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Hard Line

Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Hard Line
    Book Description:

    Hard Linetraces the history of Republican Party foreign policy since World War II by focusing on the conservative leaders who shaped it. Colin Dueck closely examines the political careers and foreign-policy legacies of Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He shows how Republicans shifted away from isolationism in the years leading up to World War II and oscillated between realism and idealism during and after the cold war. Yet despite these changes, Dueck argues, conservative foreign policy has been characterized by a hawkish and intense American nationalism, and presidential leadership has been the driving force behind it.

    What does the future hold for Republican foreign policy?Hard Linedemonstrates that the answer depends on who becomes the next Republican president. Dueck challenges the popular notion that Republican foreign policy today is beholden to economic interests or neoconservative intellectuals. He shows how Republican presidents have been granted remarkably wide leeway to define their party's foreign policy in the past, and how the future of conservative foreign policy will depend on whether the next Republican president exercises the prudence, pragmatism, and care needed to implement hawkish foreign policies skillfully and successfully.Hard Linereveals how most Republican presidents since World War II have done just that, and how their accomplishments can help guide future conservative presidents.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3675-8
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction Conservative Traditions in U.S. Foreign Policy
    (pp. 1-10)

    Where is the Republican Party headed politically and ideologically? Should it become more strictly conservative or less so? These questions have interested observers and animated conservatives in particular since the Republican electoral defeats of 2006 and 2008. Heated debates continue as to how far the Republican Party should adjust and adapt, in terms of either style or substance, to recover national political success. Reformers such as David Brooks and David Frum urge Republicans to modernize, strike a new tone, and directly address middle-class economic anxieties.¹ Rock-ribbed conservatives respond by saying that the basic principles of limited government embodied in the...

  5. Chapter One Republicans, Conservatives, and U.S. Foreign Policy
    (pp. 11-38)

    Republicans entered the twentieth century, somewhat to their own surprise, as the party of American expansionism overseas. For most of the late nineteenth century, there had been no fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans on issues of international expansion or military intervention. On the contrary, both parties embraced the Monroe Doctrine, strategic nonentanglement, economic opportunities abroad, and consensual ideas of American exceptionalism while arguing over trade and protection. Indeed, the presidential election of 1896 was fought primarily not over foreign policy but over issues of silver and gold currency, and over domestic economic affairs more generally. Ohio governor and Republican...

  6. Chapter Two Robert Taft The Conservative as Anti-Interventionist
    (pp. 39-84)

    To this day, Senator Robert Taft (R-OH) embodies for admirers and detractors alike a foreign policy stance of conservative anti-interventionism. From the late 1930s through the early 1950s, Taft argued quite consistently that endless military entanglements abroad would endanger American traditions of limited government. He represented with integrity a distinct type of midcentury Republican: conservative, midwestern, and deeply skeptical of overseas engagements. Yet in truth, Taft’s own foreign policy views changed considerably during his years in the Senate. By the time of the Korean War, Taft was calling for a world-wide strategy of anti-Communist rollback or liberation that in numerous...

  7. Chapter Three Dwight Eisenhower The Conservative as Balancer
    (pp. 85-116)

    Dwight Eisenhower was one of the most impressive and successful foreign policy presidents of the twentieth century. He ran for the Republican nomination in 1952 as a special favorite of GOP moderates and internationalists, but soon gathered broad national support as a figure of exceptional appeal. Eisenhower’s overarching foreign policy goal was to contain communism and preserve America’s world role without bankrupting the United States. In an era of repeated international crises, he provided strong, calm leadership and protected American interests while keeping the United States out of violent conflicts. He won over the bulk of Republicans, as probably no...

  8. Chapter Four Barry Goldwater The Conservative as Hawk
    (pp. 117-141)

    Senator Barry Goldwater never became president of the United States, but he had more of an impact on American political alignments over the long run than some presidents. This impact extended to foreign policy issues. During the 1960s, Goldwater called for an assertive foreign policy of worldwide anti-Communist rollback. He rejected arguments for containment, peaceful coexistence, arms control, or diplomatic engagement with the Soviet Union. Goldwater simultaneously called for a return to American traditions of limited government at home. His hardline foreign and domestic policy views found special favor with upwardly mobile, suburban conservatives in the nation’s booming Sun Belt....

  9. Chapter Five Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger Realists as Conservatives
    (pp. 142-188)

    The Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy team of 1969 to 1974 epitomizes Republican foreign policy realism. Richard Nixon was a thoroughgoing political pragmatist with an instinctive dislike of liberal elites, a readiness to embrace government activism on economic matters, and a penchant for bold, innovative departures in international affairs. Henry Kissinger was a brilliant and in many ways a deeply conservative foreign policy strategist who believed that revolutionary states such as the Soviet Union could be constrained peacefully through the careful coordination of military power and diplomacy. Together, these two presided over a skillful reorientation of American diplomacy that put great power...

  10. Chapter Six Ronald Reagan The Idealist as Hawk
    (pp. 189-231)

    Ronald Reagan is the central conservative Republican leader of the past seventy years. He redefined the image of the American right and catalyzed conservative predominance in the GOP, leaving that party stronger and more coherent than at any time since the 1920s. In relation to party politics, he took the Goldwater coalition of Sun Belt conservatives and expanded on it dramatically, fusing business-oriented Republicans into a broad alliance with previously Democratic southerners, evangelicals, culturally traditionalist Catholics, and national security hawks. In relation to foreign policy, he pursued a fundamentally daring, ideologically charged strategy of aggressive anti-Communist containment and indirect rollback,...

  11. Chapter Seven George H. W. Bush The Conservative as Realist
    (pp. 232-264)

    As president, George H. W. Bush was temperamentally rather than ideologically conservative. He emphasized caution, stability, and prudence in international as well as domestic public matters. On foreign policy, Bush was often criticized for supposed timidity. In reality, however, he guided American diplomacy with considerable strength, skill, and success through a period of dramatic global upheaval, locking in changes of lasting benefit to the United States in relation to Germany, Eastern Europe, the collapsing Soviet Union, Latin America, arms control, democracy promotion, and international trade. The general American public, including most Republicans, appreciated Bush’s capable and effective foreign policy approach...

  12. Chapter Eight George W. Bush The Nationalist as Interventionist
    (pp. 265-289)

    President George W. Bush followed a path of “big government conservatism” both at home and abroad. He presided over major increases in domestic social spending, as well as a sweepingly ambitious attempt to democratize the Middle East. Neither of these legacies would necessarily have been predictable from his 2000 presidential campaign, which emphasized conservatism at home and extra caution regarding nationbuilding missions overseas. Still, the kernels of Bush’s distinctive governing approach were there from the start. In domestic policy, Bush was a self-described “compassionate conservative,” confident that governmental power could be used to morally worthy ends. In foreign policy he...

  13. Conclusion Republicans and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Age of Obama
    (pp. 290-322)

    The evolution of Republican foreign policy since the 1930s is commonly misunderstood. The traditional storyline is that of a progress from isolationism to internationalism, but as we saw, this is not especially helpful analytically, and it begs more questions than it answers. Prior to World War II, even Republicans like Robert Taft did not call for the strict isolation of the United States from world affairs, any more than later Republicans embraced every form of international commitment. The real story is not progress to internationalism but rather the transition to interventionism from anti-intervention. Republicans have become much more willing over...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 323-358)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 359-386)