Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To Intervene or Not to Intervene. That is the Question.

International relations are a tricky business for Presidents. Especially today, President Obama has his hands full on both fronts, with economic concerns and the health care debate at home, and two wars overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the past, many presidents, particularly when our nation was young, preached a stance of non-interventionism, even isolationism.

In his farewell address, George Washington presented a rule for the county, “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” Thomas Jefferson echoed his sentiments in his inaugural address when he said, "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." Subsequent Presidents strived to adhere to these ideas as well, however as technology and communication grew, making the world a smaller, more connected place, this became difficult, even inconceivable today.

On the world stage, countries rely on each other for myriad reasons, and this interconnectivity can be seen in the foreign relation issues between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, as President Obama highlighted in his speech on Afghanistan. The National Constitution Center’s International Engagement Manager, Jeffery Stern, wrote a great article at examining this very aspect of the U.S.'s involvement abroad. Share this article with your students, and discuss with them the delicate balance between foreign powers and our own country. Ask students for their view on international relations.

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