The American Foreign Policy

The American Foreign Policy

The American Foreign Policy

The American Foreign Policy


Many people in other parts of the world look on the United States as a gigantic adolescent--a nation immensely strong but lacking tact, discretion, prudence, wisdom, and experience. Partly because they try so hard to see themselves as others see them, many Americans accept this image as a true one.

A few years ago I sat on a panel with Charles M. Drury, a former Deputy Minister of National Defence in the Canadian government. His subject was Canadian-American relations, and it surprised me to hear him conclude, "In the larger sphere we are indeed fortunate to be alongside as beneficent, as powerful, and as wise . . . a country as the United States."

The unexpected word was "wise." It is not a term often applied to the United States, even by Americans.

Yet this ought not to be so, at least not if there is any relation between wisdom and experience, for Americans are in some ways the most experienced people taking part in world politics.

Less than two hundred years ago, their land was a colonial area. It went through a revolution for independence. Afterward it was a new, small nation trying to survive in a world torn by the rivalry of two great powers, England and France. The policy it adopted was neutralism.

When France was beaten, a polite cold war developed between Britain and Tsarist Russia, and meanwhile the Spanish empire in the Americas splintered. The United States took advantage of this situation to proclaim the Monroe Doctrine and thus become leader of what today would be called a neutral bloc or third force.

Becoming bigger and stronger, the United States demanded and got from Britain part of Oregon and made war on Mexico to take land from her. It was a dissatisfied nation, a disturber of the status quo. It could have been called a "have-not" nation. (It was not such, but neither were the have-not powers of the 1930's, Italy, Japan, and . . .

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