PROMISE AND PERIL

PROMISE AND PERIL

CHRISTOPHER McKNIGHT NICHOLS
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hjz1
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  • Book Info
    PROMISE AND PERIL
    Book Description:

    Spreading democracy abroad or protecting business at home: this book offers a new look at the history of the contest between isolationalism and internationalism that is as current as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and as old as America itself, with profiles of the people, policies, and events that shaped the debate.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06118-7
    Subjects: History, Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: THE OSTRICH AND THE EAGLE
    (pp. 1-21)

    In his 2006 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush repeatedly used the terms “isolation” and “isolationism.” He described the dangers of a “retreat within our borders” and ominously depicted isolationists as a group bent on leaving an “assaulted world to fend for itself.” “In a complex and challenging time,” said the president, “the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting—yet it ends in danger and decline.”¹ From his comments a listener might have been led to believe that a battle was raging in American politics between walled-and-bounded isolationists and nation-building internationalists. Was it...

  4. 1 NEW WORLD POWER
    (pp. 22-67)

    In the last decades of the nineteenth century American political thought faced new issues about isolationism and broader questions about the nation’s relationship to the world. The country was enmeshed in social changes arising from the movement of its people from rural to urban areas and from farm to factory labor. The pace of economic change, international commerce, and political interchange was staggering. A glance at statistics illuminates the essence of this transformation. Total exports grew fourfold over one generation—from $281 million in 1865 to $1.2 billion in 1898—while imports increased almost threefold from $239 million to $616...

  5. 2 A BETTER NATION MORALLY
    (pp. 68-112)

    In the mid-1890s William James encountered a cause that would absorb him and lead to his slow, steady politicization. The issue was the obscure yet inflammatory boundary dispute with England over Venezuela’s national borders, which also had spurred Henry Cabot Lodge’s nationalist sensibilities. In James’s case, his political activism on that issue and subsequent spirited advocacy for the anti-imperialist cause arose directly and organically from his philosophical and psychological studies.¹

    James had addressed other political questions of the day—anti-lynching laws, conservation, temperance, women’s suffrage, and the status of African Americans—but never before had he taken a prolonged public...

  6. 3 TOWARD A TRANSNATIONAL AMERICA
    (pp. 113-144)

    On Friday afternoon, July 28, 1914, Randolph Bourne and his Columbia college friend Arthur Macmahon arrived in Dresden, Germany. The day was warm, with clear skies and sunshine. But the good weather masked the fact that the summer would grow ever darker for Dresden and for the world. Bourne and Macmahon watched throngs of patriots singing the nationalistic anthem “Die Wacht am Rhein” (Watch on the Rhine) before they pressed on to Berlin. Three days later crowds rallied behind the kaiser and the crown princes of Germany as their royal entourage arrived in Berlin from Potsdam. Stunning news came with...

  7. 4 THE POWERFUL MEDIATING NEUTRAL
    (pp. 145-178)

    From 1914 through 1918, the practical elements and new contours of modern isolationist thought crystalized in ways that would become far more entrenched after the First World War and ultimately would define much of the interwar isolationist position. These were achieving peace and economic progress at home, prohibiting loans and material aid to combatants and nations abroad, attempting a genuine rather than a rhetorical neutrality, keeping citizens and vessels away from belligerent areas, and requiring a popular backing (even a referendum) for the declaration of war.

    Randolph Bourne, who would not have identified himself as an isolationist, invoked isolationist principles...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. 5 VOICES OF THE PEOPLE
    (pp. 179-228)

    “Let your voice go, go everywhere, in every town and city,” socialist and jailed Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer Carlo Tresca urged Eugene Debs.¹ By the autumn of 1916, when Tresca, imprisoned for organizing a mine strike, exhorted Debs to action, America was buffeted by mounting waves of anxiety about joining the European war and by a series of high-profile labor disputes. Tresca’s impassioned cry represented the spirit of these trying times.

    Like other antiwar activists, the socialist labor leader Debs felt a feverish urge to reach the masses. Creating a socialist presence everywhere, “in every town and...

  10. 6 THE IRRECONCILABLES
    (pp. 229-272)

    “What we want is what [Theodore] Roosevelt urged—a free, untrammeled nation, imbued anew and inspired again with the national spirit,” Idaho’s Republican senator William Borah bellowed to a packed Senate on February 21, 1919.¹ These evocative phrases came in a speech titled “Americanism,” in which Borah positioned himself as a powerful voice against both the League of Nations as an organization and the Treaty of Versailles, of which it was an integral part. He became the foremost spokesman for a new nationalistic, populist, and unilateralist isolationism that became the archetype for opposition to the world order that President Wilson...

  11. 7 NEW INTERNATIONALISM
    (pp. 273-320)

    Is peace best maintained by “friendly people on either side” of a national border, or is it best served by “preparedness . . . to protect against the dangers of war”?¹ This question, posed by Emily Balch in 1924, epitomizes the conundrum that plagued Americans grappling with how their nation ought to approach its relationship to the world in the years after World War I. In attempting to address this fundamental quandary, the isolationist nationalism associated with the Irreconcilables often overlapped with the pacifist internationalism common among the women’s peace movements in the 1920s and into the 1930s.

    These two...

  12. CONCLUSION: THE INTRICATE BALANCE
    (pp. 321-344)

    The current reassessment of the nation’s proper balance between engagement abroad and investment at home for the twenty-first century is just the latest reappraisal of this dilemma. Since the United States’ rise to global power, its leaders and citizens have regularly scrutinized the costs and benefits of foreign ambition. In 1943, in the midst of the Second World War, Walter Lippmann explained the essential paradox involved in this delicate balancing act. He argued that foreign policy ends are inherently limited by their means. According to Lippmann, the relationship between means and ends is the critical question for policy-makers. “In foreign...

  13. STRAINS OF ISOLATIONISM
    (pp. 347-352)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 353-422)
  15. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 423-426)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 427-445)