By Georgia Wyess
The United States has had a long history of isolationism. Looking upon foreign policy with a suspicious eye, the country has taken a neutral stance in most affairs since its birth. Furthermore, the first president of the United States, George Washington, warned against the danger or foreign alliances in his farewell address; the exact quote being: “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” When taken in context of the time, this makes complete sense. America was still a young and inexperienced country that lacked the resources needed to aid other nations throughout the world. Furthermore, the US lacked the political experience and expertise needed to participate in politics and non-domestic policies.
However, though the US may be seen as young and immature compared to other, more experienced countries, we have matured and grown immensely since then and have even become a global superpower. It is safe to say that America no longer lacks the worldly experience needed to succeed in the world of foreign politics. So what is stopping us from participating in oversea treaties? Towards the beginning of the cold war, president Harry S. Truman drafted the first blueprint for what is now known as NATO; however, after the war, the US was practicing a policy of isolationism so intense that despite Truman’s pleas with congress, the government refused to take part in what is now one of the strongest international alliances ever established. At what cost? NATO laws for countries to interact with each other with ease and provide the necessary armaments in a potential threat.
Other than military power, foreign relations promote cooperative relationships between a multitude of nations and boast a plethora of additional benefits:
- Peace: When more countries join an international organization, the possibility of promoting peace and resolving conflict diplomatically increases greatly. A prime goal of international policy is to establish treaties between countries. Maintaining these treaties benefits not only the governments involved, but also the citizens of each nation.
- Economic opportunity: Good relations between countries promotes effective and sustained trade agreements which benefits the overall economy. Importing and exporting goods becomes easier when countries have had international interactions with each other; additionally, equal trade across nations ensures a balanced economy in more than one country.
- Global concerns: With strong international ties, countries can band together to combat pertinent global issues—such as global warming, pandemics, terrorism— and because of their connections, each respective government can mobilize its resources in unison with another to solve issue quickly and efficiently.
- Citizenship and immmigration: Seen mostly with the United Nations, individuals and their families constantly move in search of better employment opportunities or out of filial obligations, etcetera. With strong international ties, it becomes much easier to make the migration from one place to another without the hassle of paperwork and questioning.
Overall, there are many benefits to strong international relations and the longer the United States continues its policy of isolationism, the greater the chance of losing great rewards offered by strong ties. Former president Franklin Roosevelt warned against America’s policy of isolationism since the early 1900s. Over one-hundred years later and it looks like we still have much to learn.