American Civilization 2
Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas G. Brinkley
Rise to Globalism (8th Revised ed.)
New York, 1997
Foreign policy in America has gone through major changes and adaptations during the last century. In the book, Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1939 by Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas G. Brinkley, these shifts in American foreign policy, since the year 1939, are examined closely. The shift in policy from isolationism changed much in American government and effected almost all of American life and way of thinking. The growth of new foreign policies was treacherous and certainly made even more difficult due to the demands for a solid foreign policy, which increasingly arose in the years after 1939. In Ambrose’s and Brinkley’s book, we see these shifts in policy laid out with all the chaos surrounding them. As previously mentioned, in the past, “The dominant political mood was isolationism” (IX). No one was worried about any new kinds of foreign policy because America was so far geographically distanced from any potential enemies. However, these ideas rapidly changed. By the 90’s America had a strong military which cost billions, had numerous alliances, and her “national security was constantly in jeopardy” (IX).
During the time between 1939 and the present, American attitudes about the rest of the world changed dramatically, and so foreign policy had to change to. American’s would no longer assume “that there was a common commitment to peace” throughout the world (X). Instead, Americans would become “aware of their own vulnerability” and adopt “a policy of massive rearmament and collective security” (X). We would then shift to a policy of containment, “with its implication of an acceptance of a permanently divided world” and “a sense of power, of bigness, of destiny” (XIII) (XII). Along with a “crusade for freedom” which sought to bring freedom to those controlled by Communism (XII). However, in the end, America came to realize that “there was relatively little the United States could accomplish by force of arms” (XIII). This is the stage for the Rise to Globalism.
After World War II the foreign policy of isolationism was shifting. In the aftermath of the war the Cold War had broken out. “The Soviet Union occupied East Europe” and “America was unwilling to accept Russian domination” (53). The American’s viewed their country as the police force for the world, which was fueled by “a sense of awesome power” (61). They tried to control the Russians by “applying economic pressure”, or by threatening them with the possibility of a bombing, but none of this worked well (63). The first official change in foreign policy came through the Truman Doctrine, which established that “whenever and wherever an anti-Communist government was threatened, by indigenous insurgents, foreign invasion, or even diplomatic pressure … the United States would supply political, economic, and , most of all, military aid” (82). Along with this came the Marshall plan, which laid out the specifics of the aid that would be given to Europe. These measures ensured that U.S. trade with Europe would stay steady, that “Western control over Middle Eastern oil supplies” would remain intact, and most of all, that Europeans would now be free from economic burdens “so they could help the United States militarily” (88). All these changes coincide with the policy of containment. “Containment meant building up the military strength of America and her allies, and a willingness to stand up to the Russians whenever they applied pressure” (96). So through the Truman doctrine, Communism would be contained, and due to the Marshall plan, America’s allies would supply them with more military strength to be able to carry this out. The focus of the Cold War was now on containment. This would keep the status quo and keep America at the top of the world. One of the next big events for foreign policy was the Korean War.