Taylor Block discussion post

My unit 3 discussion post….. Please read this post and Taylor’s post and use the example I provided for the response to my classmate Taylor Block’s discussion post.

The United States has been commonly referred to as an “exceptional” nation, to the extent that “American exceptionalism” is an entrenched phrase in various discussions. The phrase “American exceptionalism” can be largely attributed to the origins of the nation, especially since the American government was the first nation-state in modern history to be founded upon the principles of liberty, equality, and justice for all, though these principles were admittedly applied in an uneven manner to several individuals in early American history. Nonetheless, in spite of the serious social ills associated with the appalling treatment of slaves, Native Americans, and other vulnerable groups, the United States was clear in its process of governing. Relative to its British and European counterparts, the government of the United States was not inherited by ruling royalty classes, but rather by representatives elected by the people. Since 1776, the nation has undergone various changes, especially regarding its international involvement. These changes, and corresponding controversies, are evident in the two key primary source readings: “Principles and Ideals of the United States Government,” written by Herbert Hoover, and “Letter from Bonus Army Leader to President Hoover,” written by Philo D. Burke.

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In the opening lines of Hoover’s letter, he argues that Americans are a “progressive people,” people who espouse “moral and spiritual virtues” (Hoover). Hoover also acknowledged how world wars had controversially impacted American sentiments, calling for a renewal of “the march of progress from its collapse by the war” (Hoover). Hoover also alluded to the aforementioned American exceptionalism, arguing that the United States constitutes “a form of self-government” that “differs fundamentally from all others in the world” (Hoover). At the same time, the freedom has also permitted other unscrupulous opportunities to flourish, as Burke indicates in his scathing letter to Hoover. Alluding to the Great Depression, Burke remarked that numerous soldiers “lost their homes through the greed and lust of the few in power” (Burke), a complaint that resonates with numerous Americans exasperated by growing wealth inequalities in the modern age. Burke also emphasized that these soldiers did not stop fighting for American principles, despite the fact that they felt unsupported in their time of need.

Consequently, “From Isolationism to Neutrality,” written by Brooke L. Blower, provides additional insight into “fierce debates about what role Americans should play in a dangerous world,” especially since Americans themselves “have always been divided over foreign policy” (Blower, pp. 345, 349). Hoover openly questions whether or not to “start upon a new road” (Hoover), in particular one that differs from the “Farewell Address” delivered by George Washington. Of the numerous arguments Blower makes, the most significant pertains to the appropriate definitions of isolationism and neutrality as they pertain to foreign policy, especially when accounting for the impact on soldiers. Following World War I, numerous Americans felt deeply disillusioned about foreign interventions, perceiving them as largely advantageous in terms of “the sinister motives of munitions dealers and unrepentant imperialists” (Blower, p. 346). However, recalling the origins upon which the United States was founded, particularly the emphasis on liberty and democracy, others recognized that the United States could play a key role in “responsible world leadership” (Blower, p. 347), which recalls Burke’s allusion to fighting for American principles. Isolationism, in other words, did not entail remaining distant from world affairs; on the contrary, it entailed a resistance to becoming involved in war: “It was about severing trade or alliances with ‘warring’ nations, not all nations” (Blower, p. 351). However, some wars are seemingly unavoidable, though tension remains when accounting for the treatment of soldiers who made victory possible in the first place.

In closing, the primary and secondary sources from the twentieth century illuminate their ongoing relevance to the twenty-first century. The current war in Ukraine illuminates how “in a modern, integrated world, not intervening … [is] in effect a form of intervention, which would throw weight to one side of the conflict” (Blower, p. 353). Moreover, the twenty-first century also supports Blower’s argument by revealing how modern neutrality differs from traditional neutrality, especially as the latter helps “[protect] the sovereignty … of small or distant states from great power intrigues” (Blower, p. 364). At the same time, growing wealth inequality, alongside the Iraq War, has raised serious questions about the true intentions of American efforts, rendering international involvement highly controversial to this day.

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