Assess the significance of Washington's foreign policy.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I believe that Washington's foreign policy is one of the most underrated elements of his administration and tenure as President.  Nearly every President that followed had his own challenges in terms of outlining the course that Washington set in his time as Commander in Chief. Washington's foreign policy was marked by ensuring that American interests were not sacrificed commitments abroad.  Washington demonstrated this in the Neutrality Proclamation of 1793, which actually ended up supporting Britain.  Washington understood that the role of America might not be to seek perfectly designed isolation from other nations, but rather chart a course where losses were not maximized.  This was a very keen assessment of how foreign policy could impact the new nation.  Washington recognized that the "entangling alliances" of which he spoke in his Farewell Address would turn out to be the defining issue in American foreign policy.  He understood that the affairs in Europe, and later around the world, would create more challenge to America than anything else.  It is here where I think that Washington's foreign policy proved to be incredibly insightful as it was guided by a sense of pragmatism and recognition of challenges as opposed to an exceptionalist point of view that could overextend American interests throughout the world.  Washington understood that foreign policy could only be designed through a position of strength, something that is reduced with the presence of "entangling alliances" in Europe and abroad.

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