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PSC 303: International Relations

McCormick, American Foreign Policy, 4/e Outlines

Prof. Jeremy Lewis, Revised 31 Jan 2005.
Learning Objectives & Questions , for 2/e. 
(Later editions do have a different chapter structure.)
01: U.S. Traditions
02: America’s global involvement and the Emergence of the Cold War
03: The Cold War Consensus and Challenges to It

Ch.1: U.S. Traditions

(see previous notes for 3/e)

McCormick 2:
America’s global involvement and the Emergence of the Cold War
Al Zachos, 2005

After WWII, there were 3 sets of major factors propelled the United States in the direction of becoming a global power

  1. the global political and economic conditions of 1945-1947
  2. the decision of leading political figures within the U.S. to abandon isolationism after WWII
  3. the rise of an ideological challenge from the Soviet Union
The Postwar World and American Involvement

The international environment after the war was a very different one, from the one that existed before the war.

-The traditional powers of Europe had either been defeated or had been ruined by the ravages of war, the global economy had been weakened, and a relatively new power and ideological opponent had emerged in the Soviet Union.

-These conditions dictated that the U.S. needed to stay involved, despite an Isolationist past.

The Global Vacuum: A challenge to American Isolationism

Europe was devastated. Sizeable portions of the land had either been flooded, scorched, or confiscated. The industrial sectors were extremely run over.

Five million homes had been destroyed, and millions more damaged. The word in Europe was "wasteland".

The colonies of Britain and France were demanding independence, which only added to the turmoil..

Italy had a huge budget deficit and an extraordinary inflation rate. Germany came out owing 9 times more than it did at the beginning of WWII.

In contrast to post war Europe, the U.S. came out healthy and prosperous. The economy was booming, and there was a balance of trade surpluses and huge economic reserves. Whereas, militarily, the U.S. had the largest navy in the world, and was the only country with the Atomic Bomb capability.

American Leadership and Global involvement

Roosevelt thought that America’s response to global affairs was ill advised, and shouldn’t govern future foreign policy

Roosevelt’s plan first involved the total defeat and disarming of our enemies. Second, there must be a renewed effort on the U.S.’s part to prevent another global depression. Third, there must the establishment of a global, collective security organization with active American involvement

Roosevelt, unlike some of his advisors, believed that the U.S. could have good relations with the Soviet Union, To ensure this, Roosevelt had gone out of his way to maintain good relations with Joseph Stalin during the war, and immediately after.

Strategy: a role in postwar international politics

Roosevelt, Stalin, and Winston Churchill agreed to zones of occupation in Germany. Then they provided some territorial concessions to the Soviets at the expense of Poland. Third, the wartime leaders allowed an expansion of the Lublin committee, which was governing Poland, as a way of dealing with the Poland question after the war.

Fourth, the proclaimed the Declaration of Liberated Europe specified free elections and constitutional safeguards of individual freedom in the liberated nations.

Finally, the Yalta Conference signified the beginning of an American commitment to global involvement, beyond the wartime period.

The Rise of the Soviet Challenge

Truman was just as committed to involvement as Roosevelt was. Three sets of factors shaped his commitment to involvement.

  1. His Wilsonian idealism
  2. the wartime situation existing when he assumed office
  3. the views of his principal foreign policy advisors.
The end of 1945-1946 marked the beginning of bad relations between the U.S. and Soviet Union, as Congress, and the people became ill with the Soviet Union’s non-compliance to the Yalta Conference.

Stalin attacked capitalism by saying basically that "war was inevitable as long as capitalism existed," and, "that future wars were inevitable until the world economic system was reformed, that is, until communism supplanted capitalism. . ."

Churchill responded against this speech, and American ambassador George Kennan sent the message back from Moscow, that Stalin intends to work vigorously to advance Soviet interests in the world, and to undermine Western powers.

The Truman Doctrine and Beyond

The Truman doctrine responded to the threat of the spread of Communism, it was to, "help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national identity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes." It also outlined the Containment Theory.

Elements of Containment: Regional Security Pacts

There were 5 main initiatives set up during this period of containment.

  1. The Rio Pact in Latin America was signed September 1947.
  2. NATO was formed in April 1949, signed by the U.S., Canada and 10 western European nations.
  3. In Asia, the (ANZUS) Treaty of September 1951.
  4. Another one in Asia, was the SEATO, which provided security protection for South Vietnam, Cmabodia, and LAOS.
  5. The last was the (CENTO), established in this period as well, developed with the inclusion of the United Kingdom, Pakistan, and Iran. However, through executive agreement with Turkey, the U.S. pledged to help the (CENTO), also.
I’ll conclude with a speech from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, "If power-hungry Communists should either falsely or correctly estimate that the Middle East is inadequately defended, they might be tempted to use open measures of armed attack. To combat this threat he asked Congress to support him as he might, "use armed forces to assist any such nation of group of such nations requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism." U.S. security commitments were now truly global in scope. This heightened the Cold War tensions.

McCormick, Chapter 2, Part II
America’s Global Involvement and the Emergence of the Cold War
by Walker Garrett (2005)

Elements of Containment: Economic and Military Assistance
     The second set of initiatives for the containment strategy involved economic and military assistance to friendly
     The initial goal was fostering economic well being, but it turned into a strategic move to ensure the stability of
     states threatened by international communism and to build support for anticommunism on a global scale.
     Three main programs:
          The Marshall Plan- called for Europeans to draw up plan for economic recovery and pledged American
          economic support to implement, $17 billion in aid over 4 years to revitalize Western Europe, 1.2% of
          GNP, in 2000, aid given was only .1% of GNP. Europe was key to economic health of US, and a weak
          Europe might be subject to political instability, Communist penetration, and subversion. Clear elements of
          containment strategy.
          The Point Four Program- Designed to take Marshall Plan ideas on a global scale through a unilateral effort
          on the part of the U.S. though allowing allies to become involved. Program to provide industrial,
          technological, and economic assistance to the underdeveloped nations of the world. This program never
          received sufficient funding authorization from Congress.
        The Mutual Security Concept- Emphasized aiding nations to combat communism and to strengthen the
          security of the U.S. and the “free world.” Changed from primarily economic and humanitarian aid to
          military assistance by the early and mid-1950s. Economic assistance was more likely given to bolster the
          overall security capability of friendly countries.
            Why did the policy change from economic to military aid?
                    Tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were rising over Soviet actions in
                    Eastern Europe and its potential actions toward Western Europe.
                    Korean War
                    Domestic verbal assaults by Senator Joseph McCarthy.
                    America’s national security was perceived to be under attack.
            Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949
                    Act to maintain the security and to promote the foreign policy of the United States by
                    authorizing military, economic, and technical assistance to friendly countries to strengthen the
                    mutual security and individual and collective defenses of the free world, [and] to develop their
                    resources in the interest of their security and independence and the national interest of the
                    United States.
                    Proportion of military assistance greater than nonmilitary assistance until 1960, then assistance
                    motivated towards development considerations. AID (Agency for International Development)
                    created by Kennedy Administration in 1961 with intention of saving America’s friends from
                    Soviet and Chinese communism.

Elements of Containment: The Domestic Cold War

         ·         National Security Council completed NSC-68 in April 1950 summarizing the goals of containment
            effort and providing a good guide to the subsequent domestic and international changes that occurred to
            meet the perceived Communist threat.

         ·         NSC-68: Defense
               o       Begins by outlining the nature of the current international crisis between the Soviet Union and the
                  United States and then goes on to contrast the foreign policy goals of Washington and Moscow.
               o       Analyzed 4 different policy options for U.S. response to Soviets
                     §         Continue current policies
                     §         Return to isolationism
                     §         War against Soviet Union
                     §         Rapid build-up of political, economic and military strength in the Free World.
               o       The rapid build up of American and Allied strength was the only feasible option for progress
                  toward achieving the fundamental purpose of containment.
               o       Domestic response from NSC-68
                     §         Called for building up America’s military capacity and eliciting greater support against
                        the Soviet challenges at home. Found American forces to be inferior to Soviets in being
                        and total manpower.
                     §         Soviets spent 13+ % of GNP on defense, US only 6-7%
                     §         NSC-68 called for defense to be the number one spending priority even at the expense
                        of tax increases or cutting federal expenditures in other areas.
                     §         Called for the United States to “produce and stockpile thermonuclear weapons in the
                        event they prove feasible and would add significantly to our net capability.”
         ·         NSC-68: Internal Security
               o       Where will Communism strike internally?
                     §         Those that touch most closely our material and moral strength are obviously the prime
                        targets, labor unions, civic enterprises, schools, churches, and all media for influencing
                        opinion. The effort is not so much to make them serve obvious Soviet ends as to prevent
                        them from serving our ends, and thus to make them sources of confusion in our
                        economy, our culture and our body politic.
               o       Development of internal security necessary to prevent sabotage, subversion, and espionage.
               o       Defense budget escalated in 1950s to over 10% of GNP, Defense spending was over 50% of
                  federal budget. Armed forces increased to 22 per 1,000 persons.
               o       House Un-American Activities Committee, FBI, and CIA tracked the domestic population for
                  signs of disloyalty.
The Korean War: The First Major Test of Containment
         ·         American Involvement in Korea
               o       1950, Two Koreas, North and South, each claim legitimacy
               o       North invaded South, US viewed attack as Soviet-inspired and Soviet directed, possibly aimed
                  at testing the resolve of the allied nations, US
               o       Truman dispatched naval and air support and gained support of UN Security Council for
                  condemnation and security force to be sent.
               o       General MacArthur pushed invaders to border of China, and China sent forces to push allies to
                  38th parallel, stalemate ensued.
               o       July 1951, truce talks and after another year and half, Armistice formed with an uneasy peace
                  formed with demilitarized zone.
         ·         Korea and Implications for the Cold War
               o       Korean War resolved incoherence of US foreign and defense efforts from 1946-1950 and
                  established important new lines of policy.
               o       Caused the sharp increases in defense spending, militarization of NATO called for in NSC-68,
                  and established an integrated military structure of NATO which led to the effort to rearm West
               o       Brought home to American policy makers, the need to maintain large armies and to take action
                  against aggression wherever it appeared.
               o       Solidified the American view that a Sino-Soviet bloc promoting communist expansion was a
                  reality and there was need to combat.
               o       The actions in Korea gave further credence to the global portrait outlined in NSC-68, need to
                  make rapid changes in security
         ·         “The real commitment to contain communism everywhere originated in the events surrounding the
            Korean War…”
While US abandoned Isolationism, it took globalism on a largely unilateralist approach, leading other nations
in the world. Moral principle was readily evident in the Cold War period and the Containment policy.

Ch. 3: The Cold War Consensus and Challenges to It
By Ryan Rice, spring 2005

The 1960s brought the first challenges to the Cold War consensus. They arose from the changing world environment.
Increasingly multipolar rather than bipolar.
New communist power centers among the western allies between the developed
world and the third world

By the early 1960s the U.S. could not expect Western European states to automatically follow its foreign policy lead – could no longer dictate Western policy.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis was the last important challenge to the Cold War consensus before the Vietnam War. Led to a mutual agreement to remove nuclear missile sited in Cuba, Turkey, and a promise not to interfere in Cuba.
  • American involvement with Vietnam began shortly after WWII and remained mainly political until 1964. L. Johnson changed to military involvement as the stability of the S. Vietnamese government worsened. The Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin resolution which authorized the president to take "all necessary measures" in Southeast Asia.
  • Conclusion: The Vietnam War appears to have been responsible for ultimately shattering the Cold War consensus and for America’s reevaluation of its approach to international policy.