Still Seeking World Order
The dominant interpretation among historians, political scientists, and in-
ternationallawyers is that during the period between the First and Second
World Wars, the U.S. government simply retreated to its traditional foreign
policies of isolationism in peace and neutrality in war vis-a-vis the rest of
the world that went all the way back to Washington's Farewell Address.
But the situation was far more complicated than that. During the interwar
period, the U.S. government continued to pursue a foreign policy based on
the active promotion of international law and organizations for the rest of
the world. In this regard, there was a remarkable degree of continuity be-
tween U.S. legalist foreign policy during the
era and the interwar
period of its history.
One of the overall objectives and dilemmas of U.S. foreign policy dur-
ing the interwar period became how to advance the nation's perceived vital
national security interest in promoting international law and organizations
around the world without participating in the League of Nations. This in-
terpretation of U.S. interwar diplomacy can account for the Kellogg-Briand
Pact, the Stimson Doctrine, the Washington Naval Conference, U.S. neu-
trality legislation, the inter-American conferences, etc. The U.S. govern-
ment simply continued to pursue the legalist approach
international re-
lations that was classically defined and articulated during the pre-World
War I era into and throughout the interwar period, though without dealing
with the League.
To recapitulate: This pre-World War I U.S. legalist approach to interna-
tional politics sought to create an actual"regime" of international law and
organizations that would prevent, reduce, and regulate the threat and use
of force in international relations. In particular, its war-prevention program
for world politics consisted of obtaining the following concrete objectives:
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