Nathaniel Whittemore American Foreign Policy – Paper 1 1/25/05
Black leadership at one end of the spectrum against the Jim Crow South atthe other.
Before the 20
century, America was largely defined simply as itseemed. For the citizens of other countries, “America” was an idea broughtback to them by observers and reporters who were, themselves, visitors tothat land. Internally, Americans most often viewed themselves as part of regional or contextual polities; some understood their “Americanness” asembedded in seven generations of New England upbringing; others saw it asthe self-reliance and danger embodied in the frontier lifestyle. Still otherswondered what it really meant to be American. The proud tradition of slaveryhad required a dehumanization so complete that it is little wonder that blackcitizens would have questioned, even after their legal emancipation, justwhat this “America” Lincoln kept talking about meant.What was beyond a shadow of a doubt was that in no way did thepeoples of different groups have a single idea of “America,” or a singlefoundational “American” identity which they could readily articulate. Even theflowing and vague description of base principles contained in the Constitutioncould not bind all parties, in either a moral or legal sense.At the turn of the 20
century, with the crescendo of colonialism andthe rise of the American capitalist industrial juggernaut, the country wasincreasingly drawn into the world beyond its borders. This would require anew self-imagining. For the first time, administrations were forced toarticulate an overarching identity that could be promulgated into policy.Indeed, the strange reality of foreign policy is that to an extent much greaterthan its domestic equivalent, it implicitly forces a compression and unificationof the ideology of a state. When it intervened in the Philippines, for example,the United States ceased to be a federation of differences, and insteadbecame, at least to the outside world, a single, unified and powerful actor.What’s more, the perception of “America” was no longer up for grabsat the whim of foreign observers, but was instead embodied and projected bythe soldiers and missions directly to those perceiving it. This represented atotal upheaval from the old mode. It forced a nation that had been fighting