Home > Free Essays > Politics & Government > International Relations > The foreign policy of the United States

The foreign policy of the United States Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Oct 29th, 2018


The post-Second World War United States of America had a different face from the one that existed during the First World War. The United States’ foreign policy moved from isolationism to interventionism after World War II. Therefore, this paper examines the changes in America’s foreign policy after the World War II. It also examines Kennan’s long Telegram and how the United States may implement the suggestions.

How United States’ foreign policy changed after World War II

Before the Second World War, the United States of America practiced the policy of isolationism (Chandler & Write, 2001); isolationism can be defined as the state policy of shunning economic or political conflicts with other nations of the world. Isolationism was the basis on which the United States’ foreign policy was formulated before World War II.

This was because the United States did not want to get involved in any form of war in case there would be an outbreak of another widespread conflict. Besides, it never wanted to be involved in any war and would do everything to thwart it while trying to remain neutral. Many individuals in the Congress and other influential personalities supported the isolationist approach to foreign policy. They established the Neutrality Act to penalize the other nations that were at war with one another (Dornbush, 2009).

The experience of the United States during the Second World War completely changed the government’s attitude toward isolationism policy approach. It realized that for it to be safe from potential aggression, it needed to have strong allies. This prompted the United States to start lending its support to the Great Britain. In fact, the United States’ isolationism policy was put to test when Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor.

This prompted the government to revise its stand on isolationism approach to foreign policy and hence embraced interventionism one. The United States realized that it was not safe from war and therefore needed to build alliances with potential allies. The United States’ shift in foreign policy approach was immediately witnessed when the government readily agreed to host the headquarters of the United Nations within its territories after its formation.

The United Nations was formed to champion the interests of all member states. Besides, the United States also joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. After the Second World War the United States realized that it could not remain safe by keeping to pursuing only its interests, but by collaborating with other allies to defend their common interests (Chandler & Write, 2001).

The realist approach by President Nixon in late 1960s and President Carter’s idealist approach of late 1970s

President Nixon’s realist approach had the assumption that a nation state was actually the principle actor in the politics of the world. Furthermore, realist approach assumed that power was the definite driving force in politics.

The approach posited that the quality of a relationship between one state and another was the principle factor that shaped or modeled how a given state should respond to any of the other states. According to the realist approach, issues that were social and economic in nature were also equally crucial as those of the military (McCrmick, 2009).

President Carter deviated from the President Nixon’s realist approach. Contrary to President Nixon’s realist policy approach, President Carter’s idealist approach placed more emphases on domestic affairs with reference to foreign policy.

His key policy areas included the enhancement of relations with key American allies and placing less emphasis on the then Soviet Union as the main focus for the policy of the United States of America and the support of the global human rights (Soper, 2007).

While Nixon’s realist approach mainly focused on American interests outside the territory Carter’s idealist approach principally focused on the significance of domestic values. President Carter believed that the United States could be strong internationally only when it was strong back at home.

Therefore, contrasting the two policy approaches, realist approach gave the suggestion that the nature of human or the structure established in reference to the international system influenced the behavior of the state whereas the idealist approach was grounded on the belief that governments of states obtained their legitimacy from the people being governed (Copson, 2007).

Kennan’s objective in his long Telegram and how the United States may carry out the policy he suggests

In his long Telegram, George Kennan focused on three areas; he focused on the primary motivating factors in the foreign policy of Soviet and also the ideological and historical background of international relations as perceived by the Soviet during the postwar period.

He also focused on the attainment of the Soviet foreign policy and the broad repercussion it would have for the United States of America. In his Telegram, Kennan argued that the policy of Soviet principally targeted giving strength to the relative USSR’s policy within the international environment (Miscamble, 1993).

Kennan, in his long Telegram, argued that rulers of Soviet vowed to achieve their goals and objectives by leaving nothing to chance. This included destroying perceived enemies. He further stated that Soviet rulers were ready to use both direct and indirect means to infiltrate the economic, moral and or political structures of the western states by taking advantage of the perceived contradictions that existed within the structure of capitalism.

They believed that with the stability of the United States, Soviet could not be secure. Therefore, the Soviet rulers emphasized that the American social, political and economic structure had to be dismantled to ensure such security (Kim, 2010).

In this case, the United States should enforce Kennan’s recommendation that it should stop the Soviet expansion. He suggested that the United States should not use force or any form of military actions to stop the Soviet from influencing it negatively.

The United States should increase its diplomatic relations with the Soviet rulers and solve the underlying problems amicably. Besides, the United States should have a policy specifically dedicated to dealing with Soviet as an entity. This should be geared toward increasing diplomatic relations.


The foreign policy of the United States changed from isolationism to interventionism after the World War II. Besides, the United States needed to come up with specific policies on Soviet so as to thwart its efforts to frustrate the United States; this was one of the suggestions in Kennan’s long Telegram (Kim, 2010).


Chandler, C. & Write, J. (2001). Modern world history for Edexcel specification A.: Core. New York: Heinemann.

Copson, R. (2007). The United States in Africa: Bush policy and beyond. London: Zed Books.

Dornbush, K. (2009). Kaplan AP U.S. History. New York: Kaplan Publishing.

Kim, J. (2010). Ends of empire: Asian American critique and the Cold War. Minnesota: U of Minnesota Press.

McCrmick, J. (2009). American Foreign Policy and Process. New York: Cengage Learning.

Miscamble, W. (1993). George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947-1950. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Soper, P. (2007). The politics of American light armor development from post-Vietnam to post-cold war. New York: ProQuest.

This essay on The foreign policy of the United States was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2018, October 29). The foreign policy of the United States. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-foreign-policy-of-the-united-states/


IvyPanda. (2018, October 29). The foreign policy of the United States. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-foreign-policy-of-the-united-states/

Work Cited

"The foreign policy of the United States." IvyPanda, 29 Oct. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/the-foreign-policy-of-the-united-states/.

1. IvyPanda. "The foreign policy of the United States." October 29, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-foreign-policy-of-the-united-states/.


IvyPanda. "The foreign policy of the United States." October 29, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-foreign-policy-of-the-united-states/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "The foreign policy of the United States." October 29, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-foreign-policy-of-the-united-states/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'The foreign policy of the United States'. 29 October.

Powered by CiteTotal, online referencing maker
More related papers