POL326Y1 Lecture 7: Superpower to Glob. Hegemon

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26 Aug 2019
American Foreign Policy History
US in its inception wasn’t a state that rejected the idea of imperialism; American revolution wasn’t anti-
imperial; motivated by American elites in feeling they were disadvantaged in colonial project
o They oculd pursue their own interests with absence of Britain
Important as it explains why America was an expansionist state
Began from the outset of American history
o John Sullivan: manifest destinythe right of our manifest destiny to possess our own continent;
Explains to a considerable extend to spread America’s 13 colonies to occupy most of North
American continent with the exception of Canada
This expansion ended in 1860, with election of Abraham Lincoln and the territorial
expansion of the US, with exception of Alaska
The impetus to expand US southward was to gain more entrance to the union solely to prevent further
expansion of the south because of slavery
o The Civil War had something to do with slavery
Barrett Moore Jr.: the result of two economic models: classical dependencyeconomy is
dependent on export of raw material; states also emerged as colonies of Britain
Northern states began manufacturing their own factories; in terms of their expansion, they were very
protectionist from their foreign competition in Britain; north favored economic break from Britain
o Following Lincoln’s election, objective was to pass tariffs; overall, this gave rise to a rapid phase of
industrialization in Northern states that led US to have trade surplus in 1874-1960s
The general characterization of American foreign policy was isolationism
o US sought to avoid any kind of foreign entanglement; the US from the outset was a power looking
for markets and looking to attract foreign investment
American foreign policy was one of unilateralism: given the absence of threats to major
security, elites preferred to preserve ability to act in accordance to their own interests free
from the constraints of alliances
It’s in this context that we could point out arguments of changing USFP
William Appleman Williams: the tragedy of American foreign policy
Beginning in the 19th century, the US produced more in agricultural goods that its own market could
possibly absorb; the US had to absorb foreign markets and gain access to them
The culmination of this set of interests came at end of 19th century in a foreign policy that remained the
ocre of American foreign policy from then to end of 20th century
o Open-Door Policy: directed to foreign policies towards China; rejection of Britain carving up China
and incorporating various segments of Chinese economies to American empires
o It’ll give all European powers outside access to the Chinese markets; while global free trade
benefited Britain enormously, British economy grew and others took advantage of this for greater
growth rates like France and Germany
o By the end of 19th century, Britain backed away from global free traderesulted in the scramble
for Africa, carving up China, made
o The Open-Door policy has been the cornerstone of American foreign policy especially after WWII
when the US took up notion of self-determination; largely raised up by Wilson
o The US was ambiguously the most competitive manufacturer on the planet; global free trade
played in the interest of America
With the growing surplus of the US, trade became absolutely vital of American interests; evident during
Lincoln’s term as secretary of state
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