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Surprise, Security and the American Experience Essay

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Updated: Feb 24th, 2021

According to Gaddis, what technological changes forced the United States to globalize its approach to security in the early years of the 20th Century?

Gaddis argues that the military arsenal which Napoleon controlled could move its location much quicker than those commanded by Caesar. However, during the Crimean conflict during the 1850s, there was a lot of technological advancement, which hastened the transportation of military forces. There were massive technological innovations such as steam and wind propelled sea vessels. These innovations significantly improved the speed and maneuverability of ships. During the American Civil War, which took place ten years later, military forces were transported by rail. This innovation also had a significant impact on the conduct of conflict on land. During the 1900s, just after the end of the Spanish-American conflict, several innovative bicycle mechanics came up with a new invention. They attached a set of wings to an engine. This signified the invention of the airplane, which revolutionized warfare, enabling the military to attack their enemies from the air. The United States could now boast of having military capabilities in the ocean, land, and air (Gaddis 40).

Gaddis argues that a core premise of the Adams approach was the geographical separation from their enemies was also a mechanism of defense. However, with the recent developments in technology, the distance was no longer an option. The astonishing fact is that these technological developments instituted a revolution in the mode of thought within the US citizenry with regard to the country’s security. However, the questions raised were why these developments did not occur earlier. It was evident before the US got involved in the First World War that the techniques of war had significantly changed. However, there were no agreements on how these developments would be incorporated into the military. However, this stalemate was resolved just before the commencement of World War Two (Gaddis 41).

Why, according to Gaddis, was Franklin D. Roosevelt able to pursue hegemony without unilateralism or preemption?

Several years after the initial attack on US lands, such as the fall of Washington to the UK forces and the consequent destruction of the capital, most American leaders adopted mechanisms of pre-empting future challenges by expanding the interests of the US. The essential features of this strategy were the pre-emption of the locations where enemies can take advantage of the weakness of the adjacent nations and situations in which weakness can influence strong nations to develop unilateralism. This was to prevent the United States from depending on other nations to secure its security. Finally, they pursued hegemony in the North American region so that the prevailing international system would depict the supremacy of the US power instead of a balance between various powers (Gaddis 37).

This was a pre-emption of the potential conflict, business rivalries, and uprisings that had been witnessed in Europe. Based on this history and the emotions it aroused, it is not surprising that the same features resurfaced after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the world trade center attack. However, Roosevelt could have experienced several challenges. The degree of responsibility significantly increased during the aftermath that followed the assault on Pearl Harbor. However, this was achieved without pre-emption and unilateralism. It was also not inclusive of the strategic asset possessed by the US. This was the geographical barriers between them and their enemies (Gaddis 38).

Roosevelt chose to pursue hegemony from a different perspective by combining restraint and multilateralism. He was of the opinion that democratic governments should be encouraged in other states. However, just like the previous strategy, hegemony was the primary objective. Roosevelt wanted to pursue this strategy globally. Gaddis argues that the policy of restraint and multilateralism shaped the foreign policy of the US (Gaddis 39).

What does Gaddis believe was necessary for the United States public to accept a global role in the world during the first half of the 20th Century?

Gaddis argues that the main trigger came from the attack launched on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces. This attack took place on a bright morning, and most individuals were oblivious of the threat. The blame was placed on the lack of sufficient intelligence and the use of technology by the Japanese to execute the attack. The Japanese were able to dispatch military planes from aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean. This attack happened on US soil, which led to the pronouncement of war against the Japanese. This tragic event engraved itself in the memories and minds of most US citizens. This event also sent shockwaves across other nations and states in the world. Roosevelt, who was the president, stated that the occurrence would forever be remembered and “live in infamy” (Gaddis 35).

The raid by the Japanese was a deliberate act of aggression by another state against the US. The Japanese state had a previous history of using its military might to further its interests around the world. It resulted from a prolonged sequence of escalating tensions, which meant that the eventuality of war was not shocking. The only surprise was how the war began. However, most scholars are of the view that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a strategic military assault on the US forces. Subsequent attacks on the world trade center and assaults on the American embassies in the East African region signified a change in tactics in the enemy. Other attacks were carried out on US military barracks in Saudi Arabia and a US naval ship. The enemy was targeting the US, where they perceived to be a soft target. These facts forced the US government and citizens to pursue a more global role to protect their domestic and international interests (Gaddis 36).

Works Cited

Gaddis, John L. Surprise, Security, and the American Experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. Print.

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