Should the U.S. get involved in foreign conflicts or should the U.S. stay out of world affairs?  Responsibilities, Consequences, Ramifications  

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maadhav19 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

But that period of isolationism is best remembered because it preceded WWII. The US was not isolationist when it finally entered into WWI, nor can it be said to have been "isolationist" during many of its other projects outside its territory, from annexing Hawaii, to fighting the Spanish (and acquiring territory), to building the Panama Canal. It seems more accurate to say that rightly or wrongly, until WWII, the US has oscillated between involvement in foreign affairs and retreating into isolationism. That being said, I don't believe that one or the other is inherently better. Sometimes it's in the US interest to get involved, sometimes it is in the US interest to leave alone. But I agree that it is hard to imagine the US becoming more isolationist in this day and age.

One of the more controversial aspects of getting involved in foreign affairs is the moral implication that comes with involvement. Too often it seems that interventionist policies are viewed by other nations as immoral because they are perceived as too self-serving, and this reduces America's standing in the world with other countries.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

LIke most of the posts you've already received have indicated, this question is not easily answered.  Imagine if no one from the USA had not stepped up for poor Haiti? 

So many things that the US does overseas could be done better, but the problem is, many people in other countries don't think we know everything like we do.  When people in the USA concede that what we think needs to be done isn't always what should be done, the world will begin to get along a little better. 

We are viewed as spoiled know-it-alls in many areas of the world.  Just because we are used to better technology (in many cases) and the resources/means to solve problems doesn't mean the way we would solve the problem is the best way.  There are many things we can't begin to understand about culture, religion, and other factors of countries around the world which more often than not complicate issues.

On the other hand, if we don't step in, problems often become more complicated.  Issues of human rights, terrorism, or world economics which effect us in the US cause us to get involved. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a hard question to answer.

If the US stays out of foreign conflicts, there are a number of possible negative outcomes:

  • The US may be morally responsible for evils that happen to people if it stands by and watches.  An example of this is the Rwandan genocide.
  • The US would be unable to affect what foreign countries do and those countries' actions might end up hurting US interests.  An example here would be how ignoring Afghanistan led to the growth of Al-Qaeda in that country.

If the US does get involved, there are also potentially negative impacts:

  • We make other people hate us for meddling in their affairs.
  • It costs us a lot of money
  • Americans die
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At this point in world history and affairs, the United States does not have the option to return to isolationism.  Consider the following:

The US economy represents nearly 1/5th of the entire world's business transactions in dollar value.  With the need we have for resources abroad, the degree of trade we have with nations such as China, and the products we depend on that are manufactured elsewhere, it is a necessity that our government engage the rest of the world in daily affairs.

In the 1930's, during the Great Depression, when we were largely self sufficient in resources and our population was 1/3 of what it is today, it was possible and more convenient to stay out of world affairs.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The United States is the largest and oldest democratic nation on earth. Our guiding principles are based on the understanding of the rights for all humanity. That being said we have a responsibility to step in and lend aid when humanitarian rights are at stake. Hopefully, we have politicians guiding this process so that we don’t lose sight of our humanitarian obligation in place of personal political agendas, but just as the United States has and continues to be a refuge, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” we have and should continue to be a guardian.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In light of all the problems caused by the involvement of the United States in the matters of the rest of the world, it is ironic that one of the great forefathers of this country, George Washington, cautioned, "Beware of foreign entanglements."  Sadly, now as others have mentioned, the U. S. has spun its web for too long.  History records some of the debacles of our political and economically motivated involvements:  Vietnam stands above all the rest as the most tragic for citizens of the United States.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everybody's answers are very good and I'd have to agree that the US is past the point of not helping others.  We simply can't and won't let ourselves stand back and watch from the sidelines.  Although I don't always agree with what we rush to help with, it's seems to be our reputation to do so.

Perhaps that's why we have so many enemies today.  On the other hand, that's why we have so many friends, too! 


lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that the United States has put itself in a position of needing to step in and help other countries. I would like to think these decisions are made bsed upon humanitarian reasons and not only political gain, however I am not sure you can remove the politics from any decisions that are made in todays world.

jq259 | Student

Well first off this is all due the fact we got involved in WW1 and political parties two things that one of our founding fathers warned us about in his fairwell adress to the nation in this he stated beware of political partys and involvement in Europes affairs.This is why now we are in a situations that we cannot get out of such as unnecessary wars and not being able to pass laws and focus on the needs of the country cause if the political parties being to ignorant to listen and agree with each other and quite frankly we are in a political war that is going no where.WW1 is another reason the stuck in a stale mate with it self because nce we got involved in WW1 we got involved with all of Europe's problems and were preasured into more wars that had nothing to do with us and now we are involved in about every conflict and foreign affair of the world which gains the U.S. many enemie's and ally's and now more than half of the world hates us including our "allys".Not only that if we just avoided WW1 all of this could have been avoided and we would not be in the current situation auc as National debt, constant conflicts, not being able to pass bills, laws, etc....... if we had just had trade and national worries we could get out of this but the politcal parties conflict this resolution there fore there is really no way out of the U.S. getting out of the involvement in foreign affairs.

giorgiana1976 | Student

USA has a moral duty to intervene where necessary because it is the most powerful democracy of the world.

epollock | Student

It would be hard for the US not to step in simply because of a more intertwining world welive.  Everything is more connected than you think and to protect the security and national interests of the people of the US, it would be morally right to step in.