Defence and Security Studies no. 3/2010
Title: U.S. foreign policy traditions
Author: Hilde Eliassen Restad
Number of pages: 130
As the world’s most powerful state the foreign policy choices of the United States have affected global security for a century and will continue to do so for quite some time. The study of U.S. foreign policy traditions is therefore an important aspect of the study of international relations.
The conventional assumption of several scholars of U.S. foreign policy is that the United States abandoned its policy of isolation and aloofness and adopted one of responsibility for international security during the Second World War. But rather than the Second World War and the international institutions of 1945 signifying a “turn-around” to Wilsonian multilateralism, the postwar order built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in fact accommodated the historic U.S. foreign policy tradition of unilateral internationalism. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the United States actually safeguarded its unilateral maneuverability when constructing the second postwar order in the 1940s.
This study argues that the United States acted in the 1940s according to a foreign policy tradition that goes all the way back to the founding fathers.
Hilde Eliassen Restad holds a PhD in international relations from the University of Virginia, and currently works as a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). Her academic interests include U.S. foreign policy and international relations, as well as American politics and culture, in particular U.S. elections. She writes a blog in Norwegian about U.S. politics and society, called Dagens DC.