Jefferson used the phrase to represent a promise to the American People that he would steer the country away from extraneous foreign relations, focusing instead on the development of the young nation at a domestic level.
This was an especially important promise due the United States’ history of becoming entangled in foreign affairs, specifically under the domination of Great Britain.
Through a more modern lens, the phrase is a tricky one to dissect due to that ambiguous word “entangling” which can refer to both fusion and complicated circumstances.
In a world replete with violence, dogma, and abrasive rhetoric, alliance might be a step in the right direction, but it should certainly not be the end-point of our actions.
In an ideal world, our need for alliance is negated by widespread peace and harmony. Yet, until that day, it is vital that we hold on to what connects U.S. and unites us.
In this article, we discuss the US’s 3 most important entangling alliances, focusing on the complicated nature of these relationships.
United States – Canada Relations
This is such an important alliance because of Canada’s proximity to the U.S. as well as their history of relatively peaceful interaction.
The first major movement towards alliance was sparked by the Revolutionary War. Both nations became unified against Great Britain which sought control over both territories.
This alliance, however, was short-lived as the newly formed U.S. soon sought to take control of Canada to manipulate Great Britain in the War of 1812.
Eventually, Canada became self-governing and border between the U.S. and Canada was formed. However, this was only after many disputes regarding the sharing of resources, trade sanctions, and immigration.
Over a hundred years later, both of the world wars brought the countries together again, and this unity continued during the Cold War, up to today’s generally amiable relationship.
Both countries are very dependent on each other for trade, and border security between the two is significantly less than the security between Mexico and the US.
While this represents one of the most peaceful relationships between two modern countries, the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S. has threatened this historic alliance. This is because he has threatened to increase tariffs on the import of aluminum and steel from Canada to US.
Consequently, maintaining this alliance is more crucial than ever.
United States – Russia Relations
The alliance between the U.S. and Russia perfectly underscores the word “entangling,” as both countries have been engaged in a complicated war of words for many years.
The Cold War, for example, was purely a war of intimidation, with no violence ever occurring. Yet somehow, these two nations managed to put aside their differences at the Malta Summit in 1989 to seek peace.
This marked the beginning of a more harmonious relationship throughout the 1990’s. However, this was eventually disrupted during the 2000’s as Russia expressed strong opposition to the US-Iraq War.
Most recently, former U.S. president Barack Obama and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev promised a fresh start between the nations. This promise has been strained though the controversial election of Donald Trump, as the Russian government was accused of tampering with the political process through cyber-hackings and leaks.
United States – United Kingdom Relations
As mentioned above, the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has historically been mired in controversy. Though over the last 100 years, this alliance has been significantly improved and stabilized.
Both countries view the alliance as the most important in the world, as the U.S. is seen as being the center of influence in the west while the United Kingdom is seen as the nexus for Europe.
Surprisingly, Trump has managed to continue the U.S.’s positive relations with the United Kingdom, despite recent critiques of policies formed between the two nations under the Obama Administration.
This relationship can be seen as entangling because the United Kingdom is considered one of the world superpowers, and as such, expands the US’s sphere of influence into Europe and even the middle east.
Our Final Thoughts on the US’s Entangling Alliances
Despite Jefferson’s historic plea to have the U.S. remain separate from the rest of the world, we think that alliances formed with other countries are always positive as long as they are rooted in reason and nonviolence.
The only negative consequence of becoming entangled with the rest of the world is taking on the enemies of our allies.
Here, we think, the U.S. should take a strong stance and require that all antagonistic byproducts of our alliances be properly dissolved before any new compromises are reached. This might seem stringent initially, but it would eventually reign in a new era of peace that the world has not seen in a while.