The US military has an impactful history in international affairs owing to its vast experience in the world’s major wars. Importantly, the US military proved its point in influencing international affairs right from the defeat of Spain in 1898, which prepared it to foster world peace, as seen in its intervention during the First World War (Watson 26). Similarly, the Cold War underscored the strategic planning prowess employed by the US as it sought to counter the approaches of its antagonists intelligently (Trauschweizer 61).
This paper seeks to explain the manner in which the US military image changed domestically besides the international role changes arising from its participation in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, as well as the two World Wars.
The US Military Strategy in the Cold War
During the Cold War period, the main players employed a containment strategy in a bid to counter the approaches of the enemy. Notably, the American military sought to make calculated moves associated with airstrikes and the use of nuclear weapons in the Cold War, in a manner that would foster its image and power globally. Mainly, the advent of nuclear weapons prompted the American military to embrace intelligence assessment and espionage to counter the assaults of the Soviet power in the global battlegrounds (Dudziak 87). As such, this strategy uncovered the Union’s growth in integrating new military tactics in war.
Evidently, from the start, the Union purposed to establish its dominance in Western Europe, in a manner that would counter the strategies of the Soviet Union, who sought to dominate the entire continent. As such, the counterweight military power approach considered by the American Union neutralized the dominance of the Soviet power in Europe considerably (Dudziak 102). The American military counterweight approach also aimed at unifying Europe, an exit strategy for the US.
The Spanish-American War and its Influence on the US Military
The Spanish-American War, prompted by the struggles of Cuba against the Spanish colonization in 1895, played a significant role in influencing the US intervention in international peace system. In this case, since the US military forces, especially the Navy, managed to overpower the Spanish rule in the Americas by 1898, it allowed it to demonstrate its power in military issues globally. Importantly, the ability of the military to acquire the Latin American and Western Pacific territories underscored the Union’s essence in international systems (Watson 44).
Notably, the Treaty of Paris contracted in 1898, underlined the US role in reinforcing world peace. Further, since the US ensured that the Spaniards accounted for Cuba’s economic losses besides facilitating the liberation of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines (Watson 38). As a result, the intervention of the US military in the Cuban struggles against Spain provided an opportunity for the former to emerge as a world power, with imperial strongholds in Latin America and East Asia.
Moreover, the favorable outcomes achieved by the US in the Spanish-American War granted the Union a new role in international politics as depicted by its influence on the affairs of Europe in later years. For this reason, the victory encouraged the US to further its role in global military endeavors, as revealed by its activities in the World Wars and the Cold War (Berinsky, “Assuming the Costs of War” 975).
Impact of the First World War on the Role of the US Military Globally
The victorious performance of the US in World War I granted the global military powerhouse new roles to play in international politics. Notably, the US facilitated the end of the First World War after intervening to stop Germany’s uncontrolled and careless submarine warfare in 1917 that damaged the former’s merchant fleet. In this respect, the US had to assume the role of maintaining world peace since the “careless” naval attacks of the German Government led by Kaiser Wilhelm II.
In this case, the US endeavored to beef up its military personnel besides reinforcing its weaponry to counter the detrimental undertakings of the German army. As such, by 1918, the US managed to intervene in European affairs. After a short period of the Union’s military in Europe, Max von Baden, the new German Chancellor communicated with former US President, Woodrow Wilson seeking peace talks that would see the end of the Great War (Berinsky, “In Time of War” 79).
However, the US assumed moderation in its intervention roles during the Great War as it sought to amend the Treaty of Versailles, in a bid to limit its foreign entanglements in 1920. Therefore, the commendable performance of America’s troops in Europe revealed the successful execution of its role, that of maintaining world peace, making the US as a world superpower.
Precautions Taken by the US in World War I and II
To avoid the escalation of the World Wars, the US took precautionary measures that yielded desirable outcomes, to a considerable extent, concerning its intervention in world affairs up to date. Essentially, the precautions considered by the US sought to facilitate resource mobilization and enhance training besides fostering strategic military planning.
In World War I, Woodrow Wilson, the US President, by then, played a pivotal role in ensuring that the US took counteractive measures that would limit the enemy’s detrimental military endeavors. Notably, the intervention of the US required massive resource mobilization and training since the Union was poorly equipped and relatively small. Therefore, engaging in the war meant an expensive endeavor for the US (Coffman 122).
In this regard, Wilson issued a warning against the unrestricted submarine warfare carried out by the German. Henry Ford made similar peace efforts, but they were ignored as the German attacked a merchant fleet affiliated to the US. As such, besides taking the precaution not to enter into a war that would result in greater losses, the German prompted the US application of military power to counter its attacks in 1917. The move saw a significant flow of American financial resources, food, and artillery (Berinsky, “Assuming the Costs of War” 977).
Further, Wilson facilitated the move towards peaceful approaches in the First World War by influencing the Senate from declaring war, after they turned down the provisions of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 (Coffman 130). By agitating for the adoption of his Fourteen Points and the disposal of the Kaiser, Wilson considered the detriments of going into war.
The move made by Japan at Pearl Harbor, leading to an attack on an American naval fleet in 1941, evoked the Second World War necessitating the US and Britain to avow war against Japan and Italy. However, this meant that the US had to take precautions that would safeguard its citizens besides countering panic.
In this light, the spring of 1942 saw the development of rationing programs in the S that aimed at controlling purchases pertaining to clothing, food, and gas. The move purposed to reinforce the economy’s stability amid the financial costs incurred in the Second World War (Berinsky, “In Time of War” 132). Further, posters distributed by the United States Office of War Information sought to pass a message that would guarantee the adoption of affordable lifestyles so as manage the costly armed conflict. Moreover, in a bid to ensure an adequate supply of military equipment, the industries in the US used the labor provided by women as men took part in the battlefields (Hook and Spanier 120).
In this respect, the US made calculated efforts to ensure its success in the Second World War despite the workforce and financial constraints that it experienced to boost its strategic military plans.
How World War I Facilitated the Successful Participation of the US in World War II
To a substantial degree, the policies and strategies adopted by Wilson since 1917 played a crucial part in building the confidence of the US military during the First World War thereby, accounting for its success in the Second World War. Firstly, the approach of not attacking its enemies using the various types of weapons, including nuclear ones, showed the role of the US in seeking world peace (Coffman 145).
Secondly, inhibiting the move by Germany to cut off England ensured that the US intervened in promoting the unity of Europe by setting its base at the Western Front. The move facilitated the entry of the US troops into Europe as from 1917, who gained knowledge of the European topography, an advantage for its military undertakings during World War II. Thirdly, during the First World War, the US concentrated on the plain production of artilleries, including atomic bombs that proved decisive in ending the Second World War following the Nagasaki and Hiroshima atomic bombings.
How World War II Altered the US Military Role and Its Image among Americans
Undoubtedly, the Second World War triggered considerable changes concerning the role of the US military, coupled with how the citizens perceive it. Axiomatically, the role of the US military changed as it emerged as a superpower that facilitated the transformation of world perceptions regarding politics. As such, the player triggered the move against colonial powers in Africa, South America, and Asia thereby, promoting the spirit of liberalism.
Further, the emergence of the US military as a superpower meant that it would assume the role of promoting further peace globally (Hook and Spanier 107). For this reason, the US military forces have been at the forefront in combatting threats to global peace like acts of terrorism. For instance, the invasion of the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 attacks demonstrated the might of the US military.
Additionally, the US citizens viewed the military as an organ that has the potential of facilitating the realization of “the American Dream” as it came back home after defeating Adolf Hitler’s forces and allies. Further, the military provided a sign of relief from the economic depression caused by the Second World War. Overall, the image of the US military turned out to be that likened to power and might, not only with the ability to maintain domestic peace but also international peace.
The participation of the US military in the Spanish-American War acknowledged its ability to influence world affairs, particularly regarding politics, after it facilitated the liberation of Cuba from the Spaniards. Further, the First World War considerably facilitated the reinforcement of the Union thereby facilitating its success in the Second World War. Therefore, the triumph over Japan and Germany implied that the US military would assume the role of fostering global peace owing to its might in the battlefields, something it has achieved up to date, considerably.
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Dudziak, Mary. Cold War Civil Rights: Race And The Image Of American Democracy, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011. Print.
Hook, Steven, and John Spanier. American Foreign Policy since World War II, Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2015. Print.
Trauschweizer, Ingo. The Cold War US Army: Building Deterrence for Limited War, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2008. Print.
Watson, Samuel. “Spanish–American War (1898).” The Encyclopedia of War 1.1 (2011): 26-46. Print.