Foreign Policy Timeline


Monroe Doctrine

December 2, 1823

On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe used his annual message to Congress for a bold assertion: 'The American continents are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.' Along with such other statements as George Washington's Farewell Address and John Hay's Open Door notes regarding China, this 'Monroe Doctrine' became a cornerstone of American foreign policy.

World War I

June 28, 1914 - June 28, 1918

The U.S involvement in the First World war is an example of many of the idealism which has driven U.S foreign policy such as manifest destiny, the Washington farewell address, and the puritan belief that the U.S is exceptional and should serve as an example to all other nations.

Woman Gain Rights

September 21, 1920

Females advanced in the work force as more women began to get hired for office jobs. They also gained several rights and a freer lifestyle. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed in the United States, granting suffrage to women.

Removing Marines from Nicaragua

January 1, 1925

American investment with Latin America nearly doubled in the 1920s, and relations with most nations in the region improved. Coolidge removed the marines from Nicaragua, but a revolution erupted and the marines were removed.

Hitler Build up the German Army

February 24, 1935

In 1935, Adolf Hitler violated the terms of the Versailles Treaty and began to build up the army. This army would become extremely powerful and a kew group in World War II.

The Holocaust

January 30, 1940

The Nazi’s genocide of millions of other groups of people. Adolf Hitler was the leader of this group and they killed Jews, homo-sexual's, and many others that were not like them. It did not matter if they were German or not. The total victims amounted between 11-17 million.

Jackie Robinson

April 16, 1945

The first African-American to play professional baseball. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He broke the color barrier and allowed African-Americans to play in the MLB. He wanted to quit but his wife made him stay to give these rights to the other African-Americans.

Truman Doctrine

March 12, 1947

The Truman Doctrine was a de facto declaration of the Cold War. Truman's address outlined the broad parameters of U.S. Cold War foreign policy: the Soviet Union was the center of all communist activity and movements throughout the world; communism could attack through outside invasion or internal subversion; and the United States needed to provide military and economic assistance to protect nations from communist aggression.

The Vietnam War

1954 - 1975

It started in 1954 (the same year the Algerian War for Independence from France began) and ended in 1975. It went on longer in Vietnam until the North Vietnamese took over South Vietnam and made the entire country communist governed. The Vietnamese had been fighting for a lot longer than before the U.S. stepped in to help.

Nixon visits Communist China

July 15, 1971

As a part of his detente foreign policy with USSR and China, Nixon agrees to visit China in an effort to ease tensions.

The Persian Gulf War

January 16, 1991 - April 6, 1991

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion and occupation of neighboring Kuwait in early August 1990. Alarmed by these actions, fellow Arab powers such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt called on the United States and other Western nations to intervene. Hussein defied United Nations Security Council demands to withdraw from Kuwait by mid-January 1991, and the Persian Gulf War began with a massive U.S.-led air offensive known as Operation Desert Storm. After 42 days of relentless attacks by the allied coalition in the air and on the ground, U.S. President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire on February 28; by that time, most Iraqi forces in Kuwait had either surrendered or fled. Though the Persian Gulf War was initially considered an unqualified success for the international coalition, simmering conflict in the troubled region led to a second Gulf War–known as the Iraq War–that began in 2003.

Oklahoma City Bombing

April 19, 1995

On April 19, 1995, a truck-bomb explosion outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, left 168 people dead and hundreds more injured. The blast was set off by anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh, who in 2001 was executed for his crimes. His co-conspirator Terry Nichols received life in prison. Until September 11, 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst terrorist attack to take place on U.S. soil.

U.S.S. Cole Bombing

October 12, 2000

a motorized rubber dinghy loaded with explosives blows a 40-by-40-foot hole in the port side of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was refueling at Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 38 wounded in the attack, which was carried out by two suicide terrorists alleged to be members of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

Invasion of Iraq

March 19, 2003

Bush launches the invade of Iraq. The United States began military strikes on Iraq with four satellite guided 2,000 pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs being dropped along with nearly forty Tomahawk cruise missiles being launched.


Spanish American War

February, 1895

The Spanish-American War (1898) was a conflict between the United States and Spain that ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in U.S. acquisition of territories in the western Pacific and Latin America.

U.S. entry into WW1

April 4, 1917

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Wilson cited Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reasons for declaring war. On April 4, 1917, the U.S. Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war on Germany. The House concurred two days later. The United States later declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917.

The Five Power Pact

February 21, 1922

This committed the United States, England, Japan, France, and Italy to end new construction of naval vessels, to scrap some ships, and to maintain a ratio of 5:5:3.1.67:1.67 for tonnage of capital or major ships in order of the nations listed. This treaty gave Japan naval supremacy in the Pacific.

Recognition of Russia

January 21, 1930

In an effort to open trade with Russia, the United States recognized Russia. Unfortunately, the financial results were not what the United States had hoped.

World WarII

September 1, 1939 - May 9, 1945

Prior to World War II American foreign policy was isolationist. We felt that other nations problems, particularly their wars, were their own business and we avoided getting involved unless we felt directly threatened. As a result of WWII though we decided that threats to peace and freedom elsewhere in the world did affect us, that if we ignored serious trouble in the world it would probably eventually find us. Thus after the war we became internationalist using our power and prestige to help and protect our friends and acting to prevent wars wherever possible or to minimize them when they did break out.

U.S. entry into WWII

December, 1941

After the bombing of the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, only one congressman opposed the declaration of war; the vote in the senate was unanimous. Hitler’s declaration of war on the US, which came four days later, was actually a blessing in disguise for Roosevelt; it enabled him to legitimately pursue a ‘Germany first’ strategy. In November 1942, Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, became the first US military offensive of the war in the West. Allied troops slowly cornered German forces in North Africa, who surrendered in Tunisia in May 1943. The joint British-US victory, costly and hard fought as it was, was invaluable in mobilizing US public opinion behind the war effort.

The Cold War

May 1946 - 1990

The beginning of the Cold War could be traced back to Churchill's use of the term "Iron Curtain", on 3 May 1946. This came to symbolism the beginning of the Cold War because it was the period marked by political tension and military rivalry, stopping just short of escalating into full-scale war, between the West as represented by the USA, and the East headed by the Soviet Union. The Cold War could really only truly be seen to have ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of the two Germany's - one symbolizing the East and the other symbolizing the West - in 1990. Shortly after this, many Russian states began to break free, seeking independence from Russia.

The Korean War

June 25, 1950 - July 1953

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself. After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them. Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China–or even, as some warned, World War III. Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war. The Korean peninsula is still divided today.

Apollo lands on the moon

July 20, 1969

US beats the Soviet Union to the moon when Neil Armstrong steps on the moon in July of 1969. Big moment in US foreign relations sentiment, because the Soviets beat the US to space with Sputnik, but the US got to the moon first, and the Space Race is over.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

December 1979 - February 1989

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. It was the last hot war it would fight, and one whose failure played a leading role in its loss of the Cold War and disintegration. Afghanistan is infamous today for being in the grip of the most benighted, fanatical and misogynist government in the world. It was not always that way, but has become so through the superpowers' acts of omission and commission --- mostly commission --- over the last twenty years. Kakar's book is the best available history of the beginnings of the catastrophe.

First World Trade Center Bombing

February 26, 1993

The World Trade Center bombing occurred on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, NY. The 1,336 lb urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device was intended to knock the North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower (Tower Two), bringing both towers down and killing tens of thousands of people. It failed to do so, but did kill six people and injured more than a thousand.[4] The attack was planned by a group of conspirators including Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal A. Ayyad, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmad Ajaj. They received financing from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Yousef's uncle. In March 1994, four men were convicted of carrying out the bombing: Abouhalima, Ajaj, Ayyad and Salameh. The charges included conspiracy, explosive destruction of property and interstate transportation of explosives. In November 1997, two more were convicted: Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the bombings, and Eyad Ismoil, who drove the truck carrying the bomb.

Attack on U.S. Embassies in Africa

August 7, 1998

a massive truck bomb explodes outside the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Minutes later, another truck bomb detonated outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, the capital of neighboring Tanzania. The dual terrorist attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 4,500. The United States accused Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, a proponent of international terrorism against America, of masterminding the bombings. On August 20, President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missiles launched against bin Laden's terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and against a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, where bin Laden allegedly made or distributed chemical weapons.

The Bush Doctrine

June 2001

Bush doctrine is a term used to describe a number of ideas related to United States foreign policy. Originally it referred to the policy announced by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to the effect that those nations harboring terrorists will be treated as terrorists themselves and may be subject to a first-strike strategy. This was later codified in a document entitled National Security Strategy of the United States. Now the doctrine has expanded and includes other implicit rights the United States had in the global arena, including the extremely controversial right to declare preemptive war.

Invasion of Afghanistan

October 7, 2001

U.S.-led coalition begins attacks on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with an intense bombing campaign by American and British forces. Logistical support was provided by other nations including France, Germany, Australia and Canada and, later, troops were provided by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance rebels. The invasion of Afghanistan was the opening salvo in the United States "war on terrorism" and a response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Death of Osama bin Laden

May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, is killed by U.S. forces during a raid on his compound hideout in Pakistan. The notorious, 54-year-old leader of Al Qaeda, the terrorist network of Islamic extremists, had been the target of a nearly decade-long international manhunt.