What role should America play in the world? Some suggest the United States should continue to play an active role in world affairs, while others say our country needs to stop “policing the world.” With so many arguments for both sides, how do we come to a consensus?
A country’s foreign policies are the strategies it employs to secure its self interest in dealing with foreign nations. American foreign policy centers around the question of how involved the United States should be in world affairs, and how it should respond to crises around the world.
Our country’s foreign policy began with George Washington’s policy of non-interventionism. Washington believed that it would be unwise to involve ourselves in the affairs of other countries where our interests aren’t affected. Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, even declared in his inaugural address that the United States should avoid all entangling alliances.
American foreign policy drastically shifted both as the country entered World War II, and as the world became more intertwined through commerce. After the WWII, the United States became the dominant economic power in the world—and as a result, the champion of democracy in the face of Communism. World War II shook the world, and both it and the Cold War resulted in a shift in American viewpoints on the role of the United States in world affairs. The attacks on the World Trade Center sparked what became known as the War on Terrorism under then-President George Bush, and this trend continued with both the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan, and other conflicts. Supporters of increased American involvement overseas have often cited the need to fight the enemies of the United States overseas—and not on American soil. Opponents, however, contend that the country’s increased military involvement actually makes us less safe both physically and financially—and, less free.
Foreign policy is a big issue in today’s society, with heated debates on both sides. In light of recent terror attacks, the rise of ISIS, and globalization, what should the role of the US be in world affairs? How aggressively should America pursue its interests abroad, and how should it present itself to foreign nations?