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The Foreign Policy Transition: Isolationist to Internationalist

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The United States and its isolation following World War I
  3. It's inability to ignore the battle in Europe during WWII
  4. The end of diplomatic relations between the USSR and United States
  5. Conclusion

Many people describe the period between World War I and World War II as a time of United States isolationism, but that is a common misconception. While it is true that during the interwar period America was very politically isolationist, the country was very imperialistic economically. Following the end of WWI, Woodrow Wilson announced his idea of the League of Nations to the fellow victors at Versailles. Wilson described the League as an instrument to ?protect against external aggression the territorially integrity and existing political independence of all Embers of the League? Despite his efforts, the league was voted down and the United States became politically isolated until the outbreak of WWII. The US repeatedly turned a blind eye to the deteriorating situation in Europe, hoping that those nations could solve their own problems. The isolationist spirit prevented a quick entry for America into the Second World War, prolonging the war by an extra year. The brutal fighting that took place during the war changed the outlook of policy makers after the defeat of Hitler. Upon the conclusion of the fighting the United States turned in to an ?internationalist? nation, which wanted to prevent a similar event from occurring and halt the spread of the communist threat of the East.

[...] Though the war was brought to an end after the defeat of Hitler, the United States Policy makers realized that the country could no longer remain a passive power across the sea, but needed to assert itself throughout the world for the safety and security of its citizens. Unlike the close of the First World War, the United States took charge in leading the peace conferences that followed the end of the fighting. The first of these post-war conferences was in Yalta, where Franklin Roosevelt was joined by Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill. [...]

[...] The United States went from a passive, isolationist country to one that was at the forefront throughout the world, trying to undermine the Soviets every step of the way. By taking an active role in the post-war reconstruction through initiatives such as the Marshall Plan and Berlin Airlift, the aggressive United States was able to win many European allies. This new policy did not stop at reconstruction, but was continued in preventing Soviet aggression. Following the communist takeover of Romania, the Soviets attempted to cause an uprising in Greece. [...]

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