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The United States is the only major superpower in the world with the economic might, technological advancements and political strategies that enable it maintain its position in the global arena. When the American founding father issued the declaration of independence in 1776, they envisioned a non interventionist state. President John Monroe is accredited with the issuance of the country’s first foreign policy statement in 1823 aimed at deterring European powers from expressing interest in colonizing the Western Hemisphere. Subsequent presidents reiterated the message of the Monroe Doctrine whenever European powers attempted to colonize regions on the American continent. This paper seeks to discuss the US as a superpower and more so its role as the policeman of the world from the American Civil War period to the present day.
Global leadership position held by the US today became evident with the amassing of troops near the US border with Mexico immediately after the American Civil War in 1965. This was a move initiated in line with the Monroe Doctrine to ensure that the French influence in the American continent was eliminated (Loveman, 2010). The economic opportunities realized by the victorious North after the War consolidated the country’s economic might in the American continent. Prior to the War, the North had the factories and human resource to spur economic prosperity, gaining more land and the movement of southern populations to the North only served to hasten technological advances and a booming economy. The internal economy grew as a result of an abundant workforce and a ready home market for goods and services produced locally.
President Cleveland in 1895 underscored the importance of the Monroe Doctrine in the US adopted foreign policy in the border dispute involving Guyana, formerly the British Guiana and Venezuela (Chollet, Lindberg and Shorr, 2011). The United States was involved in a foreign policy dispute over the Spanish colony of Cuba which impacted negatively on US investments in the country. Military commander Theodore Roosevelt liberated Cuba from Spain during the American Spanish war in 1898 and by so doing also gained ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. In the start of the 20th century, the United States after having gained authority as the continent’s policeman in the Spanish-American War assumed a domineering and imperialist foreign policy.
In 1905, President Roosevelt formally introduced a clause to the Monroe doctrine that officially saw the US become the policeman of the Americas continent. He stated that any foreign powers interfering in the affairs of Latin America would adversely affect political stability in the US. Roosevelt declared that the US would use military force to prevent European influence in Latin America thus the US officially became the policeman of Latin America (Herring, 2008).
Later, under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the foreign policy took a different turn and took a non-interventionist approach against European influence. Entry into the First World War saw the emergence of the US as a major superpower. It entered into the war due to its political and economic ties with the British Empire (Herring, 2008). Success in World War I the offers of the Treaty of Versailles encouraged Wilson to join international organization for maintaining world peace known as the “League of Nations.”
After World War II, America was found to be interfering everywhere around the globe and gained immense power in the Eastern Europe. Its foreign policy failed to achieve set objectives replacing diplomacy with military might. The anticommunist policy became the main theme of its foreign policy more so with the onset of the Cold War (Conry, 2014). The US cemented its economic policies through globalization by military might in China, where it fought to fight against communism, in Vietnam and even to the eventual disintegration of USSR. The US developed strategies that ensured it economic prosperity was achieved through force. With the help of the military, political and economic strategies in combination with the restraint policy, the country was able to stop communism from spreading.
This was the period of the cold war where the Truman Doctrine was formed to avoid countries from falling into the circle of Soviet which was later accommodated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1948. On the same note, more events such as The Korean War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War and the collapse of the Soviet Union left the USA to be the only remaining superpower of the world. (Parker, 2014)
In the new millennia, the US foreign policy under the bush administration changed it focus on to a theme titled, war on terror. The Bush administration became extremely wary of threats such as nuclear terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. This was due to perceived unrests in the Middle East where there a lot of anti American sentiments which led to the 9/11 attacks on US soil. This eventually led to shocks in the American economy as oil prices skyrocketed leading to the most aggressive refurbishments in US foreign policy in history. This was answered by the attack and war with Iraq and Afghanistan.
There have also been recent crisis all around the world from North Africa to Syria more so in the Arab world with the Arab Spring. The US continues to offer military support at different degrees in affected parts of the world and is commonly referred to as the policeman of the world, as it not only manipulates the world’s social conditions but also has massive controlling power over the economic aspects of the world economy.
Chollet, D., Lindberg, T. and Shorr, D. (2011). Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide. London: Routledge.
Conry, B. (2014). “Global Leadership”: A Euphemism for World Policeman. Cato Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/us-global-leadership-euphemism-world-policeman
Herring, G. C. (2008). From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Loveman, B. (2010). No Higher Law: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere since 1776: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere Since 1776. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press
Parker, M. (2014). Reconstruction Era Civil War Reconstruction Acts Civil War. Thomaslegion.net. Retrieved from: http://www.thomaslegion.net/reconstruction.html