For most of the twentieth century, the United States defined its foreign policy in relation to the Soviet Union, as the two countries battled each other for dominance during the Cold War. Although the two countries themselves never came to blows, they engaged in social, political, and economic competition around the globe. Following the collapses of the Soviet Union in 1989, many Americans began turning their attention toward domestic policy.
This trend changed with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since then, foreign policy has returned to center stage, and politicians and candidates hotly debate foreign policy issues. An old adage states that politics stops at the water’s edge, meaning that the United States should not let political disputes influence foreign policy. In reality, though, partisan politics have a great impact on foreign policy.