George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. He has made a long journey in his life, by being both a military and a national leader, and by this gained plenty of experience that he was willing to share with the coming generations of a newly formed country. Washington’s Farewell Address appeared in the mass media sources when he declared that he was not going to run the election for the third term in office. For many years his piece of advice was the foundation for the US foreign policy.
However, in the early 20th century such events as The Fourteen Points of Woodrow Wilson and creation of the League of Nations were somehow based but at the same time represented imperialistic policies that America had adopted at that time. In his Farewell Address, Washington suggested ideas that would benefit the United States of America and help it on the road to a world power. The key idea of his speech was to convince Unites States citizens and future politicians in the need for “good faith and justice toward all nations” and economic rather than political ties with any nation (Gilbert, 35).
Economic connection won’t give the country any responsibility and won’t require any kind of action in case of war. Political ties, on the other hand, will immediately involve the United States in war because the allied countries would need us for backup and we would have to provide them with the needed assistance. Americans, will split the society into groups and weaken the country. More than that, any political attachment can deprive America of certain profitable contracts depending on the relationships between the allied and hostile countries.
Countries involved in the conflict would appreciate the neutral position in the world political map and it will provide America with an opportunity to increase trade with both sides. By trying to interfere as minimum as possible, the country would gain more economically. Washington, however, hasn’t foreseen the development of arms and world’s hunger for the new land that contributed to World War I. United States of America decided to stay neutral in the Great War, even though the country was positioned in another hemisphere, Germans could still influence the lives of people and finally force America to go into the war with them.
Unrestricted submarine warfare took the lives of about 200 American citizens (Lusitanian ship and Sussex ship were destroyed by Germany). Zimmerman’s note that revealed Germany’s plans to attack United States in case they entered the war was among the most important reasons that brought America went into World War I (Howard, 129). Allied Powers and the States managed to defeat the enemy. The post-war society demanded that some laws were to be established to prevent war in the future. Woodrow Wilson came up with the idea of the Fourteen Points. Eight of the Fourteen Points suggested self-determination to various parts of Europe (Schraff, 58).
The remaining six points were of a general submission, and only three of them dealt with economic policy (Schraff, 61). “Freedom of the seas in peace and in war, the removal of all economic barriers between nations, and impartial adjustment of the colonial claims. Not one of these three points represented anything more than a pious hope, and not one was even remotely realized in fact”(Schraff, 61). “What we seek,” Wilson explained, “is the reign of law, based upon the consent of the governed and sustained by an organized opinion of the mankind. ” (Schraff, 64).
Wilson’s actions were based on cultivating peace and harmony with all the nations like Washington advised. The Fourteen Points did not contain anything that would deprive any country of its rights (League of Nations, later in time, made Germany responsible and guilty for everything, assigning reparations and excluding it from the union and such kinds of actions created a foundation for World War II) (Schraff, 213). It also suggested free trade that would economically benefit America. However, it did not give priority to the economic ties, Wilson saw politics and economy to be equally important in foreign affairs.
League of Nations was created right after the World War I as a commonwealth of confrontational countries uniting to prevent the possibility of any kind of future aggression by establishing and observing rules (Heing, 43). It caused lots of arguments and discussions within the American society. Debates were going on about whether or not Article 10(1919), it was unlawful in terms of Monroe Doctrine (Monroe Doctrine have denied European access to the Western Hemisphere, but weakening the wording of Article 10 made it possible for Europeans to intervene with domestic US policy).
Congress voted on this question, and in the closest race congressmen who opposed the entering the League of Nations outnumbered their opponents by 7 people (Heing, 57). Woodrow Wilson has said in one of his speeches, “… I take it that you are too proud to ask to be exempted from responsibilities which the other members of the League will carry. We go in upon equal terms or we do not go in at all; and if we do not go in, my fellow citizens, think of the tragedy of that result- the only sufficient guaranty to the piece of the world withheld!
Ourselves drawn apart with that dangerous pride which means that we shall be ready to take care of ourselves, and that means we shall maintain great standing armies and irresistible navy; that means we shall have an organization of a military nation; that means we shall have a general staff, with the kind of power the General Staff of Germany had, to mobilize this great manhood of the Nation when it pleases, all the energy of our young men drawn into the thought and preparation for the war…
For nothing less depends upon this decision, nothing less that the liberation and salvation of the world… ” (Heing, 66). In this case executive and legislative branches of government expressed different approaches and views towards the US foreign policy, though both of them were somehow based on Washington’s Farewell Address. As a base for his ideas Wilson used Washington’s “Cultivate peace and harmony with all” (Schraff, 98).
The American President of the beginning of the 20th century thought that peace should be maintained with the help and control of carefully negotiated policies of the alliance of various countries, making peace an international concern. Congress had a different opinion, the stressing for themselves “… It must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships and enmities” (Schraff, 104).
In their opinion, it was better not to let in foreigners in the first place instead of getting enemies afterwards when trying to get rid of them. The country followed legislative branch, pointing out that Washington’s policy is still a foundation for the national policy (though with certain changes in the causes of political isolation of the Western Hemisphere such as Roosevelt Corollary provided). The foreign policy today has not changed much as well. The United States of America keeps out of other countries way, unless there is some kind of threat against us.
When September 11th happened, people started to feel threatened and insecure about what will happen in the near future. Since this horror, the diminishing of the World Trade Centers happened in United States and in our territory, the President declared War on Terrorism. The government does not interfere with Israel and Palestine’s wars (which also has many terrorist attacks) but tries to make peaceful comprises to benefit both sides. The United States does not meddle into the ongoing war.
As an experienced leader and a true patriot, in his Farewell Address Washington introduced us to the type of policy that in his opinion would be the most beneficial for the country and upcoming generations. Over the time, some of the obstacles in the world changed, so some corrections to the American foreign policy were necessary. However, the basics foundation would remain the same. Setting an example for all the other countries, the United States of America were mission was to promote democracy and cultivate peace and harmony, as it’s obviously shown by the Fourteen Points, creation of the League of Nations and today’s society.