The Influence of Military Power on Foreign Policy and International Economics

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It took some time for U.S. law and politics to connect itself to the global economy. For years, the country was divided over whether those connections were necessary, and, then, which government agency has the obligation to maintain the connection. It came down to the US Supreme Court, who made conclusions that influence international economics to the present day. We'll take a look at the key cases, all of which are still controversial decades later. Since the U.S. dollar remains the currency of choice for world business today, quite a few of America's international business partners know these ageing Supreme Court rulings backwards-and-forwards as well. Knowledge is power, especially when billions of dollars are at stake around the world. I believe that foreign policy is heavily influenced by money, however I think that governments use the military to enforce their economic agenda even if it doesn’t mean directly going to war.

For example, during Lincoln’s presidency the emerging market in China was a big target for both the Americans and the European global powers for future business. An agreement was made between Seward and Lincoln that if the civil war could be avoided Lincoln would hand over power to Seward after one term. Seward did not want to de-mobilize the American military after the civil war, as he believed that with a powerful army abroad following US government goals they could take on the British/French empires. At this point the US Dollar was now the 3rd strongest currency in the world. Dollar diplomacy was the notion that US foreign policy should be to strengthen the dollar against rival currencies such as the pound. Seward wanted to create 3 headquarters in the Pacific/Asian zone to convince China that the US was the way forward for business. He suggested buying Alaska from the Russians.

Central Pacific headquarters would be the Midway Islands, then even if the Brits/French did break a trade deal with China that European ships would have to re-fuel in an American port and they could suck them dry with taxes and tariffs. Meanwhile, back in the US tensions grew due to racism towards Japanese immigrants where laws were enforced that didn’t allow them to open businesses etc. Because of these actions taken by the US, Japan took a military response and launched their naval fleet to travel undetected to the military base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Japan and the US were on the brink of war over the control of the Pacific Ocean and trade routes for the emerging global market in China.

Furthermore, in the southern zone would be the Samoan Islands, the US wanted to try and get Australia/New Zealand to break their ties with the UK and join the US. In my opinion, this evidence strongly supports the claim that foreign policy making is dictated by military power and presence. Although the motivation of the actions taken by the US government in the Pacific and Asian region was financial, the foreign policy they implemented was enforced by the military.

In addition to this, in 1900 a balance of power act was signed between the US and British and French colonies called the Treaty of France. British and French government were concerned with how quickly a country could emerge on the global scene. The two governments were worried that the US and Japan were becoming too powerful especially when the US defeated the Spaniards in the Caribbean and Guam and the Philippines were now American land. The British and French government wanted to maintain their empires.

This is another example of how military power has dictated foreign policy making for governments. The British and French wanted to maintain their empires for economic reasons, however the increasing strength of the US military was enough to make the French and British empires change their foreign policy and sign the treaty.

To conclude, despite the fact that money drives the economy and the majority of decisions made by governments and politicians I believe that when it comes to foreign policy countries often use military power to enforce their economic agenda. Therefore in my opinion the international political economy is about military power and how countries use it.

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