Monday, October 28, 2019

Macro Factors that Affected Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy Initiatives Essay Example for Free

Macro Factors that Affected Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy Initiatives Essay A foreign policy is a country’s independent strategy or outline of how a sovereign state will deal with the rest of the world or how it will conduct its international affairs; this may encompass such fields as military, economy and politics. The contours of US foreign policymaking strategies were shaped to a large extent by the advantages conferred by geographical isolation of the country, lack of contiguous enemies, absence of historical baggage and the indomitable, independent streak of its early settlers who through their sheer perseverance transformed the vast wilderness of the American lands into an economic, political and military powerhouse unrivalled in the modern era. American foreign policy has seen its ups and downs ranging from a period of isolationism to active participation in world affairs to the unilateralism that characterized the Bush era. However, during the administration of Franklin D Roosevelt, American foreign policy was hobbled by the prevailing isolationist ideology and of course the economic conditions of that time. This essay examines the constraints that Roosevelt experienced in conducting the nation’s foreign policy and what events shaped the contours of Roosevelt administration foreign policy directions. During the American Revolution, The United States convinced France, Netherlands and Spain to join them in the war against Britain which was considered as a common enemy. However, after attaining independence, American foreign policy concentrated on regional matters rather than international matters. The country adopted the Monroe Doctrine which declared that America would not tolerate European interference in the Americas. However, soon thereafter American foreign policy took the stand of not interfering with other states affair in the periods before the First World War. The United States was initially not interested in involving itself in the First World War because it deemed it as a continental Europe affair. Woodrow Wilson as the President initially promised to preserve the tenets of neutrality but then was forced to enter the war on German provocation of disruption of American shipping by U boat attacks. After the war, Wilson initiated the 14 points program and created the League of Nations as also encourage idealism as an approach to international affairs. However, the imperatives of domestic politics rolled back America’s foreign policy directions away from the idealistic approach to its traditional isolationist stand. Roosevelt had internationalist views and wished to play a larger role in world affairs. However the Great depression preoccupied Roosevelt through most of his time. The Great Depression originated in the United States and had been triggered by the sudden collapse of the Stock market, which on 29 October 1929, crashed. â€Å"The shocks to the domestic US economy were a primary cause (Bernanke 2000, 5)† for the depression as the primary sector comprising of mining, farming and logging that had been listed on the stock exchange lost their share prices dramatically. This led to a panic amongst American investors who tried to keep out of the stock market and postpone their purchases of white goods. To get over the Depression, Roosevelt initiated a slew of economic reforms and measures collectively known as the ‘New Deal’. Roosevelt first sought to restore the confidence of the American people in the banking system by passing an Emergency Banking Act and creating a Federal Deposit Insurance Scheme. He embarked on massive public works projects like expansion of Dams, railroads and highways to provide employment to thousands of laid-off workers and cuts in military spending. These cuts in military spending further constrained foreign policy initiatives. The 1935 Neutrality Act passed by the Congress despite Roosevelt’s protestations further restricted the President’s foreign policy initiatives.   These were followed by the Neutrality acts of 1936 and 1937 that further tied down the President. The declaration of the Second World War in 1939, gave Roosevelt an unprecedented third term in office and a chance to redeem the US economy. At one sweep, unemployment was wiped out with youth being employed in the armed forces or in the industries to support war effort. Even then, the isolationists did not wish America to enter the war. Despite the administration’s efforts to reform the Neutrality Bill, the isolationists had a upper hand in the congress and succeeded in   obstructing the passage of the bill right until 1940 (Dalleck 1995, 191). It was only after Roosevelt steered the Lend-lease act and the surprise attack by the Japanese in 1941 that Roosevelt could get rid of the neutrality clauses and conduct the war with full vigor. Roosevelt used the Second World War to build American economy and guide its growth for America’s preeminence after the war. It was his vision and forbearance that allowed President Truman to follow a more ‘muscular’ foreign policy by declaring the famous Truman Doctrine and the Marshall plan that defined the pro-activeness of American Foreign policy from 1946 till to date. One can safely state that the considerable constraints of an isolationist’s tradition and the Great Depression hindered Roosevelt’s foreign policy initiatives, which he had to constantly battle to build America’s relevance on the international scene. Roosevelt succeeded admirably and set the stage for future American Presidents to embark on a more robust international role that today defines American foreign policy. Bibliography Bernanke, Ben. Essays on the Great Depression. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. Dalleck, Robert. Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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