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Do Economic or Security Interests Play a Greater Role in Shaping the Foreign Policy of the United States? Has This Changed Since the End of the Cold War?

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Do economic or security interests play a greater role in shaping the foreign policy of the United States? Has this changed since the end of the Cold War?

Attempting to separate economic and security interests in terms of American foreign policy is no easy feat as both play, and have always played, a major role in the decisions made by the government at different times over recent years. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, security interests appear to be of the utmost importance, but prior to that, since the end of the Cold War, economic interests seemed to be the priority. Over the past seventy five years or so, the interests of the United States has fluctuated between security and economy, but all of this has relied upon the world situation at the time. For example, during the Cold War, the U.S. had the worry that they would be the target of missile attacks, making security the number one priority; as is to be expected. However, prior to this, during the depression, the economy was clearly the number one concern. In an attempt to distinguish between the two, the following essay will cover a number of separate occasions where the interests of the United States have swayed between their economy and national security, and how foreign policy was affected by this; those cases being the Great Depression, the Cold War, America’s support for Israel, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the very recent Global Financial Crisis, or GFC. With this evidence a conclusion will be made which answers the question of what is more important in regard to foreign policy: the economy or security.

When the Great Depression struck in the late 1920’s (Smiley, 2008), the U.S. government came to the realisation that not only did they have to protect their citizens in a physical sense but also in an economic sense. Prior to this event, America had been focused on physical protection; e.g.…...

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