The statement that the United States has never entered a war for purely idealistic reasons is accurate and undeniable. To begin with, the term “idealistic reasons” focuses on a nation’s ability or desire to come up with a foreign policy that is informed by its political aims. For example, a country can decide to deal with insecurity or terrorism abroad as a way of improving its internal defense systems. The term “national interests”, on the other hand, can be used to describe a nation’s military, economic, and cultural ambitions (Crompton 49). Such goals are usually targeted to maximize internal security, acquire resources, and protect a country’s sovereignty. These two concepts can be used to support the idea that the United States’ primary goal has been to defend its imperative national interests.
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Historians have analyzed the driving forces that dictate the nation’s desire to enter new wars. In most of the wars associated with the United States, it is evident that the ultimate objective has always been to pursue its national interests (Zarnett 619). This is a clear indication that the idealistic perspective of establishing a more peaceful world has never been the main driving force. To begin with, the Spanish-American War was an upheaval aimed at acquiring additional land and territories. This move would make it easier for the country to expand its resources and achieve its economic objectives. Additionally, the terror perpetrated by Spanish colonial rulers would be removed after the end of the war.
The United States’ entry into the First World War was catalyzed by a number of developments that threaten the position and sovereignty of the country. For instance, Germany’s submarine warfare in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic forced the US to join the war. Additionally, Germany wanted to establish an alliance with Mexico with the aim of attacking the United States. This development forced the country to make immediate decisions that could support its national interests. Similarly, World War II emerged as a new opportunity for the US to deal with nations such as Japan and Germany that appeared to disorient its military and economic goals (Crompton 103). Consequently, the end of the war made the country a global superpower.
The Cold War was taken seriously by the United States in an attempt to tackle every tyrannical aspect propagated by the pioneers of communism (Crompton 92). This wave threatened the country’s global hegemony, military superiority, and economic stability. This analysis indicates clearly that the main reason for entering the conflict was the need to protect its interests. The conflict in Vietnam was viewed as a form of colonial war aimed at opposing French and American forces. The United States viewed its role in the war as the best attempt to prevent Vietnam from being taken over by communists.
From this discussion, it is quite clear that the US has been driven by the desire to protect its national interests. However, it is acknowledgeable that the country has always been trapped in situations whereby its interests and ideals appear to overlap (Zarnett 622). For example, the country’s involvement in the Second World War was intended to overthrow a regime that wanted to eliminate Jews in Europe. The nation’s desire to pursue its national interests has, therefore, been supported by the concept of realism. The theory stipulates that positive intentions in international relations will always be aimed at protecting sovereignties from external threats.
Crompton, Samuel W. The Handy Military Answer Book. Visible Ink Press, 2015.
Zarnett, David. “What Does Realist Foreign Policy Activism Tell Us About Realist Theory?” Foreign Policy Analysis, vol. 13, no. 3, 2017, pp. 618-637.