Introduction to the course The United States and the World

De Baripedia

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the United States grew rapidly and became an influential world power. This course will focus on the transnational relationships, key events, and transformations that shaped the United States' place in world history. We will begin by examining the conquest of American territory in the nineteenth century and westward expansion, analysing the motivations, conflicts and consequences of this territorial expansion. We will also examine the issue of American exceptionalism and how it evolved into a broader universalism over time. Next, we will look at US foreign policy and the actors who have shaped it. We will study the presidents, diplomats, lobbyists and international organisations that have played a crucial role in shaping US policy decisions and directions on the world stage. We will also analyse periods in American history when US influence extended beyond its borders. We will study the dynamics of US imperialism and how it has been perceived inside and outside the country. Economics will also be an important part of our exploration. We will examine the impact of the United States on the global economy, particularly during the New Deal and post-war period. We will examine US economic policies and their influence on other countries and regions of the world. We will also explore democratic ideals as a justification for American interventions abroad. We will analyse conflicts and wars where democracy has been presented as a goal to be achieved, while examining the real motivations behind these interventions. Finally, we will discuss the concept of the Americanisation of the world and its real impact. We will examine the manifestations of American influence in culture, politics, economics and other areas, while assessing the reactions and resistance to this influence.

This course aims to provide a global and transnational perspective on the history of the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. By understanding the interactions between the United States and the rest of the world, we can better understand the issues and dynamics that have shaped modern history. Get ready to dive into the key events, ideas, and actors that shaped this fascinating period in world history.

The purpose of the course[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In this nineteenth- and twentieth-century Transnational History of the United States and the World course, we will pay particular attention to the relationship between American foreign policy and domestic politics. Understanding this connection is essential for thoroughly understanding the history and evolution of the United States as a world power.

We will explore how foreign policy events and decisions have been shaped and influenced by domestic developments, public attitudes, social movements and political interests in the United States. Similarly, we will analyse how foreign policy has influenced and been influenced by domestic dynamics, such as elections, political power struggles and reform movements.

For example, we will examine how domestic issues such as slavery and the Civil War have impacted on US foreign policy and how global geopolitical considerations have influenced these domestic issues. We will also examine how reform movements, such as the civil rights movement, have resonated with US foreign policy and helped to shape the US's international image and influence.

By understanding these links between foreign and domestic policy, we will be able to understand the motivations and consequences of US actions on the world stage. We will also be able to analyse how domestic changes in the United States have shaped attitudes and policies towards other nations and regions of the world.

This course will therefore seek to deepen our understanding of American foreign policy by exploring the complex interactions between domestic and foreign policy. By linking these aspects, we will be able to better understand the dynamics that have influenced and continue to influence the role of the United States in the world.

Three main threads[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

American universalism: a national and transnational construction[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

American universalism is a historical construct that developed from the second half of the 20th century onwards. It is an idea that has taken shape in US foreign policy and has been used to justify certain actions and interventions abroad.

American universalism refers to the belief that American values, institutions and ideals are universal in scope and should be promoted throughout the world. This includes principles such as democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and the market economy. According to this perspective, the United States has a responsibility to defend and propagate these ideals on a global scale.

This construction of American universalism developed in the context of the Cold War and the rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union. The United States presented itself as the champion of freedom and democracy, opposing the communist ideology of the Soviet Union. This vision has influenced its foreign policy, resulting in military and political interventions in various countries to preserve and expand its vision of American universalism.

However, it should be noted that American universalism is also a transnational construct. American ideals have been influenced by social movements and civil rights struggles within the US, but also by exchanges and interactions with other countries and cultures. Ideas such as human rights and equality have been shaped by transnational thinkers and movements, which have contributed to their adoption and diffusion in the United States.

American universalism is thus the product of a complex historical construction, combining national and transnational influences. It has been shaped by the political, social and cultural contexts of the United States, as well as by interactions with the rest of the world. Understanding this construction and its evolution is essential to understanding US foreign policy and its impact on international relations.

The complexity of US foreign policy: multi-polar, multi-sector (diplomatic, military, economic, cultural), global[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

US foreign policy is a complex area involving many actors, processes and dimensions. It is multi-polar, involving several actors and institutions in the development and implementation of US foreign policy.

US foreign policy-making takes place at different levels and in different places. The presidential administration, in particular the president himself and his team of advisers, plays a central role in the definition and implementation of foreign policy. The President has the power to make decisions and to engage the country in international actions.

However, the US Congress also plays an important role in foreign policy. It has the power to approve international agreements, declare war, allocate funds and oversee the government's activities in foreign affairs. Members of Congress may have differing views and interests, which can lead to debate and conflict within the US government over foreign policy.

In addition, US foreign policy is multidimensional, covering different sectors such as diplomacy, military security, economics and culture. US diplomats represent the country abroad, negotiate agreements and promote national interests. The military aspect of foreign policy involves the use of military force, interventions and military operations abroad. The economic aspect of foreign policy includes trade negotiations, economic sanctions and monetary policies. Finally, the cultural dimension of foreign policy involves the dissemination of American culture abroad, cultural influence and international exchange.

It is also important to note that US foreign policy is global in scope. As a global power, the US is involved in many countries and regions around the world. Its decisions and actions have international repercussions and can influence international relations.

This complexity of US foreign policy reflects the democratic and pluralistic nature of US society, as well as the position of the US as a global power. Understanding these different actors, processes and dimensions is essential for a thorough analysis of US foreign policy and its impact on the world.

The role of the United States in shaping the international system[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The United States has played a major role in shaping the international system from the late 19th century to the present. Its rise as a world power has been marked by a series of events and actions that have helped shape the international system as we know it today.

At the turn of the 19th century, the United States underwent rapid territorial expansion, annexing territory and acquiring new colonies, particularly following the Spanish-American War in 1898. This established the United States as an imperial power and paved the way for its increasing involvement in international affairs.

During the First World War, albeit belatedly, the US intervened on the side of the Allies, playing a crucial role in the victory and conclusion of the conflict. This marked its emergence as a major world power and led to its participation in the construction of the post-war world order.

After the First World War, the United States was a key player in the creation of the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations (UN). Although the United States did not eventually join the League of Nations, its involvement was significant in promoting international cooperation and the ideals of peace and collective security.

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States was the main architect of the post-war world order, particularly through the creation of the United Nations and the establishment of the Bretton Woods system. It also played a central role in creating alliances such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

During the Cold War, the US was engaged in ideological and geopolitical competition with the Soviet Union. It actively supported national liberation movements and used its economic and military influence to expand its sphere of influence. This has manifested itself in military and political interventions in key regions of the world, such as the Vietnam War and the Middle East conflicts.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has continued to play a central role in the international system as a global superpower. Its economic, military, diplomatic and cultural influence remains considerable, and it continues to exercise leadership in areas such as global trade, counter-terrorism, human rights and climate change.

The role of the United States in shaping the international system has not been without controversy and criticism. Some of its actions have been contested and resisted, calling into question its claim to universalism and the real motives behind its interventions. US military actions, such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003, have been widely criticised and have led to unintended consequences and regional instabilities. In addition, US trade policies, such as trade wars, have also raised tensions with other countries and called into question its role as a promoter of free trade.

In addition, some critics have focused on the perception of US hegemony and its impact on state sovereignty and global inequalities. Critical voices have pointed out that the international system shaped by the US often reflects its national interests rather than universal principles, calling into question the very idea of American universalism.

It is important to note that the perception of the role of the United States in shaping the international system can vary according to the views and interests of different actors and countries. Some may see the US as a stabilising force and promoter of democratic values, while others may see it as a dominant power that seeks to impose its interests.

Overall, the role of the US in shaping the international system is complex and has evolved over time. Its actions have had a significant impact on international relations, global governance and global political, economic and cultural dynamics. A nuanced and critical analysis is essential to understand the various dimensions of their engagement in the international system.

Annexes[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]