A Sense of Power: The Roots of America's Global Role by John A. Thompson

By John A. Thompson

Why has the USA assumed so vast and dear a task in global affairs over the past hundred years? the 2 most typical solutions to this query are "because it may" and "because it had to." Neither solution will do, in accordance with this difficult re-evaluation of ways that the US got here to imagine its worldwide function. The country's colossal fiscal assets gave it the potential to workout nice effect in a foreign country, yet american citizens have been lengthy reluctant to fulfill the prices of wielding that energy. Neither the country's protection from international assault nor its monetary healthiness required the success of formidable overseas coverage objectives.

In A feel of Power, John A. Thompson takes a protracted view of America's dramatic upward thrust as an international strength, from the past due 19th century into the post–World warfare II period. How, and extra importantly why, has the USA come to play the sort of dominant function in international affairs? there's, he argues, no easy solution. Thompson demanding situations traditional causes of America's involvement in international battle I and international struggle II, seeing neither the necessities of nationwide defense nor financial pursuits as making a choice on. He indicates how American leaders from Wilson to Truman constructed an ever extra capacious knowing of the nationwide curiosity, and why by means of the Forties such a lot americans got here to aid the cost tag, in blood and treasure, connected to strenuous efforts to form the realm. The ideals and feelings that led them to take action mirrored precise elements of U.S. tradition, now not least the power of ties to Europe. recognition of the nation’s certain strength fostered emotions of accountability, entitlement, and aspiration one of the humans and leaders of the United States.

This unique research demanding situations a few extensively held ideals concerning the determinants of usa international coverage and may deliver new perception to modern debates approximately even if the state should―or must―play so energetic a component in global politics.

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Discussions of security continue to reflect conditions that have not obtained for more than a generation,” the political scientist Robert W. Tucker observed in 1981. “These discussions continue to reflect the calculations relevant to a conventional—that is, a prenuclear—balance of power system. . ”62 Certainly, the term national security has often been used in American writings and speeches to cover much more than the protection of the United States itself from external attack. ”63 The argument here is that the United States could not be truly secure in a hostile and unruly world.

53 Those who have insisted on the importance for American security of the European balance of power have sometimes conceded that the United States would always be capable of deterring or defeating a direct attack. But they maintain that the price of doing so in the face of a hostile world would be exorbitant. ” “Security . . involves more than national survival,” the historian Melvyn P. Leffler insists. ”54 But this belief, too, is not self-explanatory. It might well be thought that a military posture that limited itself to making North America an uninviting target for attack would be less costly in terms of both resources and domestic liberty than the achievement of preponderant global power.

Policy in particular situations will vary greatly according to the relative priority accorded to the support of democracy, the right of self-determination, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the maintenance of the balance of power. S. policy who have most often attributed it to economic interests. There are several ways in which this can be done. One is to argue that the nation’s prosperity and growth have been dependent on its overseas economic interests and that these have required government support, directly in specific contexts or more generally through the maintenance of a liberal international economic order.

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