America’s greatest foreign policy successes are from diplomacy, not war

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Whether President Trump’s negotiations with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will lead to a real breakthrough and establish peace on the Korean peninsula remains to be seen. While it’s had its share of misses, American foreign policy also produced some concrete successes in the years since World War 2 and it’s possible to be hopeful.

How American Foreign Policy Inspires Resistance, Insurgency, and Terrorism Stephen Walt

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How American Foreign Policy Inspires Resistance, Insurgency, and Terrorism


Stephen Walt

Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University


It’s also true that the U.S. has continued to stay involved in world affairs militarily. The wars it has been involved in have been pursued for strategic reasons and proved generally unsuccessful. Outmaneuvering and outlasting the Soviet Union, American diplomacy has kept the mainland in relative peace—perhaps truly shattered by 9/11.

This article is part of series from the Charles Koch Foundation, which believes everyone has the ability to learn, contribute, and succeed provided they have the freedom and opportunity to do so. For more in this series, see — To End Foreign Civil Wars, Should the US Intervene?

What have been some of the most important accomplishments of recent U.S. diplomats? Here are the top 5:

The Marshall Plan: Rebuilding the post-war world

The Marshall Plan was an American initiative to rebuild Western Europe after World War 2. It consisted of $13 billion in economic aid to prop up destroyed European economies. The plan was signed into action by President Truman on April 3rd, 1948, and was named after Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed the rebuilding assistance.

The plan indeed jump-started the European economy, spreading the American goodwill and earning it allies among former enemies, like Italy and Germany. The U.S. also put billions into the reconstruction of Japan.

The Marshall plan inhibited the spread of communism and essentially created the relationship that the U.S. and Western Europe enjoyed until President Trump.

The Marshall plan
The Marshall plan

3rd February 1949: Dignitaries, from left to right,
Mr. Strachey, Mr. Holmgreen (Marshall Aid Representative), and Dr. W Kling (Assistant Agricultural Attache) at the Royal Victoria Dock in London to welcome the first shipment of Caribbean sugar made under the Marshall Plan of US aid for Europe. (Photo by Edward Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)

The Non-Proliferation Treaty

While the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, was…

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