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America in the World

America in the World: A History in Documents from the War with Spain to the War on Terror

Jeffrey A. Engel
Mark Atwood Lawrence
Andrew Preston
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    America in the World
    Book Description:

    How should America wield its enormous power beyond its borders? Should it adhere to grand principles or act on narrow self-interest? Should it partner with other nations or avoid entangling alliances? Americans have been grappling with questions like these throughout the nation's history, and especially since the emergence of the United States as a major world power in the late nineteenth century.America in the Worldilluminates this history by capturing the diverse voices and viewpoints of some of the most colorful and eloquent people who participated in these momentous debates.

    Spanning the era from the Gilded Age to the Obama years, this unique reader collects more than two hundred documents--everything from presidential addresses and diplomatic cables to political cartoons and song lyrics. It encompasses various phases of American diplomatic history that are typically treated separately, such as the First World War, the Cold War, and 9/11. The book presents the perspectives of elite policymakers--presidents, secretaries of state, generals, and diplomats--alongside those of other kinds of Americans, such as newspaper columnists, clergymen, songwriters, poets, and novelists. It also features numerous documents from other countries, illustrating how foreigners viewed America's role in the world.

    Ideal for classroom use,America in the Worldsheds light on the complex interplay of political, economic, ideological, and cultural factors underlying the exercise of American power on the global stage.

    Includes more than two hundred documents from the late nineteenth century to todayLooks at everything from presidential addresses to political cartoons and song lyricsPresents diverse perspectives, from elite policymakers to clergymen and novelistsFeatures documents from outside the United States, illustrating how people in other countries viewed America's role in the world

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5145-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

    (pp. 1-6)

    In the 1990s, following the end of the Cold War, Americans were unsure about their place in the world. For the previous half century, U.S. foreign policy had been defined by resistance to fascism and communism. But after these struggles, it was no longer clear what America’s world mission should be—or, indeed, if America should have a mission. In this climate, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, perhaps the world’s most recognized diplomat, worried that many Americans did not believe the United States needed a foreign policy at all. He thought it did and, alarmed by their apathy, wrote...

  2. 1 Motives of Expansion
    (pp. 7-31)

    The United States was never the passive, isolationist nation that the mythology of American history has often suggested. As early as 1776, American diplomats were busily attempting to woo European governments to support U.S. objectives. Over the following decades, moreover, the survival of the young republic depended on managing complex economic and military threats from abroad. Growing confidence encouraged increasingly ambitious uses of power. By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, U.S. presidents had sent forces into action in territories stretching from Cuba and Peru to the Marquesas Islands, Tripoli, and China.

    Still, a decisive breaking point in...

    (pp. 32-55)

    U.S. power had expanded enormously by the time the United States went to war with Spain, but it was not yet clear what role the rising nation would play on the international stage. Policy makers and pundits charged Spain with mercilessly misruling Cuba—a country many American policy makers desired for their own sphere of influence—as Spanish leaders countered independence-minded rebels with force by the late 1890s. Unrest brought even more brutal tactics, while instability contributed to economic woes for the island, whose lucrative trade with the United States suffered. The death of a hard-line nationalist prime minister in...

  4. 3 Varieties of Empire
    (pp. 56-78)

    The Spanish-American War and the peace treaty that concluded it made clear that the United States had entered a new era. With its smashing victory over Spain, once the mightiest of the European nations, the United States arrived as a formidable power willing to send force beyond its shores to challenge a well-armed rival from across the ocean. With its decision to annex the Philippines, moreover, Washington set aside its anticolonial traditions and joined the ranks of imperial powers such as Britain, France, and Japan.

    American belligerency and imperialism raised as many questions as it answered, however, about the nation’s...

  5. 4 The Rise and Fall of Wilsonianism
    (pp. 79-106)

    Woodrow Wilson arguably influenced U.S. foreign policy more than any other twentieth-century figure. His ideas shaped the country’s vision of itself within the international system, stirred international and domestic opinion alike, and offered the language and values that would permeate foreign policy debates for generations to come. Yet Wilson largely failed to put his ideas into practice during his lifetime. This chapter explores this paradox, first by demonstrating some of the major ideas that comprise Wilsonianism and then by showing how those ideas became controversial during and after the peace conference that ended the First World War.

    Wilson’s ideals—and...

  6. 5 Isolation and Intervention
    (pp. 107-130)

    The Wilsonian moment was fleeting. After the Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, and with it American membership in the League of Nations, the U.S. government played a fitful role in international relations in the 1920s. There were important international issues to settle, yet among Americans there was little appetite for deeper, more meaningful involvement in world affairs, particularly in Europe. For example, in response to the chronic instability of the reparations system established at Versailles, by which Germany pledged to pay a continuing indemnity to Britain and France, Washington brokered temporary solutions in the 1924 Dawes Plan and the...

  7. 6 World War II
    (pp. 131-156)

    Before 1941 ended, Germany controlled Europe, having done in weeks what a previous generation of German militarists had failed to accomplish in years: the conquest of rival France and the near capture of Moscow. Among the continent’s great powers, only Great Britain remained beyond Adolf Hitler’s control. Conflict raged in Asia too. Japanese forces had invaded China in 1937. Weak international reaction effectively killed off the dwindling influence of the League of Nations and opened the door to further Japanese aggression. As the global situation grew darker, American policy makers faced monumental questions of war and peace: how to keep...

  8. 7 The Beginning of the Cold War
    (pp. 157-181)

    The Soviet-American alliance against Nazi Germany fractured within a few months after the end of the Second World War, and the two superpowers settled into a bitter rivalry that American newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann dubbed a “cold war.” This deterioration resulted from numerous sources of disagreement, some of them rooted long before 1945. The two nations had regarded each other warily ever since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 had brought communists to power in Russia and established a national ideology opposed to the American creed of free enterprise and democracy. The outbreak of global war in 1941 thrust Washington and...

  9. 8 The korean War and the Cold War of the 1950s
    (pp. 182-205)

    The Cold War took an ominous turn in 1950. Open hostilities erupted on the Korean Peninsula, split at the thirty-eighth parallel following Japanese occupation during World War II. Troops and tanks from the communist north poured into the pro-Western south. What many historians interpret today as a civil war between Koreans immediately appeared to policy makers around the world, and in Washington in particular, as part of a global communist assault orchestrated by Beijing and Moscow. American policy makers responded with force, vowing to defend the southern regime, while plotting as well a long-term evolution of American society and military...

  10. 9 The Nationalist Challenge
    (pp. 206-230)

    The most intense years of the Cold War coincided with another momentous development: the powerful assertion of autonomy by Asian, African, and Latin American nations. Many such nations gained their independence from colonial rule from the 1940s to the 1970s. The remarkable pace at which new countries came into existence does not, however, fully capture the enormity of the transformation wrought by the emergence of an energized “Global South” or “Third World.” Even nations that had secured their independence from imperial rule decades earlier demanded greater respect and a bigger international role.

    This development created opportunities and challenges for Washington...

  11. 10 Years of Crisis
    (pp. 231-254)

    A slight relaxation of East-West tensions in the mid-1950s gave way to new confrontations that made the early 1960s the most dangerous years of the Cold War. Accelerating hostility resulted from the confluence of several developments. One was the rapid crumbling of European empires, a process that dissolved old sources of stability in large swaths of the world and opened new arenas for superpower competition. A second cause of mounting confrontation was discord between the Soviet Union and China as the two powers competed for leadership of the communist world. Each sought to legitimize its claim to supremacy by demonstrating...

  12. 11 The Vietnam War
    (pp. 255-280)

    America’s long, painful involvement in Southeast Asia began in the late 1940s, when U.S. officials decided that, despite its small size and apparent insignificance, Vietnam represented a key battleground in the global crusade against communism. After World War II, U.S. officials had pressured France to relinquish control of its colonies in Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). But when it seemed that the alternative to French colonialism was Soviet-and Chinese-sponsored communism under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, the administration of President Harry S. Truman reluctantly backed France. However, in 1954, after a grisly eight-year war, France faced total defeat. The...

  13. 12 The Era of Détente
    (pp. 281-304)

    By 1969, U.S. foreign policy was facing its most serious set of challenges since World War II. The most obvious problem was Vietnam. The stalemated war was a drag on the economy as well as damaging to America’s international credibility and domestic tranquility. But other problems beset America. Spurred by its humiliation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union achieved nuclear parity with the United States; no longer could American policy makers assume their strategic superiority. Europe (led by West Germany) and Japan were prospering at the expense of an increasingly lethargic American economy. European allies, moreover, were moving...

  14. 13 Escalating and Ending the Cold War
    (pp. 305-330)

    Détente had crumbled by 1979. Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan that year, and President Jimmy Carter responded with renewed American military spending. He declared a “doctrine” of his own, pledging American military intervention—potentially including a direct nuclear response—against any nation threatening the security of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The warning was a shot across Moscow’s bow, though more trying to the Kremlin was Washington’s ensuing aid to anti-Sovietmujahideenfighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Islamic enthusiasts in particular rallied to fight the atheistic invaders, and American officials were only too happy to arm and supply anyone willing to fight...

  15. 14 Globalization after the Cold War
    (pp. 331-353)

    For four decades, the global conflict with the Soviet Union gave definition and purpose to U.S. foreign policy. But the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and with it communist rule throughout Eastern Europe, as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later, freed American officials from their Cold War moorings. Quite naturally, the demise of communism produced euphoria among Americans, who thought they had arrived at what political scientist Francis Fukuyama called “the end of history.” But it also created confusion and uncertainty. With no obvious adversary in sight, the question facing the nation was...

  16. 15 The Age of Terror
    (pp. 354-378)

    On September 11, 2001, the challenges of globalization culminated explosively. That day, nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four civilian airliners in the United States. Using the planes as missiles on a suicide mission, with three of them they destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and a large section of the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C.; after a struggle between passengers and terrorists, the fourth plane crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

    The American response was swift. In order to defeat terrorism and its state sponsors, President George W. Bush, who succeeded Bill Clinton after...