creations showed a shift in US foreign policies form isolationism and unilateralism to internationalism and multilateralism.

  14. Multilateralism—the US foreign policy that actions should be taken in cooperation with other states after consultation.

B The Cold War and Containment: 1947-1960

  1. Truman Doctrine—US policy initiated in 1947 of providing economic assistance and military aid to countries fighting against communist revolutions or political pressure.

  2. This policy was developed to retaliate to the Soviet seizure of Eastern Europe and the fear that they would try to take over the world.

  3. Cold War

  4. The Truman Doctrine was used to aid Greece and Turkey and they as the backing for the Marshall Plan.

  5. Marshall Plan—European Recovery Program, named after Secretary of State George C. Marshall of extensive US aid to Western Europe after World War II.

  6. The Marshall Plan provided the basis for European economic recovery, which prevented communist parties form winning elections throughout Western Europe.

  7. The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were the linchpins of the strategy of containment.

  8. Containment—strategy to oppose expansion of Soviet Power, particularly in Western Europe and East Asia, with military power, economic assistance, and political influence.

  9. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)—the first peace time military treaty the United States joined, NATO is a regional political and military organization created in 1950.

  10. North Atlantic Treaty—precursor to NATO signed by US and 11 other countries.

  11. Warsaw Pact—a defensive group the Soviets established with their Eastern European satellite countries to counter NATO.

  12. 1950 to 1953 Korean War: North Korea invaded South Korea US sent troops to help they still remain divided today.

  13. Starting in the 1950’s much of the US military strategy was based on nuclear weapons and deterrence.

  14. Deterrence was the theory that if a potential enemy wanted to attack but knew that it would in turn be attacked, it would not attack.

  15. 1950’s and 1960’s a new version of deterrence was called MAD for Mutually Assured Destruction, in other words both sides had enough nuclear weapons that if one attacked first the other would still be completely destroyed.

  16. Containment was the core US foreign and military during the Cold War and most Americans accepted the idea that containment required the United States to adopt pragmatic policies such as supporting authoritarian governments that opposed communism.

C Containment, Cuba, and Vietnam: 1961-1969

  1. Cuban Missile Crisis—the 1962 confrontation that nearly escalated into war between the United States and the Soviet Union over Soviet deployment of medium range ballistic missiles in Cuba. The Soviet Union under Khrushchev backed down and later withdrew the missiles.

  2. After crisis most Americans agreed containment was necessary. Few questioned the morality of containment, the necessity for pragmatism, or the need for internationalism and American-led multilateralism.

  3. Vietnam War—Between 1965 and 1973, the United States deployed up to 500,000 troops to Vietnam to try to prevent North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam; the effort failed and was extremely divisive within the United States.

  4. US citizens began to question the US role in Vietnam, our moral superiority, and whether or not containment was the right policy with the Soviet Union.

D Détente and Human Rights: 1969-1981

  1. Détente—the relaxation of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union that occurred during the 1970’s.

  2. Détente was more than just 6 summits it included increased trade, arms control agreements, and cultural exchanges.

  3. Nixon emphasized pragmatism in foreign policy to the extent that he exclude moralism.

  4. Carter replaced Nixon and emphasized human rights.

  5. Human rights—the belief that human beings have inalienable rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

  6. The Iranian hostage crisis eroded Carter’s support in the United States. (The hostages were not released until the day Carter left office in 1981.

  7. Détente finally ended when the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan.

E Containment Revisited and Renewed: 1981-1989

  1. Ronald Reagan followed Jimmy Carter in office.

  2. Reagan did the following during his first term:

    1. Accelerated the arms build up in response to Soviet influence in developing countries.

    2. Initiated an activist foreign policy that included the invasion of Grenada, a pro Soviet island nation in the Caribbean

    3. Supported the Contras, an insurgency attempting to overthrow the pro-Soviet Sandinista government in Nicaragua in Central America.

    4. Reagan emphasized morality in American foreign policy and pushed to create an open international economic system.

  3. 1984—Reagan Doctrine—policy that the United States would provide military assistance to anti-communist groups fighting against pro-Soviet governments in Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, and Nicaragua.

  4. These programs increased the cost of Soviet involvement there and led Soviet leaders to rethink their foreign policy.

  5. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev recognized these problems and moved to restructure the Soviet Union and provide a better relationship with the US—perestroika.

F Searching for a New International Order: 1989-2001

  1. 1989 Vice President George Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan in office.

  2. 1989 many Eastern European countries revolted against their governments. Gorbachev order the troops not to respond and in every communist country in Eastern Europe the governments fell.

  3. 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait produced a new challenge.

  4. Persian Gulf War began in 1991, in an attack called Operation Desert Storm the US and allied forces defeated Iraq in a matter of weeks.

  5. Powell Doctrine—The Powell Doctrine advocates an all or nothing approach to military intervention. Among other criteria it emphasizes the use of overwhelming force to ensure quick and decisive victory, and the adoption of an exit strategy prior to any intervention.—Colin Powell Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  6. The collapse of the Soviet Union provided complex questions for Bill Clinton who took office in 1993.

  7. Clinton’s agenda centered on implementing engagement and enlargement, shaping new international economic relationships, deciding when US armed forces should be used overseas, and puzzling over what role the US should play in the post-Cold War world.

  8. Engagement—policy implemented by the Clinton administration that the United States would remain actively involved in foreign affairs.

  9. Enlargement—Policy implemented during the Clinton administration that the United States would actively promote the expansion of democracy and free markets throughout the world.

  10. No major pattern to US military intervention in the mid to late 1990’s. mostly for humanitarian reasons.

  11. International economic issues were another focus of Clinton’s economic activities.

  12. Clinton guided NAFTA into law.

  13. NAFTA—North American Free Trade Agreement—Agreement that promotes free movements of goods and services among Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

  14. The Clinton administration also created the WTO---World Trade Organization—international government organization created in 1995 that manages multilateral negotiations to reduce barriers to trade and settle disputes.

G The War on Terrorism: 2001 to Present

  1. 9/11/2001—members of al-Qaeda attacked the United States.

  2. Al-Qaeda—Worldwide terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden; responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against US interests including the 9/11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

  3. 3,000 people died at the World Trade Center and another 189 died at the Pentagon.

  4. War on Terrorism—initiated by George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks to weed out terrorist operatives throughout the world, using diplomacy, military means, improved homeland security, stricter banking laws, and other means.

  5. Taliban—fundamentalist Islamic government of Afghanistan that provided terrorist training bases for al-Qaeda.

  6. Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime in October 2001.

  7. The Terrorist attacks had a profound impact on US foreign policy.

  8. George W. Bush and his foreign policy team concluded that a more ambitious, “muscular” posture was needed to fight threats to US interests.

  9. Bush Doctrine—Policy advocated by President George W. Bush of using preemptive military action against a perceived threat to US interests.

  10. US war against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq this signaled the implementation of the Bush Doctrine.

  11. Based on faulty intelligence information that suggested Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) (WMD’s—biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, which present a sizeable threat to US security.) the US government chose to act even though the UN Security Council refused to endorse the recourse to war, and even without the support of key allies such as France and Germany.

  12. The September 11 terrorist attacks gave the United States two overarching foreign and defense policy priorities:

    1. Defense of the homeland

    2. Pursuing the global war on terrorism.

III Foreign and Defense Policy Decision Making

  1. The executive branch is the most powerful branch of government in the formulation and implementation of US foreign and defense policy.

  2. Congress also influences and shapes policy, as do the military-industrial complex, the news media, and the public.

A The Executive Branch

  1. The executive branch is the locus for creating and implementing US foreign and defense policy;

  2. Inside the executive branch the president is the most important individual

The President

  1. The president is the preeminent in foreign and defense policy for several reasons.

    1. The president alone is in charge of all executive branch resources.

    2. The president has greater access to and control over information

    3. The president alone can act with little fear that his actions will be countermanded.

  2. The president has exclusive sources of information that makes it hard for anyone else to match.

The Departments of State and Defense

  1. Department of State—chief executive branch department responsible for formulation and implementation of US foreign policy.

  2. Department of Defense—Chief executive-branch department responsible for formulation and implementation of US military policy.

  3. The DOD directs US forces from the pentagon.

  4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is an important advisory body to the president, the secretary of defense, and the National Security Council.

  5. Joint Chiefs of Staff—advisory body to the president that includes the army chief of staff, the air force chief of staff, the chief of naval operations, and the marine commandant.

  6. The Joint Chiefs of Staff provides a link between senior civilian leadership in the Department of Defense and the professional military.

  7. National Security Agency(NSA)—Intelligence agency primarily responsible for gathering intelligence from electronic and nonelectronic sources and for breaking foreign information transmission codes.

  8. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—executive agency responsible for collection and analysis of information and intelligence about foreign countries and events.

  9. National Security Council (NSC)—executive agency responsible for advising the president about foreign and defense policy and events.

  10. The NSC includes the president, vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of the CIA.

  11. As an advisory body, it is closely connected to the president and is shielded from media scrutiny more than any other agencies in the executive bureaucracy.

The Department of Homeland Security

  1. Department of Homeland Security—Cabinet department created after the 9/11 attacks to coordinate domestic US security efforts against terrorism.

  2. The department is the locus for federal, state, and local homeland security coordination.

  3. 9/11 Commission—National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States; this bipartisan, independent group was authorized by Congress and President Bush in 2002 to study the circumstances surrounding the September 11 terrorist attacks, including preparedness and the immediate response. Its 2004 report includes recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

B Congress

  1. Congress is the second most important actor in shaping American foreign and defense policy.

  2. Congress influences foreign and defense policy through its congressional leadership, oversight, approval of treaties and appointments, appropriations, and the War Powers Act.

Congressional Leadership

  1. Normally the president proposes a policy and Congress accepts, modifies, or rejects it.

  2. Congress does have the power to implement its own policies.

Congressional Oversight

  1. Congress oversees foreign and defense policies in many ways. Appointments, appropriations, War Powers Act, hearings on foreign and defense policy, and have the president and CIA inform congressional committees about covert operations.

Treaties and Executive Agreements

  1. The Constitution gives the Senate explicit power to approve treaties.

  2. The Senate has rejected treaties only 20 times in US history.

  3. Presidents can avoid the treaty process by using executive agreements.

  4. The expansion of the US role in world affairs after World War II, the increase in the number of independent countries, and the growing complexity of global relations explains why presidents have used executive agreements more frequently overtime.


  1. President appoints but Senate must provide advice and consent to these appointments.

  2. Individual senators can derail a nomination.


  1. Congress has a key role in shaping foreign and defense policy through its power to appropriate funds, and it influences when and where the United States fights through its control of the budget.

  2. The power to appropriate funds belongs to the legislature alone.

The War Powers Act

  1. The War Powers Act—passed by Congress in 1973; the president is limited in the deployment of troops overseas to a sixty-day period in peacetime (which can be extended for an extra thirty days to permit withdrawal) unless Congress explicitly gives its approval for a longer period.

  2. The War Powers Act is controversial and has not been an effective restraint on presidential military adventurism.

  3. The fundamental weakness of the War Powers Act is the requirement that the president, not Congress, start the sixty-day clock for congressional approval.

C The Military-Industrial Complex

  1. Close relationship b/w the DOD and those industries that provide the quantities of weapons and supplies.

  2. This relationship also created the danger that the military and defense industries would acquire, because of their shared interests, influence over foreign and military policy.

  3. Military-industrial complex—the grouping of US armed forces and defense industries.

  4. The military-industrial complex has the power to acquire power for several reasons.

    1. It has economic clout.

    2. It has access to technical expertise and political information

    3. The military and defense industries share many interests.

    4. Personal and professional relationships are very close with many newly retired military officers going to work for defense industries.

    5. The military and defense industry work closely with legislators and their staffs.

D The News Media

  1. News media reports provide the public with valuable information on government actions and policy initiatives related to foreign and defense policy.

  2. The media influence the course of public policy but do not determine it.

Discuss Abu Ghraib Prisoner Abuse p. 699 copy and give to students for discussion.

E The Public

  1. The American public affects foreign and defense policy through expressions of public opinion, elections, and public action.

  2. As a rule, the American public is more interested in domestic affairs than foreign and defense policy.

  3. Public opinion rarely determines what an administration does, but it often influences the emphasis that an administration places on a foreign or defense iniative.

  4. In addition to expressions to public opinion, US citizens exercise electoral control on presidential power every fourth year during a presidential election.

  5. Public action sometimes shapes foreign and defense policy, as in the widespread resistance to the draft during the Vietnam War.

  6. Opposition to the draft also helped move the United States toward an all-volunteer military.

  7. Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)—an organization that is not tied to a government. Citizens influence government through activism.

IV Twenty-First-Century Challenges

A Promoting Democracy in the Middle East

  1. Discuss Hamas in Palestine and Iraq situations.

  2. Opium in Afghanistan/ Iran.

B Transnational Threats to Peace

  1. Terrorists operating as nonstate actors “blur the line between civilians and the military” and “confound war plans and diplomatic practices based upon enemies with fixed territory and political sovereignty.”

  2. The US is also vulnerable to information warfare because of its reliance on computers.

V Toward Reform: Choosing Between Unilateralism and Multilateralism

Key Terms:

Al-Qaeda, Bretton Woods Agreement, Bush Doctrine, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), collective security, containment, Cuban Missile Crisis, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Détente, Embargo Act, engagement, enlargement, human rights, international governmental organization (IGO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), isolationism, Joint Chiefs of Staff, League of Nations, manifest destiny, Marshall Plan, Military-Industrial complex, Monroe Doctrine, moralism, multilateralism, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Council (NSC), 9/11 Commission, nongovernmental organization (NGO), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Pearl Harbor, Powell Doctrine, pragmatism, Reagan Doctrine, Roosevelt Corollary, Taliban, tariffs, Truman Doctrine, unilateralism, United Nations, Vietnam War, war on terrorism, War Powers Act, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO)

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