Where has the US intervened historically?

It is in Eurasia and its periphery where Washington is most assertive, and will continue to be. (Shutterstock)

It has been said that great powers do not have friends, only interests. The United States became a great power following World War II - Pax Americana has existed ever since. The United States did not harbor global ambitions in its very beginnings in 1776, exerting great efforts to isolate itself from the world.

Its first pretensions of having a global presence, or for that matter needing a credible one, began in the early 1800s with the deployment of American military forces in the Mediterranean against Barbary pirates. Around the same time, the threat of a French invasion of the Caribbean and Louisiana was serious enough for the United States to worry about the possibility of sharing North America with French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Fortunately for the United States, Bonaparte sold Louisiana to Washington, and the first possibility of becoming a global power began in earnest with the acquisition of massive lands west of the Mississippi River, stretching from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains and the border with Canada. A second war with Britain ensued shortly after this acquisition, making American leaders strive for additional security to address their concerns over European powers.

US President James Monroe declared the Monroe Doctrine, which aimed to keep foreign powers out of North, Central and South America. This was clearly aimed at Europe, specifically Britain and France. Although the doctrine was not offensive in nature, it was the first time the United States began to seriously consider its role in the world.

Eurasia

It was with World War I, World War II and the Cold War (a period lasting from 1917 to 1989) where the United States vigorously asserted its global interests when it felt them threatened. This took place in Europe, against hostile powers capable of projecting themselves militarily worldwide. The United States fought to prevent a Eurasia united under either a single hegemonic power, or associated powers in strategic partnership.

A united, hostile Eurasia would be the only entity able to match the United States economically and militarily. US intervention in World War I and II tied into this concept of preventing a united Eurasia. In both wars, Germany fought for absolute military supremacy over Europe, including Russia and the Caucasus.

A Germany with access to the resources of Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and even the Caspian region could threaten the security of the US mainland. The prospect of the United States being able to live in peace with a German-dominated Europe and Eurasia would be slim at best.

The Cold War brought a different scenario, but the concept of preventing a united Eurasia remained. In this case, keeping Russia from having access to all of Germany, its manufacturing capacity and technological expertise was paramount in stopping Moscow from having complete mastery of Europe and Eurasia.

The United States would vigorously assert its interests in keeping Moscow from dominating all of Europe from 1945 to 1989. For all of today’s conventional wisdom regarding the aims of American foreign intervention, it is in Eurasia and its periphery where Washington is most assertive, and will continue to be.
 

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