Evolutions of the foreign policy of the United States
The foreign policy of the United States is the policy for which the United
States interacts with foreign nations and sets standards of interaction for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens. The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are "to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. The main trend regarding the history of U.S. foreign policy since the American Revolution is the shift from isolationism before and after World War I, to its growth as a world
power and global superpower during and since World War II and the end of the Cold
War in the 20th century.
Foreign policy themes were expressed considerably in George Washington's
farewell address; these included among other things, observing good faith and justice toward all nations and cultivating peace and harmony with all, excluding both "inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others", "steer[mon] clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world", and advocating trade with all nations. Over time, other themes, key goals, attitudes, or stances have been variously expressed by Presidential 'doctrines', named
for them. Initially these were uncommon events, but since WWII, these have been made by most presidents.Despite occasional entanglements with European Powers such as the War of 1812 and the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. foreign policy was
marked by steady expansion of its foreign trade and scope during the 19th century, and it maintained its policy of avoiding wars with and between European powers.
The 20th century was marked by two world wars in which the United States, along with allied powers, defeated its enemies and increased its international reputation. The United States adopted an isolationist foreign policy from 1932 to 1938, but then President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved toward strong support of the Allies in
their wars against Germany and Japan. Roosevelt mentioned four fundamental freedoms, which ought to be enjoyed by people "everywhere in the world"; these included the freedom of speech and religion, as well as freedom from want and fear. American policy was to threaten Japan, to force it out of China, and to prevent its attacking the Soviet Union. However, Japan reacted by an attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, and the United States was at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy.
After the war, the U.S. rose to become the dominant non-colonial economic power with broad influence in much of the world. Almost immediately however, the world witnessed division into broad two camps during the Cold War; one side was led
by the U.S., and the other by the Soviet Union. A policy of containment was adopted
to limit Soviet expansion, and a series of proxy wars were fought with mixed results. In 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved into separate nations, and the Cold War formally ended. In the 21st century, U.S. influence remains strong but, in relative terms, is declining in terms of economic output compared to rising nations such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the newly consolidated European Union. Substantial problems
remain, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the specter of nuclear
terrorism. U.S. foreign policy is characterized still by a commitment to free trade,
protection of its national interests, and a concern for human rights.