Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:27 am Post subject: When did the US become involved in world politics?
Initially, The United States sought to keep itself completely separate from European affairs. President James Monroe stated the "Monroe Doctrine" which said that, while the US would not interfere with existing colonies, the western hemisphere was now closed to further European colonisation. From the earliest times, however, this did not prevent our government from interfereing with the governments of latin american government if our national interests were involved. The remarkable thing about the Monroe Doctrine was that we had a fairly weak navy so we could not enforce it. At the time Britains navy ruled the seas, so, since in was also in Britains best interest, the royal navy, in effect, enforced our monroe doctrine.
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There was a low level of involvement all through the 19th century, over such issues as pressing American sailors into the Royal Navy. Or dealing with the Barbary Pirates. And ending their wars, etc.
At we turn into the 20th century, the US got into a bunch of small wars, in the Phillipines, Cuba, etc -- places where they really had no business. They were getting so big, that they couldn't stay out ... World War I is where America really enters 'world affairs'.
Just America's entrance into the war decided it. Americans really didn't fight much in World War I, and they missed the great bloodbaths of the early war years. It was just that they were arriving, and they would win because the Germans were exhausted, and were losing the taste for the fight. So were the British and French. The troops at the head of the spear, in the last 100 days of the war, the ones that broke the German lines, in battle after battle, were the boys from the colonies ... Canadians, and Aussies/ANZAC in particular ... combined with a few remaining divisions of the British army.
After the war, Wilson got involved as a full partner in the discussions about the post-war world. The Europeans were intent to get reparations out of Germany, and get their revenge in other ways ... particularly the French ... and Wilson crafted 14 points that he wanted to see accepted by the allies. There's an argument amongst historians if his points were a good thing or not, and you'd have to decide for yourself -- but that's the time when the US became regularly involved in world affairs.
It was also in the period when the USA was emerging as a financial, as well as an industrial power, with big corporations on the brink of going international, and big banks, ready to take on the Germans and the London bankers. I suspect the pressures to have a political backup for commerce was powerful, and was always going to win out over isolationism.
Even so, the League of Nations was set up as part of Wilson's plan, and the USA did not join because the Senate would not consent to it. When World War II started, the USA stayed out of it until the Pearl Harbour strike -- over three years. So, there was still lots of isolationist sentiment.
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When did the US become involved in world politics?