May 3, 2005

The American Age by Walter LaFeber

In preparation for the Foreign Service Written Examination a couple of weeks ago, I reread one of my textbooks that covered American Foreign Policy since 1896.  While it did not cover much of what was on the exam, I did jot down some thoughts as I went.  I decided to log them here so I can look back at them next year as I take another class on Foreign Policy in the fall.  These are largely lessons that I think are especially relevant in today''s world.

Wilson

  1. Wanted to maintain/grow markets
  2. Self government is learned slowly/never imposed
  3. To get this change, surround with American principles to bring about desired change
  4. Refrain from military coercion, use economic coercion
  5. WWI appears to have shattered this plan for self-determination\r\n

Hiram Johnson/Progressive Republican

In response to the League of Nations:

I am opposed to American boys policing Europe and quelling riots in every new nation's back yard.

Harding/Hughes

  1. Opening/Feeding poor markets to consume U.S. goods
  2. Losing farm subsidies increases farm profits--could this be the answer to this problem even today?

Hoover

  1. Attempt to restructure the world financially and politically fueled the Depression and WWII
  2. System was structured to fail--in a deeper sense than casually noted (i.e. more than just financially constructed poorly)

Charles Hughes on page 335 states that Americans must seek:

Pax Americana

Truman

  1. The president can not be a rational actor as Stalin was able to be during the Korean Way
  2. The American President must satisfy an irrational constituency to win reelection or election of like-minded colleagues
  3. This insight from Truman's presidency could be the key to unlocking much of the Foreign Policy failures of the past 30-40 years