For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Power and Policy: America's First Steps to Superpower 1889-1922
  • Lawrence R. Lenz
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
Power and Policy: America's First Steps to Superpower 1889-1922.
Sound Bite

This book shows how the United States made itself into a superpower. Highlighting major foreign policy and military successes in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the author explains how these "wins" were supported by technological achievements and demographic and economic growth. Written for American history students, military history buffs, and the general reader, the book discusses  everything from naval battles to political battles that shaped the American nation.


About the Author

Lawrence Lenz has taught US, European and World History at the college, adult school and high school levels.
He earned his master’s degree in history and foreign policy at Norwich University and an undergraduate degree in history at the Virginia Military Institute; in addition he holds an MBA.


About the Book

Through its military policy and foreign policy, America attained superpower status in a remarkably short period of time. Nations survive based on their ability to provide internal order and external defense. Unfortunately,...

Through its military policy and foreign policy, America attained superpower status in a remarkably short period of time. Nations survive based on their ability to provide internal order and external defense. Unfortunately, foreign policy goals are not always attained, and sometimes those goals are based on questionable concepts. Power and Policy examines the relationship of the US military and naval power with its foreign policy objectives, exploring the policies and the use of force that propelled the United States into the first ranks of world power. 

The book asks when military action is needed and how such action can change the very context within which foreign policy unfolds. The study focuses on twelve major decisive events in history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including:

•    a hurricane in Samoa and its effect on the German and US navies,
•    the outcomes that followed the Spanish-American War,
•    the role of Panama in the development of a trans-continental powerhouse,
•    the US approach to southern neighbors including Nicaragua and Mexico,
•    maneuvering for a stronger global position at the conclusion of World War I,
•    and the establishment of naval parity with Great Britain.

The facts, background and analysis enable readers to understand interventions that defined and then re-defined United States foreign policy for the rest of the 20th century.

Documented with illustrations of policy debates and with tables listing the evolution in US naval strength as the country spanned the continent, both the requirement and the means are explained for the shift from a stance of coastal defense to world power. A great gift for men and women interested in US history, military history, and naval history, Power and Policy examines the origins of US involvement with guerilla war and terrorism; the evolution of the Military-Industrial Complex; the establishment of the dollar as a reserve currency; and America's self-declared mission to spread its influence, under the banner of "democracy," worldwide.


More . . .
But the story does not end here, because in the years after the Spanish–American War world dynamics would change again, and change dramatically. Secretary of State John Hay’s Open Door policy in China would bring US business and influence into China on an equal footing with the other major powers. Theodore Roosevelt would close both North and South America to European intervention with his Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine by making the United States the region’s debt...
But the story does not end here, because in the years after the Spanish–American War world dynamics would change again, and change dramatically. Secretary of State John Hay’s Open Door policy in China would bring US business and influence into China on an equal footing with the other major powers. Theodore Roosevelt would close both North and South America to European intervention with his Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine by making the United States the region’s debt collector — with the added benefit of replacing European banks with United States banks. This cut short a European scramble for Latin America similar to the scrambles for Africa and China. President Taft would actively support “dollar diplomacy” with his intervention in Nicaragua in 1909. President Wilson would expand on “nation building” to include moral (and oil?) diplomacy in Mexico. Both would fail because the required increase in Unite States intervention would dramatically increase local resentment of the United Stated.
 
The Spanish-American War had put US troops in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii and the Philippines. Over the next two decades United States diplomacy would be supported by the military and naval power to intervene in:    
•    Cuba...1906–1908, 1912, 1916, 1918
•    China…1900, 1912–1941
•    Venezuela…1903
•    Dominican Republic…1903, 1916–1924
•    Panama…1903
•    Nicaragua…1909, 1926–1937
•    Mexico…1914–1917
•    Haiti…1915–1934
•    Russia…1918–1920
Each of these interventions would define and then re-define United States foreign policy for the rest of the 20th century.
 
United States international intervention would not be limited to underdeveloped and revolution-torn countries in the Americas. The breakout of the First World War provided a new arena for the naval and military power of the United States: Europe. Despite the hazards of fighting the Germans (to win the war) and at the same time the establishment of an independent United States presence on the Western Front to fight for America's new associates (especially France), President Wilson was able to win both conflicts; he thus obtained an American seat at the Peace Table in order to advocate his idea of a League of Nations to preserve the newly formed world peace. Unfortunately he did not apply the tools he had at his disposal to win over the US Senate. His failure did set the stage for President Harding’s Washington Naval Disarmament Conference in 1921–1922. The Conference assured United States parity with Great Britain (something that would have been unthinkable just ten years earlier) and helped assure peace through peaceful means for the next twenty years. It did not assure US naval supremacy, especially in the Pacific Ocean; that would require the expenditure of considerable US treasure and blood twenty years later.
 
Successful provision for a “common defense” requires both successful foreign policy and at times the successful use of military power to implement that policy. Theodore Roosevelt summed it up best in his autobiography:
There is no such thing as international law in the sense that there is municipal law or law within a nation. Within the nation there is always a judge, and a policeman who stands back of the judge…In international law there is no judge, unless the parties in interest agree that one should be constituted; and there is no policeman to carry out the judge’s orders. In consequence, as yet each nation must depend upon itself for its protection.  
Without “law and order” on an international scale, it is necessary for the dominant military power to provide international stability...

Reviews
Book News | More »
CHOICE September 2009 | More »

Pages 288
Year: 2008
LC Classification: E661.7.L46 2008
Dewey code: 327.73009'034--dc22
BISAC: HIS027110 HISTORY / Military / United States
BISAC: HIS027150 HISTORY / Military / Naval
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-663-5
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-664-2
Price: USD 32.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-665-9
Price: USD 22.95
Available from

Search the full text of this book
Related Books
The Folly of War —   American Foreign Policy 1898-2005
Rules of Engagement? —   A Social Anatomy of an American War Crime Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq
Six Days in April: Lincoln —    and the Union in Peril
The Rights of My People —   Liliuokalani's Enduring Battle with the United States 1893-1917
Race to the Frontier —   White Flight and Westward Expansion
The Making of the American Dream, Vol. II —   An Unconventional History of the United States from 1607 to 1900 (2 volumes)