>>>>Dean Grillot: As we continue to make progress
in understanding the global community, let’s consider a particular important actor within
that global community — the United States of America. To understand contemporary relations
in the international arena, we must consider the role that the United States plays around
the world. The United States is undoubtedly one of the most powerful actors in global
affairs today — both militarily and economically. In terms of military power, the U. S. is able
to project its power and position around the globe. It has bases of operations and certain
capabilities that allow it to engage as needed in every region of the world. From East Asia
to the Middle East and from Europe to Latin America, the United States is quite involved
in military relations and activities. In fact, militarily, the United States may be the single
most significant power — some might say super power — in the global community. The United
States is clearly a global actor with global interests. Economically, the United States is also a
global actor with global interests. The United States is involved in numerous economic organizations
and discussions, and has a significant role to play in global economic decision-making.
With one of the world’s largest and most developed economies that engages in business in every
region of the world, the United States has clear interests in economic growth, development
and stability. But it isn’t just its military and economic
power that make the United States a significant actor in today’s global community. The rest
of the world — the other members of the global community — often look to the United States
to help address problems and, quite often, to serve as an example for democratic governance,
transparency, justice and equality. The United States therefore also plays a significant
role around the world in the eyes of its fellow community members as a country capable of
providing assistance and willing to offer guidance in addressing problems and finding
solutions. Sometimes, even without an invitation. It hasn’t always been this way. The United
States became a global actor only in the mid-20th century. Before that, the United States was
a regional actor, and before that, a budding nation-state working to grow and develop.
The history of American foreign policy, in fact, has ebbed and flowed in many ways. The
United States has had its moments of isolationism and its moments of expansionism. It has mobilized
from time to time for military action, and then demobilized and reduced significantly
its military capability. Actually, prior to the Second World War, the U. S. did not have
a standing army during peacetime — it had mobilized its military only in times of military
threat. The United States has also moved back and
forth between engaging with others in the global community from a unilateral perspective
and from a multilateral perspective. Depending on the issue, the U. S. has sometimes preferred
to make its decisions on its own, and sometimes it has managed to make its decisions in collaboration
with others. Ultimately, the history of U. S. foreign policy and international engagement
has involved various perspectives and various methods. Regardless of the perspectives and methods
taken, however, studying American foreign policy can be very useful and instructive
in a general way. Analytical tools that have emerged from studies of U. S. foreign policy
also help us understand foreign policy decision-making in other countries. It is to these general
tools — and in particular, the importance of levels of analysis and sources of foreign
policy, that we turn next as we continue our efforts to understand the global community.