U.S. Foreign Affairs Since 1898 the Development Term Paper

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U.S. Foreign Affairs since 1898

The development of containment was closely related with the historical evolutions of the world after the end of World War II. At this point, many of the European nations were destroyed by the war, their economy was barely trying to pick up and both the presence of the Soviet troops in the middle of Europe (in Berlin, Germany at that point) and the advertisements of Communism as a system where all individual are economically equal made adherence to the Communist ideal very tempting. This is also a time (1945-1950) when Communist Parties gain significant votes in France or Italy and threatened to take over Greece or Turkey. As such, during this decade, a significant danger existed that many countries in Europe would develop a Communist form of government rather than join the capitalist world.

For this reason, the Americans developed the concept of containment, which referred to policies aimed at stopping the countries joining the Communist block. Just keeping countries from entering the Communist sphere could be done with instruments ranging from economic intervention (a good example in this sense was the Marshal Plan that helped Western Europe's revival after the war) to direct military intervention (as in the case of the Korean War, when this was necessary in order to push back the North Koreans from conquering South Korea).

The reasons for conflict between the U.S. And the Soviet Union were numerous and they ranged from economic to ideological and political reasons. First of all, the two economic systems used in the two countries were entirely different. The U.S. advocated capitalism and a market economy, while the Soviet Union were in favor of a centralized, state - based economy. The fact that these were the two existing superpowers at that time also led to a continuous fight for economic resources and markets.

On the other hand, the conflict was also ideological and was translated in the capacity or desire of each of the states to expand their area of influence and promote the ideals in third world countries. This gave way to a series of tacit, indirect confrontations in such areas as Afghanistan or Cuba, for example.

Finally, a last potential reason for the Cold War conflict is that with only two superpowers coexisting, these were bound to be competing on the international stage.

2. The Cuban Missile Crisis remains perhaps the most well know example of direct confrontation between the Soviets and the Americans and the case when the world came very close to a nuclear war. As previously mentioned, this crisis remains a significant one especially since, in the context of the bilateral relations, conflicts were generally indirect, with the two superpowers sustaining different local factions rather than going out one against each other.

The Cuban Missile Crisis actually had its beginning a while back, with the island falling to Fidel Castro's Communist guerillas and with the Americans placing 15 intermediate - range ballistics in Turkey. The first situation gave the Soviets the extraordinary position of having a Communist nation in its sphere of influence that was just a couple of hundreds of kilometers away from the American coast.

On the other hand, the American missiles in Turkey were threatening Soviet security and, in fact, also provided an excellent premise for placing their own missiles somewhere close to the U.S. border. In fact, this was the type of argument that was used within the negotiations with UN Secretary General and the American part.

Finally, the missiles were also placed on the island so as to protect the fragile new Cuban government from a potential American invasion on the island, which was possible at that time.

The negotiations that followed were concluded with the U.S. agreeing to withdraw the missiles in Turkey, at the Soviet border and the Soviets dismantling the rockets in Cuba and shipping them back to the Soviet Union. At the same time, the United States issues a formal statement by which it recognized Cuba and the Cuban government.

However, the interesting thing was that at that point, the fact that the Americans had agreed to withdraw their missiles in Turkey was not made public and the world received the impression that the Soviets had lost in this confrontation, that they were not able to support the pressure and had to give in their demands. Only later on did history mention that the agreement had in fact implied a quid pro quo decision, in which both superpowers gave up on something.

The importance of this confrontation was crucial for the Cold War. First of all, it brought forth the potentiality of a full nuclear confrontation and the impact this could have had on humanity. The previous confrontation had been during the West Berlin Blockade, but this was at a time when only the Americans had developed the atomic bomb, so there was really no danger of a nuclear confrontation.

On the other hand, this confrontation left the Americans to be perceived as potential winners in this situation and to anticipate that the Communists actually did not have the resources to be able to sustain a similar confrontation, militarily or economically. I think that the Cuban Missile Crisis virtually marked the emphasized hegemony of the U.S. On the global scene.

3. In order to better understand the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War, we need to give a brief background on the situation in the Indochina Peninsula at that time.

With the Geneva Conference and the withdrawal of the French colonialism, the partition of Vietnam between North and South Vietnam (with a Communist government in North Vietnam, recognized by China and the Soviet Union and a capitalist government in the South) was recognized, but perceived and implemented as a temporary situation.

The U.S. did not recognize the Geneva Conference conclusions and the temporary separation of North and South Vietnam. Fears of the Communist government actually taking over in the South as well and imposing a Communist rule over the entire country implied that no elections were held in South Vietnam and that the Americans imposed Ngo Dinh Diem as the leader in South Vietnam. The Vietnam Workers' Party began to infiltrate more and more in the South and to promote in insurgencies the unification of the country as a Communist state.

At this point, we should understand that the American foreign policy during this period was strongly based on the idea of containment and of the Domino Effect. Their belief was that if South Vietnam would fall to the Communists, then the entire South-East Asia would become Communist as well and that this would eventually spread towards Thailand. In this sense and following this perspective, the U.S. needed to contain Communist expansion exclusively to its proliferation in North Vietnam.

As such, starting with 1964, the Americans brought troops on the ground into full-scale conflict with the Communist insurgency and military in the South and this lasted to 1975. The numerous casualties and the increasing pressure in the U.S. from different groups to end the war and retreat the American troops brought about the Americans leaving the country in April 1975, on the same day that Saigon, South Vietnam capital, fell.

The effect of this was plausible and quite in line with what had been anticipated in the case of Vietnam reunification under Communist command. Laos became a Communist state, following a coup backed by the Soviet Union and Vietnamese forces, in 1975. In the same year, the Communist Khmer Rouge gained power in Cambodia. Nevertheless, the rest of South-East Asia did not fall any further to Communist regimes.

4. All three examples - Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda are actually examples of genocidal situations when the American foreign policy decision makers and the international community either failed to see the genocide in progress and catalogued it as a different act such as mutual conflict (Bosnia), saw it too late and failed to intervene in time (Rwanda) or simply decided not to intervene at all (Cambodia).

With the Bosnian case, Power is keen, first of all, to point out that the U.S. officials moved the nature of violence from the sphere of genocide (as it had been initially labeled by President Clinton) to that of "two-sided bloodshed." This meant that this was not a case of genocide and would not, thus, ask for an external intervention.

On the other hand, Power criticizes the U.S. lack of interventionism in the matter of the Bosnian genocide and, especially, its failure to send troops that could have stopped the genocide. Further more, Power's findings imply that the traditional diplomatic approach can play no significant role when dealing with such a situation and that the media itself was too slow in portraying the genocidal situation for what it was. This implied that there was a general inaction at the population's level in the U.S. And that few Americans actually pressed forward with the idea of a direct intervention.

The U.S. inaction cannot be based… [END OF PREVIEW]

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U.S. Foreign Affairs Since 1898 the Development.  (2007, October 5).  Retrieved January 18, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/us-foreign-affairs-since-1898-development/51809

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