America’s Global Role: Public Policy


Over the last six decades, the United States has seen different faces of public policy initiatives as concerns its global role. In fact, many believe that over this period, public policy has been the most critical issue facing the nation and that the last three decades has seen American public policy mainly focusing on economic issues. However, the September 11 event emerged as the main issue concerning the Americans over this period hence shaping the foreign policy and changing the notion on America’s global role in various aspects such as security, poverty eradication, and enhancement of democracy in global nations. It was not surprising when a survey conducted in 2003 listed terrorism as the main concern Americans had, followed by economy (Roth 49). According to analysts, the economy features as one of the top priorities because of globalization that has made countries interconnected in one way or another. In general, American economic and security remains the public policy priority today.

The past public policy: After World War II

World War II led to a change of events in the American global relationships. Initially practicing isolationism in terms of political and economic issues within the global arena, United States changed tact during and after World War II to seek allies and maintain global security, inspired by the anti-communism mentality (Arnson 132). The public policy was geared towards reshaping the global role of the United States, through the formation of alliances. There were three sets of factors that led to the change of tact in the public policy on global role. The first was the political and economic conditions of the global world immediately after World War II. Secondly, the leading personalities in the politics of the United States decided to abandon isolationism and adopt alliances after World War II. Lastly, the challenge America got from Soviet Union in terms of ideological differences.

Immediately after the Second World War, Europe lost its grip on the international level, giving way to the institutionalization of the American foreign policy. The collapse of Germany and Italy in terms of economic and political power meant that there was vacuum, hence the need for international policy by the United State as the new superpower (Roth 79). This meant that it had to be involved in the management of global affairs considering its healthy economic status. For example, whereas Europe had a trade deficit of about $6.5 billion between 1946 and 1947, America had a trade surplus of about $6.7 billion during the same period of time (Roth 80).

The American military ability meant that it had the capacity to occupy both Europe and Japan (Nye 212). For instance, the United States had one of the most powerful navy and the most advanced atomic bomb technology and manpower. The booming economy and social peace made it concentrate its affairs in the international security by building more military capability. This is why it assumed the global role to ensure little threat to world peace is realized. It therefore informed the reason why America concentrated much of its efforts in building military wartime cooperation.

The decision to involve itself in international issues was gradually developing into a public policy issue being made at the national level, but with international impact as the world moved towards globalization. Through the post-Vietnam and post-Cold War periods of 1990, the dominant US public policy was based on containing the Soviet Union’s backed communism philosophy. The building of wartime cooperation continued after the cold war, creating a scenario where the national leaders advanced policies that would build more international cooperation, purposefully for military reasons (Roth 87).

The Public Policy on American Global Role

The recent and present global issues as concerns American global role has been reshaped in different perspectives. According to McCormick (56) the American policy has changed drastically as many issues have emerged more than military issues. At present, American public policy and global role has transformed into a more diverse public concern. That is as opposed to the past when more concern was creating more military association to protect the world; the present policies are hinged more on the need to create multilateral partnership that would help solve various problems of the world (McCormick 57). Additionally, the issue of nuclear weapons and space militarization has also changed the way America views its global role. In the present view, it is more of socio-economic policies based on international aid, poverty eradication, and global security. In other words, America’s global role is established to confront a wide array of political, economic and security issues.

In this dimension, the Clinton administration kicked off the new proprieties on the global policy. It is President Clinton who stated that America’s economic security is of paramount concern than any other issue (Roth 91). It has been made clear that American only way of defending the global economy was through enhancement of its economic security and that of the world. In this perspective, the main issue is based on the need to develop policies that would carefully help the America’s initiative in building economic confidence, build more global initiatives to undertake missions around the globe and empower people economically, politically and socially.

The other policy issue is based on the need to create a more open society and open markets around the world. In this case, United States would benefit from empowering itself in its international trade and that of other countries. Although it has been said that the open society in terms of trade is seen as in the American interests, many economic experts argue that this policy will see many international community states benefits when they close down on their trade deficits. This is why America has developed more collaborative efforts with its initially perceived rivals and enemies like Russia and Bosnia McCormick (194). Their role is therefore to create more international partnerships in order to expand democracy as well as free markets.

The last aspect of its global policy initiative is based on the currently new phenomenon of terrorism threat to international community. In addition, there is the fight against international drug trafficking, environmental issues, and several security issues.


The emerging issue presently is that America needs more of its international connections to enhance its global roles in relation to socio-economic and political issues in the global arena. It is necessary for America to continue playing its global role in the future, by concentrating on its administrative position as the world’s leader in different societal aspects. It is necessary for America to continue building its leadership position and emphasize on the internationalization of global issues as has been developed in the recent future. This subsequently calls for more cooperative relationships with as many countries as possible so as to encourage inclusive rather than exclusive approach to global issues.

Works Cited

Arnson, Cynthia. Crossroads: Congress, the President, and Central America, 1976-1993. Chicago. Penn State Press, 1993.

McCormick, James. American Foreign Policy and Process. Washington DC. Cengage Learning, 2010.

Nye, Joseph. Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. New York. Sage Publishers, 1991.

Roth, Diana. The Future Global Role and Development of the US Economy. European View Journal. Vol. 8, No. 1, 2009.