The articles by Johnson are critical in understanding the external behavior of the US during and after the Second World War. In document 26-1, the author uses the speech of one of the distinguished military generals to assess the position of the US during and after the war.
The military chief lamented that the US was ill prepared to engage any state in a military battle since it had limited resources and technological expertise. Though the military general, George Marshall, agreed that the war brought some benefits to many Americans, he lamented that the war exposed the American weakness regarding military preparedness.
Before the Second World War, the US was much concerned about its internal affairs implying that it avoided external conflicts at all costs. In fact, the US was forced to join the Second World after Japan destroyed its Pearl Harbor. Various reasons contributed to American dormancy in the international system. The US considered itself a peaceful country that did not need any conflict to succeed. However, other reasons contributed to this quietness. These reasons are better captured in the following statement.
There is now another disadvantage to a large professional standing army. Wars in the twentieth century are fought with the total resources, economic, scientific and human of entire nations. Every specialized field of human knowledge is employed. Modern war requires the skills and knowledge of the individuals of a nation (Johnson 212).
The general was trying to imply that war is only fought by rich nations, which are endowed with national resources. Therefore, the military leader challenged Americans to support the government in forming a strong military that would counter any foreign power. The general observed that not all Americans could leave their businesses and join the military but they had to sacrifice their finances to fund military projects.
In article 27-5, Johnson uses the speech of the former head of state, Dwight Eisenhower, to assess the achievements of Americans during the 1950s. Even though Americans achieved a lot during the 1950s, they were faced with many threats. Such threats could be facing the state even currently.
The former head of state observed that Americans had many things to accomplish but the changes in the international system affected them. For this reason, both foreign and domestic policies had to be adjusted to suit the changes in the international system. The leader suggested that American policy makers had to come up with balanced proposals to ensure success. For instance, the economy had to be partly privatized so that many people could venture in clandestine investments.
The former president concurred with the general’s postulations that America had to prepare itself militarily. For this to happen, the American populace had to fund various projects through paying sustainable taxes. In other words, Americans had to sacrifice in order to achieve greatness internally and externally. This can be well captured by the following statement.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties (Johnson 248).
From the two articles, some observations can be made. In formulation of domestic and foreign policies, the actors are surrounded by the international system. The policy maker must behave within the context of the environment. The environment is usually complex because there are many units such as religions, civilizations, economies and regimes.
The environment can therefore constrain, provide opportunities or can affect the willingness of the decision makers to take advantage of the prevailing conditions. In the American context, the international system prevented the actors from making unilateral decisions before the Second World War. After the war, leaders had to change their foreign policies from isolationist to interventionist.
Johnson, Michael. Reading the American past: selected historical documents: volume II: from 1865. 4th ed. New York: Bedford, 2008. Print.