3007GIR American Foreign Policy
Major Essay Questions
Americans have often expressed an attitude toward the rest of the world described as ‘isolationist’. What were the origins and meaning of this attitude and how accurately (or inaccurately) has it ever applied to American foreign policy? Use examples from across US history.
American hopes for a ‘community of great powers’ to assure a peaceful world order after World War II were dashed by the onset of the Cold War which froze enmities and attitudes for many decades. Explain how the domestic repercussions of American anti-communism, sharpened by the Cold War, played damagingly into US foreign policy over the post-war period.
American politics after World War II were seen as settling upon a ‘liberal consensus’ among Democrats and many Republicans. Explain this term as it applied to US foreign policy up until the Vietnam War, and explain the significance of the latter (the Vietnam War) in fatally cracking that consensus.
Presidents Carter and Reagan tried, in their different ways, to heal the damage that the Vietnam War and its associated scandals had wrought on America’s image in the world. Describe their different strategies and assess their relative successes and/or failures.
With the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1989, the United States entered what was called its ‘unipolar moment.’ What challenges and opportunities did this seem to present for American leaders, and how well have successive leaders succeeded in meeting the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities?
Philosopher G.W.F. Hegel once said that “the only thing people learn from history is that they learn nothing from history,” an observation that may be illustrated by the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Analyse the long-term repercussions of this decision, and explain the effect it had on the subsequent foreign policy of Barack Obama.
International relations scholar John Ikenberry has argued that, if China is to be a responsible member of the liberal international order established by Americans after World War II rather than a wrecker of it, it will have to become locked into that order’s rules and find it advantageous to be so. What is the likelihood this will happen, and can the US and its partners do anything to ensure it?
Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State told the Council on Foreign Relations that “The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.” President Donald Trump, however, seemed to favour a distancing of America from its traditional allies and from its leadership role. On his record, do you think he represented a genuine break with America’s post-World War II foreign policy? Has his successor President Biden adopted a more traditional foreign policy stance?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 represents one of the most serious challenges to the international world order since the end of the Cold War. Critically analyse this statement by examining America’s foreign policy on Ukraine since 2014, how Russia has challenged the world order through its actions in Ukraine, and the likelihood of success and/or failure of the United States (and NATO) response to this challenge.