Research Paper - Manifest Destiny - American Foreign Policy


Research Paper

Course English

12. Berufliches Gymnasium

Georg-Kerschensteiner-Schule  Bad Homburg

Manifest Destiny & American Foreign Policy

Manifest Destiny & American Foreign Policy. 1

Introduction. 3

Why new Land?. 3

History since 1945. 4

Roosevelt New World Order 4

Truman Doctrine. 5

Bretton Woods Agreement 5

European Recovery Program.. 6

North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 6

Military Strategy. 7

Alliances. 7

Korean and Vietnam War 8

Washington and Moscow relationship relaxed. 8

New World Order 9

Emphasis of 1993 Politic. 11

International Relationship. 12

Military Posts. 12

Today. 12

Conclusion. 13

Works cited. 15


"Manifest Destiny -- a phrase used by leaders and politicians in the 1840s to explain continental expansion by the United States -- revitalized a sense of 'mission' or national destiny for Americans." [1]

The reason why settlers moved to the New World was to live in freedom and start a new life with no restrictions. As settlers saw the opportunity of taking land and realizing their dream, more settlers moved to the New World. "Groups in England and Europe were quick to capitalize in the dreams of land, profit, power, and political and religious refuge that America represented."[2]People had their "Land of Opportunity"; they could start from the beginning. They had to develop their own rules and politics. The US was built out of their dream with freedom as basic part. Politicians took the idea of the "Manifest Destiny" and made it as their foreign policy.

The principles of the constitution are grounded in Christian faith. All immigrants of the New World believed in Christian faith. At that time people were tense strong believers. With their Christian moral believes they formed the constitution.

Why new Land?

The whole idea started in Europe because people were depressed and had no freedom. One reason to go to the New World was that there weren't any restrictions and they could practice there own religious freedom. "The first act of the freemen was to gather, perhaps in some open space in the woods, in order to elect a committee to decide upon the location of the village."[3] The principles for democracy were laid in the New World for in contrast to Europe and its hierarchic principles, the people collectively made the decisions for example how, where houses built, streets and so on.

The first settlers saw themselves as chosen for the Promised Land now known today as the USA. The idea has its roots in the bible where God guided his folk into the Promised Land Israel out of the captivity of Egypt.

"Displacing ancient Israel as the chosen of God, the founders of American plantations regarded themselves as divinely appointed to increase the kingdom of a Protestant Christ and to further the cause revealed by Deity in the Old Testament and continued in the New World." [4]

So people saw it as God's Will to take land and settle down in the New World. ".a New World paradise where farms could be acquired by mere manual labor; and relieving the pressures of superfluous population became a standard theme in colonial promotion"[5]

But with time, the attitude of Manifest Destiny changed and evolved to mean personal expansion. People interpreted under religious aspects Manifest Destiny as their own expansion. So they thought if people expanded, had more property and were prosperous, God must be on their side.

Therefore I want to show from history to now the results of continental expansion-Manifest Destiny- in the US foreign politics.

History since 1945

On August 14th, 1941, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1943) and British Premier Minister Winston Churchill agreed on the Atlantic Charta. There were 2 reasons for a peaceful world order and free world commerce: Every nation has the right for its own decisions so there should be no annexing; conflicts can be resolved without force.

The main task was to win the war against Germany and Japan. The Japanese attack on the December 7th, 1941 on Pearl Harbour involved the US directly in the Second World War.

Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin formed a mutual pact against Hitler. From 1941 to 1945 America gave the Soviet Union war worth 12 billion US dollars.[6]

So from 1941 the US got involved and fought for freedom and democracy in the middle of Europe.

Roosevelt New World Order

In 1941 President Roosevelt declared a New World order. The "four liberties" were the right to speak freely, religious freedom, liberty from needs (free trade without any economy barrier) and liberty of fear through disarmament. But Roosevelt could not reach his goals. At the last War conference in Feb.1945 about the liberty order of the three occupying forces President Roosevelt wanted to establish free and democratic voting, but Stalin refused.

26. June 1945 in San Francisco, the United Nations have been founded. Through UN a worldwide peace on earth should be secured. But the reality in Europe and Asia looked differently.[7]

The new elected President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) made a new Foreign policy. He wanted the containment of Soviet Union, to prevent her expansion. Roosevelt's aim was to give freedom and democracy to the nations after war time. But his foreign expansion didn't work with the Soviets. Therefore Truman chose a different way of foreign politics to contain the Soviet Union.

Truman Doctrine

On the March 12th, 1947 President Truman made a speech about the foreign policy at congress. This speech was about supporting the Greek and Turkey government against the Soviet and other Communists. This is known as the Truman Doctrine.

"The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the government's authority at a number of points, particularly along the northern boundaries. A Commission appointed by the United Nations Security Council is at present investigating disturbed conditions in northern Greece and alleged border violations along the frontier between Greece on the one hand and Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia on the other. . No other nation is willing and able to provide the necessary support for a democratic Greek government."[8]

Bretton Woods Agreement

In a few years the US made a strategy how to stem Communism. One way was to have a closed agreement to global matters of international money and finance. Such an agreement with 44 Nations took place in Bretton Woods in 1944.

"The Conference has agreed on the problems needing attention, the measures which should be taken, and the forms of international cooperation or organization which are required. The agreements reached on these large and complex matters are without precedent in the history of international economic relations."[9]

To stabilise the economy after II world war they made a fixed exchange rate for the Dollar and Gold parity. The UNO founded Institutions as steering elements: The International Monetary Fund in Washington is a permanent international body that nations represent and establish. Also they founded the international Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The idea, "Programs of reconstruction and development will speed economic progress everywhere, will aid political stability and foster peace."[10] So obviously you can see here the personal expansion of America.

Under the UNO the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was built. The agreement was designed to encourage international free trade between the member states; a mechanism for regulating and reducing tariffs on traded goods.[11]

Through the financial alliance the foreign politicians attempted foster world freedom. Another positive effect is that through the open trade the economy of America and Western countries would grow.

European Recovery Program

Another main point for the Russian or communist containment was the Amnitrated European Recovery Program (ERP). Through this programme, seventeen west European states received recovery aid. The Soviet didn't want to have this aid. Poland and Czech could not get it because of the Soviet pressure. From 1948 to 1952 the participating states acquired fourteen billion Dollars through ERP. The majority of the money was used for the urgent needs that nations had. In exchange for ERP subsidies, the US expected cooperation from beneficiary countries. For that job they founded an organisation in 1948 called the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation, OEEC.

All these institutes worked successfully until the sixties. At that time the US finances got worse with Vietnam armament. With the aid of the German bank not to exchange Dollar into Gold the system of Bretton Woods could be stabilized and the US finances got better.

In 1973 the US freed the exchange rate in Europe. For more than 20 years the US controlled and stabilised the western exchange rates. Through this fact many states got a new economy boom. [12]

Another way of controlling the expansion of Communism was by military force. The Soviets made a blockade of Berlin after a conference between the four occupying forces failed. The US made an air force bridge; they had been willing to fight for freedom and democracy in Europe.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

One of the biggest efforts of the Truman administration had been the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The senate allowed having assistance contracts in peacetime so on the April 4th, 1949 the NATO had been set up. "It created an alliance of ten European and two North American countries committed to defend each other from external military threats."[13]

The position of Supreme Allied Commander Europe had to be filled by an American, which shows us that the US was and still is the military superior. The Secretary-General came from Europe. After the nineties the NATO mission changed from the Soviet to a stabilisation function for Europe.

In 1956 when the Soviet military marched into Hungary or in 1968 when they marched into Czechoslovakia the politics of roll back the communists from Eisenhower (1953-1961) administration react against it.[14] At that time the US could expand its freedom and democracy over an alliance in hopes they sat as the main superior power.

Military Strategy

After 1945 the US military strategy laid in the power of superior nuclear weapons. On the August 6th, 1945 in Hiroshima the nuclear bomb attack on Hiroshima lead to the start of the new American Strategy. But after the Soviets developed their own nuclear weapon, the strategy had to change.


The US made more alliances around the Soviet Union for military security. 1951 the US signed an alliance in the pacific region with Australia and New-Zealand (ANZUS Treaty) against the expansion of Japan and the Soviets.

"The name Anzus is derived from the initials of the three signatory nations. As a result of the reestablishment of peace between Japan and the United States in 1951, Australia and New Zealand asked for a treaty making it clear that an attack on any of the three signatory countries would be considered an attack upon all."[15]

In 1955 Britain founded, with the support of the US, the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) together with Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan but without any military assistance. In 1959 Iraq was disbanded, the US joined and in 1979 the CENTO disbanded Iran after the Islamic Revolution.[16]

The Monroe-Doctrine founded in 1947 the Rio-Pact within twenty one American States. It should guarantee peace and security on the American Continent. But also another Council for the Defence of Central America (CONDECA) 1965 of four American States could not defend the communist system in Nicaragua and Cuba.

Not like the NATO disbanded the CENTO and SEATO. SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) was an American treaty with Asia. America had the same culture and value order with the European and western States but not with Asian or the near east. Another main reason was that America underestimated the force in nationalism.[17]

Americas Manifest Destiny on a personal level didn't succeed in Asia or Middle East.

Korean and Vietnam War

During the Korean War 1950-1953 America could put through its interests and politics against the Communists. Under the UNO, America rejected the aggressions from North Korean and Stalin, but not in Vietnam War. One problem was that the Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson hadn't seen that not only the communists but also the nationalist were their enemies. Another fault was that the allies weren't democrats; they had been corrupt and controlled by foreign countries. From 1965 to 1968 the war escalated and an half million soldiers were sent to East Asia, but the US citizens considered the war to be immoral. This war resulted in the highest number of casualties since 1945.[18]

The continental expansion worked at the Korean War but not in Vietnam. America failed the first time to win a war.

Washington and Moscow relationship relaxed

In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built and 1962 the Cuba-Crisis with a sea barrier from President Kennedy ended, the relationship between Washington and Moscow relaxed. In1972 began the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, SALT I, "the first agreements to place limits and restraints on some of their central and most important armaments."[19]

In 1974 the two most powerful nations came to an agreement to stop nuclear tests.

In 1975 in Helsinki thirty fifth States, including the Soviet Union and the US, signed the Document of the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (KSZE), followed by the SALT II treaty to limit strategy weapons in 1979.

In 1988 Moscow and Washington came to an agreement for the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF-treaty). The INF-treaty between the US and the Soviet Union meant to get rid of all ground based, medium-range nuclear missile stationed in Europe.[20]

It was the first agreement that a weapon category was not only limited, but also destroyed. In 1991 a conclusion followed in the category strategy weapons, Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, (START). Later on, reduction talks took place about convenient weapons between the East/West.

Roland Reagan's politics (1981-1989) showed a containment strategy. One part was the plan of Strategic Defence Initiative 1984, SDI. "It is aimed to research, develop and test a new generation of high-technology weapons to be deployed in space and on earth, to defend the US from Soviet nuclear missiles."[21]

But with time the containment politics showed positive results. Ronald Reagon and George Bush (1989-1993) found in Gorbatschov a cooperating partner. The East/West conflict ended. The containment politics from 1945 and 1989/90 can be considered as successful. America had done a good job; they could integrate Germany in West European and Atlantic Structure after the Second World War again. Five decades of conflicts finally had an end. In London in July 1990 the NATO declared to Soviet Union and the Warsaw-Treaty their cooperation. Five months later the conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe passed their document which ended the era of confronting and splitting of Europe. The new cooperation of Soviet Union and America did not only cause a change in European politics, but also freedom in Latin-American (Nicaragua), Africa (Angola) and Asia (Cambodia).[22]

Americans perceived the end of the conflict with the Soviets to show the success of the Manifest Destiny Containment strategy. Parallel to the East/West conflict America could stabilize freedom and democracy in Europe.

New World Order

Through the better cooperation of the Soviet Union and America, the UN received more room and power to support democracy throughout the world. This positive development caused that in the early 90's President Bush declared a New World order, which should bring freedom and prosperity to all nations. That concept was about strengthening the UN, military cooperations and national economies and supporting democracy and free world trade.

As the Iraqi troops attacked Kuwait in August 1990, the US believed that the attack could endanger politics in the Middle East; it would influence oil supply for the western world and the security of Israel. With American initiative, the Security Council condemned the attack of Saddam Hussein and agreed to sanctions. On Sept. 9th, 1990 together with Michail Gorbatschov, George Bush asked Saddam Hussein to retreat.

But the aim of George Bush for a New World order did not take place due to many reasons. As a result America had to carry the main burden of that Golf War. January 17th to February 27th, 1991 America sent half a billion soldiers into the war. Iraq was forced to retreat from Kuwait.[23]

This war was with the participation of the UNO but for public it looked like America is the world power and goes its own way. The US made a similar impression in Somalia on the December 3rd, 1992 during the operation Restore Hope. After the US finished the civil war the UNO could not hold the peace and left the country five months later.

The Bush-Administration realised that most nations didn't want to resolve these conflicts with military force. Also all the regional conflicts showed that no nation could fight everywhere for freedom and democracy.

On June 25th, 1991 the US advised Croatia and Slovenia to become independent. But Macedonia also wanted to be independent. The attempts of the UNO to arrange with the states didn't work and between Serbian and Croatian began war. The conflict at the Balkan got worse.[24]

After the Soviet Union broke apart, President George Bush, with support from Gorbatschov, began October 30th, 1991 with Near East peace negotiations and the acknowledgement of Israel and PLO.

Because of those unfavourable conditions the Bush-administration could not secure any foundations for a New World order. Critics mean the biggest income at that time of US foreign policy was the careful company at the break down of Soviet Union. With the program Partnership for Peace showed President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) showed continuity in American Alliance and Russian politics. So in 1994 Russia and the Ukraine became members of the NATO.[25]

On December 12th, 1992 made President Bush, the Canadian premier minister Brian Mulroney and the Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari made "a signal accomplishment of leadership and vision and commitment"[26] the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

That agreement was another success for the Bush administration it got the biggest economy region in world. With the agreement customs and other trade tariffs should be minimized.[27]

Through the better cooperation between Russia and America a new global situation started, but the aim of President Bush to initiate a New World order didn't succeed.

Emphasis of 1993 Politic

20. January 1993 Bill Clinton became President. Foreign policy minister Warren Christopher presented his programme to the senate: economic security, a reform of the NATO, to an extension of the partnership with Russia and with Asian States, the support for freedom in the Near East and no widespread of nuclear weapons.

The programme did not mention environmental protection and so the Clinton-administration took economic priorities before the Climate protection agreement in Kyto-Protocols December 1997. Also human rights didn't play an important role but the US remained fighting against terrorism for freedom. So America took again military action on Haiti 1994 and Kosovo 1999 and showed the powerlessness of the UN. But for his nuclear weapon rejection Clinton and his administration could get Brasilia, Argentina and South Africa to agree. On the other side some states weren't bothered and they did nuclear tests, for example North Korea, Iraq, Pakistan and Libyan.[28]

In other crisis region the US could succeed. September 13th, 1993 Israel and the PLO agreed to the Gaza-Jericho-Agreement. One year later Israel and Jordanian made peace treaty. Also in North Ireland America became involved in the conflict so that in 1998 it came to a peace treaty. In the Balkan region was it a bit difficult. But also the US helped to make a peace treaty and by the sending out of NATO Peace troops.

A different conflict was between China and America, as China had different interests than the US, but both needed each other as trade partners. So they did a special agreement for the Asian-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC, should give Washington and Peking a lasting cooperating structure.[29]

International Relationship

Today the US has almost to all 190 nations on earth diplomatic relationships and is member in more than fifty international organisations. They are a member with an important role in the security council of the UN, in the World Trade Organisation and founder as well as main power of the strongest military treatment on, the NATO.[30]

Military Posts

Outside of the North American Continent the most military posts are in Europe. The strongest contingents are in Germany with the European Command in Stuttgart and US Army Europe in Heidelberg. In 38 other countries are American posts: Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrai, Belgian, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Great Britain, Honduras, Island, Italy, Japan, Kenai, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Nether land, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippians, Portugal, Saudi-Arabian, Serbian, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, the United Arabia Emirate.

Of the Naval forces operates the first fleet in Atlantic, the third in Pacific, the fifth in Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, the sixth in Mediterranean and the seventh in West Pacific.

Military posts are present on every continent.[31] So America the biggest military power on the globe. Therefore the US has the opportunity to intervent quickly in every conflict. Through all the posts, esp. with those in the oil regions, America has the possibility to control the world economy.


In the nineties the Americans didn't concentrate on war. The turbo capitalism (NEW Economy) made people easyly reach.[32] The Americans were busy enough with there own personal expansion; they weren't interested in other conflicts. Bin Laden and his organisation directly wanted to attack this capitalism. Capitalism of the western countries has a big disadvantage: it exploits the third world. Bin Laden hit America and the Capitalism straight in the heart. Al-Qaida could not find a better capitalistic symbol than the Twin Towers in New York. With 9-11 everything changed. "The twin doctrines of deterrence and containment, which had served America well during the cold war, would no longer suffice. In future, the U.S. military would have to act before threats fully materialized."[33] Directly after the attack President George W. Bush declared to fight against any terrorism. The world economy broke down. President George W. Bush also defended to use "pre-emptive" war against any terrorism. Within 17 months George W. Bush fought two wars in Middle East, them against Critics compare Bush with Truman but there is one main difference. Bush questions all alliances and treatments of the world before 9.11 The Bush administration does not set its priorities on alliances - on the contrary, since 9.11 these are questioned - loyalties, on the other hand, weigh stronger: "Who's not for me is against me."[34]

This is the situation we have seen before the Iraq war. The US went its own way and didn't depend on the UNO or other diplomats. The majority outside the US had been against the war. "In fact, while the United States has the backing of a dozen or so governments, it has the support of a majority of the people in only one country in the world, Israel. If that is not isolation, then the word has no meaning."[35]

Why the US and Britain attacked the Iraq is not really clear. Some say for oil - "To regain influence over the great Middle East oilfields, from which Western Companies were expelled four decades ago."[36]- other say because of military interests, to rise economy, to protect America, to transfer democracy and freedom in the Iraq, geo-political interests or the rescue of Iraq. It is important to look at the specific reasons for this war. Every reason, that was mentioned, somehow reflects a personal expansion of America.


As the Manifest Destiny started with the exploring of America from the east to the west the explorer told the settlers that in the west were the land of milk and honey, making westward expansion desirable. But as everything had been explored and people had their land, the Manifest Destiny was on the edge of failing. Behind the golden west was the Pacific.

But the US expansion of democracy and freedom didn't stop at the Pacific. Their Manifest Destiny went oversees. The mission was used in the Cold war and used it during the war against Nazi Germany.

If we look at our globally fashion, food, drinks, language, music, film and manners mostly everything shaped by America. No other country has such a big influence on our culture. The American quality of being pragmatic, athletic, fast and strong is the result of their influence.[37] In history America stands for freedom and democracy. Maybe more than in history the US shows its power today and is willing to go for its personal expansion. But this "personal" expansion is not the original will of the Christian faithful US founders. Yet this expansion knocks more and more on the edge of American neighbours.

The American dream doesn't stop on earth. They even want to go further into the universe, to other planets and citizens to bring them freedom and democracy.

Works cited

Alfons, Kaiser, Der amerikanische Weg, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 23. April 2003 Nr. 94

Brian, Mulroney. "1992 Brian Mulroney NAFTA". Online.  New technologies across the Atlantic US Leadership or European Autonomy?. May. 12. 2003.

The Avalon Project. "Truman Doctin". Online. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. May. 28. 2003.

Munzinger-Archiv/IH-Länder aktuell 34/01, Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika

Ciesin. "General Agreement on Tariffs And Trade". Online. Ciesin Thematic Guides. May. 28. 2003.

Columbia Encyclopedia. "Anzus Treaty". Online. May. 12. 2003.

Christian, Caryl "Pre-Emption, anyone?" Newsweek March 24, 2003

Fareed, Zakaria, "The Warrogant Empire: The Age of Generosity" Newsweek March 24, 2003

Justine. "Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (1987)". online. Campaign for nuclear disarmament. May. 12. 2003.

Mario Pianta. "The case of the US Strategic Defence Initiative". Online. New technologies across the Atlantic US Leadership or European Autonomy?. May. 12. 2003.

R.B., Nye/ N.S. Grabe, eds., American Thought and Writing, Boston: The SocialFabric, Vol I, 1965

PBS, « Manifest Destiny An Introduction », online. PBS. May 28. 2003.

Robert, Spilller, Literary History the United States, Homewood: Remarks on Liberty, 1972

Ryan, Sanders. « Nato History ». online.  Your Guide. May. 15. 2003.

Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich,Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika, Frankfurt a. M.: Leske und Budrich, 1991

Thomas J., Wertenbaker, The New England Town, Boston: The SocialFabric, 1975

Tripod. "The Century 1955". Online. Tripod. May. 12. 2003.

[1] PBS, « Manifest Destiny An Introduction », online. PBS. May 28. 2003.

[5] Robert: 7

[7] Wolfgang: 142

[10] Carlisle, Barracks.

[11] Ciesin. "General Agreement on Tariffs And Trade". Online. Ciesin Thematic Guides. May. 28. 2003.

[12] Wolfgang: 144

[13] Ryan, Sanders. « Nato History ». online.  Your Guide. May. 15. 2003.

[14] Wolfgang: 145

[15] Columbia Encyclopedia. "Anzus Treaty". Online. May. 12. 2003.

[16] Tripod. "The Century 1955". Online. Tripod. May. 12. 2003.

[17] Wolfgang: 148

[18] Wolfgang: 147

[19] Bureau of Arms Control. "Treaty Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (SALT I)". online. U.S. Department of State. May. 12. 2003.

[22] Wolfgang: 149

[23] Wolfgang: 151

[24] Wolfgang: 152

[25] Wolfgang: 153

[27] Brian, Mulroney.

[28] Wolfgang 155

[29] Wolfgang: 157

[30] Wolfgang: 140

[34] Ralf, Beste: 20

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