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Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy

Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy

Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    This new edition of Michael H. Hunt's classic reinterpretation of American diplomatic history includes a preface that reflects on the personal experience and intellectual agenda behind the writing of the book, surveys the broad impact of the book's argument, and addresses the challenges to the thesis since the book's original publication. In the wake of 9/11 this interpretation is more pertinent than ever.

    Praise for the previous edition:

    "Clearly written and historically sound. . . . A subtle critique and analysis."-Gaddis Smith,Foreign Affairs

    "A lean, plain-spoken treatment of a grand subject. . . . A bold piece of criticism and advocacy. . . . The right focus of the argument may insure its survival as one of the basic postwar critiques of U.S. policy."-John W. Dower,Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    "A work of intellectual vigor and daring, impressive in its scholarship and imaginative in its use of material."-Ronald Steel,Reviews in American History

    "A masterpiece of historical compression."-Wilson Quarterly

    "A penetrating and provocative study. . . . A pleasure both to read and to contemplate."-John Martz,Journal of Politics

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15886-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Coming to Terms with Ideology
    (pp. 1-18)

    American foreign policy has been in ferment for the past decade or more. The extended conflict in Vietnam proved unsettling for Americans, especially those whose political coming of age coincided with the height of that war. Vietnam loosened the hold of Cold War precepts shaped by Munich and Pearl Harbor, just as involvement in World War I had shaken the crusading faith of an earlier generation. One observer announced in the early 1970s that “Young America” now wanted to “cool it” in foreign policy; another proclaimed a few years later the discovery of “shifting generational paradigms.”¹ Though the Reagan administration...

  6. 2 Visions of National Greatness
    (pp. 19-45)

    The stunning possibility of Americans reinvigorating a gray, spent world was glimpsed and articulated at a crucial moment in 1776 by Thomas Paine. He was an unlikely figure to hold high this vision of a glorious future. An indifferent student and restless apprentice to his staymaker father, Paine had run away from home at sixteen and led the life of an itinerant ne’er-do-well. He had gone through two wives and failed at six different occupations before finally resolving to immigrate to the colonies. He was then thirty-seven, in dire straits financially, with little to recommend him besides letters from Benjamin...

  7. 3 The Hierarchy of Race
    (pp. 46-91)

    Benjamin Franklin, that paragon of Enlightenment optimism, versatility, and virtue, was also a racist.¹ He divided humanity according to skin color, assigning to each color characteristic traits. Indians he publicly condemned as “barbarous tribes of savages that delight in war and take pride in murder.” His private correspondence depicted them as ignorant, congenitally lazy, vain, and insolent. An occasional blow was essential to keeping them in line; even a hint of weakness was an invitation to trouble. A slave owner whose printing establishment profited from slave sales, Franklin regarded blacks as lazy, thieving, and improvident. He defended the severity of...

  8. 4 The Perils of Revolution
    (pp. 92-124)

    The American nation was the child of a revolutionary age, and no two Americans were closer students of the tumults of that age than John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Revolutionaries themselves, they had witnessed the first tremors of the French Revolution from their diplomatic posts in London and Paris in the 1780s. Once back home, they had followed the turmoil deepening in France and then spreading throughout Europe. Still later, in their successive terms as president, they helped the United States to weather the gales, domestic and international, blown up by the French Revolution. Finally, in retirement the two septuagenarians...

  9. 5 Ideology in Twentieth-Century Foreign Policy
    (pp. 125-170)

    Twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy has been much thought and written about. It has been depicted in terms of the pursuit of overseas markets essential to stability and prosperity at home. It has also been treated as an extended struggle between clear-eyed realists on the one side and fuzzy-minded moralists, opportunistic politicians, and a mercurial public on the other. These approaches, whatever their merits, are by themselves incomplete, for they deal inadequately with one of the most notable features of American policy. And that is the deep and pervasive impact of an ideology with its roots in the eighteenth and nineteenth...

  10. 6 The Contemporary Dilemma
    (pp. 171-198)

    We would do well to accept the young Marx’s promptings. In foreign policy as in other spheres of human activity, the past is important to our understanding of the present in a paradoxical fashion. It instructs us in the special ways we are compromised by circumstances not of our own making, and at the same time it equips us to rise above those circumstances. A familiarity with the history of those ideas that led Americans into the thicket of international politics may, as Geertz in turn suggests, prove helpful in getting us through the perils that lie ahead.

    The preceding...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 199-218)

    Every historian has one good idea to develop and recycle across a career. Arthur Wright, a distinguished historian of China, shared this bit of wisdom with me while I was in graduate school. Looking back two decades to the first appearance ofIdeology and U.S. Foreign Policy—or for that matter, across some four decades of professional life—I find his insight strikingly acute.

    My idea was simple: the broad notions policymakers carry around in their heads over a lifetime have not only form and persistence but also pertinence to their official choices. If true, this insight had big implications...

  12. Essay on the Historical Literature
    (pp. 219-232)

    The works cited in the notes and discussed in this essay constitute but a sampling of a foreign relations literature that has grown voluminously over the last several decades. Thanks to a run of new publications, anyone wishing to consult that literature can now turn to a marvellously helpful set of historiographical and bibliographical guides. The three most important contributions all appeared in 1983, making that something of a vintage year. They are Richard D. Burns, ed.,Guide to American Foreign Relations since 1700; Jerald A. Combs,American Diplomatic History: Two Centuries of Changing Interpretations; and Warren I. Cohen, ed.,New...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 233-254)
  14. Index
    (pp. 255-261)