World Peace—Even Through War: The Role of the USA in Preserving Security in the International System

  • Egbert Jahn


The various concepts of the global policy of the USA and their assessments are the subject of a great deal of controversy. In the individual countries, differently distributed essentialist pro- and anti-American attitudes predominate. These either emphasise positive elements of this policy, such as the securing of world peace, democracy and human rights in many countries, or negative elements such as war crimes, policies of using force, a cynical violation of human rights and ignorance of the democratic decisions made by other peoples, and render them absolute. However, US global policy is extremely ambivalent and not infrequently fluctuates between the extremes of a liberal-democratic global peace policy, which also does not exclude war as a means of achieving this aim, and an arch-conservative policy of national isolation. As a result, a differentiated analysis and assessment of the achievements of US global policy that have promoted peace and democracy and those actions that have repeatedly led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives is necessary with reference to global-human considerations.

The aim of this brief study is first to explain the apparent internal contradiction between the pursuit of a global peace policy through war with clarifications of the concepts involved, in order to then focus on the decisive turning points in US foreign policy since it entered the global stage. This began after the continental expansion of the USA with a brief phase of colonialist imperialism at the end of the nineteenth century, which then mutated into a policy of global opening up of the markets throughout the world to the increasing level of interest in the USA in sales markets and raw materials. During the First World War under Woodrow Wilson, it took on its conceptual form, which remains influential until this day, for which the world has to thank for the creation of the /League of Nations and later the United Nations. However, as well as forming a universal league of states designed to secure peace, promoting liberal-democratic state orders and a pluralistic global public, also, under certain circumstances, by means of military intervention, it was also aimed at developing a liberal, capitalist global market in which the USA economy could dominate. This “idealism” has, however, repeatedly been shown to be contradictory in the name of the precedence given to American national interests, be it in the name of isolationism or imperialism or with a view to a “political realism” anchored in European traditions. It strives to create an international power balance that also does not exclude the possibility of limited wars.

For an incalculable length of time, the future of global society and of world peace will depend to a highly fundamental degree on the political development of US society, over which other democracies certainly can and also should exert their influence, however minor it may be.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Egbert Jahn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MannheimMannheimGermany

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