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USA - Foreign Relations

With the closing of the western frontier, Americans developed favorable attitudes toward foreign expansion. Pushed along by global competition for markets and prestige, an expanded navy and a sense of cultural superiority, the United States engaged in a series of overseas actions which fostered its move to global power status. The annexation of Hawaii followed by a successful conclusion to the Spanish-American War allowed the United States to join other nations in imperialist ventures.

With its entry into World War I, the United States mobilized a large army and navy to help the Allies achieve victory. After the war, European countries were forced to concentrate their resources on rebuilding their countries. However, the United States enjoyed a brief period of economic prosperity and was able to exert authority as a world power.

After WWI, the United States emerged as a world leader and pursued efforts to maintain peace in the world. President Wilson’s efforts partially helped shape the Treaty of Versailles, but debate over its terms and efforts to avoid foreign entanglements led to its defeat in the Senate and the United States’ decision not to join the League of Nations.

Desires to avoid another major war led to treaties addressing arms limitation and territorial expansion (Four-, Five- and Nine-Power Treaties). In 1928, the United States signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact to prohibit war as “an instrument of national policy.” In taking a leading role in these later treaties, the United States sought to limit its involvement in international affairs.

On 27 January 2017, the US President signed a decree on the "protection of the nation against the entry of foreign terrorists into the United States", which aims to restrict the conditions of entry into the United States. To date, not all the practical consequences of this text are clearly identified. The situation remains highly evolving. Further information should clarify the scope of these new measures in the hours and days ahead. Citizens of seven countries (Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq) are subject to a ban on entry into the United States unless otherwise specified.

Travelers who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or Sudan since 1 March 2011 and persons with Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian or Sudanese nationality can no longer benefit from the visa waiver exemption regime. These persons will henceforth apply for a visa to the American diplomatic and consular authorities. With regard to travel to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan since 1 March 2011, the reform provides for a permanent exception for full-time civilian or military state officials, who would therefore continue to benefit from the visa waiver to travel to the United States.

The United States has particularly close relations with its immediate neighbors Mexico and Canada. These 3 countries compose NAFTA (the North America Free Trade Agreement) and have a thriving economic relationship.

The EU/US relationship is traditionally centred on trade and investment. The EU and the US are each other’s main trading partners (taking goods and services together) and account for the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world, accounting for almost 40% of world trade. The daily value of transatlantic trade (in goods and services) is approximately £1.13 billion. Almost 10,000 US companies are based in the EU and around 12 million jobs depend on this investment. The EU and US have increasingly co-operated both in areas of traditional foreign and defence policy, as well as in addressing new threats and challenges including drugs, international terrorism (especially since 9/11) and the environment.

For 50 years American involvement in NATO had been the cornerstone of peace in Europe. This transatlantic relationship had been at the heart of European defence and security. But the EU is taking a number of concrete steps to give itself the capability to deal with crises where NATO is not engaged.

The UK-US political/economic relationship is extremely close. The UK has strong links to both the Administration and Congress. Following the events of 11 September 2001, the UK made a commitment to stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with the US in the campaign to defeat terrorism. The United Kingdom's support for action against Iraq and the subsequent commitment of substantial forces to fight alongside those of the US underlined the strength of the transatlantic relationship. The US and UK are close partners in addressing a wide range of issues, including counter-terrorism, homeland security, the Middle East Peace Process, and nuclear non-proliferation.

Through two Secretaries of State, and despite numerous commitments to fill key positions, vacancies and acting officials at the Department persisted. Three and a half years into the administration, 11 Assistant Secretary or Undersecretary posts — more than one-third of the total — were vacant or filled by acting officials. Unqualified and unfit nominee choices have exacerbated vacancies and leadership failures at the Department. Trump administration nominees misrepresented their experience, misled the Congress about critical information, and engaged in conduct that would have disqualified them for a senior diplomatic post under previous administrations. Secretary Pompeo’s push to remove the Inspector General during the IG’s active investigation into Pompeo’s conduct only reinforced a culture of zero accountability.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, said "All too often the administration has “smeared them as radical bureaucrats and deep state" agents and shown a “complete and utter disdain for their expertise”. Trump and his top aides have rejected the longstanding bipartisan foreign policy of his predecessors, instead criticising foreign service staff as being part of the entrenched “deep state”. The result has been the widespread dismissal of veteran career diplomats – those officials who are normally seen as being valuable resources for first-time ambassadors who are just arriving in-country or who have only cursory diplomatic training.

US Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson in Britain is facing accusations that he tried to steer the British Open toward being held at the Trump Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. US Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson in Britain is facing accusations that he tried to steer the British Open toward being held at the Trump Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. The billionaire NFL owner made racist generalizations about Black men and questioned why the Black community celebrates Black History Month.

Although Trump's diplomatic team has highlighted the foibles of ambassadors lacking diplomatic experience, similar problems have surfaced in the administrations of both political parties. Yet the issue is attracting greater attention in the Trump era as the percentage of politically connected ambassadors, which normally hovers around 30%, has soared to 42%, the highest level since the mid-1970s.

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Page last modified: 01-05-2022 16:44:33 ZULU