Limitless Linchpins: The Success and Failure of Isolationism Essay

Limitless Linchpins: The Success and Failure of Isolationism Essay

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American foreign policy is a virtual jumble of ideologies, among which stands the concept of isolationism, an avoidance of global relations. From 1913 to 1937, the United States struggled with the question of to be or not to be, and presidents ranged from complete global disengagement to war declarations. However, although they all wrestled with the idea isolationism, not all presidents acted equally. Woodrow Wilson’s domestic success and idealistic foreign failure is a testament to the inequality, whilst Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in contrast, gradually emerged from the theory of isolationism as a worldwide political butterfly. The two chiefs in the center, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, presided over an isolated, stagnant period of American history. The difference between the direct action of FDR and the failed ideas of Wilson represents the importance of implementation versus intention. Although political philosophy often muddles the concept of world entanglements, graceful global diplomacy and interaction is essential to the health and, more importantly, progress of America itself. Worldwide synergy and collaboration is vital, as every nation is a linchpin on the wheel of the Earth. In order to continue moving forward as a whole, each piece must interact with the others.
While Woodrow Wilson was not a textbook isolationist or interventionist, he favored isolationist policies despite the increasingly symbiotic nature of politics. Wilson began his terms as president aiming to keep America out of conflicts and needless alliances. As a leader in the Progressive party, his aim was set on solutions to domestic issues rather than foreign ones. His reform on the home front was groundbreaking and set the stage for the impend...


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Coolidge, Calvin. “Inaugural Address.” In Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States: From George Washington 1789 to George Bush 1989. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989. Accessed February 13, 2012. Annals of American History Online.

Provides a transcript of the inaugural speech with a brief introduction about Coolidge and a bit on isolationism.

Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services. Accessed February 13, 2012. Last modified May 30, 2006.

Fairly in depth analysis and explanation of the foreign policies of a few presidents, including Roosevelt.

Roosevelt, Franklin D. “I Have Seen War.… I Hate War.” Address, Chautauqua, N.Y., August 14, 1936. Gale U.S. History In Context. Accessed February 13, 2012.

Contains a preface to the address which aids in placing the speech in a context.

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