Foreign Policy Vs. American Policy Essay example

1134 Words Aug 16th, 2015 5 Pages
Foreign policy is often analyzed through seemingly competitive lenses. On the one hand, idealism seeks to understand the motivations of and the cultural context in which foreign policy makers carry out decisions. On the other hand, realism portrays states as unified actors, relentlessly and rationally pursuing their own security interests. Historians view the relationship between these two major lenses as inherently antagonistic. One focuses on intangible, amorphous ideas, while the other focuses on fixed realities of a state’s particular situation. However, more careful analysis leads a different conclusion. American foreign policy has often been shaped by idealism and realism working in tandem.
One major example of idealism and realism working together to influence foreign policy lies in Wilson’s decision to enter World War I. Wilson had campaigned on the premise that he would keep America out of World War I, but soon the ideological and geopolitical ramifications of not entering the war became too great. His speech in 1917 asking congress for a declaration of war against Germany detailed his ideological and geopolitical concerns about the war. He first characterized German submarine warfare as a gross violation of international law and human dignity (M&P 32). He then discussed, in more concrete terms, the threat that Germany posed to the U.S. By attempting to ally itself with Mexico, Germany threatened American security on its very border. His speech fuses the two…

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