The Making of a World Power

Name: ____________________________________
The Making of a World Power
Carl Degler
1. What made the shift in outlook from a unilateral isolationism to interventionism neither sudden
nor easy?
2. Degler argues that the entrance into the Second World War was a “watershed in history.” How
does he support this claim?
3. Signs of tension with the Soviet Union emerged towards the end of the Second World War as
“Russian power flowed easily into its [Germany] place.” What actual forces increased suspicion
and tension between the two nations?
4. Where does Degler come down on whether or not history would have been different had
Roosevelt survived and been at the helm in the months after the war in Europe ended?
5. Pay attention to Degler’s arguments about the historical tensions that led to the Cold War
[Soviet Domination compared to Napoleon, Hitler and the American principle of selfdetermination, and the disagreement over Germany].
6. How did ideological difference give birth to the tensions that would become the Cold War?
7. Take note of the “series of incidents that deepened the differences, aroused suspicions, and
made the Cold War a reality by early 1947.” List the incidents.
8. How did NATO mark a retreat from the traditional principle of the United States?
9. Why, according to Degler, is the Korean War significant in world history as well as in US foreign
10. Why does the way the Korean War ended (by armistice, rather than settled peace treaty, thus
the war has never ended, but remains in a persistent state of armistice) matter for Degler?
11. Why does the massive expenditure in Vietnam, in lives and money, without military victory (or
even a semblance of success as compared to Korea) matter for Degler?
12. Degler states: “The Founding Fathers saw behind the affairs of nations a natural law that was
worthy of being followed. What was new in the twentieth century was the idea that the United
States had a responsibility to police that law. To the Founding Fathers, as to men and women of
the 19th century, only public opinion and moral force were expected to be exercised to keep the
peas; military power was reserved for the defenses of clear-cut national interests. It was first
Wilson, then Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and…Richard Nixon, who sought to put the
power of the United States behind the law.” This is a key argument for Degler. Take note of how
he supports this position.
a. Are you convinced by his concluding point: “American attitudes toward foreign policy
were unchanging as well as revolutionized in the course of the twentieth century”?