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American Foreign Policy Since 1945

person holding an american flag

The United States of America, with its founding in 1775 and winning the American Revolution or, more accurately, a British civil war which lasted until 1783 over the 19th 1781 with the surrender of General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered 7087 officers and 900 seamen hundred and 40 cannons 15 galleys a frigate and 30 transport vessels.

During the day of the surrender, General Cornwallis pleaded illness, and his second-in-command General Charles O’Hara carried Cornwallis’ sword to the American and French commanders.

As the British and Hessian troops marched out to surrender, the British bands played the song “The World Turned Upside Down.”

The war continued to be waged on the high seas, with the British having their true strength at sea due to being a primarily maritime power.

The final truce was made in the Treaty of Paris, beginning with negotiations in 1782 and then signing the treaty on 3 September 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was ratified.

Previous to this date and the surrender of Cornwallis in 1781, all fighting primarily had been concluded on the North American continent. In practical terms, the new American state had won the war but was now trying to win the peace.

photo of mount rushmore national memorial  American Foreign
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American Foreign Policy from 1783 Until 1945

After winning their independence, American foreign policy strongly aligned with France from 1783 until 1792, and there was hope in America that the French revolutionaries, with the storming of the Bastille in 1789, would lead to a constitutional government like the USA model.

Unfortunately, France descended into barbarism, and then the United States refused to support their ally in French Revolutionary Wars (1792 to 1803) and the Napoleonic Wars, named after Napoleon Bonaparte, who took power in 1799.

The Americans bet that the British Empire would ultimately win the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, which created an environment of mistrust between the French and the Americans until today.

From the point of view of the French, the Americans stabbed them in the back by not honouring their alliance with the nation that enabled the United States to exist in the first place.

British Empire won the Napoleonic wars due to the expansion of the British train network, and British finance enabled Great Britain to fund France’s enemies from 1792 until Napoleon’s defeat in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

This highlights American foreign policy through most of the late 18th until the early 20th century; being isolationist and not wishing to become involved in conflicts in Europe was very successful, barring the brief War of 1812 and the British burning down the White House.

The United States, as a nation in this time period, had a natural fear of the British even though this was an emotional response and made no logical sense that the British would attempt to conquer the newly independent United States.

The fear was propellant in the imagination of the American public.

It would continue until the ending of the American Civil War from 1861 until 1865, with Confederate General Robert E Lee, the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and later commander-in-chief of the Confederate States of America.

He spent most of his career until the outbreak of war in 1861 as an engineer repairing and building defences in the case of a British invasion.

Another fear that America had was Mexico and its expansion into California and the southern United States, which helped to contribute to the Mexican-American War from 1846 until 1848.

American foreign policy is based on its interpretation of its historical history, an overarching fear of a British invasion, and not wishing to be entangled in European wars.

World War I from 1914 to 1918, with American intervention after the defeat of the Russian Empire in 1917, would bring America briefly out of its self-imposed isolation and lead to the creation of the League of Nations and then its successor, the United Nations, created in 1945.

After America’s brief involvement in the First World War for the next 20 years, America reverted to its historical norm of self-isolation up until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the American bases in the Philippines and the destruction of the US fleet based in Pearl Harbor.

The involvement of the United States in two world wars galvanised political leaders in the Republican and Democratic parties to intervene and maintain a system of peace that has existed from 1945 until recent times.

However, the system is creaking with the rise of new powers such as India and China, threatening the USA’s position as the global hegemony.

man in green and brown camouflage uniform holding brown rifle  American Foreign
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American Foreign Policy Since the End of World War II

During the closing years of the Second World War, from 1939 until 1945 or from 1941 to 1945 for the United States and Soviet Union, it was clear by international observers that the world was most likely heading towards another war that the United States and communist Russia would wage.

This, fortunately, does not materialise due to the detonation of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which makes traditional conflicts between great powers too costly due to the invention of nuclear weaponry.

This power imbalance between both nations would be resolved when the Soviet Union 1949 created their atomic bombs, thereby equalising the technological development between Russia and their archrival USA.

The United States, following World War II, created a network of alliances to contain the threat of the expansionist Soviet Union that stretched from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean and the containment of communist China after their victory in 1949, defeating the Chinese Nationalists that ran away to Taiwan creating a government in exile.

From 1945 until 1989 United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Cold War and fought multiple proxy wars such as the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, the Vietnam War from 1955 until 1975, and the Afghan-Soviet war from 1979 until 1989.

These conflicts finally ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union due to financial pressure on internal rebellion in 1989, concluding the conflict between the Union of Soviet Republics and the United States of America.

American foreign, after 1945, aimed to make an alliance system with its allies to create an international environment where its supporters could freely trade in goods and services and where all nations had access to the resources to industrialise, with the USA securing global trade lanes.

The freedom of capital, the freedom of the global markets and the freedom of travel that enabled conditions to enable prosperity as we understand it in the 21st century.

Unfortunately, since George WH Bush was voted out of office in 1993 with the election of Bill Clinton to the White House, American presidents from 1993 until the present day have been increasingly isolationist and looking more inwardly.

Global prosperity was built upon the backs of European and American working classes due to the outsourcing of the extraction of mineral resources and other manufacturing jobs that were traditional working-class jobs.

What has occurred since the 1960s is the deindustrialisation of the West and the industrialisation of developing countries due to the West providing the capital and markets so that nations develop and trade their natural resources for money.

With industrialisation in the Global South, economies could go down a similar development path as the Western world or the Global North regarding economic development.

Through trade and international cooperation, securing an environment of peace enabled global prosperity in the late 20th and 21st centuries.

Before the American world order was created in 1945, the continent of Europe was the bloodiest continent on the planet, with it being a bloodbath of rival kingdoms than later states and countries since the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 475 A.D.

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Sources and Bibliography

History Channel Americans defeat the British at Yorktown link

Britannica American Revolution link

National Army Museum American War of Independence: Key Battles link

Lumen Learning United States Population Chart link Populations Of Great Britain And America link

Britannica France, 1715–89 link

Britannica  French Revolutionary Wars link

Donate To Ukraine Links

United24 link

Come Back Alive link  

Nova Ukraine link

Razom link

The $1K Project for Ukraine link

Hospitallers link

Social Media, Blog, podcast and other links

LinkedIn Link 

Blog Link

YouTube Link

Anchor Link

Spotify Link

My Amazon author page Link  

My Twitter Link

My Medium link    

My PayPal link 

What the United States Could if There is Conflict with China blog link and medium link

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Ukraine War Battle for Bakhmut

destroyed residential building in ukraine

Wagner’s group is a paramilitary organisation that has for over nine months been trying to conquer the Ukraine city of Bakhmut; this organisation was created with the support of the Kremlin with the organisation led by a former caterer Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Currently, the Waggoner group consists of 50,000 combat personnel fighting for control over the region Bakhmut’s original plan is believed to have been to encircle the city, which began successfully in January 2023 with the Waggoner group taking the Ukrainian village Klishchivka and surrounding the City Siversk.

In mid-February, the Russians were within reach of Ivanivske (Town) and Chasiv Yar (City); these locations were taken and threatened by the Russians to destroy any supplies and soldiers trying to reinforce the city of Bakhmut.

Ukrainians were left with the only available supply route to Bakhmut by the 0-0506 road and surrounding dirt tracks to send supplies to the besieged city; this is where the Russians launched a three-pronged offensive to surround the city and forced the surrender of the defending Ukrainians.

grey jet plane
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Internal Divisions in Russian Military Effort

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Waggoner group and the commander of the invading forces in the Bakhumet region advance, was stalled in May.

Prigozhin has directly accused the Russian Ministry of Defence, particularly Sergei Shoigu, who has been the Minister of Defence since 2012, of lying to Vladimir Putin, which potentially means the Waggoner group may have to withdraw from the region due to the lack of ammunition.

The growing tensions between the Waggoner group and the Russian Federation by Vladimir Putin opens up the possibility of an internal conflict, potentially a civil war, due to the Wagner group being the only army at the disposal of the Russian government until the next batch of mobilisation.

It’s necessary to highlight that in 2022 when the Russians began their invasion on 24 February between that time and the start of 2023, Russians suffered at the most 200,000 deaths and a further 200,000 casualties.

These numbers are essential to highlight that they are dubious in accuracy due to the lack of good-quality information. Still, it is substantial enough to argue that the new call-up of Russian conscripts will not be as effective as the previous professional forces that invaded Ukraine in 2022.

This potentially may leave the Waggoner group as Russia’s main effective fighting force in the short term, providing there is not another significant disaster on the Russian side of the conflict.

It will be interesting to see what may happen in the future, and it may be concerning the Wagner group if it significantly expands during this conflict; it could potentially lead to problems in Russia.

In December 2022, United States National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby claimed Wagner has 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts.

residential buildings in ukrainian city destroyed by war activity  Bakhmut
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Ukrainians Reclaiming Territory

With the Russian state’s failure to keep the Wagner group adequately supplied with ammunition and other materials, the Ukrainian army pushed the Russians to the watered reservoir of Berkhivika and reached the town of Klishchivka to the South of Bakhmut.

Even with this good news, it’s important not to have over expectations; it appears there is more of the case of the Russians pulling back and trading space for time to re-equip their army. As for Ukrainians, the territory they have reclaimed is primarily forest and the countryside.

There is still a long way to go in this conflict, where there will be repeats of backwards and forwards in the advancements and retreats of both armies.

An example of trading space for time can be found during the American Civil War 1861 to 1865 in the Western theatre of combat during the Battle of Shiloh (1862), where the American Union army, 66,812 strong, was fighting the rebel Confederate States of America Army of Tennessee 44,699 strong.

The Union was initially losing the battle until the leadership of Ulysses S Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman traded space for time and slowly withdrew and consolidating the Union army into an effective fighting force and successfully pulling back slowly and thereby trading territory in exchange for reforming the Union army.

What happened during the Battle of Shiloh has been and will be repeated during the Ukraine war and many other conflicts; this kind of tactic that involves trading space for time was also used by the communist leader Chairman Mao Tse-tung who was accused of being timid by other communist leaders in the 1930s.

But it was his calm demeanour and trading space for time that helped to enable the Communist victory in 1949, having been at war since 7 December 1927.

This reinforces the point that Ukrainians and Russians will be giving up and gaining territory throughout this war like a good old-fashioned tug of war until one side is victorious and that Ukrainians of Russian advance is not necessarily mean one side is being crushed.

They are just buying time to reform and consolidate their military forces. It won’t be into one army that has been destroyed in detail in the way made explicit for Victor either conquer Ukraine or see the liberation of Ukrainian territory.

Neither side is sufficiently exhausted from the war due to attrition, lack of materials, or other reasons; the war may go on providing Ukrainians keep their casualties low and still have access to the materials from the Western alliance.

As for the Russians is a very different story because they can still afford to throw bodies at the problem, providing they have the appropriate equipment.

A historical analogy can be found again in the American Civil War; by 1863, it was clear from a strategic point and due to General Grant’s advance down the Mississippi that the war was effectively over for the Confederate States of America.

Unfortunately, the Confederate States of America army, particularly the Army of Northern Virginia, was still intact, and the only way the war was going to end was due to Ulysses S Grant’s war aim was not to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond but to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia and thereby effectively ending the war.

Ukrainians in this historical example are Confederacy in the sense that they are fighting a predominantly defensive war within their territory, and to be victorious Ukrainian army must remain intact.

(Fun fact the British during the American Civil War gave at least 60,000 rifles to the Confederate States of America)

photo of woman reading book  Bakhmut
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Sources and Bibliography

Conflict in Ukraine: A timeline (2014 – present) link

NRA Throwback Thursday: Guns of 1861 link

Britannica Chinese Civil War link  

Unearned Wisdom Strategy 11: Trade Space for Time (The 33 Strategies of War) link

America Battle Filed Trust Shiloh link

Wikipedia Battle of Shiloh link

Britannica William Tecumseh Sherman United States General link

PBS What to know about Russia’s Wagner mercenaries as they threaten to leave Ukraine’s front-line link  

Politico Inside the stunning growth of Russia’s Wagner Group link

0-0506 link

Britannica Russia-Ukraine War link

Mail Online Ukraine’s STALINGRAD: Hand-to-hand bayonet combat, phosphorus bombs and ‘meat waves’ of Russian convicts… The year-long battle for Bakhmut still rages, but when the Nazis exhausted themselves, it could yet be a turning point towards Putin’s defeat link.

The Great Courses: The American Civil War by Gary W. Gallagher link

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, by Michael Korda link

Donate To Ukraine Links

United24 link

Come Back Alive link  

Nova Ukraine link

Razom link

The $1K Project for Ukraine link

Hospitallers link

Social Media, Blog, podcast and Other links

LinkedIn Link  

Blog Link

YouTube Link

Anchor Link

Spotify Link

My Amazon author page Link  

My Twitter Link

My Medium link    

My PayPal link 

Why the War in Ukraine is Russia’s to Lose Blog link and medium link