Thomas M. Magstadt asserts that one of the hallmarks of American foreign policy is the constant tension between power and principles. In this thesis, ‘interests’ replace the term ‘power’ with the purpose of illustrating how the tension of interests and principles in American foreign policy was evident in the USA’s involvement in Somalia in the early 1990s. The tension became particularly evident in the USA’s withdrawal from the war-torn, failed state in 1994 when the interests of President Clinton’s administration prevailed over principles of securing human rights and spreading democracy. This thesis further suggests that one of the significant factors that affected the outcome of the tension include the aspect of conducting a strategic and economic centered foreign policy in the post-Cold War years. Moreover, operational issues such as the Somali resistance to nation-building, the crucial role of the media as well as co-operational challenges between the USA and the UN are, in this thesis, claimed to have had more immediate effects on American policy makers in this context. The operational issues fortified the American unwillingness to stay militarily involved in Somalia, and contributed to letting interests prevail over principles.