Isolationism versus Internationalism
The history of foreign policies in America has been debated for a very long time from the World War I up to now. The government has always had the interest of the public at hand and anything that jeopardizes their peace and economy is not welcome. This was possible through Isolationism and Internationalism.
What is Isolationism?
It refers to the principle of reluctance of the United States of America join Europeans in their affairs. To them, their national affairs come first then of any other people and that the world would achieve freedom and democracy through other means rather than the war. On the other hand, internationalism is the belief that countries can achieve more by working in unity and solving issues with understanding instead of using wars or arguments. To the internationalists, the United States joining in the other countries affairs would lead to developments both economically, politically and socially.
Isolationism started during the World War I and was supported by then president George Washington. Although he feared European controversies, there was need to support their commercial relationships while avoiding politics completely. The Isolationisms main aim was to have less involvement in other peoples issues more so those in Europe.
However, the Internationalists argued that without involvement or support in other countries issues was a threat to the national security of the US. The public was torn between the two but at least they had to support one side. There was a debate where the internationalism movement won the majority and it led the United States joining the United Nations.
Their main agenda was to find ways in shaping Europe while the isolationists argued that that was a bad idea since Europe had been fighting for a longer period, it would be a trap and it would lead to another war if the US gets involved.
During the World War II in 1941, these principles had a different view on the war between Britain, France and Germany. Isolationism had not completely disappeared after the war as it returned with the notion that Europe should learn on how to govern its own affairs. Isolationists expected war and they were against the United States getting involved given the power of Germany.
They were contented with the power they had. However, the internationalist did trust the US in containing the power of Germany by some means. Roosevelt led the congress in passing neutrality acts to keep the United States from Europe’s troubles. The first two acts banned selling or loaning arms to nations at war while the third one extended the ban to nations torn by the war in response to Spanish Civil war.
However, due to the democratic armies falling for the dictator Francisco Franco who was supported by Hitler and Mussolini, the American people had to discard their neutral stance. Japan had launched an attack on china and they conquered in the north.
Hitler attacked Austria and conquered then they formed a nonaggression pact with Starling. By attacking Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The German conquered France but Britain received support from United States who supplied ammunition for their protection and defense.
Meanwhile, United States had to declare war on Japan who had attacked their naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the main base in the Philippines. The war had worsened even more when Hitler declared war on America. However, the isolationists were against America going to war but their support for Britain and France had led them to one.
It was unfortunate that the World War II, Cold war and the Great depression led to the discrediting of isolationism. The Internationalists gained popularity and were preferred but their joy was cut short forty years after the cold war because of large number of supporters which led to lose of its meaning. After the cold war, most countries were gaining their independence and some Americans felt the need for the return of isolationists as the world took a different path in politics.
As much as the isolationists want every country to solve their own issues without the involvement of the U.S., who they prefer to handle their problems at home but that strategy is not very effective. However, the internationalists do not require America to turn its back entirely onto the world as it has come to realize that whatever happens in the entire world affects them and the withdrawal from helping them has its own disadvantages. They decided to help the world where it is necessary and has their interest at heart and where their involvement will create a difference. These foreign policies are still very common and remain popular among scholars, the wider public, historians and political scientists due to their contribution in the development of America and of freedom in the world.