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chapter 7 Of Allies and Enemies Old Wine in New Bottles or New Wine in an Old Jug? Marilyn J. Young, Florida State University The advice given by George Washington in his Farewell Address, “to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” was taken to heart by subsequent administrations for nearly 150 years and still seems to inform much of our interaction with foreign governments.1 When Winston Churchill spoke to the nation from Fulton, Missouri, in 1945, his address was remarked (then) not by the words that became the metaphor for a world gone mad—“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”—but by the proposal he made for a military alliance of Englishspeaking peoples.2 Even after engaging in a successful alliance to rid the world of the Nazi horror, most Americans, while treating Churchill as a hero, rejected his suggestion for a permanent relationship with Great Britain.3 Newspapers of the time chronicled the reaction of officials and ordinary citizens alike. Virtually every story focused on the proposed alliance; none noticed that Churchill had named the line the Soviet Union had drawn across Europe. Nevertheless, Churchill laid the rhetorical groundwork for American foreign policy throughout the rest of the century—and beyond. The stark im- Of Allies and Enemies | 161 age of the iron curtain gained currency when juxtaposed against the events of the postwar period—the fall of China, atomic spies, the Truman doctrine, the Berlin blockade—and became an organizing principle for Cold War rhetoric. By drawing a rhetorical barricade, Churchill and his ideological equivalents in the United States divided the world into black and white, friend and foe. In Visions of Order Richard Weaver writes about the power of the tyrannizing image; surely, communism (and its counterpart, anticommunism) became the tyrannizing image of the latter half of the twentieth century in America.4 The notion also fortified the growing sense of American exceptionalism that had been reinforced in the first half of the century by victories in World Wars I and II. Looking back over the rather brief history of American alliances, it seems George Washington’s dictum also captured the essence of relationships that formed after World War II, providing the template for Cold War coalitions and post–Cold War collaborations. In light of this, in the remainder of this chapter, I examine the nature of alliances and allies, the evolution of alliances since World War II, and prospects for the future. Allies and Enemies Alliances and foreign policy are inextricably bound together, such that the history of American foreign policy is necessarily a story of allies and enemies. Alliances—or allies—are a vehicle for expressing foreign policy, and a country’s relationship with its allies can be a measure of its foreign policy values and principles. Further, the rhetorical net used to capture allies, alliances, and enemies reveals a nation’s estimation of itself and those friends, partners, or enemies. For many, the rhetoric used during the Cold War to describe the Soviet Union revealed as much about the fears of our own country and its citizens as it did about the USSR. Alliances exist to serve a number of foreign policy goals. Military alliances, for example, are designed to prevent or deflect conflict. Obviously, the United States joined a military alliance with England, France, and others to defeat Hitler’s Germany. After World War II, the United States hoped to stave off anticipated Soviet aggression in Europe by presenting a unified front through NATO. However, alliances can also be a source of conflict; had the NATO presence not worked, the United States would have been obligated to enter into any war that resulted from Soviet aggression. Of course, this pledge derived its power from U.S. nuclear capability, which ultimately backed any deterrent 162 | Marilyn J. Young effect of the alliance. In contrast, by not being involved in military alliances, the United States was able to defer entering either World War I or World War II until directly threatened.5 Trade relations are another form of alliance that is both a tool of foreign policy and a source of friction at home and abroad. Like most allies, trading partners come to our attention only when there is a problem; such relations are currently strained because of the movement of jobs abroad and the flood of cheaper goods into the American market, to the disadvantage...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781603444613
Related ISBN
9781585446278
MARC Record
OCLC
654776099
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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