Essay Example on US Foreign Policy: Shaping the Global Economic and Geopolitical System

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1220 Words
Date:  2023-04-23


American foreign policy has influenced the global economic system as well as the geopolitics. Through this tool, the United States has enhanced its unrivaled political, economic, and military power to fashion a world conducive to its values and interests. The primary goal of the US foreign policy throughout the 20th century, according to McCormick (2013), was to prevent any single democracy from controlling the centers of strategic powers in Western Europe. However, a dramatic shift of geopolitics in the aftermath of the Cold War brought together the US and its European allies who used their foreign policies to make the world safe for democracy (Sullivan, 2005). The election of President Jimmy Carter in 1976 as well, led to a shift in the US policy (Lecture Notes, 2010). The events following the September 11, 2001 terror attack further shaped foreign policymaking, the US embraced the pluralist model in a war against terrorism (McCormick, 2013). Although foreign interventions by the US does not guarantee international peace and security, they are vital because it allows the country to maintain its influence in the global geopolitics and also preserve the international balance of power.

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The US as the Leader of the Global Capitalist Economic System

Since 1945, after the Second World War, the foreign policies of the United States have been driven by the goal of becoming "hegemon of the global capitalist system" (Sullivan 2005, p. 1). This statement means the US has been using its foreign policies to promote the establishment and acceptance of free-market economies to dominate over them. The United States, according to Sullivan (2005), managed to create a capitalist economic system by containing the spread of communism ideologies. As a result, America replaced the United Kingdom that had controlled the global capitalist system before the Second World War in the twentieth century (Sullivan 2005).

The United States played leading roles in establishing institutional foundations of the world economy after the Second World War. As s strategy to achieve this goal, America focused on making the world safe for capital, which in turn, would support activities of corporations, among other institutions of an economy (Sullivan, 2005). By creating such an environment, the United States promoted an economic system that provided opportunities for institutions to maximize their profits (Sullivan, 2005). Here, the point is that supporting the activities of corporations was in line with the objectives of a global capitalist economy, which aimed at transferring the ownership of capital goods to corporations as well as individuals. America's interventions in several nations show how it supported the establishment of a capitalist economic system, where transnational corporations, instead of governments, controlled the flow of goods. Sullivan (2005) said that the role of the United States in ex-Belgian Congo and the former French Indochina was aimed at upholding the capitalist economic system.

Today, multinational companies, as institutions of the world economy, play vital roles in stimulating growth. Such organizations create employment opportunities and also facilitate the transfer of capital across international boundaries. Research on the goals of America's foreign interventions showed that it promoted economic thinking where multinational corporations ought to organize third world economies (Sullivan, 2005). This point also illustrates the role of the US in establishing institutions that play vital roles in the global capitalist economic system.

The United States spearheaded the establishment of formal business institutions, which are now the foundations of the world economic system. After World War II, the US has been using its foreign policies to advance anti-communism ideologies. The Truman Doctrine of 1947, for instance, emerged as a vital tool to contain Soviet geopolitical expansion (Sullivan, 2005).

The capitalist system that the US advanced through its foreign policy agenda enhanced competition between formal business institutions. With such an economic system, governments had little control over private activities. This system is opposite the communist system, where the political class had significant control over economic resources. Sullivan (2005) said that the Truman Doctrine advocated for "free institutions" in Greece to enable people to have strong representations in trade unions. The system of trade unions underlying the capitalist system also constitutes institutional foundations the United States established.

US Interventions in Third World Countries

Iraq Case (1953)

The United States, through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIS), mounted a joint operation with Britain to remove Mohammed Mossadegh, who was then the prime minister of Iraq (Sullivan, 2005). The two countries overthrew Mossadegh because of his decision to nationalize the oil industry that the Anglo-Iraqi Company had significantly controlled. The US handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to take over as the prime minister of Iraq (Sullivan, 2005).

The two main policy tools deployed by Washington in implementing its objectives are economic boycott and military force. In this regard, the UK and the United States mobilized their allies and other nations to boycott the purchase of petroleum from Iraq, terming it "stolen oil" (Sullivan, 2005, p. 39). The primary objective of the US in this aspect was to ensure the nation maintains access to global oil reserves and its international marketplace. This goal would enable the US to safeguard its position as the leader of the capitalist system since it was against the nationalization of oil reserves. This case illustrates Sullivan's (2005) statement on how the United States was determined to maintain its control over the global capitalist system.

The Case of Brazil (1964)

The United States interfered with the internal affairs of Brazil by supporting rebel groups that ultimately overthrew, Joao Goulart, the country's democratically elected president. Goulart's administration had close relationships with the Soviet Union, which was then supporting communism. This aspect necessitated the US to support the rebel army as a way to counter the USSR. The primary foreign policy tool that America used in Brazil is sanctioning. In this case, the US reduced economic aid that used to give Brazil and only supported military programs. Also, it withheld 75% of the loans it had approved until 1964 after the coup (Sullivan, 2005).

The goal of the United States was to preserve the global balance of power by containing the spread of communism. At that time, the Brazilian government worked with the Soviet Union, prompting the US to support armies that overthrew President Joao Goulart. The Brazilian case supports the author's idea that the United States emerged as the main protector of transnational capitalism after World War II (Sullivan, 2005). The reason is that America used its foreign policy to counter the power of the Soviet Union in third world democracies.


The US has succeeded in using its foreign policy tools to influence the domestic affairs of third world countries. Through this approach, the United States has safeguarded its interests and protect the lives of its citizens in overseas countries. More importantly, the tools of foreign policy have allowed the US to maintain its position as the leading player in the global capitalist system. In my view, military force has been the lowest point of the United States foreign policy since it has not been successful in promoting both democracy and peace to other countries. The highest point of America's policy intervention is the use of economic tools like sanctions and boycotts as it has allowed the US to create a robust global capitalist economy.


Lecture Notes. (2020). Economic sanction as a foreign policy tool [Power point presentation].

McCormick, J. M. (2013). Cengage advantage: American foreign policy and process. Nelson Education.

Sullivan, M. J. (2008). American adventurism abroad: 30 invasions, interventions, and regime changes since World War II. (2005). Choice Reviews Online, 43(01), 43-0606-43-0606.

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