US Foreign Policy after World War II until 1960


The foreign policy of the United States is a policy, which allows for the interaction of US with foreign countries and it has standards set for its interaction with organizations, corporation as well as individual citizens (McCormick $ James p.150-165).

US foreign policy has changed from isolationism prior to and after World War I to a world power and global hegemony in the course of World War II up to the end of cold war in the 20th century. The policy has also been characterized by a shift realistic school to an idealistic school. In George Washington’s farewell address on foreign policy themes, he talked about things like observing good faith and justice to all nations, cultivating peace and harmony with everybody as well as being passionate about others. Despite being initially unpopular, over time these virtues have been adopted by many presidents after the Second World War. The steady expansion of its foreign trade, avoiding wars with and between European powers has marked the foreign policy of US (McCormick $ James p.150-165).


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After the War, US became a superpower with strong economic power and influence. The rivalry witnessed between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War led to the establishment of a policy of containment in order to limit the expansion of soviet power. With these shifts in diplomatic and military confrontations, US policy makers have been faced with new challenges (McCormick & James 150-165).

US foreign policy was marked by a commitment to free trade, concern for the rights of the people as well as the protection of its national interests. Even though the policy remains strong, some decline has been witnessed in the economic productivity as compared to the rising nations e.g. China, India, and Brazil etc. According to foreign policy analysts, Hachigan and Sutphen, all the six powers have the same interests in stability, prevention of terrorism and trade; the next decades will be marked by prosperity and peaceful economic growth only if they find a level laying ground (McCormick & James p.150-165).

Failures of US Foreign Policy

The foreign policy of US after World War II did not achieve its objectives and behaved in a manner that was counter productive. This is evident by the force replaced diplomacy; counter-insurgency produced insurgents as well as the negotiations that were crushed by military solutions. An- communism was the principle guide of US to foreign policy during the Cold War. Similar policies have continued even after division and collapse of the Soviet Union i.e. the US initiation of new war against global terrorism. Additionally, despite being considered successful during the cold war, reviewing of the American Foreign Policy has exposed a lack of leadership, ineffective diplomatic methods and a resort to use of military force i.e. despite being the winner in the cold war, US has been involved in numerous hot wars thus compromising its position as the superpower (McCormick $ James p.150-165).

Monroe Doctrine

This was a US policy introduced by the US President, James Monroe on second of December 1823 in a reaction to the aggressions of European countries on the American land. The emphasis of the doctrine was that Americas were to no longer be colonized by European countries and that Americans were not to interfere with the present European colonies or interfere with the internal matters of Europe. The President released the doctrine on his seventh State of the Union Congress Address and it marked a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States. However, it was to be invoked later by the succeeding US presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan among others. America hoped to prevent being taken over by the European countries following the concerns raised by the Great Britain (Tucker pp. 250-280).

The primary aim of the Monroe Doctrine was to ensure the national security of US by ensuring that the newly independent colonies of Latin America were freed from European control and intervention. According to the doctrine, The New and Old World were to remain in separate spheres because they were composed of separate and independent countries (Tucker pp. 250-280).

Effects of the Monroe Doctrine

International response: Due to lack of a credible navy and army, the doctrine was not internationally regarded. However, not everybody was against it, British supported it with the royal navy enforcing neutrality of the seas. This was according to the developing British policy of laissez-faire free trade against mercantilism.

Latin America’s reactions: The people of Latin America undoubtedly supported the doctrine and they received Monroe’s sentiments with gratitude. Amid the praises and appreciations for North, the Latin Americans knew that the Great Britain was a key determinant in their future independence (Tucker pp. 250-280).


Noam Chomsky, a critic of the doctrine argues that while being practiced, Monroe Doctrine had declared hegemony and a right of unilateral intervention over the people of America’s sphere of influence to leave America for the Americans (Tucker pp. 250-280).

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Due to the suspicious of Russian intentions in Europe and to contain its communist expansion, twelve nations including the United States, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Italy, Britain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg signed the North Atlantic treaty in Washington on 4th April 1949. It was the belief of the partners of the treaty that the anti-democratic ideology and communism of Russia posed a new threat to the democratic world. With their slogan, “an armed attack against one or more of them shall be considered shall be considered an attack against them all,” they were prepared to do anything within their power to preserve peace as well as their civilized lifestyles even using armed forces. The NATO treaty lasted for twenty years.

This treaty brought together the western European nations under the leadership of America with their headquarters known as SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe) based in Paris. NATO had a permanent council, formed in 1952 and composed of representatives of all member states. The council was charged with the mandate of decision-making. Other than planning cultural and economic cooperation among the treaty partners, the main work of the council was military. To help in performing these functions, committees such as Cultural and Economic as well as Defense and Military Committee were set up with the latter being responsible for military affairs. In addition, NATO Secretariat was formed to take care of clerical work. The Defense and Military Committee consisted of Chiefs of Staffs from France, Britain, and the US. In an attempt for the western nation to integrate their forces in Europe, an integrated force was established in 1950 under the command of General Eisehower.

Significance of NATO: After its formation, the Soviet Union lifted Berlin Blockade stopped spreading communism in Europe. In addition, many western European nations started cooperating. Most importantly, American committed herself to a peace-military alliance for the first time in history. American troops were sent to maintain peace in war-torn countries and this marked the end of isolationist policy in the US.

Truman Doctrine

This was a congress address by the United States (US) President, Harry S. Truman n 12 March 1947. It contained an outline of the US stand throughout the Cold War in relation to the power struggles in Europe and Asia as well as its relationship with the Soviet Union. Through the Truman Doctrine, US stated their position regarding foreign powers where both financial and military aid would be given to other countries in an attempt to counter communist spread as well as Soviet power.

Despite the fact that the Truman Doctrine address was for a specific incident, many of its principles concerning foreign policy were followed after its establishment. When the address was made, both turkey and Greece were at the risk of Soviet’ control and communism that why it was established to provide aid as well as to cushion them against foreign influence. However, it turns out that jut another form of foreign influence as well.

It is the assumption of the Doctrine’s structure that America’s democracy and freedom dominate over the increasing Soviet power and control and communism. Though initially meant to assist two countries, the doctrine has changed America’s involvement in global politics leading to the great deals concerning behavior and foreign policy. As a result, this has changed the way other countries view America.

United States became the most powerful nation in the world after World War II. While being powerful came with its advantages, new pressures to have a worldwide presence and Soviet Unions control of other foreign countries were hotly debated topics by the US political leaders at that time. The Truman Doctrine helped establish the ground rules in which US awls expected to extend its helping hand to all countries even the ones where the Soviet Union were attempting to control or retain its already existing power.

Marshall Plan

This was a US- aid program to the sixteen western and southern European countries with the aim of strengthening their democracy and renewing their economy. The program was established in 1948 and its official name is European Recovery Program, named after George C. Marshall, the man who started it. There was need for aid after the severe damage Europe’s economy following World War II. Cities and factories were bombed, transport links destroyed and agriculture interfered with (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development p. 300).

Britain, which was previously a super power, was nearly bankrupt and had pulled out of international treaties. In France and Italy, inflation rates were high and starvation was looming. People were calling for aid from the US in order to rebuild Europe. US fearing that the Soviet communist group would further dominate Europe and be wishing to secure a market in Europe, they opted for an aid program, European Recovery Program (ERP) (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development p. 300).

The program was signed into law on April 2, 1948. Under the leadership of Paul G. Hoffman, an Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) was created and between 1948 and 1952, a total of over $ 13 million of aid was released. A committee of European Economic Cooperation was also formed to help in program coordination. The countries that benefited include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and West Germany (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development p. 300).

Effects of the Marshall Plan

During the years when the plan was functional, an economic growth of 15%-25% was experienced in the sixteen countries that benefited from the aid. This resulted in a quick renewal of the industry as well as an increase in levels of agricultural production. This plan kicked the communist group from power helped in establishing an economic divide separating the rich west from the poor east. Additionally, the problem of shortage of currencies was also solved thus allowing more imports (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development p. 300).


The US foreign policy was marked by the commitment to free trade, concern for the rights of the people as well as the protection of its national interests. The policies have also seen a shift from isolationism in World War I to homogeny in World War II. In an attempt to protect Turkey and Greece from the Soviet power and communism, we see the US introducing Truman Doctrine, which aimed at providing financial and military aid to those affected. Also in the case of the Marshall plan where the US government released financial aid to help the sixteen countries that were affected due to the destruction caused by the second World War. These incidences show the concern and commitment that US government in assisting its people. This should be an example to other countries that undergo similar situations.

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