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US History/
Thematic Essay Practice – Foreign Policy
Name: __________________
From the January 2005 New York States Regents/ U.S. History & Government
THEMATIC ESSAY QUESTION
Directions: Write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several paragraphs
addressing the task below, and a conclusion.
Theme: Foreign Policy
Since 1900, United States foreign policy actions have often been based on national
self-interest. These actions have had immediate and long-term results.
Task:
Identify two important United States foreign policy actions since 1900 and for each
• Discuss the historical circumstances surrounding the action
• Discuss one immediate or one long-term result of the action
• Evaluate the extent to which the action promoted the nation’s self-interest
Some suggestions you might wish to consider include Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the
Monroe Doctrine (1904); Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918); the Lend-Lease Act
(1941); the Marshall Plan (1947); the blockade of Cuba (1962); the Strategic Arms
Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements (1972); and the Persian Gulf War (1991).
Gathering the Facts:
1- Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine (1904)
 “President Theodore Roosevelt’s assertive approach to Latin America and the
Caribbean has often been characterized as the ‘Big Stick,’ and his policy came to be
known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.
 Although the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 was essentially passive (it asked that
Europeans not increase their influence or recolonize any part of the Western
Hemisphere), by the 20th century a more confident United States was willing to take
on the role of regional policeman.
 In the early 1900s Roosevelt grew concerned that a crisis between Venezuela and its
creditors could spark an invasion of that nation by European powers.
 The Roosevelt Corollary of December 1904 stated that the United States would
intervene as a last resort to ensure that other nations in the Western Hemisphere
fulfilled their obligations to international creditors, and did not violate the rights of
the United States or invite ‘foreign aggression to the detriment of the entire body of
American nations.’
 As the corollary worked out in practice, the United States increasingly used
military force to restore internal stability to nations in the region.


Roosevelt declared that the United States might ‘exercise international police power
in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence.’
Over the long term the corollary had little to do with relations between the Western
Hemisphere and Europe, but it did serve as justification for U.S. intervention in
Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.” ~ history.state.gov
2- Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918 )
 “In this January 8, 1918, speech on War Aims and Peace Terms, President
Wilson set down 14 points as a blueprint for world peace that was to be used for
peace negotiations after World War I.
 In the speech, Wilson directly addressed what he perceived as the causes for the
world war by calling for the abolition of secret treaties, a reduction in
armaments, an adjustment in colonial claims in the interests of both native
peoples and colonists, and freedom of the seas.
 Wilson also made proposals that would ensure world peace in the future.
 For example, he proposed the removal of economic barriers between nations, the
promise of ‘self-determination’ for those oppressed minorities, and a world
organization that would provide a system of collective security for all nations.
 When the Allies met in Versailles to formulate the treaty to end World War I
with Germany and Austria-Hungary, most of Wilson’s 14 Points were scuttled
by the leaders of England and France.
 To his dismay, Wilson discovered that England, France, and Italy were mostly
interested in regaining what they had lost and gaining more by punishing
Germany.
 Germany quickly found out that Wilson’s blueprint for world peace would not
apply to them.
 However, Wilson’s point calling for a world organization that would provide
some system of collective security was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles.
 This organization would later be known as the League of Nations.
 Though Wilson launched a tireless missionary campaign to overcome opposition
in the U.S. Senate to the adoption of the treaty and membership in the League,
the treaty was never adopted by the Senate, and the United States never joined
the League of Nations.
 Wilson would later suggest that without American participation in the League,
there would be another world war within a generation.” ~ ourdocuments.gov
3- The Lend-Lease Act (1941)
 “In July 1940, after Britain had sustained the loss of 11 destroyers to the German
Navy over a 10-day period, newly elected British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
requested help from President Roosevelt.
 Roosevelt responded by exchanging 50 destroyers for 99-year leases on British bases
in the Caribbean and Newfoundland. As a result, a major foreign policy debate
erupted over whether the United States should aid Great Britain or maintain strict
neutrality.








In the 1940 Presidential election campaign, Roosevelt promised to keep America out
of the war.
He stated, ‘I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your
boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.’
Nevertheless, FDR wanted to support Britain and believed the United States should
serve as a ‘great arsenal of democracy.’
Churchill pleaded, ‘Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job.’
In January 1941, following up on his campaign pledge and the prime minister’s
appeal for arms, Roosevelt proposed to Congress a new military aid bill.
The plan proposed by FDR was to ‘lend-lease or otherwise dispose of arms’ and
other supplies needed by any country whose security was vital to the defense of the
United States.
In support of the bill, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson told the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee during the debate over lend-lease, ‘We are buying…not
lending. We are buying our own security while we prepare. By our delay during the
past six years, while Germany was preparing, we find ourselves unprepared and
unarmed, facing a thoroughly prepared and armed potential enemy.’
Following two months of debate, Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act, meeting
Great Britain’s deep need for supplies and allowing the United States to prepare for
war while remaining officially neutral. ~ ourdocuments.gov
4- The Marshall Plan (1947)
 “When World War II ended in 1945, Europe lay in ruins: its cities were shattered;
its economies were devastated; its people faced famine.
 In the two years after the war, the Soviet Union’s control of Eastern Europe and the
vulnerability of Western European countries to Soviet expansionism heightened the
sense of crisis.
 To meet this emergency, Secretary of State George Marshall proposed in a speech at
Harvard University on June 5, 1947, that European nations create a plan for their
economic reconstruction and that the United States provide economic assistance.
 On December 19, 1947, President Harry Truman sent Congress a message that
followed Marshall’s ideas to provide economic aid to Europe.
 Congress overwhelmingly passed the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, and on
April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the act that became known as the Marshall
Plan.
 Over the next four years, Congress appropriated $13.3 billion for European
recovery.
 This aid provided much needed capital and materials that enabled Europeans to
rebuild the continent’s economy.
 For the United States, the Marshall Plan provided markets for American goods,
created reliable trading partners, and supported the development of stable
democratic governments in Western Europe.
 Congress’s approval of the Marshall Plan signaled an extension of the
bipartisanship of World War II into the postwar years.” ~ ourdocuments.gov
5- The Blockade of Cuba (1962)
 On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy announces to the American
people that he has ordered a blockade of Cuba in response to the discovery that
Soviet missiles were being installed on the island.
 In his televised speech, he condemned Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev for the
‘clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace’ and warned that
the United States was fully prepared to retaliate should the missiles be launched.
 Four days earlier, Kennedy had been shown photographic proof that the Soviets
were building 40 ballistic missile sites on Cuba – within striking distance of the
United States.
 In secret meetings, Kennedy and his closest advisors agreed he had three
choices: to negotiate with the Russians to remove the missiles; to bomb the
missile sites in Cuba; or implement a naval blockade of the island.
 Kennedy chose to blockade Cuba, deciding to bomb the missile sites only if
further action proved necessary.
 The blockade began October 21 and, the next day, Kennedy delivered a public
address alerting Americans to the situation.
 In his speech, he warned a frightened American public that the missiles on Cuba
were capable of hitting Washington, D.C. or anywhere in the southeastern
portion of the country, the Panama Canal, Mexico City or ‘as far north as
Hudson Bay, Canada, and as far south as Lima, Peru.’
 A military confrontation appeared imminent when Kennedy told his audience
that he ordered the evacuation of the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and
put military units on standby.
 Boldly, he stated, ‘one path we shall never choose is the path of surrender or
submission.’
 Khrushchev responded by sending additional ships – possibly carrying military
cargo – toward Cuba and by allowing construction at the missile sites to
continue.
 Over the following six days, the Cuban Missile Crisis, as it is now known,
brought the world to the brink of global nuclear war while the two leaders
engaged in tense negotiations via telegram and letter.
 Fortunately by October 28, Kennedy and Khrushchev had reached a settlement
and people on both sides of the conflict breathed a collective but wary sigh of
relief.
 The Cuban missile sites were dismantled and, in return, Kennedy agreed to close
U.S. missile sites in Turkey.” ~ history.com
6- The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements (1972)
 “SALT I, the first series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, extended from
November 1969 to May 1972.
 During that period the United States and the Soviet Union negotiated the first
agreements to place limits and restraints on some of their central and most
important armaments.



In a Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems, they moved to
end an emerging competition in defensive systems that threatened to spur
offensive competition to still greater heights.
In an Interim Agreement on Certain Measures With Respect to the Limitation of
Strategic Offensive Arms, the two nations took the first steps to check the rivalry
in their most powerful land- and submarine-based offensive nuclear weapons.” ~
state.gov
“The negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union were aimed at
curtailing the manufacture of strategic missiles capable of carrying nuclear
weapons.” ~ Britannica
7- The Persian Gulf War (1991)
 “Persian Gulf War, also called Gulf War, (1990–91), was an international
conflict that was triggered by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
 Iraq’s leader, Ṣaddām Ḥussein, ordered the invasion and occupation of Kuwait
with the apparent aim of acquiring that nation’s large oil reserves, canceling a
large debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and expanding Iraqi power in the region.
 On August 3rd, the United Nations Security Council called for Iraq to withdraw
from Kuwait, and on August 6 the council imposed a worldwide ban on trade
with Iraq. (The Iraqi government responded by formally annexing Kuwait on
August 8.)
 Iraq’s invasion and the potential threat it then posed to Saudi Arabia, the
world’s largest oil producer and exporter, prompted the United States and its
western European NATO allies to rush troops to Saudi Arabia to deter a
possible attack.
 Egypt and several other Arab nations joined the anti-Iraq coalition and
contributed forces to the military buildup, known as Operation Desert Shield.
 Iraq meanwhile built up its occupying army in Kuwait to about 300,000 troops.
 A massive allied ground offensive was launched northward from northeastern
Saudi Arabia into Kuwait and southern Iraq on February 24th and within three
days Arab and U.S. forces had retaken Kuwait city in the face of crumbling
Iraqi resistance.
 Meanwhile, the main U.S. armored thrust drove into Iraq some 120 miles (200
km) west of Kuwait and attacked Iraq’s armored reserves from the rear.
 By February 27 these forces had destroyed most of Iraq’s elite Republican
Guard units after the latter had tried to make a stand south of Al-Baṣrah in
southeastern Iraq.
 By the time that U.S. President George Bush declared a cease-fire for February
28, Iraqi resistance had completely collapsed.” ~ Britannica
Look at the thematic essay question again. Which two foreign policy actions will you
choose?
In addition, in your own words, summarize each foreign policy actions:

Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine (1904)

Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918)

Lend-Lease Act (1941)

Marshall Plan (1947)

The Blockade of Cuba (1962)

The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements (1972)

The Persian Gulf War (1991)
Outlining the Thematic Essay:
Foreign Policy Action: _______
Foreign Policy Action: _______

Discuss the historical circumstances
surrounding the action

Discuss the historical circumstances
surrounding the action

Discuss one immediate or one longterm result of the action

Discuss one immediate or one longterm result of the action

Evaluate the extent to which the
action promoted the nation’s selfinterest

Evaluate the extent to which the
action promoted the nation’s selfinterest
Additional Notes:
Additional Notes:
Write the Essay:
Introduction:
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Body Paragraph:
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Body Paragraph:
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Conclusion:
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Explain the meaning of the political cartoon.
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Explain the meaning of the political cartoon. _______________________________________