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TNSR: Who We Are, What We Do, and Why You Should Care

TNSR: Who We Are, What We Do, and Why You Should Care

The Texas National Security Review launches today. What do you need to know about this ambitious project aimed at changing the way we generate policy-relevant and policy-accessible knowledge about the world's toughest challenges?

Latest Roundtables

What is a Roundtable?

Roundtables are where we get to hear from multiple experts on either a subject matter or a recently published book. These collections of essays allow for detailed debates and discussions from a variety of viewpoints so that we can deeply explore a given topic or book.

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                                    [post_content] => Today, we launch a new journal and I am honored to serve as the chair of its editorial board. The goal of the Texas National Security Review (TNSR) is to become the intellectual home to a growing global, interdisciplinary network of scholars working on questions of foreign policy, international relations, and national and international security. With generous and deliberate support from the University of Texas, this journal seeks the best, most innovative scholarship that transcends disciplines and speaks to a wider world. Over time, we hope TNSR will become the go to source for scholars, decision-makers, military and government practitioners, and concerned citizens from around the world concerned about questions of war and peace.

This journal is animated by four core principles:
  1. Questions of war and peace are of fundamental importance.
International conflict, competition, and cooperation shape the world that we live in. War has been both a great scourge on humanity as well as a driver of historical change, for both ill and good. The profound consequences of war unfold along a wide spectrum, from heart-wrenching individual tragedies to the very structure and shape of the modern state and the global economy. The study of war and peace goes far beyond assessing the tactics of the battlefield or understanding the diplomacy between capitals: It would be impossible, for example, to comprehend a variety of crucial issues, from modern medicine and public health, technology, finance, accounting, taxation, literacy, mass education, race and gender relations — to say nothing of how humans move about, what they eat and wear, and how they communicate with each other — without reference to war. Most national cultures, including literature, music, visual art, and even language, are suffused with reference to or inspiration from conflict. War and peace challenge and shape our core beliefs, our ethics, and our sense of identity. Still, despite great intellectual effort, we know far less about the causes, conduct, and consequences of war and peace than we’d like. Over time, the questions surrounding conflict and cooperation have become even more complicated and consequential. Civil war, clashes driven by scarcity and environmental change, irregular conflict, information attacks, and terrorism have joined great power competition as pressing concerns. New technologies and new domains alter how and where conflict takes place. The power of norms, culture, and institutions to shape outcomes is recognized if not fully understood. The shadow of nuclear apocalypse hovers over international politics, surpassed only by the fear of some yet unknown pathogen wreaking havoc. TNSR recognizes and appreciates that the scope of study surrounding war and peace is extraordinarily wide-ranging, the questions endless, and the answers of great interest and consequence to the world beyond the ivory tower.
  1. Scholarship on these questions should strive to be rigorous, creative, and cumulative.
What are the best ways to examine and explore crucial questions surrounding war and peace? To succeed, our scholarship must be held to the highest standards of rigor and excellence. TNSR seeks to go far beyond the world of punditry and to encourage work that generates powerful and consequential questions, employs clear and convincing research designs, and produces innovative insights. TNSR also recognizes the benefits of divergent communities of scholars, from different intellectual backgrounds and traditions, engaging in rigorous debate and cross-fertilizing ideas. Furthermore, style matters. It is hard for important ideas to be influential if few people read or understand the writing. We also recognize that achieving these goals is not easy. There are different views of what constitutes rigor, impact, style, and creativity in scholarship. Even cumulating knowledge is hard. Despite over a century of effort and scores of books, scholars still cannot agree on what caused World War I. Even when consensus on such matters is elusive, however, TNSR believes rigorous debate and discussion has great merit and makes everyone smarter. TNSR is agnostic as to method and discipline, as long as the tools used to answer the question are appropriate and employed rigorously and honestly. We are not, however, interested in methodological prowess or in theory generation for the sake of itself. Archival work in scores of government repositories is beside the point if the issue examined is unimportant or if the findings are buried in jargon. Certain questions lend themselves more clearly to certain approaches. Quantitative analysis may be crucial to examine international financial flows. On questions surrounding nuclear weapons, where the Ns we truly care about are 9, 2, and 0, regressions for their own sake may hold less appeal. In other words, methods and research design are tools to identify important questions and to try to answer them the best one can. They should not be ends in themselves. Our authors will have succeeded when their arguments and evidence engage and enlighten those who do not share their methodological and disciplinary preferences and backgrounds. In the end, we will not be the final arbiters of what constitutes great scholarship: over time, our readers and the wider world will determine TNSR’s value. A richer, deeper understanding of important questions surrounding war and peace will be our measure of success.
  1. Our work should confront big questions of great concern to a larger public and be written in a way that is accessible to them.
In the pages of our sister publication, War on the Rocks, many voices from the national and international security communities have talked about ways for scholars and thinkers to engage different audiences and communities, to confront questions of great interest and consequence in ways that reach and influence those beyond the ivory tower. There can be an unfortunate tendency in academic scholarship to ask small-bore questions and to write for “inside baseball” audiences (see principle 4). TNSR seeks scholarship on war and peace that go beyond these limits. We will also publish, in a separate section, insights and provocations from policymakers, military leaders, and others outside of the academic bubble. That being said, we are not unaware of the potential pitfalls of a devotion to policy relevance. It is not the role of scholars to curry favor with governments or important people or institutions or to advise them on day-to-day decisions. Many of the most important issues surrounding war and peace have little to do with daily grind policy, such as shifting demographic patterns, slow developing but critical shifts in national and international economic circumstances, and the impact of new technologies. Great scholarship can provide longer temporal and chronological reaches, more global and comparative national approaches, and broader topical horizons. We do not seek to court historians or scholars using these pages to get a job on Capitol Hill or in this or the next administration. Good work will challenge deeply held beliefs and assumptions. The best scholarship is often unpopular to those in power and makes people and institutions uncomfortable. TNSR does believe, however, that scholarship should be public-minded, policy-accessible, and engage issues and audiences beyond universities. War and peace are too important to be discussed and debated in a manner that appeals only to the professorate.
  1. The current institutional structure for understanding issues of war and peace is not performing as well as it should.
Few would contest the importance of rigorous, accessible, relevant, and innovative scholarship on questions of war and peace. Why then do we need a new journal? TNSR is motivated both by a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge: It is our belief that the way universities allocate resources, incentives, and support to teaching and producing scholarship on issues of conflict, competition, and cooperation is sub-optimal. To understand why, reflect upon the role that disciplines play in universities, the function that journals play within disciplines, and how these factors influence the incentive structure for scholarship. Consider the two disciplines that have, in the past, been seen as responsible for studying and teaching about war and peace: history and political science. The story is discouraging. Academic history departments have all but abandoned serious scholarship on the causes, course, and consequences of war. If you doubt this, take some time to look at the most “prestigious” academic history departments – say, the top 15 in the United States - and count how many professors working on what one might consider issues of international conflict, competition, and cooperation. Even if you were to take the broadest definition – perhaps a scholar whose work focused on “sports tourism in the 1920s” – the numbers would be small compared to other subjects, with many large departments having no tenured faculty working on these issues. Examine the handful of professors who do work on these issues in these departments, then ask – how many are under the age of 60? Are you confident their university will replace them with a scholar working on similar issues when they retire? Next, make a list of the scholars you think are doing the best historical work on war and peace. Are they in departments of history in major research universities? Or are they employed by schools of public policy, centers for international affairs, and even political science departments? The discipline of political science has done far better, especially the sub-fields of international relations and comparative politics, where talented scholars of all ages fill departments and teach interesting courses. The narrow concerns of the discipline, however, often burden this scholarship. An obsession with methods and theory for their own sake, inaccessibility and jargon-laden prose, efforts to mimic economics and physics, and other shortcomings too often plague political science scholarship. Those outside the discipline might wonder if the overall contribution made by political science to general understanding of issues of war and peace has been relatively modest, given the amount of human capital invested. Not all observers will agree with these assessments, and we encourage you to prove us wrong, either in the pages of TNSR or more established disciplinary outlets. To see where you stand, perform the following task: Look over the articles published by the intellectual gate-keepers – the leading disciplinary journals in both history and political science – over the past few years. If you find their offerings to consistently provide rigorous, engaging, compelling, accessible insights into important questions of war and peace, and leave you saying “more of this please,” then TNSR may not be for you. If you think we can and should do better as a community, we welcome your help, guidance, and submissions. This brings me to the opportunity: we hope TNSR will become the outlet for those who want to see their disciplines do better on principles 1 through 3. But we passionately believe questions of war and peace should engage disciplines and methods beyond history and political science. Economics, anthropology, psychology, law, public health – the list of disciplines whose insights bear on conflict, competition, and cooperation is long. Scholars from any discipline who share these principles should feel welcome in the pages of TNSR. In fact, one might imagine these principles animating a new way of organizing research, teaching, and public outreach in higher education around questions of war and peace, a field perhaps devoted to international history, strategy, and statecraft. One step at a time, however…. We recognize that what we propose will be difficult. We expect to make many mistakes along the way. We seek your advice, your guidance, your participation. Most of all, we count on your support for the mission to generate and disseminate innovative, rigorous, accessible, and influential scholarship on the critical issues around war and peace.   Francis J. Gavin is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Texas National Security Review.  He is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012).   [post_title] => TNSR: Who We Are, What We Do, and Why You Should Care [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => tnsr-who-we-are-what-we-do-and-why-you-should-care [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-25 14:33:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-25 18:33:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=180 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [1] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_featured_articles [wgt_type] => manual [qty] => 3 [posts] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 300 [post_author] => 59 [post_date] => 2017-10-26 03:45:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-26 07:45:27 [post_content] => At the heart of the historical study of strategy is a tension between the consideration of strategy as practice, which is bound up with the history of human conflict, and strategy as theory.[1] The theorists can draw on all the practice, but their task is complicated by the fact that many practitioners did not describe themselves as strategists or, if they did, the term meant something different from how it is now understood. [2] The word “strategy” first came into use in discussions of military affairs in Europe during the 1770s,[3] but it was not until the 20th century that it acquired the broad meanings now attributed to it and that now tend to be applied retrospectively to past practitioners. Prior to World War I, the term had a specifically military character. Only later did it become concerned with the relationship between military means and political ends. Eventually the term became so detached from its military origins to be applied to all fields of human endeavor from sports to business,[4]  which is why it has now become necessary to talk of “military strategy” as a sub-category of this much broader field. The much narrower and largely apolitical early usage needs to be kept in mind when contemporary practitioners of military strategy turn to the classics of the Napoleonic period, especially Carl von Clausewitz, when seeking to gain a deeper understanding of their trade. It is best to do this critically, recognizing the specific issues these earlier theorists were addressing and the conceptual framework with which they were working. In this, the first of two articles, I explore how “strategy” was understood when it first appeared. I first consider why it would not have been difficult to introduce strategy into the military lexicon at this time. As the value of the word was to help distinguish the higher levels of command from the lesser levels of command, I show how the concept of strategy developed in tandem with that of tactics. One issue was whether this higher level was the domain of natural creativity, normally spoken of as “military genius,” or else involved principles that could be learned and applied in a variety of different situations. The first of these was more of a French approach and the second more German. Both, however, were superseded by the focus on the decisive battle that was a feature of the work of both Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini and Clausewitz, inspired by the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte. In a second article, I will show — largely by looking at discussions of strategy in Britain and the United States — how much a consensus on the general meaning of the term, if not a precise definition, was established during the first half of the 19th century and why this changed little during the second half. Once it was established that strategy was essentially about preparing forces for a decisive battle, this constrained – rather than liberated — thinking. Scholars now routinely use the word “strategy” to discuss how wars were fought in the past, enabling them to explore continuities in practice and compare cases over time and space. Such explorations are undertaken, however, with a contemporary understanding of the term, which stresses the importance of using military means to achieve political objectives. In the period considered in this article, the general assumption was that any political objectives for which it was worth going to war could be achieved through the defeat of the enemy in battle. It is also important to keep in mind that even during this period, those practicing strategy by and large did not use the term. This is certainly the case with Napoleon, whose campaigns shaped the way strategy came to be viewed in the 19th century. When he eventually pondered the term in exile, he did not find it useful, reflecting his suspicion of attempts to over-intellectualize the art of war. The question of how strategy should be defined and understood, therefore, was largely a matter for military theoreticians. The theoreticians had military experience of their own, and in the case of the two great figures Jomini and Clausewitz, their ideas developed through their participation in the campaigns of the Napoleonic War. But their theories were still reflections on the practice of others and were not forged through their own practice. Clausewitz, for example, had worked out his definitions of strategy and tactics by 1805, and they had not varied significantly by the time he came to write “On War,” although his broader understanding of warfare undoubtedly did mature over this period.[5] Jomini insisted that the innovations in warfare were in the realm of tactics, while strategy had timeless characteristics. One of the striking features of this story is the lack of interaction between particular military events and the use of the term. All authors drew on military history to make their points, although at first the examples were as likely to be drawn from the ancient world as recent experience. In the concluding section of my Strategy: A History, I considered strategies as scripts. In cognitive psychology, a script is defined as “a predetermined, stereotyped sequence of actions that define a well-known situation.”[6] The basic idea is that when we come across a situation we think we recognize, we draw on an available mental script that creates expectations about how events are likely to unfold. It offers guidance on how others will behave and how we, in turn, should behave, at least until we start to note deviations from the script. Then, improvisation is required. My discussion of the advantage of thinking of strategy as a script was meant not only to explain why much strategy was intuitive, but also to point to the importance of adaptability and flexibility as it became more deliberative. [quote id="1"] Scripts are also appropriate with regard to the material considered in this article. The tactical manuals used to prepare forces for battle were often set out as scripts on the appropriate responses to defined situations. An efficient army required an almost intuitive mechanical response to the challenges of warfare. Appropriate responses were drilled into troops who were trained to follow orders mechanically so that they knew without asking how to wheel, form squares, defend, and attack, and when to fire and charge. In the manuals, the scripts were set out in meticulous detail, with diagrams and recommended formations. The purpose of drill was to make all of these actions second nature to the troops so that they would always know what was expected of them and would move expeditiously into position, neither flinching nor breaking in the face of the enemy. The more these scripts were internalized by the fighting units, the more effective they would be in a campaign. The drills became increasingly demanding in the face of the complexity of potential maneuvers and the need for disciplined responses in the face of fire that was becoming heavier. But this created its own problems when circumstances arose in which mechanical responses were inadequate and improvisation was needed. By the middle of the 18th Century it was apparent that command at the higher levels must have a creative aspect. This was the level at which opportunities that might be fleeting or missed by a duller eye could be seized boldly with speed and confidence. This was where “military genius” made its mark. For those engaged in officer education, this posed a problem because not every officer would be a genius. It was here that one could address the key question of whether genius was a gift bestowed upon a few great commanders or whether there were rules and principles that could be followed that could get the commander close to genius-like decisions without actually being a genius. This was the level that came to be described as “strategic.” The context in which these issues came to be identified and addressed took place has been well described and explored elsewhere.[7] The spirit of the enlightenment era demanded a more scientific approach to all human affairs, even war. The systematic study of phenomena such as war required careful classification of its different branches, better to explore its differences. Innovations in cartography allowed generals to work out how they might advance from their home base to confront an enemy, with an eye to logistics, and then plot the conduct of battle. In Britain, for example, the need for better maps for war-making had been underlined during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. What became known as the Ordnance Survey began in 1790, under the Board of Ordnance, the government body responsible for the defence of the realm.[8] The growing size and complexity of modern armies demanded far more attention to the problems of how they were to be drilled, moved, sustained, deployed, and commanded. The first general staff designed to support the commander-in-chief was introduced in Austria after the 1750s, although it was the Prussians who made the system work most effectively.[9] Lastly, the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 to 1748) and then the Seven Years War (1756 to 1763) involved tactical innovations, notably in the campaigns of Frederick the Great. In the 1757 Battle of Rossbach, Prussian forces under Frederick defeated a combined French and Holy Roman Empire force twice their size, imposing massive losses while suffering few themselves.[10] After this, the French avoided further combat with Prussia and an introspective debate began into the failings of the French military system and the need for reform. Demands for reform extended to the wider political and economic system, leading to the upheavals resulting from the French Revolution. This provided the setting for Napoleon’s wars of conquest, pushing all the issues connected with strategy to the fore, as the defeat of the enemy army in battle became the prime objective.

"Strategy" Enters the Lexicon

The agreed view is that the word “strategy” arrived in the modern European lexicon in 1771 when the French officer Paul Gédéon Joly de Maizeroy published his translation of the Byzantine emperor Leo VI’s Taktiká. This included references to strategía as well as taktiké. Strategía, previously discussed as the science of the general, was now transliterated simply as stratégie. A word was born.[11] By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, “strategy” was in use by military theorists across Europe. When Clausewitz came to discuss the question of strategy and tactics at the opening of Book 2 of On War, he was almost apologetic, assuming that what he had to say was now familiar. Strategy and tactics were so “closely related” that any careful distinction would be considered “superfluous” by many readers. People knew of the distinction (“now almost universal”) and could distinguish between the two (“everyone knows fairly where each particular factor belongs”), even if they could not always understand why the distinction was being made.[12] Black notes an appearance in a Danish military dictionary in 1810. It was present in Italy by 1817, in Spain and Holland by 1822 and a bit later in Portugal.[13] As we will see in my next article for this journal, the new word was noted almost immediately in Britain, although not actively discussed until the first years of the 19th century. Why was the adoption of “strategy” so widespread and so rapid? The first reason is that it was not really a neologism and would have been understood (if not always in the same way) without much explanation. Those who aspired to contribute to the theory of war in the 18th century were likely to have a firm grounding in the classic Greek and Roman writing on the subject. The key words came from Greek. Taktiké meant “order” while strategos and strategía referred to generals and the things generals did.[14] They would have read Polybius (c.200 to 118 BCE), whose treatise on tactics was lost, but regular reference was made to it in his subsequent histories of the wars of the Greeks and the Romans.[15] The Greek Aelian of the second century provided a detailed discussion of Greek tactics, which was an important source for later writers concerned with the organization of their own forces.[16] Aelian in turn influenced Arrian (86 to 180), who discussed the concept in his History of Alexander and also wrote a treatise on Roman tactics, Techne Taktike.[17] The Roman Senator Frontinus (40 to 103) wrote a wide-ranging work on strategy, which was lost, but an extract covering stratagems survived.[18] Stratagems were also addressed in Onasander’s Strategikos  from the first century.[19] Frontitus’s writings, including possibly his lost work, influenced Flavius Vegetius Rematus of the late fourth century. Vegetius’s De Re Militari (“The Military Institutions of the Romans”) never lost its popularity and by the 18th century was seen as a vital guide to the military art.[20] As Christopher Duffy has observed, “intelligent officers knew far more about classical military history than they did about the events of their own time.” Vegetius had become “effectively an eighteenth century author.”[21] A study of the reading habits of British officers during the course of the 18th century confirms the predominant role for the classics (Polybius, Arrian, Frontinus, Vegetius, etc.) that only latterly gave way to more contemporary authors.[22] [quote id="2"] So even before the words strategy and tactics made their way to the center of military theory over the final three decades of the 18th century, they would not have been alien to those educated in the classics.[23] It did not take a great etymological leap for strategía and taktiké to turn into strategy and tactics. It might have been common, as with Sir John Cheke’s 1554 translation of Leo‘s Taktiká from Greek into Latin, to refer to the art of the general or of command (ars imperatoria),[24] but elsewhere, variants of the Greek word were in use. They just did not employ contemporary spelling. One known instance comes from the early 17th century. James Maxwell translated Herodian of Alexandria’s History of the Roman Empire. Against the following words in the text, “All Places of Martiall command they gave to brave noble Captains and Souldiers expert in Marshalling of Armies and Military Exploits,” the translator added his own marginal note: “In which words the author hath couched both the parts of war: viz, tactick and Strategmatick.”[25] As we will see when other cognate words were used, there was always this dichotomous relationship between the derivatives of strategía and taktiké. Although the greatest interest has been in the emergence of strategy, it should be noted that tactics was also not in regular use until well into the 18th century. Up to that point, it was largely used in connection with the wars of antiquity. French dictionaries beginning in 1694 defined “tactiques” by reference to “the Ancients,” as “L'art de ranger des troupes en bataille.” (“The art of putting troops into battle.”)[26] The key figure in persuading Europe that tactics were “worthy of serious study” is considered to be the Chevalier de Folard.[27] He published his Nouvelles découvertes sur la guerre in 1724. This was followed by a new translation of Polybius’s History, which Folard had commissioned and for which he contributed comments of his own.[28] In Britain, John Harris’s Lexicon Technicum, published in 1723, defined tactics as “the Art of Disposing any Number of Men into a proper form of Battle.” Harris reported that the Greeks were very “skilful” in this branch of the military art, “having Public Professors of it,” who were called Tactici.[29] He referred to the Emperor Leo VI, as well as Aelian and Arrias. The word “tacticks” appeared, but not with its own entry, in Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary,[30] under the heading of “Evolutions,” a term used to describe the point when an army shifted its position, for example to move from attack to defense or defense to attack:
The motion made by a body of men in changing their posture, or form of drawing up, either to make good the ground they are upon, or to possess themselves of another; that so they may attack the enemy, or receive his onset more advantageously. And these evolutions are doubling of ranks or files, countermarches, and wheelings.[31]
There was no reference to tactics in Humphrey Bland’s 1727 A Treatise of Military Discipline or in Lt. Col. Campbell Dalrymple’s 1761 “Military Essay.”[32] Nor was there a mention in the most influential British work on the Seven Years War, by Major-General Henry Lloyd.[33] It was, however, introduced when Lloyd added new material as a second part of the book in 1781. Then, he described his outline of the principles of war as “the foundation of all tactics, which alone can offer us some certain and fixed principles to form and conduct an army.”[34] The most admired commander of his day, Frederick the Great of Prussia, wrote his General Principles of War applied to Tactics and the Discipline of Prussian troops, in 1748. Written in French, it was not translated into German until 1753 and then at first issued only to his generals. It was widely published in 1762, late in the Seven Year’s War, after a copy had been taken from a captured general. Despite the title, the text did not actually discuss tactics (and discipline was clearly the highest priority). In his Élements de Castramétrie et de Tactique, published in German in 1771, he considered as tactics issues that would soon come under the heading of strategy.[35] Therefore, when it came to new ways of thinking about the art of war, tactics had a definite head start over strategy, and could cover the same ground, but the lead was not that substantial.

The Origins of "Strategy"

As for strategy, close cousins of the word were already in use. There were at least two important derivations from the original strategía in the lexicon prior to 1771. The first, which was well-established, was stratagem. Strategy and stratagem had the same origins but over time developed separately.[36] The Oxford English Dictionary (an invaluable source on these matters) identifies stratagem’s first English use in 1489 in a military sense (“Whiche subtilites and wylis are called Stratagemes of armes”).[37] It soon came to refer to any cunning ploy or ruse, in some ways suffering the same fate as the modern strategy as a term with a military meaning that became adopted more generally. This can be seen in Shakespeare. In “All’s Well That Ends Well,” it is used in a military sense (“If you think your mystery in stratagem can bring this instrument of honour again into his native quarter, be magnanimous in the enterprise and go on”) and then in a wider sense (“for the love of laughter, let him fetch his drum; he says he has a stratagem for't”).[38] Samuel Johnson referred regularly to stratagems, in a wide and not uniquely military way. Stratagem, however, not only remained an essential element in the art of war, but also there were a number of derivations, identified by the Oxford English Dictionary, in use from the 16th through the 18th centuries — stratagematic, stratagematical, strategematist, and stratagemical.[39] Another related word, now wholly obsolete, was stratarithmetrie (made up of the Greek words for army, number, and measure). This was a form of military arithmetic. John Dee, a highly influential mathematician and an important figure in the Elizabethan Court, wrote an introduction to a new translation of Euclid in 1570 in which he explained the relevance of its principles to a variety of human affairs, including war. He distinguished between “Stratarithmetrie” and “Tacticie,” and in so doing referred to the Emperor Leo VI’s work (this was not long after Sir John Cheke’s Latin translation had been published). Stratarithmetrie, according to Dee, offered a way “by which a man can set in figure, analogicall to any Geometricall figure appointed, any certaine number or summe of men.” It would be possible to choose the best geometrical figure (perfect square, triangle, circle, etc.) that had been used in war “for commodiousness, necessity, and advantage.” It differed from the “Feate Tacticall” that would necessitate the “wisedome and foresight, to what purpose he so ordreth the men.”[40] Dee was cited as an authority on this matter long after he died. The word was used as he intended, for example, in 1652:
Stratarithmetrie is the skill appertaining to the warre to set in figure any number of men appointed: differing from Tacticie, which is the wisdom and the oversight.[41]
The potential of mathematics as a guide to the optimum organization of troops for military engagements was a familiar theme in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was satirized by Shakespeare in Othello with Iago’s disparaging comments about Michael Cassio, a “great arithmetician” who “never set a squadron in the field/Nor the division of a battle knows more than a spinster—unless the bookish theoric.”[42] Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopædia, the first edition of which was in 1728, contained a reference to tactics, taken directly from Harris’s Lexicon Technicum. Unlike Harris, however, Chambers also included as items stratagem (a “military wile”), stratarithmetry (“the art of drawing up an Army or any part of it, in any given Geometric figure”) and, lest the origins of the word be forgotten, strategus (as one of the two appointed Athenians who would “command the troops of the state”).[43] Thereafter, it was hard to find a dictionary without similar or replicated entries as they were habitually copied. In Britain, similar references were found in Chambers’ competitors, for example in Rees’s Cyclopaedia,[44] and the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published from 1788 to 1797.[45] This edition was reproduced in its entirety as Dobson's Encyclopædia, published in the United States from 1799. [quote id="3"] The first edition in 1694 of the authoritative Dictionary of the French Academy had a reference to stratagem as “ruse de guerre,” repeated in later editions. The 5th edition in 1798 made no mention of stratégie.[46] The great Encyclopédie, compiled by Denis Diderot, was originally intended as a French translation of Chambers, and the eventual version, first published in 1765, had a number of items attributed to Chambers. These included entries for “stratagem” and “stratarithmetry,” noting that the latter was not used in France.[47] There was also a discussion of the role of the strategos.[48] Unlike Chambers, however, there was a long section on tactics. This was described as “the science of military movements,” and then, with reference to Polybius, “the art of matching a number of men destined to fight, to distribute them in rows and rows, and to instruct them in all the manoeuvres of war.” This discussed at length the practices of the Romans, the more recent application of the core principles, and addressed the issue of whether or not the French should imitate Prussian methods, clearly an issue after the defeat of French forces in the Seven Years war.

Why the Concept of Strategy Was Readily Adopted

Thus, when Maizeroy used “strategie” by itself and without translation in his 1771 translation of Leo VI’s Taktiká, its appearance would not have posed great difficulties for the more educated students of warfare in the late 18th century. There was the same contrast with tactics as before. Was there, however, also continuity in meaning? Through the 18th century, stratagem had been recognized as an important part of the art of war, fitting in with a preference for what later became known as an indirect approach. According to this approach it was usually best to avoid a pitched battle but if this was not possible then every available ruse should be used to fight only in the most propitious circumstances. The classics encouraged this view, and also emphasized the use of skillful techniques to outsmart the enemy. When Polybius discussed tactics in his histories, he referred to one encounter during the Punic Wars that illustrated the difference “between scientific and unscientific warfare: between the art of a general and the mechanical movements of a soldier.” At issue was not the ability to fight with fury and gallantry, but the use of tactics that helped avoid a “general engagement” by relying instead on wearing the enemy down through surprise ambushes and pushing them into positions where they could neither escape nor fight and risked starvation. Frontinus described strategy (strategikon) as “everything achieved by a commander, be it characterized by foresight, advantage, enterprise, and resolution,” of which stratagem (strategematon) was a subset, including aspects of trickery but was more generally about how success could be achieved by “skills and cleverness.”[49] A key  theme for Vegetius was the need to avoid battle unless necessary: “Good officers decline general engagements where the danger is common, and prefer the employment of stratagem and finesse to destroy the enemy as much as possible in detail and intimidate them without exposing our own forces.” Stratagem was thus one way of waging war, distinct from more direct action.[50] Onasander’s “Strategikos” described ruses designed to mislead an enemy into misapprehensions about the size of the army, or to maintain the morale of troops by demonstrating that things were not as bad as they might suppose. In this way, the “world of war” was one of “deceit and false appearances.” This was the tradition carried through the great works of Byzantium. The Strategikon of Byzantine Emperor Maurice (582 to 602) contained the same theme of relying on cunning rather than brute force to gain victory:
Warfare is like hunting. Wild animals are taken by scouting, by nets, by lying in wait, by stalking, by circling around, and by other such stratagems rather than by sheer force. In waging war we should proceed in the same way, whether the enemy be many or few. To try to simply overpower the enemy in the open, hand in hand and face to face, even though you may appear to win, is an enterprise which is very risky and can result in serious harm.
In addition: “A wise commander will not engage the enemy in pitched battle unless a truly exceptional opportunity or advantage presents itself.”[51] Here was a distinction between strategy and military skill. Strategy made use of times and places, surprises and various tricks to outwit the enemy with the idea of achieving its objectives even without actual fighting. It was “essential to survival and is the true characteristic of the intelligent and courageous general.”[52] The “Strategikon” was not known to Europe’s military innovators as they mined the classics for useful ideas, but, along with Onasander, it influenced the later Emperor Leo VI’s work, completed in the 10th century, with the same key themes (although it had a greater emphasis on the need to pray before battle).[53] As the Russians had followed Byzantine usage, for them the art of the general was very much bound up with stratagem.[54] The Chevalier de Folard, while gaining his notoriety by his promotion of the column as a way to win battles, also shared the classical view that battle was best avoided.[55] Black describes Folard as debating Vegetius “as if he was a contemporary.”[56] One of the best known works of military theory of the mid-century, Count Turpin’s “Essay on the Art of War” included strong advocacy of stratagems to help generals get out of difficult situations.[57] Frederick the Great also had seen battle as subject to too many chance factors to be embraced as a preferred method.[58] The overlap between stratagem and strategy is evident in Chambers’ entry for stratagem, although this also indicates that changes in the nature of warfare might require a different approach. “The Ancients dealt mightily in Stratagems; the Moderns wage War more openly, and on the Square.”[59] Thus, when Maizeroy translated Leo’s Taktiká, he was taking on a work heavily influenced by the stratagem tradition. The prolific Maizeroy took the view that the French had paid far too much attention to other European armies and not enough to the ancients. When later he came to identify the rules of strategy, the links with stratagem became clear:
not to do what one’s enemy appears to desire; to identify the enemy’s principal objective in order not to be misled by his diversions; always to be ready to disrupt his initiatives without being dominated by them; to maintain a general freedom of movement for foreseen plans and for those to which circumstances may give rise; to engage one’s adversary in his daring enterprises and critical moments without compromising one’s own position; to be always in control of the engagement by choosing the right time and place.[60]
One additional factor that might possibly have affected the debate about strategy and stratagems in the early 1770s was the publication of the first Western translation of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” by Father Joseph Amiot, a Jesuit missionary and sinologist. This was one of a number of texts grouped together in a more general collection entitled, “Military Art of the Chinese.”[61] According to one source, this was received with considerable enthusiasm, with one reviewer describing this as containing “all the elements of the great art which had been written by Xenophon, Polybius, and de Saxe.”[62] Yet, other accounts suggest that the positive response was fleeting, and there was even less impact when it was re-published a decade later.[63] Little admirable was seen in Chinese military practice at this time. Despite claims that it was read by Napoleon, there is no evidence of this, and it would certainly be stretching a point to suggest he was at all influenced.[64] Amiot’s translation is now considered to be poor,[65] and not based on the most reliable version of the text. In this translation, neither terms tactics nor strategy appear, though they were prominent in later English translations. There were a few references to stratagems.[66] Nonetheless, if this translation had any impact, it would have been to reinforce a stratagem-based, indirect approach that saw battles as events to be avoided if at all possible.

"Strategy" Gave a Name to the "Higher" Parts of War

In addition to the familiarity with the language and the stratagem tradition, a third reason why the concept of strategy was adopted so readily lay in its value in filling a gap in contemporary discussions about the problem of levels of command. Marshal Maurice de Saxe’s My Reveries Upon the Art of War was written in 1736, but only published posthumously in 1756. Saxe was one of the most successful French generals of the 18th century. In his Reveries, he referred to neither strategy nor tactics, but did distinguish between the “higher” and “lesser” parts of war. He argued that commanders must understand the lesser parts, though elemental and mechanical, covering methods of fighting and discipline, as they provided the “base and the fundamentals of the military art.” Once Saxe had dealt with those in the first part of his book, he then moved on to the higher — “sublime” — parts, which he suspected might interest only experts. This meant moving beyond the “methodical,” suitable for ordinary minds, to the “intellectual,” with which the ordinary might struggle. This is why war was like the other “sublime arts.” Application was not enough. There must be talent and excellence.[67] What this part lacked was a name. This sense that there was a level of activity that lacked a proper name is evident in Maizeroy’s prolific output from the 1760s to the 1780s, which included not only his translation of Leo VI, but also editions of his Cours de tactique, théoretique, pratique et historique, first published in 1766, as well as works on stratagems and his own Théorie de la Guerre.[68] Maizeroy, a lieutenant colonel in the French army who had served as a captain under Saxe, explored the distinction between the higher and lesser forms of the art of war. The lesser was,
Merely mechanical, which comprehends the composing and ordering of troops, with the matter of encamping, marching, manoeuvring and fighting … may be deduced from principles and taught by rules.
In his Traité de tactique, published in 1767, he referred to the higher as “military dialectics,” including “the art of forming the plans of a campaign, and directing its operations.”[69] By the time of his 1777 Théorie de la Guerre, and following his translation of Leo, the higher form was strategy, which was “quite sublime” (using Saxe’s word) and resided “solely in the head of the general, as depending on time, place and other circumstances, which are essentially varying, so as never to be twice the same in all respects.” Here is how he distinguished between the two:
Tactics is easily reduced to firm rules because it is entirely geometrical like fortifications. Strategy appears to be much less susceptible to this, since it is dependent upon innumerable circumstances – physical, political, and moral – which are never the same and which are entirely the domain of genius.[70]
Thus, tactics could depend on scripts that could be developed in advance and followed mechanically. It was extremely important, but intellectually undemanding. Strategy, however, came into play when there was no script, when the circumstances were unique and varied. [quote id="4"] A number of authors also addressed the potential value of the term strategy. In 1779, the Portuguese Marquis de Silva published Pensées sur la Tactique, et la Stratégique. For Silva, strategy was the science of the generals and employed and combined the different branches of tactics. [71] In 1783, there was the first reference to “grand strategy,” although in a book now largely forgotten, by Colonel Nockhern de Schorn. He defined strategy as, “The knowledge of commanding armies, one comprehending the higher and the other the lower branches of the art.” He then divided strategy into the higher (La Grande Stratégie) and lower (La Petite Stratégie) in the following way:
The first embraces all that a commander in chief, and all that his subordinate generals should be acquainted with; and the second, which may be called le petit guerre, the diminutive of the first, appertains to the staff and to a certain proportion of the subaltern officers.[72]
Yet when it came to classification, the most influential work of the 1770s dealt with the distinction between the higher and the lesser parts of the art of war without reference to strategy. In his Essai général de tactique, published in 1772, Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert, made his distinction solely on the basis of tactics. Tactics were the “foundation” of the science of war, “since they teach how to constitute troops, appoint, put in motion, and afterwards to fight them.” He divided tactics into two parts: “the one elementary and limited, the other composite and sublime.” Again, note the use of Saxe’s word “sublime.” Elementary tactics contained “all detail of formation, instruction, and exercise of a battalion, squadron, or regiment.” The higher level, to which all other parts were “secondary,” contained “every great occurrence of war” and was “properly speaking … the science of the generals.” This part was “of itself everything, since it contains the art of conveying action to troops.”[73] What was art and what was science was constantly in flux over this period, and the terms often seemed to be used interchangeably,[74] yet if generalship was a matter of science and not just genius, then there was a possibility of a script that could help the general think through possibilities. In 1779, Guibert, in Défense du système de guerre moderne, referred to la stratégique.[75] But this book was largely ignored. It was the earlier Essai général de Tactique that remained the most influential text of this period. As noted below, it was Guibert’s original classification that stuck with Napoleon Bonaparte.

The German Development of Strategy

The Francophone debate, therefore, was bound up with this question of levels of command and the role of the sublime or genius. In the German-speaking world, the development was different. The Austrian Johann W. von Bourscheid, who translated Leo‘s Taktika into German in 1777, also referred to “strategie” and urged readers to develop their understanding of this approach to military affairs.[76] One of the more original contributions to the German literature of this period was made by Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst (1733 to 1814). He was wary of extreme rationalism, stressing genius rather than a search for rules to unlock the secrets to military success. Too much depended on factors that were “unpredictable and incalculable,” including “blind chance.”[77] He followed Guibert in failing to discuss strategy, but not in relying on a sharp distinction between a higher and lower form. Instead, he identified many potential subdivisions of the art of war.[78] The most influential figure in establishing strategy as a distinctive realm of analysis was Heinrich von Bülow, son of a minor nobleman, who had served in the Prussian army. His military career had not advanced far and his independence of mind did not endear him to the authorities. He ended up in prison for his criticisms of the Prussian failure at Austerlitz. His Spirit of the Modern System of War, published in 1799, was in the Stratarithmetrie” tradition, involving the application of geometrical and mathematical principles. Commentators have not been kind to Bülow. Clausewitz considered him a charlatan and dismissed his book as the “Children’s military companion.”[79] Even his English translator was skeptical. Yet, according to Palmer, Bülow can be credited with “giving currency, as words of distinct meaning” to strategy and tactics, though his definitions were not “generally accepted.”[80] It was certainly the case that his work reached Britain before other continental works, with the appearance of Malorti de Martemont’s translation in 1806, and his influence lingered through the 19th century. His mathematics was suspect, while his resistance to the idea of battle put him at odds with the developing Napoleonic method. (“If we find ourselves obliged to fight a battle, mistakes must have been committed previously.”) Yet, if it was not quite in the spirit of its time, in some respects it now has a contemporary feel. At his theory’s heart was an army’s relation to its base, objective and “lines of operations.” Rather than fight a “hostile army,” better to attack the means by which this army kept itself supplied, which meant that the “flanks and rear must be the objective of operations,” even in an offensive war, and frontal operations should be avoided. In a rare sign of a debate about potentially different meanings of the term, Bülow saw his concepts of “Strategics” as different from the French concept of “la stratégique.” In an observation, significant in the light of my earlier discussion, he considered the French concept as being too limited for it was defined by “the science of the stratagems of war.” Alternatively, he noted, that: “Some, tracing the term to its origins, have denominated it the General’s Art.” Bülow deemed this to be too extensive, “for the General’s Art comprehends the whole art of war, which consists of Strategics and Tactics, sciences being essentially different.”[81] His view was that this was not a matter of sublime military genius, but the sensible application of mathematical models: “the sphere of military genius will at last be narrowed, that a man of talents will no longer be willing to devote himself to this ungrateful trade.”[82] This need not be a “sublime” art, but a disciplined application of set mathematical formulae. The importance of Bülow, therefore, lay in his insistence that scripts were possible and necessary. Good strategy could follow well-founded scripts. He also established the circumstances in which these scripts were relevant. In his opening chapter, he had asserted that,
all operations of which the enemy was the object, were operations of Tactics; and that those of which he was merely the aim and not the direct object, were made a part of Strategics.
Later, he saw a problem in that it was possible to march in column formation preparatory to battle without actually engaging (this being a time when the range of sight was longer than the range of cannon). So, “a general may manoeuvre tactically before an army, and in sight of it, to make a show of attacking it, without having the least intention of it. Here we have Tactics, and no battle.” Bülow, therefore, put aside the question of intent and made his definition on the basis of position and proximity. He defined strategics as “the science of the movements in war of two armies, out of the visual circle of each other, or, if better liked, out of cannon reach.” By contrast, tactics were “the science of the movements made within sight of the enemy, and within reach of his artillery.”[83] With strategics, there should be no apprehension of attack, and so no immediate readiness to fight. It consisted of “two principal parts; marching and encamping.” There were also two parts to tactics — “the forming of the order of battle, and battles, or actual attack and defence.” Taken together, this constituted the whole of the art of war:
Tactics are the completion of Strategics; they accomplish what the other prepares; they are the ultimatum of Strategics, these ending and in a manner flowing into those. The rules of one were applicable to the other. The focus was geographical, giving priority to the importance of the land held, which explains his lack of enthusiasm for battle.
In both these respects, a focus on the land held and the potential value of mathematics, Bülow was followed by the Austrian Archduke Charles, one of the more accomplished Habsburg generals. In his 1806 Principles of the Higher Art of War, published as advice for generals, he showed his interest in “mathematical, evident truths” and in holding positions as much as defeating the enemy (a criticism Napoleon made forcibly of his practice). His Grundsätze der Strategie (“Principles of Strategy”), which appeared in 1814 and was soon widely translated (although not into English) must also take some credit for the dissemination of the term.[84] This may have been largely because of the prestige of the author as much as the novelty of the content. What was agreed was that strategy was the responsibility of the “supreme commander,” while tactics, “the way in which strategic designs are to be executed” was the responsibility of “each leader of troops.”[85] Napoleon soon provided good reason to doubt both Bülow and Charles. He encouraged the idea that military genius was essential to military success, and that the test of success was the annihilation of the enemy army. Napoleon spoke of this genius as an inborn talent with which he had been fortunately blessed. It was the ability to see at a glance the opportunities for battle. This was the issue addressed by Clausewitz and Jomini, both of whom had fought in the Napoleonic wars, as it was unsatisfactory for the purposes of theory if this aptitude was intuitive and exceptional. They had to hold on to the possibility that it could be developed through experience and education, otherwise their writing had no purpose. [86] Clausewitz published an anonymous review of Bülow in 1805 that included his formulation on the relationship between strategy and tactics, from which he did not deviate, and which made intent important. This had little impact at this stage. “Tactics constitute the theory of the use of armed forces in battle; strategy forms the theory of using battle for the purposes of the war.”[87] The same formulation appeared in some of his notes in 1811 and then in On War, where his formulation was far subtler than anything else produced by this time, moving beyond simple classification of activities.[88] He emphasized the need to think of fighting not as a single act but as a number of single acts — or “engagements” — each complete in itself. Tactics were about the form of an individual engagement, so it could be won, strategy about how an engagement was to be used, and therefore its significance in terms of the overall objective of the campaign. He gave the example of ordering a column to head off in a particular direction with an engagement in mind, as being strategy, while the form taken by the column on its travels by way of preparation for the engagement would be tactics.[89] [quote id="5"] In terms of levels of command, strategy was clearly superior to tactics, yet the point of his analysis in On War was that however much the strategist might set the terms for coming battles, the strategy would have to respond to the outcomes of the battles. Capturing perfectly the idea of a strategic script, Clausewitz explained that the strategist wrote a plan for the war, but it could only be in draft.[90] Tactical outcomes shaped strategic outcomes, which could only take shape “when the fragmented results have combined into a single, independent whole.”[91] Clausewitz did not make further subdivisions. In notes written in 1804, he had distinguished between elementary and higher tactics, the first appropriate to small units and the second to larger formations.[92] There is just a trace of this in On War, with a mere reference at one point to “elementary tactics.” Clausewitz’s approach depended on the dialectical relationship of tactics and strategy. One could not be considered independently of the other.[93] It took time before Clausewitz was appreciated, and readers were often warned of the difficulty of his analysis. By contrast, the Swiss Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini was generally considered a more straightforward and valuable thinker. Jomini, along with most of the new wave of military theorists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, developed his thinking through a consideration of the campaigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia, although Napoleon’s victory over the Austrians at Marengo in Italy in 1800 gave him his ideas on how the Napoleonic method might work.[94] He was stimulated by Bülow, although took a completely different tack. In his first major book, Traité de grande tactique (a title that betrays the influence of Guibert), he began to work out his theory.[95] He described war as being made up of “three combinations.” The first was the “art of adjusting the lines of operations in the most advantageous manner, which has been improperly called ‘the plan of campaign.’”[96] The second, “generally understood by strategy,” was “the art of placing the masses of an army in the shortest space of time on the decisive point of the original or accidental line of operations.” He saw this as no more than providing the “means of execution.” The third was the “art of combat,” which had been “styled tactics” and was the “art of combining the simultaneous employment of masses upon the important point of the field of battle.” He did not suggest that these were alternative levels of command, only that a general accomplished in one of these combinations might be less effective with the other two.[97] His ideas were fully formed in his Precis de l’art de la guerre, published in 1838. Here, Jomini defined strategy in terms of the preparation for battle, while tactics was bound up with the actual conduct of battle, a sequence that again followed Bülow. However, his approach was focused on annihilating the enemy army. Jomini’s description of strategy was about making war “upon the map,” taking a view of the whole theatre of operations and working out where to act. “Grand tactics” was about implementation. It was
the art of posting troops upon the battle-field according to the accidents of the ground, of bringing them into action, and the art of fighting upon the ground, in contradistinction to planning upon a map.
In his most concise formulation:
Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point; grand tactics decides the manner of execution and the employment of the troops.[98]
In contrast to Bülow, therefore, strategy was geared toward the campaign’s overall concept rather than its execution, and it was not a substitute for grand tactics. At the same time, he also accepted that strategy did not depend solely on a general’s genius, but could benefit through the application of timeless principles which he, Jomini, had been able to discern. Thus, he wrote in the Traité de grande tactique that while new inventions threatened a “great revolution in army organization, armament and tactics,” strategy would “remain unaltered, with its principles the same as under the Scipios and the Caesars, Frederick and Napoleon, since they are independent of the nature of the arms and the organization of the troops.”[99] And then in the “Precis,” he suggested that strategy “may be regulated by fixed laws resembling those of the positive sciences.”[100] This conclusion, which actively discouraged conceptual innovation, depended on a fixation with battle. As with Clausewitz, he was aware of the possibility of exceptions, but the model of war he most had in mind involved the destruction of the enemy’s army so that they had no choice but to seek a political settlement on the victor’s terms. This sharp focus on battle clarified the tasks for both tactics and strategy, and the forms of their potential interaction.

Conclusion

Napoleon Bonaparte, who had provided the stimulus for these thoughts, gave little away while he was earning his reputation. And, for that matter, not much was revealed after his defeat at Waterloo. What was known about his approach to war was contained in a set of published maxims. In one of these, the emperor distinguished between what an “engineer or artillery officer” might need to know, which could “be learned in treatises,” whereas “grand tactics” (Guibert’s phrase) required experience and study of “the campaigns of all the great captains.”[101] Once exiled on St. Helena after his defeat at Waterloo, he kept himself informed on developments in military theory. His comments, generally bad-tempered and disparaging about the many authors he read, were well-recorded. Only once did he discuss strategy, and it was when considering Archduke Charles’s book on the subject. “I hardly bother with scientific words,” he remarked, “and cannot care less about them.” He was skeptical about the value of books — there should not be so much “intellect” in war. “I beat the enemy without so much intellect and without using Greek words.” Nor could he make sense of the Archduke’s distinction between strategy and tactics, as the science and art of war. He had a higher opinion of Jomini’s formulation — “strategy is the art of moving troops and tactics the art of engaging them.” He then offered his own, and only known, definition: “strategy is the art of plans of campaign and tactics the art of battles.”[102] It left little scope for serious consideration of how to conduct war when the annihilation of the enemy army was neither practical nor appropriate. For practitioners like Napoleon who seemed to have little use for the word, and theorists who analyzed its place in the operations of war, there was no agreed early definition of strategy, and its emergence was not announced with any great fanfare. It seeped into discussions of military strategy, but only really became a way of framing these discussions at the start of the 19th century, in part under the influence of Bülow and the Archduke Charles and the pressing need to make sense of Napoleon’s string of victories. All the early efforts at definition saw strategy as a purely military concept, interacting with tactics but not with policy. This included Clausewitz, who understood better than most how political ends shaped military means. This is why there is a divergence between studies of strategy in practice over the 18th and 19th centuries, which invariably look at the interaction with policy, and the development of strategy as theory.[103] This limitation was important not because it precluded theorizing about the relationship of policy to war, for Clausewitz showed how this could be done, but because it shaped the education of the officer class in Europe and North America, and the way in which they were encouraged to think about the responsibilities and possibilities of command. The Napoleon-Jomini view that the scripts of strategy could only be learned by studying those that worked well in the past meant that rather than being a new way of thinking, exploring the implications of a changing political context as well as technological innovations, strategy became profoundly conservative, looking to replicate the triumphs of the past. In my second article, I will demonstrate the impact of this narrow and conservative approach on British and American thinking on strategy in the 19th century, so that even when wars took place that might have questioned its validity, notably the 1861-1865 American Civil War and the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, they did not. They did not lead to any revisions of the concept of strategy. It was only the shocking experience of World War I that led to attempts to broaden the meaning of strategy and seek new definitions.   Sir Lawrence Freedman is professor emeritus of war studies at King's College London. Freedman became professor of war studies at King's College in 1982. In 2002, he became head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at King's College. In June 2009, he was appointed to serve as a member of the official inquiry into Britain and the 2003 Iraq War. Before joining King's College, Freedman held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. Elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995, he was appointed official historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.  His most recent books are Strategy: A History (2013) and The Future of War: A History (2017) [post_title] => The Meaning of Strategy, Part I: The Origins [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => meaning-strategy-part-origin-story [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-30 10:11:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-30 14:11:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=300 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [1] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 129 [post_author] => 20 [post_date] => 2017-10-26 03:40:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-26 07:40:21 [post_content] => The great genius but also the Achilles’ heel of American diplomacy is an irrepressible “can do” optimism — a conviction that every problem has a solution, that no conflict is too wicked or too intractable to defy resolution. De Tocqueville observed that Americans “have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man. ... They all consider society as a body in a state of improvement.”[1] That view has propelled America to great achievement in forging an era of peace and prosperity for nearly three-quarters of a century after World War II, ending wars and brokering peace among apparently implacable foes, and building institutions to tame economic cycles and interstate rivalries. Much of that optimism stems from our “eyes forward” approach to contemporary challenges, a conviction that the past is not prologue and that past performance is not indicative of future results. This optimism is rooted in our earliest experiences as a nation, a belief that the New World could and should forge a fresh approach to foreign policy, one not snared in the ancient quarrels of the Old World, but springing from an enlightened vision of harmonious relations among free peoples. It was an approach fitting for a nation whose very founding was an attempt to escape from the past. As Thomas Paine noted, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”[2]  The founders were not ignorant of history — they simply were determined not to be shackled by it. [quote id="3"] That inclination to put history behind us, to focus on present interests rather than past slights, has been and remains evident in the U.S. approach to East Asia. It was reflected in our willingness to enter into an alliance with Japan only a decade after it launched a surprise attack on our homeland; it could be seen in the decision to normalize relations with a Communist China which had fought us in Korea, because contemporary security and economic interests were more important than past grievances; and in the decision to reconcile with Vietnam, two decades after a bloody war came to a bitter end for the United States. But to our friends and interlocutors in East Asia, as T. S. Eliot observed, “Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past.”[3] Their national narratives as well as their perspectives on self and others are deeply rooted in their historical experience. It is a history that in most cases — from China, Japan and Korea to Thailand (Siam) and Cambodia (Khmer Empire) — is measured in centuries and even millennia. These images are powerful forces both constraining the choices available to policymakers and providing tools that policymakers can use to justify their actions and mobilize their publics. Scholars have long debated whether history influences policymakers’ perceptions and choices,[4] including whether and to what extent a historically based “strategic culture” shapes contemporary policy.[5] As Robert Jervis has written, “Previous international events provide the statesman with a range of imaginable situations and allow him to detect patterns and causal links that can help him understand his world.”[6] Some go beyond the impact of history on individual decisionmakers to suggest that a historically based strategic culture” can shape national choices.[7]  Although there are skeptics (A.J.P.  Taylor observed “men use the past to prop up their own prejudices,”),[8] there seems to be little doubt that images of self and others drawn from the past heavily infuse the contemporary debate about the future of East Asian security. [quote id="1"] Nowhere is this more evident than in modern China. President Xi Jinping’s first evocation of the “China Dream” came in a speech pithily entitled “To Inherit From the Past and Use It for the Future, and Continuing What Has Passed in Beginning the Future: Continue to Forge Ahead Dauntlessly Towards the Goal of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese People.”[9] Xi’s speeches frequently draw on historical images and experiences, contrasting the period of China’s greatness with the “Century of Humiliation” from the Opium War to the Nanjing massacre. Lessons are to be learned from both. What made China great — its military and economic strength and its distinctive culture — is to be put at the center of policy, while what made China vulnerable — weakness and the inability to resist foreign pressure — is to be avoided. At the center of this historic narrative is the danger posed by Japan. The “history issue” is not merely a scholarly debate but also informs China’s views of Japanese behavior today. China opposes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to make Japan a “normal” nation with the usual right to pursue individual and collective self-defense, because “history” shows that an unshackled Japan is inherently a threat to its neighbors and thus is not entitled to the same rights of sovereignty enjoyed by China and others. China refused to accept the Noda administration’s 2012 decision to “nationalize” the Senkaku Islands as an effort to insulate the islands from provocative actions of the far right, led by former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara. Instead, China insisted it was proof of a more aggressive policy.[10] Nor are China’s leaders willing to let the historic lesson fade from the public mind; just three years ago, Xi led the first “national day of remembrance” for the Nanjing massacre —77 years after the event.[11] At the speech, President Xi cautioned that “forgetting history is a betrayal.”[12] By contrast, from China’s perspective, its own breathtaking military modernization is not a threat to its neighbors (unlike Japan’s comparatively modest defense increases and operations) because “history” shows that when China was powerful in the past it did not threaten others but used its power to establish an era of peace and prosperity. Chinese officials’ resurrection of the story of Ming Dynasty Admiral Zheng He over the past decade coincided with their effort to make the case that China’s growth would be a “peaceful rise.” Chinese officials regularly insist:
During the overall course of six voyages to the Western Ocean, Zheng He did not occupy a single piece of land, establish any fortress or seize any wealth from other countries.[13]
Former President Wen Jiabao cited this example to show that “Hegemonism is at odds with our cultural tradition.”[14] Of course, for Japan, history offers quite a different story. To Japan, the story of the “divine winds” — the typhoons that thwarted China’s attempt to subjugate Japan in 1274 and 1281 — is not simply a tale of Japanese heroic resistance but, perhaps more important, a caution about the risk to Japan of a powerful China.[15] For the Republic of Korea, too, history powerfully shapes contemporary policies and choices. Despite South Korea’s strong shared interest with Japan in addressing common threats, particularly those posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, cooperation is hamstrung by lingering Korean resentment of the Japanese colonial occupation and treatment of Korean “comfort women” during World War II. This grievance is apparent not only in popular sentiment but also in the actions of Korea’s leaders. It can be seen in the decision of then-President Park Geun-hye to join China in dedicating a statute to Ahn Jeung Geun, the Korean who killed Japan’s imperial governor in 1907,[16] and her participation in the World War II commemoration parade in Beijing in 2015. Other historical disputes continue to dog cooperation between the two would-be allies: a territorial dispute over the Takeshima/Dokdo Islands[17] and even the name of the body of water between the two countries (“The Sea of Japan is established internationally as the only name” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary insisted when lodging a diplomatic protest against a South Korean video promoting the name “East Sea”).[18] Both Koreas in turn are cautious about too great a dependence on China — despite the strong economic pull exerted by Beijing — informed by a history of tensions between the two empires. The seemingly arcane dispute over whether the Goguryeo Empire was Korean or Chinese still inflames passions on both sides of the Yalu.[19] The contrast between American and East Asia worldviews was evident during the meeting between Xi and President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017. In recounting the meeting, President Trump told The Wall Street Journal
[Xi] then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years … and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that not — it’s not so easy. [20]
It could be seen in President Trump’s suggestion during the U.S. presidential campaign that it might be a good thing for Japan to acquire nuclear weapons instead of relying on U.S. extended deterrence — a suggestion that sent shock waves through East Asia.[21] Ironically, the contemporary political identity of each of the key countries of North East Asia was forged through a dramatic leap to “escape history.” For China, the strategy of leaders as diverse as Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong was not to find solutions for China’s problems in its past but, rather, to denigrate the past and to look to other models to achieve security and prosperity. Sun looked to the West, while Mao found inspiration in the Soviet Union during the early years of the People’s Republic.[22] Similarly, Meiji Japan reacted to growing pressure from the West in the mid-19th century not by trying to strengthen the traditional approaches of the shogunate that had successfully resisted foreign invasion in the past but by dramatically embracing modernity and key aspects of Western institutions and strategy, borrowing heavily from Germany, which — under Bismarck — had thrown off its own feudal past to achieve independence, unification and prosperity. This move to “escape the past” was replicated again after World War II; under the tutelage of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Japan adopted Western institutions and strategies as varied as labor unions and women’s suffrage.[23] More recently, South Korea — the 19th-century “Hermit Kingdom” —propelled itself to the front ranks of the global stage by following in Japan’s footsteps to embrace democracy and integration in the global economy. Why does history have such a hold on contemporary relations in East Asia? After all, in other regions and other times, historic enemies have reconciled in the face of compelling contemporary challenges. Think France and Germany in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after World War II. [quote id="2"] Some might argue that the talk of history is mere rhetoric — that international relations theory would predict tensions between Japan and China in terms of the inevitable conflicts between a rising power and an established one. Others might point to domestic politics and the mobilization effect of using historic images to rally support for the governing parties based on patriotism and the need to unite against a foreign threat.[24] For many leaders in the region, bitter historic memories provide a convenient anchor (“useful adversaries” in Tom Christensen’s evocative characterization) for nationalist policies.[25] Such policies in history textbooks can indoctrinate future generations into stereotypes of others.[26] Undoubtedly, all these forces are at work. But there is reason to believe the structural tensions are exacerbated by the historic context.[27] As one scholar has observed:
the rivalry context may play a causal role in determining which arms race, power transition, etc., escalate to war.... That past conflicts condition current ones and future expectations, that leaders learn realpolitik lessons, and that peoples learn to hate each other all mean that theories of enduring rivalries are historical theories.[28]
Indeed, there is evidence to suggest the propensity for the diversionary use of force is more likely in the context of historic rivalries. “[L]eaders can capitalize on a hostile interstate environment where the relevant target public may be persuaded to consider alleged threats plausible”[29] — and the historic experience appears to establish the plausibility of the threat. Of course, the past is not necessarily prologue. At times, countries in the region have been able to overcome historic suspicions. Consider for example the decades of Sino-Japanese reconciliation that followed normalization in the 1970s, which featured little of the rhetoric of historic grievance. Similarly, Japan’s relations with Southeast Asia have improved dramatically despite the legacy of the East Asia Prosperity Sphere and the occupations of World War II. But during periods of change and uncertainty about the present and future intentions of key countries in the region, past behavior offers a convenient answer for political leaders and for publics to answer the inherent ambiguity of future actions. Thus, while one can argue about whether the perpetuation of historic grievances is cause or effect, their persistence contributes to the precarious situation in East Asia. And in the absence of concerted efforts by regional leaders to counteract this dynamic, the risk only grows of a vicious cycle leading to conflict. Fortunately, there have been a few hopeful signs. Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s statements in connection with the 70th anniversary of World War II, along with the decision (at least up to now) not to repeat the 2013 visit to the Yasakuni shrine, have helped bring about more measured Sino-Japanese relations.[30] Positive change can be seen in a joint ceremony in September 2017 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Sino-Japanese relations —an event to mark the 40th anniversary in 2012 was cancelled after the Japanese purchase of the Senkakus[31] — and Abe attended a similar event in Tokyo.[32] With the election of a new president in South Korea, and the possibility of new mandates for Xi following the 19th Party Congress in October and for Abe in the upcoming Diet election, the key leaders will be well positioned to take steps to overcome the historical legacies (or, at a minimum, to avoid fanning the historical flames further). The challenges facing East Asia are severe enough without having to refight past wars. At the same time, the U.S. administration must recognize the ever-present shadow of the past as this country seeks to build a sustainable long-term policy toward the region. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in 2016 demonstrated that it is possible to be cognizant of the past without being trapped by it. In recent years, calls have grown for a more systematic effort to overcome U.S. ahistoricism. The proposal by Graham Allison and Niall Ferguson for a White House Council of Historical Advisers reflects one such effort. But their suggestion focuses primarily on learning from historical analogy, proposing that
the charter for the future Council of Historical Advisers begin with Thucydides’s observation that “the events of future history … will be of the same nature—or nearly so—as the history of the past, so long as men are men.”
But the problems of history in East Asia are of a different kind. The tensions between China and Japan, or between Korea and Japan, are not “of the same nature” as rivalries in other contexts; rather, they are specific to the history of these nations and these peoples. What is needed are policymakers who understand “deep” history, or “the ways in which policymakers underst[and] the historical context from which the current conflict arose.”[33] In this respect, the current disdain for the value of long-serving career officers in the Foreign Service, with deep grounding in the languages, culture, and history of key countries and regions, poses a serious risk to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Similarly, the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate U.S. government funding for the Fulbright Hays regional studies program under Title VI of the Higher Education Act is deeply shortsighted.[34] One dinner with Xi Jinping is not enough to compensate for the loss of generations’ worth of insight if the United States is to navigate the perils of East Asia in the 21st century.   James B. Steinberg is University Professor of Social Science, International Affairs, and Law at Syracuse University, where he was dean of the Maxwell School from July 2011 until June 2016. Prior to becoming dean, he served as deputy secretary of state (2009 to 2011). From 2005 to 2008, he was dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. From 2001 to 2005, Steinberg was vice president and director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.  Steinberg served in a number of senior positions under President Bill Clinton, including deputy national security advisor and director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. Steinberg’s most recent books are A Glass Half Full: Rebalance, Reassurance and Resolve in the US-China Relationship and Strategic Reassurance and Resolve: US-China Relations in the 21st Century, both with Michael O’Hanlon. Steinberg has an A.B from Harvard University (1973) and a J.D. from Yale Law School (1978). [post_title] => Too Much History: American Policy and East Asia in the Shadow of the Past [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => much-history-american-policy-east-asia-shadow-past [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-25 21:42:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-26 01:42:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=129 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [2] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 284 [post_author] => 102 [post_date] => 2017-10-25 03:45:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-25 07:45:32 [post_content] => Robin Collingwood, a British historian and philosopher, saw history as a reservoir of knowledge gained through instructive re-enactment. Consider Julius Caesar’s decision to “cross the Rubicon” with his army and challenge his Roman Republic. To understand Caesar’s choice, “This implies envisaging for himself the situation in which Caesar stood, and thinking for himself what Caesar thought about the situation and the possible ways of dealing with it.” The work of the historian in this case is not mere reproduction or description. To offer insight, “this re-enactment is only accomplished … so far as the historian brings to bear on the problem all the powers of his own mind and all his knowledge of philosophy and politics.” Such critical analysis “is not something secondary to tracing the history of it. It is an indispensable condition of the historical knowledge itself.”[1] This essay offers a micro-historical reconstruction of a fateful choice made by the United States. Satisfactory reconstructions of this kind are rare. When it comes to historical episodes of import, even those that have been extensively written about and researched, it is often difficult to identify when the critical choices actually occurred. It is even more difficult to reconstruct, with a policymaker’s eye, the information available at the time, the institutional context and the plausibly available alternative courses of action. This essay analyzes the U.S. decision to take the Philippines. It was fateful. Since the decision was followed by an ugly war, it seemed even at the time to symbolize a loss of American innocence, or worse, in the country’s dealings with the world. By 1934, when the Philippines seemed to be a strategic millstone and the United States chose a path to full independence for the islands, the majority Democrats in Congress led the way, eager to gain American “freedom from the colony.”[2] But before America could gain this “freedom,” the American presence in the Philippines became a great pivot point of world history. In 1940 and 1941, Japanese naval planners concluded that any move through the South China Sea into the resource-rich Dutch East Indies and British Malaya had to include an attack on American bases in the Philippines. To the Japanese, this conclusion meant that, if they moved south, war with America was unavoidable. They then developed a war plan that included an opening attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the Philippines.[3] After World War II, the American presence across the Pacific was vastly enlarged in every way. During and after the Vietnam War, historians again looked back at the 1898-99 decision to take the Philippines. They viewed it as a sort of original sin, one that now seemed to have foreshadowed all the other sins to come. As in the story of how America stepped across the Pacific, the grand strategies in U.S. international history usually have had a traumatic birth. Grand strategies do not typically arise from visionary thinking about the future. They arise instead from the collective experience of some great disturbance, looking backward at some catalytic episode that practically everyone remembers. As people try to make sense of what has just happened, they construct quick and understandable rival narratives to explain that past, the present and maybe the future. The shorthand narratives become entrenched, decaying into shibboleths — until the next trauma displaces them. Meanwhile, historians can slowly try to reconstruct what really did happen in the first place. Yet the rewards of micro-historical reconstruction of fateful choices can be great. The episodes are usually ones that people, including most historians, think they already understand. But in my experience the more one digs, the stranger the stories get. That is, the fateful choices become more lifelike, more interesting and more truly educational. The Philippines decision was made, principally, by President William McKinley. For generations, McKinley himself and the way he made this decision have seemed like an opaque blur. Some historians see McKinley as a dupe of clever would-be imperialists such as the young Theodore Roosevelt and his influential friend Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge. Or they see him as driftwood pushed about by domestic politics or by great cultural or economic currents, like an American search for new markets in places like China. Or they regard him as a kind of pious nincompoop who, as one standard work puts it, permitted “missionary and business expansionists to persuade him of what he may already have believed.”[4] There is a quote, supposedly from McKinley, that is the perfect caricature. It has McKinley describing how he “went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance” until he saw
that there was nothing left to do but take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men, for whom Christ also died.
For generation on generation this quotation has been repeated in innumerable accounts, including standard history textbooks. It is catnip for a teacher, a vivid quote to spark up a lecture. Even though the source of the quote, repeating years later what he thought McKinley had said, has long been suspect, that should hardly get in the way.[5] In the Philippines case, part of the cartoon is the image of President McKinley himself. There is that dreamy missionary zeal. There is also the view, as another standard work put it, that McKinley “simply lacked ideas …. as usual, he was bereft of ideas.”[6] Even those historians who are more sympathetic to McKinley, either seeing him as a hidden mastermind or agreeing that he seems to have had little choice, have not adequately understood his decision-making process in this case. As this article will show, McKinley made, in fact, five distinct sets of choices. In each he went through a fairly involved set of consultations, gathering information and weighing alternative courses of action. [quote id="1"] In his first major public address after his decision, in Boston on February 17, 1899, before a huge crowd gathered in a large hall, McKinley’s tone was somber. He gave the crowd not one whit of self-congratulation. “I do not know why in the year 1899 this republic has unexpectedly had placed before it mighty problems which it must face and meet,” McKinley announced. “They have come and are here and they could not be kept away.” It was the just-concluded war with Spain. “Many who were impatient for the conflict a year ago,” McKinley went on, “apparently heedless of its larger results, are the first to cry out against the far-reaching consequences of their own act.” Here he was referring to the opposition Democrats and Populists — then a third party with a strong following in the rural Midwest and South. In early 1898 the Democrats and Populists, along with many members of his own Republican Party, had joined the clamor for war with Spain. Then, clearly referring to himself and his conservative Republican allies who had been less interested in war or expansion, McKinley reminded his audience, “Those who dreaded war most and whose every effort was directed to prevent it, had fears of new and grave problems that might follow its inauguration.” McKinley did not offer his audience much optimism. He did not borrow so much as a word from the political or economic arguments that the expansionist jingos had been making to defend the taking of the Philippines. Instead, his message was that “Grave problems come in the life of a nation” and that “the generation on which they are forced cannot avoid the responsibility of honestly striving for their solution.”[7] It remains then to better understand just how these “grave problems,” seemingly so unavoidable, had actually arisen.  Why, in a war to end years of bloody fighting and devastation in nearby Cuba, did the United States end up becoming the ruler of the faraway Philippine Islands? True, the Filipinos, like the nearby Cubans, had also rebelled against Spanish rule. But hardly anyone in the United States had noticed or cared. Also, the Philippines were really far away. They were a month’s journey by steamship from California. They were a vast chain of thousands of islands. Their population was large, about 10 percent of the population of the entire United States (about 7.5 million at a time when there were 75 million in the United States). Moreover, the United States had no colonial service. Its regular Army was tiny, about 28,000 strong. So, simply on these bare facts, an American conquest of the Philippines would seem absurdly impractical. How and why then did the United States of America take such a fateful step across the Pacific?

Dewey to Manila, April to May 1898

If there was a war with Spain, everyone knew the issue would be Cuba. Since the 1820s, Spain’s only remaining colonies in the Western Hemisphere were Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Cubans had rebelled and fought a “10 years war” from 1868 to 1878. War broke out again in 1895. Years of violence across the island had become a bloody stalemate. Neither side could defeat the other. Spain would not grant independence. The Cubans would not settle for anything less. It was obvious to Americans at the time that the United States might get pulled in. There was no mystery there. Any administration from that day to this, confronted with such awful conditions in that enormous neighboring island, would be arguing about whether or how to try to stop it. And back then Cuba was much more important to America than it is today. Many Americans had direct interests of every kind on both sides. The Cuban rebellion was headquartered in New York City. Many of the rebel leaders were American citizens. They called loudly for American intervention to stop the suffering. In 1898, the opposition Democrats and Populists were united in favor of intervention in Cuba. It is easy to see why. Flip through the pages of the Congressional Record of the time. The volume might fall open to remarks such as these, from a Kansas congressman, a Populist, that the past two years have been “years of blood and carnage; two years of nameless atrocities practiced upon the innocent and helpless portion of the Cuban population; two years of waiting and vacillation on the part of our Government; two years of our quiet consent to these butcheries.” The congressman suspected that McKinley stood by because he and other conservatives were “under the powerful influence of bond syndicates” that had loaned money to Spain and were “being controlled more by commercial considerations than by the interests of humanity and the cause of freedom.”[8] While the Democrats called for war, the majority Republicans were split. Conservative Republicans tended to see the war fever as a press-fueled distraction from more important matters. They thought a war might be bad for business. President McKinley had little desire for war and little interest in expanding America’s domain. His most trusted advisers felt the same way.[9] McKinley was a private man of relatively modest personal means. He was devoted to his wife, an invalid whose health had broken after the death of their child. He was the last American president whose demeanor and values would now be called Victorian. He was soberly dressed, very concerned for the proprieties of public appearance and behavior, religious, dignified, and virtuous. Outsiders often misjudged McKinley. Careful, gentle and conscientious in his personal manner, he was often assumed to be dull and weak. He was neither. McKinley probably had more personal experience as a front-line combat soldier than any American president in history except for George Washington. The last veteran of the Civil War to serve as president, he had experienced that war from start to finish. He had enlisted as a private in a regiment from his native Ohio. He had been promoted after a display of personal heroism on the terrible battlefield of Antietam, driving a supply wagon forward to beleaguered front-line troops under heavy enemy fire, an episode that stayed in the memories of all who witnessed it. Much of his fighting was as a cavalryman in the campaigns of the Shenandoah Valley, ending the war with the rank of major. One old comrade from the war wrote to McKinley after he was elected president, confessing that, “I knew you as a soldier, as a congressman, as a governor, and now as president-elect. How shall I address you?” “Call me Major,” McKinley replied. “I earned that. I am not so sure of the rest.”[10] Returning after the war to his native Ohio, the major became a lawyer, gaining renown for defending striking miners. As a Republican politician, he was mentored by some of Ohio’s most famous officeholders, including Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield, men who had known McKinley during the war. McKinley’s father had been an ironworker and McKinley’s politics were the politics of economic growth and tariff protection of American business. McKinley held his seat in Congress in a battleground district of a battleground state. In the tightly matched politics of the 1880s and 1890s, Ohio was usually the crucial swing state (along with New York and Indiana). McKinley held on because he could reach some Democratic and independent voters. He was known as an honest man. His political style was not fiery or inspiring; it was amiable and deliberate. One of the great journalists of his generation, William Allen White, recalled an interview with President McKinley. He went to the president’s modest home in Canton, Ohio. By then a heavy man but “never paunchy,” McKinley was clean-shaven and immaculately dressed. He laid his cigar aside so it would not show in a picture. “We must not let the young men of this country see their President smoking!” “I was sweating,” White recalled, “for it was a hot day. He was stainless, spotless, apparently inwardly cool and outwardly unruffled. I thought then, and I think now, that he sensed what I was seeking and guarded it from me, maybe consciously.” White recalls that “his mistrust was sweet and friendly and was revealed only by the guarded complacence in what he said. He refused to tousle his hair politically. He was the statue in the park speaking.”[11] That was the McKinley outsiders saw. His path to the presidency had not been easy. The nomination fight inside the Republican Party had been the hardest part. To win, McKinley had taken on his party’s leading political bosses. Through a political adviser, businessman Mark Hanna, McKinley had been offered a deal. If he promised to make one of the bosses the secretary of the Treasury, the boss would help clear the way for McKinley to get the nomination. One of those present remembered that, hearing this offer, “McKinley’s face grew serious — in fact, hard.” He remained silent for a while and then said, “Mark, some things come too high. If I were to accept the nomination on those terms, the place would be worth nothing to me and less to the people. If those are the terms, I am out of it.” McKinley and his allies had gone on to win the party nomination by beating the party bosses. They had outfought them with an extraordinarily well-organized grass-roots effort among the state party conventions.[12] McKinley came to the presidency hoping to concentrate on domestic matters, working closely with Congress. Most congressmen liked him. One frequent opponent (Sen. George Hoar of Massachusetts) acknowledged that McKinley’s “great wisdom and tact and his delightful individual quality” gave him unusual influence.[13] The waspish Henry Adams, a longtime White House watcher from his perch on the other side of Lafayette Park, usually reflected the “smart” Washington view that McKinley was little more than an amiable figurehead. Adams got some advice from his longtime friend John Hay, who had been an aide to Lincoln and was then in London as McKinley’s ambassador to Britain. Hay warned Adams.
[D]on’t you go to making mistakes about McKinley! He is no tenderfoot — he has a habit of getting there. Many among the noble and the pure have had occasion to change their minds about him.[14]
Taking office in 1897, McKinley had chosen a Cabinet with carefully balanced political interests. McKinley soon came to regret some of these choices. At the State Department, McKinley had already been working around his senile secretary, John Sherman. He replaced Sherman as soon as the war with Spain began in April 1898. For McKinley, getting his War Department ready for war was a hard problem. His secretary of war, Russell Alger, was a former governor of Michigan. The War Department’s deputy head (then called the “adjutant-general”) was a general named Henry Corbin. The U.S. Army then had only 28,000 regulars, scattered around the country in 78 posts; the largest had a garrison of fewer than 850. The Army had leveled off at this strength since the mid-1870s. It was about one-twentieth the size of the German army and a good deal smaller even than the army of Mexico. It was not “that there was opposition to a proper military establishment,” Corbin recalled later, “but rather that the people as a whole were indifferent about it, fascinated, as they were, with the wonderful growth and development of the country then going on.” Corbin had seen combat both in the Civil War and later skirmishes against Indian tribes. Where he could, he had arranged peace with Indians. He would have preferred peace with Spain. With the Civil War 33 years in the past, Corbin thought most Americans had forgotten what real war was like. “Only the poetry and fiction of war existed; the actual hardships and privations of war our young men knew nothing about.”[15] [quote id="2"] Fortunately for McKinley, the first actions in any war with Spain would fall to the Navy. The Navy would be ready. It had been developing plans for a possible war with Spain for years, after the Cubans began their latest revolt. Naturally its plans mainly focused on operations in the Caribbean. Also fortunate for McKinley was that Secretary of the Navy John D. Long was the president’s close friend. Raised in Maine, Long had made a legal and political career in Massachusetts. An occasional poet and playwright, Long had a gracious style that made him a popular speaker of the Massachusetts House, then governor, then member of Congress. It was in the House of Representatives during the 1880s that Long and then-Rep. McKinley became friends. Long’s deputy at the Navy Department was a young up-and-comer from New York, Theodore Roosevelt. A prolific writer, Roosevelt had written a good history of the naval War of 1812 and was devoted to naval readiness. McKinley and Long knew that Roosevelt was an outspoken expansionist. They had appointed him as a concession to the lobbying efforts of Roosevelt’s similarly inclined friend, Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge. Long, who was nearly 60, enjoyed Roosevelt, who was about to turn 40. Long regarded his deputy about the way a parent might regard an exceptionally precocious but somewhat wild teenager. To his diary, Long appraised Roosevelt as a man “so enthusiastic and loyal that he is in certain respects invaluable; yet I lack confidence in his good judgment and discretion. [Roosevelt] goes off very impulsively …. He has been of great use; a man of unbounded energy and force, and thoroughly honest — which is the main thing. … His forte is his push. He lacks the serenity of discussion.”[16] As the Navy planned for a war in the Caribbean, one of the lesser planning problems among its officers was: In a war with Spain, what should be done with the Navy’s Asiatic squadron? Since the 1830s the U.S. Navy had maintained a few warships in Pacific waters to protect American merchantmen from pirates and show the flag. The ships usually called at ports in China and Japan, and occasionally in Korea. In the Navy’s first plans, the Asiatic squadron would go after Spain’s ships and its Pacific base in the Philippines, in Manila Bay. That way the squadron could eliminate the Spanish threat to America’s Pacific commerce. Also, any gains in Manila might then become bargaining leverage for peace talks. This sort of logic was familiar to any student of the only recent transoceanic naval wars anyone could study, the wars of the rival empires long ago during the age of sail. Some naval officers had another idea for the Asiatic squadron: Send it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean to attack Spain’s Canary Islands, near the Spanish coast. But this idea seemed too risky and impractical.[17] Long relied on the career officials running the Navy bureaus. A special planning board had junked the Canary Islands attack idea by the summer of 1897. It went back to the Manila Bay objective, which would attack the nearby enemy and might give the Americans “a controlling voice, as to what should become of the islands, when the final settlement was made.”[18] Why do anything with the Asiatic squadron at all? Why not just let them keep sailing around doing what they usually did? There were two problems, which can be summarized in shorthand as coal and neutrality. This was an age in which the steamships ran on hundreds of tons of coal, which had to be regularly resupplied from a place where thousands of tons of coal could be stored and transferred into ship bunkers. Coal was not the only reason for a base or friendly port. The ships also needed access to repair facilities as well as occasional supplies of food and water. But coal was the most complex problem, in part because it was so difficult to store and transfer large amounts of coal at sea and to transfer it between ships. In East Asia, the United States “had no docking or coaling facilities for its handful of vessels and was completely dependent upon the British and the Japanese for these services.”[19] If war broke out with Spain, the U.S. squadron on the East Asian coast could sail the 700 miles from Hong Kong to Manila in less than a week, with all the coal its ships could carry. But unless the ships could secure a new base, they would have to sail around for a few weeks until the coal and other supplies ran low and then go off to some place where they could put thousands of tons of coal back in their fuel bunkers.  The closest American coaling station was in Hawaii, established by agreement with the Hawaiians in 1887. Then there were the problems of neutral rights. If there was a war with Spain all the usual ports of call for America’s Asiatic squadron — Hong Kong, Singapore and Nagasaki — would be in neutral countries such as Britain and Japan. Under the prevailing understanding of neutral rights, rights the United States had loudly insisted upon during its civil war, a neutral country could not host and supply ships of a power that was at war. If the ships of the belligerent power did not leave, the neutral power would have to intern them and their sailors. That meant that the neutral power would impound the ships and hold the sailors until they could be returned home in some neutral way. In short, the Asiatic squadron would not be able to stay where it was, based in Hong Kong. The squadron would have to leave. Where could it go after sailing around for a while? The only possible places would be to the nearest American coaling station, which was thousands of miles away in Hawaii, or go all the way home to the nearest U.S. naval base, in California. If that happened the Asiatic squadron might play no useful part in the war at all. Worse, the squadron’s withdrawal thousands of miles away would then open up the Asiatic shipping lanes to a potential Spanish attack on American merchantmen, since the Spanish did have an Asiatic base, in Manila Bay. The only other choice was for the squadron to attack Manila Bay. There it could try to blockade the Spanish for a few weeks, until the American squadron ran short on coal and had to run home. Or, more risky, the squadron could attack the Spanish squadron in Manila Bay and try to seize it to turn it into an American base. There was then little geopolitics or grand strategy in the paragraph of the Navy plan that dealt with the Asiatic squadron. There was a more banal question: What are we going to do with the Asiatic squadron during a war with Spain? Something had to be found for the ships to do. They could not just hang out in East Asia because of the neutrality problem in the region’s ports of call. So, unless they had an object, the handful of warships would have to spend a month sailing home and effectively sit out the war. If the Navy did not want to bring the ships the long way home, it had to find something for them to do in the Atlantic, like the Canary Islands scheme, or else send them to attack Manila. Of those two options, Manila was judged to be more practical, if risky. That risky option was therefore what the Navy expected the Asiatic squadron to do. It was led by Commodore George Dewey, a 60 year-old Vermonter who had been in the Navy since he arrived at the Naval Academy at age 17. He had last seen combat in the Civil War. But he had wanted this sea duty and he had an aggressive spirit. That was the spirit needed for this mission, which had a bit of a “win or die” atmosphere about it. If something went badly wrong with his attack, he would be thousands of miles away from any U.S. base to which he could retreat. [quote id="7"] When war came, the main U.S. naval forces were concentrated in the Caribbean and the Atlantic to be ready around Cuba. The five remaining battleships were assigned to the Caribbean and Atlantic. So were most of the modern cruisers. Of the 15 modern (armored or protected) cruisers in the Navy, Dewey’s squadron had only four. In principle, Dewey’s squadron could still outgun the Spanish ships in Manila Bay. But Dewey’s ships had to run through the entrance to the bay, which could easily be covered by shore batteries and mined. Then, even if they ran that gantlet, Dewey’s ships would have to pummel the Spanish vessels that might be supported by shore batteries. The Spanish understood all of this. They too had expected and planned for possible war with the United States. They had developed the right kind of defensive plans for Manila Bay. But the Spanish had not implemented those plans. They had not installed enough of the needed artillery, observation posts or mines. An intrepid American consul in Manila observed the Spanish preparations and kept Dewey informed, escaping Manila to join Dewey just as the war began.[20] After a mysterious explosion sank the U.S. battleship Maine, then visiting Havana harbor, on February 15, 1898, preparations for a war with Spain quickened. Dewey had been told to gather his squadron in Hong Kong and prepare. There is an often-repeated story about how Roosevelt and Lodge schemed to send orders to Dewey to attack the Philippines on a day in February while Long was out of the office. The story is a myth that Lodge embellished in a later memoir. In fact, the orders that went out when Long was out that day had followed up on prior plans. Long reviewed them on his return to the office.[21] Relations were broken and war began on April 21. That day Long walked over to see President McKinley. It was a short walk. Back then the White House had no West Wing. Long would have strolled on a short path by some gardens between the State, War and Navy Building over to the door to the executive mansion. He was used to this. He would sometimes go over at night, dropping in on his friend to join a family dinner or while the president was reading the paper in the evening. The Navy Department, the State Department and the War Department were housed in the new ornate building completed in 1888, just west of the White House. Called the State, War and Navy Building until after World War II, this is now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (and has been taken over by staff in the Executive Office of the President). Before walking to the executive mansion Long had discussed the first set of war orders with his Naval War Board. Then he and McKinley strolled for an hour that afternoon through the streets of Washington. The months leading to war had taken a toll on McKinley. He seemed visibly careworn and losing sleep. Long noted to his diary that the president “opens his heart to me, with reference to the struggle through which he has been and the anxiety it has involved.” Probably during this walk, Long explained that the Navy’s long-standing plans were to send Dewey on to Manila to attack the Spanish forces there. McKinley took this in. But he “preferred to consider the matter a little longer.” A couple of days later, there was still no approval from McKinley. There is no evidence about why he hesitated. Then news arrived from Dewey. As expected, the British governor in Hong Kong had just communicated the order: Dewey and his warships must leave their neutral harbor immediately. Neutral harbors in China and Japan were also expected to be unavailable, except as way stations home to America. On Sunday, April 24, Long went back to the White House and reviewed the situation with the president. Now the matter was urgent. What else could Dewey do but go on to Manila Bay, as planned? Long’s staff had drafted the order. The president finally approved it.[22] It took about a week for the Asiatic squadron to reach Manila Bay. On May 1, Dewey’s ships fought their battle. During the night, the Americans slipped into the bay without interference. The Spanish warships were engaged. All were sunk or disabled. Not one American life was lost. What a victory! From top to bottom the country was relieved and electrified by the news. Now what? What could Dewey’s squadron do next? The Navy had not planned for this. The Spanish garrison in Manila remained intact. It did not surrender. Dewey could put some Marines ashore at the Cavite Navy Yard, about eight miles from Manila. He could hang around for a while, patrolling the bay and maintaining a blockade. But he could not remain for months unless he could secure control of the port and its facilities. Dewey could not capture Manila. After hanging around in Manila Bay for a couple of weeks, Dewey cabled home that even if the Spanish surrendered he could not hold Manila without getting some troops. He estimated the Spanish troop strength at about 10,000 men. There were numerous Filipino rebels hemming in the Spanish by land, “although they are inactive and making no demonstrations.” Dewey asked for a “well equipped force of 5000 men.”[23] McKinley had anticipated this request. He had decided to send out an expedition to hold Manila, which Dewey’s victory had not quite placed in U.S. hands. A few months later McKinley would smilingly tell a friend, “If old Dewey had just sailed away when he smashed that Spanish fleet, what a lot of trouble he would have saved us.” But recounting the matter later in 1898 to a more knowledgeable group, McKinley was less airy. The problem, McKinley explained, was that the battle had
taken place at Manilla and not on the high seas[.] Manilla became a question from which we could not escape. Dewey had to go there to find the Spanish fleet. … [A]nd having destroyed their fleet Dewey found [Manila] to be the safest and indeed the only harbor open to him as by laws of neutrality he was excluded from all other countries[’] ports.[24]
Once the post-battle situation became clear, an expedition was put together to secure American occupation of the port. The Army had no plan whatsoever for the Philippines. It began looking frantically for regiments and officers that could go help hold on at least in Manila until there was a peace conference. The Army made its estimates of how many troops were needed to be sure of defeating a Spanish force of about 10,000 troops. The Army and Navy agreed to send some 15,000 to 20,000 troops, including many of the new volunteers enlisted for the war, to have enough soldiers to outnumber the Spanish. The Army’s commanding general, Nelson Miles, clarified the expedition commander’s mission. His orders told the commander, Maj.-Gen. Wesley Merritt, that this was not some force “expected to carry on a war to conquer an extensive territory.” The expedition was only to establish “a strong garrison to command the harbor of Manila” and to relieve the burden on Dewey’s sailors and Marines.[25] The expedition went out in three waves as the Navy scrounged ships to carry and escort them.[26] The first group sailed at the end of May and arrived in Manila Bay on July 4. The remaining troops, including Gen. Merritt, arrived later in July. Waiting for the expedition week after week, Dewey’s situation was uneasy. Word spread that the Spanish were sending a naval force out to recapture Manila and that the force would include battleships that could outgun anything in Dewey’s force. Dewey’s ships might have to retreat. If American soldiers arrived, they might have to fade into the hills.[27] Meanwhile, warships from Germany, Britain, France and Japan arrived in Manila Bay. All these countries already had nearby bases in East Asia. These four squadrons waited watchfully, like carrion birds circling in the sky over a fallen animal. The German force alone was significantly more powerful than Dewey’s squadron and, as I discuss below, it was Germany that had the most ambitious designs for the Philippines. The potential longer-term significance of American occupation of this port began to dawn on both the McKinley administration and the American public. In the United States, the news of Dewey’s victory had set off a whirl of speculation. Some wondered whether the United States should even try to take the islands as a possession. All sorts of pressures in the United States were building about the future of the Philippines. For decades Americans had been arguing about how to assert themselves in the world. The American population was one of the largest in the world, and the U.S. economy was already the world’s largest. But no one was quite sure what being a world power meant. The 1890s had been a decade of great contrasts of old ways and new machines, as well as all sorts of domestic scars and divisions — old wounds of North and South plus new wounds from battles between labor and management in all the new industries. Amid this division, perhaps because of it, shows of patriotism, parades and flag-waving were so common and exuberant as to almost seem neurotic, as if a frantic outward display of pride and union was the constant, soothing balm applied to ease so much inward pain and striving. [quote id="3"] Some leading Americans had looked for ways the country could show off, could test its strength. But against whom? For what? [28] Meanwhile, for nearly 20 years since the British occupation of Egypt in 1882, the great European powers had been racing to expand their empires, competing in a frenzied land grab to include every open scrap of earth in the world. These scrambles had mainly focused on Africa and Asia. By comparison the Americans had seemed passive, preoccupied with what was going on in their own vast country. “As of the early 1880s educated Americans nearly all doubted the value of colonies and regarded efforts to conquer other populations as morally wrong.” But, reading the news of an apparent imperialist consensus in Europe, especially among British Liberals, during the 1880s and after the former “unanimity” of American opinion leaders “had begun to break down.”[29] Some outspoken men believed that the United States had to join this global imperial race and try to catch up. These advocates were called “jingoes,” a derision to mock such “by jingo” enthusiasms. The jingos had applauded in 1893 when Hawaii’s American planters and professionals had engineered a coup to overthrow Hawaii’s native government. The leaders of the new government wanted to bring Hawaii into the United States. As noted earlier, Hawaii had the only U.S. coaling station in the Pacific and it had long been under American protection. But this Hawaiian government’s pleas for annexation had been tabled for nearly five years. The jingos did not control the Republican Party in Congress or in the White House. McKinley had finally sent a Hawaiian annexation treaty to the Senate. But McKinley did not expect two-thirds of the Senate to ratify the treaty and he did little to press it.[30] When the war began, however, Congress immediately moved on the long-simmering Hawaiian question and annexed the islands. A public debate about the Philippine islands had begun. Yet in secret, McKinley wanted to use the Philippine position as a bargaining chip, just as the prewar Navy plans had envisioned. He was prepared to give the islands back to Spain, if that would indeed bring about “an honorable and durable peace.” McKinley left in his papers an undated note in which he had jotted: “While we are conducting war and until its conclusion we must keep all we get; when the war is over we must keep what we want.”[31]

The Secret Offer, May to June 1898

As spring turned to summer, McKinley’s main worry was about how to land troops and win the battles in Cuba. When war came, Alger, the secretary of war, was overwhelmed by his job. The Army had begun the war with no particular plans for how to fight it. To the better-prepared Navy Secretary, Long, it seemed the Army was “ready for nothing at all.”[32] As if to underscore this point, just as the war was getting underway the Army’s commanding general, Nelson Miles, wrote to McKinley opposing any expedition to Cuba during the summer of 1898. “This letter reached the President two or three days after war had been declared,” Corbin later recorded privately. “It shocked him beyond words. Only on one other occasion did I see him show more feeling. Among other things he said, ‘God willing and not failing us, we shall end the war before the General would have us begin operations. He little understands me; no more does he know the temper of our people. I deplore the war, but it must be short and quick to the finish.’”[33] With Alger difficult and Miles untrustworthy, McKinley decided to oversee the War Department as directly as he could. He personally supervised the Cuban campaign plan. To help, McKinley relied on Corbin, who was always just a short walk away in the new building west of the executive mansion. At the Navy Department, Long grew wearier as the conflict went on. With his young deputy, Roosevelt, off to the Army, his new deputy turned out to be very competent. But Long himself flagged. By mid-May, a McKinley aide observed,
Secretary Long moves along quietly. He is not sure-footed as his friends would have us believe. He hesitates, questions too much, seems hampered by too great conservatism and often he seems to be in the position of the surgeon who fails of … ‘nerve’ and decision at the critical moment.[34]
McKinley ordered the creation of a War Room in the executive mansion. It was staffed with clerks and telegraphers; large maps were hung with pins stuck in to show the positions of troops and ships. McKinley would often be there, reading cables as they came in and studying the maps.[35] McKinley’s style of leadership was not charismatic. He did not point the way and rally the troops. Cabinet meetings remained informal. McKinley might open with a story to put others at ease. His was another kind of leadership style — that of a judge. People would make their arguments. He would hear them out, not revealing his own views until the time for decision. When all had spoken, McKinley would state a decision and go around asking, “You agree?” To one of McKinley’s aides, the president “is the strong man of the Cabinet, the dominating force; but with it all, is a gentleness and graciousness in dealing with men that some of his greatest victories have been won apparently without any struggle.” His later secretary of war, Elihu Root, remembered McKinley as a “man of great power because he was absolutely indifferent to credit. His desire was to ‘get it done!’ He cared nothing about the credit, but McKinley always had his way.”[36] The new secretary of state, William Day, was used to McKinley’s style. A former judge from Ohio, Day had been the deputy to his aged predecessor in the job, John Sherman. From the start, it was Day who had done most of the foreign policy work for the president. As soon as war began, McKinley pushed Sherman out and Day took over the top job. A small-framed, thin-faced mustachioed lawyer nearing 50, Day had long been a fact-finder for McKinley on many problems. He was discreet and thorough. McKinley’s secretary noted, “Here is a quiet, one might almost say country, lawyer who has so conducted the foreign affairs of this administration as to win unanimous commendation.”[37] As soon as he was elevated, Day named his deputy, picking the best expert on international law that he could find. This was a bearded, stocky former State Department official (and Democrat), a Columbia professor named John Bassett Moore.[38] Day and Moore were McKinley’s allies when he made his high-risk move to use the Philippines as a bargaining chip. After the Spanish defeat at Manila Bay, there was turmoil in Madrid. London got word that the queen regent and key ministers might be ready for a deal, to give up Cuba in exchange for peace. The British came to the U.S. ambassador in London, John Hay, who relayed the private question: What peace terms might America accept?[39] Moore promptly drafted an answer. Terms could be generous “if immediately proposed by Spain, directly or by some mediator.” Spain would evacuate Cuba. The United States would manage a transition of power to the Cubans. Spain would cede Puerto Rico to the United States. If the Spanish did that, then the Philippines would “be allowed to remain with Spain.” In the Pacific the United States would only want “a coaling station,” either in the Philippines or in the neighboring Spanish-held Carolines island group.[40] On May 11, about a week after news had arrived about Dewey’s naval victory in Manila Bay, Day put this proposal for a deal before the Cabinet. Alger disagreed, but there is no evidence why. There the matter rested for a couple of weeks. McKinley was preoccupied with plans to launch a large U.S. expedition to eastern Cuba. This expedition was to land near the port of Santiago de Cuba, where the Navy had just bottled up the fleet that Spain had sent to Cuba. It was a risky plan, relying on a lot of improvisation and luck. The Americans would try to establish a firm hold in eastern Cuba and put off the huge challenge of trying to take on Havana, where the Spanish had the bulk of their strength.[41] Once that expedition plan was set, the diplomats went back to the peace move. Day’s plan now was to bypass the Cabinet and take the proposed bargain directly to McKinley. He would leave it to the president to “ascertain what his ‘jingos’ thought about it.” Day was “very strongly opposed to retaining the Philippines, except possibly some coaling station in them, upon any terms.” Day met with McKinley. They agreed on what to do. Day then instructed Hay, his man in London, to float the deal. The president, “speaking for himself, would be inclined to grant terms of peace” with the Philippines to remain with Spain, ceding only a coaling station, if Spain would give up Cuba. This deal would avoid the need for “further sacrifice and loss of life.” But Day asked Hay to warn that “Prolongation of war may change this materially.” To help make sure the proposed deal got through to Madrid, Day apparently also privately briefed the British ambassador in Washington. That envoy informed his French, German and Austrian colleagues. Thus the terms soon became known on the diplomatic circuit, though there was nothing in public that linked the offer directly with McKinley. Nor is there any evidence that this secret diplomatic move was discussed with other members of McKinley’s Cabinet. No one appears to have known about McKinley’s personal authorization except for Day and Moore in Washington, and Hay in London. Day reminded Hay to hide McKinley’s hand in this. The proposal to give up the Philippines could not be seen as “coming from us.”[42] Secrecy for McKinley was vital; he was taking a great risk by making this offer. Spain was the enemy. Its rule in Cuba was regarded as a loathsome tyranny. Its rule in the Philippines was getting similar attention. The jingos, like Lodge and Roosevelt (then a colonel helping to lead a volunteer regiment preparing to go to Cuba), already felt strongly that, whoever ended up with them, the Philippine Islands had to be taken from Spain. Roosevelt, writing to Lodge from his Army camp in Texas on May 19, advised: “do not make peace until we get Porto Rico, while Cuba is made independent and the Philippines at any rate taken from the Spaniards.” He repeated this suggestion to Lodge on May 25.[43] To many Americans it would already have seemed wrong, even immoral, for America to hand Manila and the Philippine Islands back to Spain under any circumstances. To make it worse, the American president was the one suggesting this. Disclosure of McKinley’s move could have set off a terrific political storm. Further, Spain had not yet asked for peace or tabled any ideas. The Americans feared that making the first move would signal weakness or unreadiness to fight. So the plan was for the terms to be passed secretly to the Spanish. Then the Spanish would make the proposal, knowing that it was likely to be accepted. The first part worked. The terms were passed to Spain and its friends in Europe.[44] [quote id="4"] The second part failed to launch. The Spanish preferred to keep fighting. They had been encouraged by a naval skirmish in May and hopeful that the latest group of ships sent to Cuba might do well. They had belatedly dispatched another squadron to the Philippines. Instead, during June, Spain’s main diplomatic move was to ask the other great powers to join its fight in the Philippines, to mount a joint military intervention to take over Manila. “Spain,” Hay reported, “was not yet sensible enough to ask for peace, on even the most reasonable terms.” The secret offer dissipated. Day thanked Hay for his handling of “this most delicate matter.”[45]The war continued. There were more Spanish defeats. By the end of June, the American expedition to eastern Cuba had landed. The siege of Santiago de Cuba by land and by sea had begun. In the first days of July, American troops seized the high ground near Santiago in the fights at San Juan Heights and Kettle Hill. The Spanish fleet in Santiago went to sea and accepted battle. On July 3 it was destroyed. The remaining garrison in Santiago de Cuba surrendered. The other Spanish fleet, the one that had been sent to the Philippines, stopped. As a neutral power, the British refused to allow the Spanish warships to pass through the Suez Canal. The Spanish recalled the fleet to Spain, now worrying that the Americans might attack Spanish home waters.[46] From the Philippines came more news. A native Filipino government had declared its independence. Its soldiers were fighting as America’s friends, alongside the troops of the newly arrived U.S. expedition. The option of returning the islands to Spain had become a good deal more complicated.

Terms for an Armistice, July to August

During the summer of 1898 Americans started learning a lot more about the Spanish possessions in the Pacific. At the beginning of June, Albert Shaw, the editor of the Review of Reviews, one of the most-read news digests in America, observed, “A few weeks ago the great majority of the people of the United States knew nothing about the Philippines except in the vaguest possible way.” Now a great many American families were becoming aware of it because some of their young men were being deployed across the Pacific in a far-reaching expedition “absolutely without any precedent in our national history.”[47] Shaw’s digest, like many newspapers, included articles that described the situation in the Philippines. McKinley himself read these and other articles, leaving behind clippings or references to some notable articles in his papers. Anyone reading the articles in Shaw’s Review, or any other major newspaper, would learn that the Philippines was a group of islands with 6 million to 8 million inhabitants. The native racial background was given as “Malay,” with deep hostility among native groups in different portions of the islands (Tagal versus Visayan versus Moro, for example). They would also learn that a substantial number of Chinese and Chinese-descended families dominated the retail trade as well as a handful of foreign trading houses, mainly British. There were few available experts on the Philippines in the English-speaking or scholarly world. The best account to appear in English that summer in any source, in or outside of government, was an article from one of those few experts, an Englishman, John Foreman. He had long known Spain and the Philippines as a businessman and explorer, as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and he knew the Filipino revolutionary leaders too. McKinley read Foreman’s article.[48] Every account, including Foreman’s, stressed Spanish misrule. Spanish rule was portrayed as anti-modern and purely predatory. It had added little of value and it had stunted development and education in the islands. Local priests, the friars, routinely abused their authority, answerable to no law but that of their protective bishops, while there was a veneer of mediocre Spanish administrators who were corrupt, lethargic and cruel. Therefore, the Filipino revolutionaries were usually portrayed sympathetically. Foreman, for instance, regarded the young rebel leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, as a “smart, intelligent man, of a serious mien” with a real following, especially among the Tagal elite in Luzon. Aguinaldo was a “would-be reformer” who had resorted to force out of necessity. Yet every account also stressed that the local inhabitants were not nearly ready for or capable of self-government. Spain had created no intermediary institutions — no native assemblies or cadres of trained officials. There was the condition of the population, the absence of any infrastructure for modern government and the deadly hostility among the different ethnic groups in the islands. Foreman concluded: “At first, no doubt, the islanders will welcome and co-operate in any arrangement which will rid them of monastic oppression. The Philippine Islands, however, would not remain one year a peaceful united Archipelago under an independent native government. It is an utter impossibility.” Worse, Foreman noted,
If the native Republic did succeed, it would not be strong enough to protect itself against foreign aggression. … I entertain the firm conviction that an unprotected united Republic would last only until the novelty of the situation had worn off. Then, I think, every principal island would, in turn, declare its independence. Finally, there would be complete chaos, and before that took root America, or some European nation, would probably have interfered.
For the readers of his day, Foreman did not need to do more than gesture at the recent record of what had happened in other lands that had thrown off Spanish rule. Throughout their adult lives, his 1898 readers had read accounts of the revolutions, civil wars and foreign interventions that tormented Latin America throughout the 19th century, in every liberated province of the former Spanish empire. The possibility of foreign intervention was not abstract. During the 1880s and 1890s, every habitable rock on Earth had been claimed. Americans could remember having been caught up briefly in a strange little 1888 crisis involving British and German claims over the tiny islands of Samoa. Outside of the Qing Empire in China and the Kingdom of Siam (a kind of demilitarized zone between the British in Burma and the French in Indochina), there were no spots in East Asia and the Pacific that were not in European or Japanese control. The German, British, French and Japanese warships were anchored watchfully in Manila Bay. Of these the German squadron was the most intimidating presence. This was no accident. From the outset of the crisis the German navy minister, unbeknownst to the United States, was “firm as a rock in his conviction that we must have Manila and that this would be of enormous advantage to us.” Kaiser Wilhelm II considered it “the first task of German diplomacy … to obtain naval bases in the Far East.”[49] The Philippines problem had arisen in what, in 1898, was probably the part of the globe most likely to set off a worldwide war. The breakup and possible partition of China seemed imminent. Korean independence was tenuous and near the most volatile spot on Earth, the place where the next general war then seemed most likely to break out. It was, a veteran British leader secretly confided, a crisis “pregnant with possibilities of a disastrous kind; and it might result in an Armageddon between the European Powers struggling for the ruins of the Chinese Empire.”[50] This was the Far Eastern crisis: the simmering cauldron of Qing, Russian, Japanese, German and British interests in northeast China and Manchuria. During the spring of 1898 Hay had sent a handwritten letter directly to McKinley, outside of official channels. “The conditions of things in China is to the last degree serious,” he had warned. “[T]he present crisis is considered by English statesmen one of the gravest of our times.”[51] So far, the United States had endeavored to stay clear of this Far Eastern broil. The British secretly asked the Americans if they would consider joint action to protect everyone’s trading rights in China. The McKinley government had turned down the British request. But it obviously did not want to make the situation worse and trigger a possible world war.[52] The British ambassador to Germany had confided to Hay the British government’s hope that the United States would just keep the Philippines. There was, he said, “not a power in Europe [that] would seriously object to that disposition of them, while any other [choice] might disturb the peace of the world.”[53] Foreman thought a foreign power should establish a protectorate over the Philippines. That power would organize a largely native government while providing overall direction and defense. Foreman did not believe the Americans were up to the job. England, he thought, “would probably find it a less irksome task.” Shaw’s conclusion, in the Review of Reviews article mentioned earlier, was similar to Foreman’s, except that he thought America had to assume the burden.[54] All these considerations also had to account for a new factor. The Filipino insurgents had announced their own government. In late May, Aguinaldo and a number of his colleagues had returned to the Philippines from exile, encouraged by the U.S. consul in Hong Kong and aided by Adm. Dewey. Digesting all this, officials in Washington realized that the insurgents had to be taken into account. Yet the United States wanted to do nothing to foreclose its options. They cautioned Dewey, the expedition commanders and their diplomats. All said they had made no compromising pledges to the insurgents. Dewey added: “In my opinion these people are far superior in their intelligence and more capable of self-government than the natives of Cuba, and I am familiar with both races.”[55] In mid-July, the Spanish were ready to talk about peace, using France as their diplomatic channel. The first step was to arrange terms for an armistice, while a peace treaty could be negotiated. From his perch in the Senate, Lodge weighed in about what he thought the terms should be. Lodge’s position was intricate. He wanted the United States to take all of the Philippines from Spain but then keep only the island of Luzon. Cede the rest to Britain, he argued, in a deal to get more Caribbean islands. Lodge spent hours in meetings and dinners lobbying McKinley and Day. They gave him the impression that they were still making up their minds.[56] McKinley and Day wanted to hear what John Hay thought, from London. Hay still liked the earlier idea of giving the islands back to Spain if there could be some “strong guarantee of fair treatment of natives” and a ban on Spain selling the islands to some other power (such as Germany). Hay reported that the British did, though, “prefer to have us retain Philippine Islands, or, failing that, insist on option in case of future sale.” The German government’s interest in getting something was all too evident.[57] What about Japan? The Japanese ambassador in Washington advised that “the Japanese government would be highly gratified if the United States would occupy the Islands.” The ambassador very politely added that “it would not be as agreeable to the Japanese Government to have them turned over to some other power.”[58] Hay’s views remained “conservative” (the usual adjective for Republicans not among the jingos). But he was not sure his position was still workable. Reading that industrialist Andrew Carnegie was against the United States taking the Philippines, Hay wrote to Carnegie, “I am not allowed to say in my present fix, how much I agree with you. The only question in my mind is how far it is now possible for us to withdraw from the Philippines. I am rather thankful it is not given to me to solve that momentous question.”[59] On a hot July afternoon, McKinley invited his Cabinet members to join him on a Potomac River cruise on the presidential yacht. He wanted them to discuss peace terms. The Cabinet had longer arguments about this topic, mainly about the Philippines, than about any other subject during McKinley’s presidency. McKinley’s Cabinet, sitting together on the yacht on the Potomac, began its discussion. Day led off. He was still for giving the islands back to Spain, except for a coaling station. About half the Cabinet (including Navy Secretary Long) agreed with him. Those on the other side pointed out that returning the islands to Spain would seem appalling, given the sort of Spanish misrule that had led to war over Cuba. One Cabinet member quoted a distinguished senator who was against American expansion but still said he would “as soon turn a redeemed soul over to the devil as give the Philippines back to Spain.” Opinions wavered. The agriculture secretary wanted to keep all the islands and evangelize them. But he altered his views as he learned more about the Filipino insurgency. War Secretary Alger went back and forth. Another Cabinet member spoke for keeping Luzon and setting up a protectorate for the rest. The interior secretary saw great commercial opportunities and wanted to hold the islands. One of the more capable Cabinet members, the attorney general, also thought the United States should keep them all. The Treasury secretary, on the other hand, argued for complete withdrawal and returning all of the Philippines back to Spain. Through all this, hour after hour, McKinley offered little comment. He just kept the discussion going. The next day the arguments continued. As they kept going over the problems, several began emphasizing that the government needed more information about the situation, including the advice of people on the scene such as Adm. Dewey. At this point the U.S. government had not yet received a single serious written analysis of the situation in the Philippines, nor any recommendations, from any of its officers posted there.[60] Humility and caution prevailed. Defer, wait for more information from the field: That was the consensus. Peace commissioners would be appointed. They would sort out the Philippines problem as they got more information back from the islands. Beyond Spanish evacuation of Cuba and Puerto Rico and an island in the Ladrones (Marianas) that turned out to be Guam, the cease-fire terms for the Philippines were simple. The United States would occupy “the city, bay, and harbor of Manila pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which shall determine the control, disposition, and government of the Philippines.”[61] McKinley and Day gave the terms to the French ambassador, Jules Cambon, representing Spain. Cambon complained that the terms were harsh. McKinley replied that Spain could have had a much better deal had it sought peace sooner. The armistice and cease-fire was signed on August 12. At the end of August, the Americans controlled and protected the city of Manila and surrounding waters. Little more. Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government was taking control of the rest of the surrounding island of Luzon. It organized a congress to meet in the government’s improvised capital, Malolos. Aguinaldo sent a message to the foreign powers reiterating the new government’s independence. They ignored him. No foreign country would recognize his government. The Spanish still held the Visayan islands south of Luzon, including Panay. Spain also retained nominal control of the large Muslim “Moro” islands in the south. Picking the peace commissioners, McKinley immediately put his most trusted aide, Day, in the lead. Moore would be the commission’s secretary. To go to Paris for the negotiations, Day would have to resign as secretary of state. John Hay was asked to come back to Washington and take over the State Department in Day’s place.[62]

Gen. Greene’s Mission and the Decision to Take the Philippines, August to October 1898

After the July debates, the Cabinet and McKinley agreed it was most important to get information and recommendations from the Americans who were on the scene in the Philippines. Of these men, none turned out to be more influential than a brigadier general named Francis Vinton Greene. It was an illustrious name. Greene came from one of the most respected military families in America. His grandfather was Nathaniel Greene, one of the most celebrated generals in the Revolution. His father had been a general during the Civil War, commanding a Union brigade at Gettysburg. Following the family tradition, Francis Greene had graduated from West Point in 1870 at the top of his class. Commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, he had been one of the surveyors on a renowned expedition during the 1870s in the Rocky Mountain West. As a staff officer in the War Department Greene had become close to President Ulysses S. Grant as well as to Gens. William Sherman and Philip Sheridan and other leading officers of the day. In these years, he first met the young naval officer George Dewey. Greene was assigned to go out and observe the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. He witnessed the principal campaigns and wrote a book about the war that became a standard account, establishing a unique reputation as a soldier-scholar. Greene left the Army in 1886 to go into business in New York City. Running an asphalt paving company, he became a powerful force in all the civic improvement and road-building issues of that city and beyond. That connected him well to local Republican politics. He was also elected colonel of one of New York’s militia regiments, the 71st New York. As war with Spain threatened, one of Greene’s friends, Theodore Roosevelt, pleaded with the colonel to accept him as a deputy in that regiment, a lieutenant colonel, if war came. (Roosevelt ended up finding such a place in a different regiment, commanded by Leonard Wood.) When the war did come, as Greene and his regiment readied for service in Cuba, Greene was ordered to command one of the brigades being assembled for the Philippines. It was not a hard call for Corbin at the War Department.  Corbin would later privately record that he regarded Greene as “one of the most competent soldiers I have ever known.”[63] After a difficult siege in the rainy season and a brief assault, Greene’s brigade and the other American troops had accepted the surrender of Manila. Greene, who could speak Spanish and French, was promptly put in charge of all the finances of the Philippine administration. He met with all the Spanish officials and leading private bankers and took actions to head off a financial crisis. This was the context when McKinley asked Dewey to provide his best advice about the situation in the Philippines. He asked Dewey to even consider returning to Washington to report directly to him on this vital matter. Dewey sent a brief reply, noting the desirability of Luzon but saying nothing about the revolutionary government that had been created by Aguinaldo. Dewey said he hoped he would not have to go to Washington while matters remained “in present critical condition.” Dewey, Army expedition commander Merritt and Greene conferred. They decided that Greene should be the man to go to Washington.[64] News arrived of the armistice with Spain. Outside of official channels, Greene received a telegram from a well-connected associate. It advised him that the war was considered closed. Commissioners would determine the disposition of the Philippines. Greene’s friend thought the Army would just retain a garrison there. This informal news shocked the commanders in Manila. They feared the United States was planning to withdraw from the islands and thought that leaders in Washington did not understand the “critical” situation. On August 25, Merritt and Greene fired a salvo of telegrams to Washington through official and unofficial channels. In one, Greene asked his friend to go see Corbin as soon as possible, to even see President McKinley if necessary. He recommended that the president should send for “a competent and responsible person immediately” to come and brief them — either Gen. Merritt or himself, going to Washington or to Paris (to see the commissioners). Greene also cabled Day and Hay to the same effect. Washington reacted promptly. Merritt was ordered to turn over his command to a newly arrived major-general, Elwell Otis, and hurry at once to Paris. There he could brief the peace commissioners. Greene was ordered to Washington “by first transport.” Dewey said his views would come back with Greene. He again called for holding on to Luzon. He wrote little about politics or practicalities. The Filipinos, he did add, “are gentle, docile and under just laws and with the benefits of popular education would soon make good citizens” with capacities for self-government superior to the Cubans. On August 30, the day after he received his order from Washington, Greene boarded a steamship for Hong Kong. Boarding the ship with Greene was Aguinaldo’s representative, Felipe Agoncillo, who also hoped to see and influence the American president. Greene liked and respected Agoncillo. During the weeks of traveling the two men frequently dined together and chatted. Greene brought with him every book and relevant document he could find. He used the ensuing weeks of travel to draft a detailed report for McKinley, more than 60 pages, on “The Situation in the Philippines.”[65] Knowing how long his trip would take, Greene sent a preview. On September 5, as he changed ships in Nagasaki, Greene personally encoded an unusual telegram sent outside of standard Army channels. Written in the tightly abbreviated style of telegrams in that era, Greene sent his message directly to Day. It read:
Rep of Aguinaldo with me. Comes solely on his own responsibility. In my opinion Spanish Power Philippines dead. Any attempt revive it will result Civil War, anarchy and foreign intervention.
Once the 13,000 Spanish prisoners already in American hands were sent home, “Aguinaldo’s army will probably dissolve. He cannot maintain independent gov’t without protection of some strong nation.” Therefore: “Only safe course is for United States to hold islands and not divide them. British sentiment will support this unanimously. Have expressed these views Admiral Dewey. He fully concurs.”[66] Thus for the first time, in early September, McKinley and Day finally received a very plain statement about what their commanders in the Philippines thought about the points they and their Cabinet colleagues had been debating. In addition to the substance of this advice, McKinley would have realized its political significance. He could presume that eventually such advice would become publicly known. It would not be easy for the president to break with the advice he had received from his men on the spot, including the new national hero (Dewey). McKinley was still not quite convinced. Later in September, he convened his freshly appointed peace commissioners to discuss their instructions. Out for a carriage ride with one of them, a vigorous expansionist, McKinley seemed (to his companion) to be “timid about the Philippines.” To him, McKinley seemed “oppressed with the idea that our volunteers were all tired of the service and eager to get home. ‘The whole shooting match wants to quit,’ was the way he expressed it.” McKinley thought the country was in no mood for further military operations, including fights for expansion. At the meeting, the expansionist commissioners debated Day, whom McKinley had put in charge of the delegation. Day had not budged from his view that the United States should take as little as possible. To Day, the Americans had only liberated Manila. They had no obligations beyond that. Washington, Day argued, had to place some limit on humanitarian enterprise:
Because we had done good in one place [Cuba], we were not therefore compelled to rush over the whole civilized world, six thousand miles away from home, to undertake tasks of that sort among people about whom we knew nothing, and with whom we had no relation.
McKinley summed up. He could see why many Americans found the acquisition of territory naturally attractive. But he thought these attractions would wear off “when the difficulties, expense and loss of life which it entailed, became more manifest.” However, McKinley said he could no longer see how to return liberated Manila to Spain. Flowing from that, it also seemed doubtful to hold Manila without holding more of the surrounding island of Luzon. “Beyond this he did not seem inclined to go.” He then drafted the commission’s instructions accordingly. He privately told Day that, if territory was returned to Spain, it would be good to try to get some guarantees about the treatment of the inhabitants.[67] After four weeks of travel by ship and railroad, Greene’s train steamed into Washington on September 27. Greene went straight to the White House. McKinley practically cleared his schedule for him. Greene met for two hours with McKinley on the day he arrived. He delivered his report, which the president read and reviewed with him. The report was clear and vividly written. The next day McKinley had a copy of it sent to Paris for the commissioners, commending it to them. The next morning Greene was back at the White House, now joined by the new secretary of state, Hay. He stayed for lunch. Greene was back yet again in the evening, now joined by his wife, for a visit that mixed business and socializing. Two days later Greene was at the White House for still more discussions. Greene also arranged for McKinley to meet with his traveling companion, Aguinaldo’s representative Agoncillo. Greene joined that meeting too. Agoncillo was received purely as a private traveler since neither the United States nor anyone else had recognized his revolutionary government. While en route to Washington, Agoncillo had also previewed his position. Meeting with reporters he outlined that, above all, his government wanted absolute independence. If absolute independence was not possible, the next preference was to become a protectorate of the United States. A third preference was to be an American colony or, worse still, a British one. What they could not accept was any return to Spanish rule.[68] [quote id="5"] In their meeting Agoncillo told McKinley about the revolution and the new government. McKinley was noncommittal. Agoncillo’s written position was passed along to the commissioners in Paris, Agoncillo’s next destination.[69] In his own meetings with McKinley, in addition to going over his long report, Greene boiled down the options he thought were left to the United States. He wrote these out separately, as follows:
There are five courses open to us in the Philippines: first, to return them to Spain, which would mean Civil War for we have destroyed Spanish authority in the Philippines; second, to hand the Philippines over to the Filipinos, which would mean anarchy for they are at present incapable of self-government; third, to hand the Islands over to Germany or Japan, either one of which could probably take them over, but this would be an act of cowardice of which we are incapable; fourth, to put the Islands under some form of joint protectorate like that which was established [by Britain] for Egypt in 1882, but this has not proved successful and has resulted in one nation taking the whole responsibility; fifth, to take all the Islands as possessions of the United States and gradually work out their destiny, and this is the only proper solution.
McKinley read this over and over again, in silence. Then “with that kindly smile which was so characteristic of him,” he observed “gently,” that: “General Greene, that is very advanced doctrine. I am not prepared for that.” McKinley asked Greene if he knew what instructions he had just given to his peace commissioners. Greene did not. McKinley summarized his instructions as having been “to take the City and Bay of Manila and such additional portions of the Island of Luzon as they think necessary for naval purposes, and to return the rest of the Islands to Spain.” This summary by McKinley is somewhat different and narrower than the language he had signed off on September 16. But Greene’s account may give a truer sense of what McKinley actually had in mind.[70] Greene then set out to change McKinley’s mind, to persuade him that the United States had to take control of the whole Philippines. He went over all that he had done and learned in his six weeks in the Philippines. He talked about how he had used his Spanish to have long exchanges with all the prominent Filipinos in Manila and how he had spent more time learning from Agoncillo. Therefore he had to disagree, “respectfully but with extreme urgency.” Greene had time to go into great detail about his analysis of the situation during the three extended meetings he had with McKinley, each of which were two to three hours.  It was, as Greene had explained in his written report, a situation “without precedent in American history.” There were more than 7 million people in the Philippines. Manila, a city of 400,000, was already under U.S. military rule. All of this had been ruled by a Spanish officialdom of no more than 30,000, most of whom were now trying to escape back to Spain. “The Spanish officials have intense fear of the Insurgents; and the latter hate them, as well as the friars, with a virulence that can hardly be described.” The Spanish could neither cope with the insurgents nor surrender to them. An attempted restoration of Spanish power would produce “civil war and anarchy, leading inevitably and speedily to intervention by foreign nations whose subjects have property in the Islands which they would not allow to be destroyed.”[71] As for the Revolutionary Government of Aguinaldo, Greene assessed that it would be a “Dictatorship of the familiar South American type …. a pure despotism.” He saw “no reason to believe that Aguinaldo’s Government has any elements of stability.” Aguinaldo was a young man of 28. Though Greene thought Aguinaldo was able, Greene did not think he could command wide or enduring support. Also, the insurgents were purely “Tagalo” in ethnic composition. Greene did not assume that the Visayans, more numerous than the Tagalos, would fall in line. There were plenty of fault lines for conflict among “the thirty races in the Philippines, each speaking a different dialect.” Greene believed the United States could gain the support of the educated and propertied Filipino elite, since they “fully realize that they must have the support of some strong nation for many years before they will be in a position to manage their own affairs alone.” Their ideal for this was a Philippine Republic under American protection, “much as they heard is to be granted to Cuba.” On this desire for a protectorate, “all are agreed” among the Filipino elite. Only Aguinaldo and his inner circle were doubtful. But, Greene argued, the protectorate option was harder than it might seem. “[I]t is difficult to see how any foreign Government can give this protection without taking such an active part in the management of affairs as is practically equivalent to governing in its own name and for its own account.”[72] Just taking only some portion of Luzon would, Greene had written, be “a terrible mistake” for all, including for McKinley’s presidency. It could embroil the United States in a conflict with another country that later intervened in the other islands. What if Aguinaldo and the insurgents did not accept U.S. rule, even temporary? Greene admired the way the insurgents had fought the Spanish:
Nevertheless from daily contact with them for six weeks I am very confident that no such results could have been obtained against an American Army, which would have driven them back to the hills and reduced them to a petty guerrilla warfare. If they attack the American Army, this will certainly be the result, and while these guerrilla bands might cause some trouble so long as their ammunition lasted, yet with our Navy guarding the coasts and our Army pursuing them on land it would not be long before they were reduced to subjection.
McKinley gave Greene ample time to describe the situation and make his case. At the time, Greene thought that he had not been convincing enough. He thought he had “utterly failed to shake” the president’s reluctance to take the Philippines. Looking back on it years later, Greene saw that perhaps his seeds had borne fruit after all. He recalled that, as the two men parted at the end of September, McKinley said he intended to start a trip to the West to make a series of speeches about the unexpected results of the war. Smiling, he told Greene, “Perhaps when I come back I may think differently from what I now think.”[73] McKinley kept gathering information. During early October, Day and Moore sent him detailed, substantive reports from Paris summarizing what the commissioners had learned from Merritt and other experts, including Foreman. All of the information gathered in Paris seemed to line up with what McKinley had heard from Greene. A report given great weight by Merritt was the view of the Army’s lead surgeon in the Philippines, Frank Bourns. Bourns had spent years visiting the islands as a scientist during the early 1890s. Returning with the Army, Bourns had taken charge of public health in the Philippines after the American occupation of Manila. He had worked directly with Filipino leaders to make progress. From Paris, Bourns was reported as believing that “if a few ambitious insurgent Chieftains could be disposed of, masses of natives could be managed by the United States. Considers natives incapable of self-government because of lack of good examples, lack of union in Luzon and throughout Archipelago, and existence of race, tribal and religious differences.”[74] Outside of formal channels, McKinley had access to a more unvarnished side of Bourns’ views. Someone had given the president part of a lengthy private letter Bourns had written from Manila. In this letter Bourns did write that “these people could be managed if properly handled.” Yet Bourns was angry about the attitudes of his fellow Americans. He warned that none of the other American officers, with one exception, “seem to have cared to inform themselves either of the character of the people or their desires, nor do they even care to explain our desires and intentions.” In his letter, left in McKinley’s papers, Bourns bluntly sized up the situation this way:
Aguinaldo has the whole Philippine population at his beck and call. He is the successful man and has the successful man’s influence. The lower classes have a blind confidence in him. With the middle classes it is an ambitious confidence; that is they do not know quite enough to understand that an independent government cannot long continue to exist and are anxious to see it, because they expect to get the plums. With the well educated and wealthy people it is merely a question of expediency; they support the Philippine Government so that they may influence it for the best. I venture to say that ninety-five percent of them at heart want to see American protection, and a good many of the most influential want to see annexation, but the masses of the people know nothing about Americans and think we are just like the Spaniards. Our officials take no trouble to educate them; our men simply refuse to have anything to do with them, will not recognize them nor write to them officially, and many of the line officers, such as colonels, majors, and captains, treat them as cattle to be knocked around as suits their pleasure.
Of course, Bourns wrote, “This is all wrong.” If the United States did not do better, Bourns feared that it would find itself in a war with Filipinos. Yet Bourns thought the problem was still manageable. With some “tact and patience,” and attention to the Filipinos, “the whole Filipino government could be swung our way without bloodshed.”[75] In mid-October, having received no further guidance from Washington, Dewey weighed in again. He sent a terse cable pleading for a decision about the Philippines “as soon as possible, and a strong government established.” In Luzon, Dewey wrote, Spanish authority had been “completely destroyed.” Outside Manila, “general anarchy prevails.” The islands to the south would soon fall into the same state. “Distressing reports have been received of inhuman cruelty practiced on religious and civil authorities in other parts of these islands. The natives appear unable to govern.”[76] McKinley left Washington for about 10 days in October, traveling around the Midwest to rally support for the upcoming midterm elections. It was during this trip that McKinley began to speak publicly, in vague terms, about American duty and unexpected obligation. At one point some scholarly opinion tended to think McKinley was trying to gauge public opinion. In fact he was deciding how to lead it, and lead it toward the conclusion firming up in his own mind.[77] By the time he returned to Washington, McKinley had decided that there was no good middle ground. No government had recognized Aguinaldo. With the notable exception of Germany, the other great powers seemed to prefer American control now that Spanish rule was gone.[78] Back in Washington, Secretary of the Navy Long wrote to his wife,
If I could have had my way, I wouldn’t have had the war, and I wouldn’t have been burdened with Porto Rico or Cuba or the Philippines. They are an elephant, just as everything else is an elephant that disturbs the even tenor of our national way, but there they are, and my shoulder goes to the wheel.
McKinley cabled the commissioners: “We must either hold [the Philippines] or turn them back to Spain.” McKinley now saw “but one plain path of duty — the acceptance of the archipelago. … Greater difficulties and more serious complications — administrative and international — would follow any other course.[79] A few weeks later, McKinley talked privately to a colleague about how he had worked through the arguments. The islands could not go back to Spain. If they went to another European power “we should have a war on our hands in fifteen minutes” and the United States would be responsible, having let it happen just to escape responsibility for its actions. McKinley reviewed the geography of the islands. He discussed why it had seemed so difficult to separate them. His visitor congratulated McKinley on his decision and remarked on what great confidence the people had in him. McKinley was having none of it:
Yes that confidence, that awful confidence. Consider what a burden that imposes on me. I almost wish these questions were not so much left to the decision of any small number. I can foresee for myself and for the people nothing but anxiety for the next two years.[80]

The Attempt to Negotiate a Peaceful Settlement With the Filipinos, January to June 1899

Analysts of the American choice in the autumn of 1898 can easily overlook that there was no ready way the U.S. government could simply turn the Philippines over to the revolutionary Filipino republic, even if it wished to do so. Under international law and in the view of other powers, the Philippines was still sovereign territory of Spain, as was Cuba, until they were lawfully ceded to another recognized government. No foreign government had recognized the Filipino republic or had any plans to do so. If the United States refused to take the islands, it would be leaving them with Spain. Even U.S. recognition of the Filipino republic, if America had wished to offer it, might not have disturbed other powers’ belief in Spain’s claim. If tired Spain wanted to give up its territories in the Pacific, the German government was already secretly discussing with Spain its hopes to get them. And Spain did end up selling to Germany all its Pacific territories that were not ceded to the United States — the Caroline, Palau and Marianas island chains (except for the island of Guam).[81] If the United States wished to grant self-government to the Filipinos it would have to do what it was doing with Cuba: first take legal control of the territory, then decide what to do. That is what McKinley had decided to do. The United States took over sovereignty of the Philippines, paying $20 million to Spain as compensation. Then President McKinley planned to decide what to do in a negotiation with the Filipinos. The treaty of peace went to the U.S. Senate for ratification. A two-thirds majority was needed.    Opponents fought hard for votes to block ratification. Some opposed taking the Philippines because they were anti-imperialist. Racism influenced arguments all around — “white man’s burden” arguments on one side; “we don’t want to have anything to do with them” on the other. Both sides argued business advantages or disadvantages. Progressive reformers tended to support the treaty.[82] As McKinley worked on how to organize governance of the Philippines with the Filipinos, he was working on a similar problem with Cuba. The two cases might seem different since Congress had decreed that Cuba was to be assured independence. But, despite that apparent difference in the legal situation, McKinley appears to have adopted the same basic approach for both cases. Both had been ceded to the United States. In both, McKinley set up interim U.S. military governments. He wanted to then replace these with local self-government. The new Cuban government took office in 1902.  Cuban independence, promised by the prewar Teller Amendment, was granted with conditions imposed by another act of Congress, the Platt Amendment. The new Cuban government agreed that it would not submit to control by another foreign power and that it would not take on unpayable foreign debts (which could lead to such control). It granted America the right to intervene “for the preservation of Cuban independence” and granted naval basing rights to the United States. Many Cubans found these conditions offensive. But, seen from Washington, this outcome was a defeat for the hopes of the jingo faction. The jingos had schemed to maneuver the United States into annexing Cuba. They failed. American military occupation wound up its work in 1902. The United States did have to intervene in civil conflict in 1906 but withdrew after order was restored. The Platt Amendment had ultimately been supported by anti-imperialists such as George Hoar because of a
general recognition that the amendment represented a true compromise. It promised to give the Cubans real internal self-government. … Besides, no one could find an alternative that had any reasonable chance of acceptance in both Cuba and the United States. [83]
As with his plans for the Cubans, McKinley hoped to work out a plan of government peacefully with the Filipinos. As he assembled a commission to do this on his behalf, McKinley issued repeated instructions to his commander in Manila, Gen. Otis, to occupy strategic points in the islands but do everything necessary to avoid conflict with the insurgents. Otis was to be “firm but conciliatory.” The interim military rulers were to aim at some sort of “benevolent assimilation, substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule” for “the greatest good of the governed.”[84] This goal was necessarily vague. To lead his commission, McKinley did not choose an expansionist. He did the opposite. He called on Jacob Gould Schurman, the president of Cornell University. McKinley knew Schurman had been opposed to territorial acquisitions; they had exchanged letters about it in August. Schurman was startled to be asked to lead such a commission. Meeting McKinley in January 1899, he said straight out, “To be plain, Mr. President … I am opposed to your Philippine policy: I never wanted the Philippine Islands.” “Oh,” McKinley answered, “that need not trouble you; I didn’t want the Philippine Islands, either … but in the end there was no alternative.” McKinley reviewed his reasons. Now Schurman had to work out what government should come next. He recalled that McKinley’s mind was entirely open on how to settle the governance question. “It was still open to us, in dealing with the Filipinos, to grant them independence, to establish a protectorate over them, to confer upon them a colonial form of government” or even to consider statehood. “Absolutely nothing was settled.” Schurman confirmed that his commission would be McKinley’s eyes and ears. He was instructed to heed the aspirations of the Philippine people “en masse” along with the various “tribes and families which compose that heterogeneous population.” Schurman helped select the other commissioners and they left America at the end of January 1899.[85] Meanwhile, McKinley asked Gen. Greene to give him some more help. He wanted Greene to talk to and reassure Aguinaldo’s envoy, Agoncillo, who had returned to Washington. Getting his instructions from the president, Greene gathered that what McKinley intended for the Philippines was to build up a large system of public education with “a constantly increasing participation in civic rights and duties, starting with local government and then progressing to the governance of all the islands.” Greene was taken aback by McKinley’s plan. To Greene, it seemed like “a novel experiment” and a risky one: “Englishmen of long experience in colonial affairs doubted its wisdom.” To Greene, McKinley’s ideas seemed unprecedented. “Self-government has hitherto grown up from the bottom; McKinley planned to donate it from the top.” Despite his doubts, Greene followed orders. He met with Agoncillo in January 1899. He outlined American hopes. Greene urged Agoncillo to wire Aguinaldo and help head off a conflict. Agoncillo refused to do it. He feared that if he sent such a message the revolutionaries back home would regard him as a traitor. He could do nothing, he said, “unless the United States could grant absolute independence to the Filipinos under American protection against foreign nations.” It is again worth noting Agoncillo’s language: “absolute independence” yet with “American protection.” There was an obvious tension between these two goals that would have to be worked out, presumably in negotiation. But Greene had no authority to preempt what the Schurman commission might work out. So Greene argued that, at this stage, Washington could not simply grant independence. The Filipinos should trust the U.S. government “to work out such a scheme of government as would be most suited to their conditions.” He warned that if the Filipinos attacked the Americans, the results would be disastrous. Agoncillo said that even to relay such a message would be the end of his career.[86] Readers today should not assume that any negotiated agreement on Filipino self-government in some form of American protectorate was ruled out by the prevalence of racist American attitudes toward the Filipinos. Such attitudes were certainly a serious obstacle to understanding. Some advocates of American expansion were Anglo-Saxon racial exceptionalists, such as Roosevelt, Lodge and the still-emergent Albert Beveridge, as were some presumed experts on the Philippines. Yet there is not good evidence that such racial views were held by McKinley and his inner circle. In the context of his party, McKinley himself had been relatively forward on defending the rights of African-Americans in the South and had made news by meeting with African-Americans during the 1896 campaign. Corbin had come from an abolitionist family background, had commanded a “colored” regiment during the Civil War (clashing with another such commander whom Corbin thought had needlessly risked his “colored” troops), and had been critical of officers in the Indian wars who had sought conflict rather than compromise. Long wrote of the Anglo-Saxon character, but he diarized admiringly about black troops in U.S. service and detested Southern racial practices.[87] [quote id="6"] Among the presumed experts on the Philippines, Foreman, Greene and Bourns all made strong, sympathetic connections with many Filipinos. Foreman and Bourns were openly scornful about ignorant Americans who would not take the trouble to understand the Filipinos.[88] Schurman and his fellow commissioners started their journey across the Pacific. War started before they arrived. McKinley can perhaps be excused for not realizing that war in the Philippines might be imminent. He might well have thought he had more time. Again and again he had instructed his field commander, Gen. Otis, to “proceed with great prudence, avoiding conflict if possible … be kind and tactful, taking time if necessary to accomplish results desired by peaceful means.” Otis was repeatedly also urged to rely on Bourns, whose views had obviously impressed someone in Washington. Otis had reassuringly reported that “order prevails.” His messages discussed the tension but also conveyed that conditions were “quiet” or “improving.”[89] It was early in February 1899, while Schurman and his commissioners were on their steamship, that news flashed to Washington that fighting had begun. McKinley had been working on the speech he was to give in Boston in a couple of weeks. His assistant brought in the dispatch with the tragic news. McKinley stopped his work. He read and reread the wire. He sat well back in his chair and finally said,
It is always the unexpected that happens, at least in my case. How foolish those people are. This means the ratification of the treaty; the people will understand now, the people will insist upon its ratification.[90]
Two days after the fighting started, on February 6, the U.S. Senate voted 57-27 to ratify the peace treaty, a margin of only one vote more than the required two-thirds. The Senate debate had been eloquent and well covered in the nation’s newspapers. Every imaginable argument had been made for why America should expand across the Pacific; every argument had been made for why it should not. Now the Senate had decided. McKinley had spent much of the past month talking to the senators. Between the loud arguments of the imperialists and anti-imperialists, the “truly decisive figures” were the “conservative men” of the Senate. These men had shown no enthusiasm for expansion. Like McKinley himself, these senators had “resisted war with Spain almost to the bitter end” and they had grave doubts about the Philippines. They had finally gone along with this “radical” treaty because they had decided to follow the lead of their president.[91] McKinley continued to remain open-minded about the political future of the Philippines. In his February 17 Boston speech, the one that was so somber in tone, he said:
No one can tell to-day what is best for them or for us. I know no one at this hour who is wise enough or sufficiently informed to determine what form of government will best serve their interests and our interests, their and our well-being.
But his audience should be sure, he added, “No imperial designs lurk in the American mind.” To this at least, the audience applauded.[92] The fighting in the Philippines escalated into a full insurgent offensive against Manila. The insurgent attack was bloodily defeated. The campaigning began. By the time Schurman and his fellow commissioners finally arrived, the war had been underway for a month. Even under these circumstances, there was an episode that showed how close the two sides might have been to a negotiated agreement on a model similar to that which was worked out for Cuba. Schurman proposed, with McKinley’s approval, that an American governor-general, appointed by the president, would rule with a Cabinet he would select and grant Filipinos “the largest measure of local self-government consistent with peace and good order.” The Filipino Revolutionary Congress voted unanimously to accept these terms. The revolutionary Cabinet was replaced on May 8 by a new “peace” Cabinet. Aguinaldo sent word to Schurman that his new Cabinet was “more moderate and conciliatory.” His envoy revealed that Aguinaldo was prepared to drop his demand for independence and accept American sovereignty. Determined to fight the Americans, the violent-tempered commander of Aguinaldo’s revolutionary army, Gen. Antonio Luna, arrested the leaders of this new peace Cabinet. Aguinaldo went along with this. The previous Cabinet returned to power. Part of this battle was an increasingly bitter struggle among Filipinos in Luzon about who would collect taxes, own land and wield police power when Spanish colonial rule collapsed. The war continued. The next month, in June 1899, Aguinaldo, or at least his inner circle, apparently arranged the assassination of Gen. Luna. It was too late. By this time, Schurman was being challenged within his commission by its other members, which included Otis. Schurman wanted to enlarge guarantees of Filipino participation and was open to a cease-fire while negotiations went on. His colleagues now preferred “prosecution of the war until the insurgents submit.” McKinley was caught between his desire for peace with “kindness and conciliation” and his readiness to send whatever forces were needed to end the fighting if Filipino resistance continued. McKinley ended up deferring to Otis. Schurman returned home toward the end of 1899, his mission a failure.[93] That war unfolded over the next three years about the way that Greene had foretold it might in his September 1898 report to McKinley. The Filipinos were soon driven “into the hills.” Conflict quickly degenerated into savage guerrilla fighting. Deprived of access to outside arms by American control of the sea, after a few years practically all resistance collapsed. By this time most of the Filipino elite had decided to work with the American government. Filipino soldiers fighting alongside the Americans were key to the U.S. victory.[94] The war devastated regions, divided Filipinos against each other and led to many atrocities. Thousands of American soldiers died, as did many more thousands of Filipinos.[95] After Schurman returned home, McKinley tried again. To lead this second commission McKinley picked a federal appeals judge, one sitting on the same circuit court to which Day (returned from Paris) had been appointed. Day arranged an introduction. All were impressed with this young judge, William Howard Taft. It was Schurman all over again. McKinley asked Judge Taft to lead the commission. Taft answered, “Why, Mr. President, that would be impossible. I am not in sympathy with your policy. I don’t think we ought to take the Philippines.” “Neither do I,” McKinley retorted. “But that isn’t the question. We’ve got them. What I want you to do now is to go there and establish civil government.”[96] Taft’s work outlived McKinley, who was assassinated in September 1901. The civilian Taft commission clashed with the U.S. military and some jingo sentiment, but it forged a consensus that worked for Americans and a great many Filipinos, especially the much-discussed Filipino elite. That elite class, the “ilustrados,” continued to dominate the country’s politics, before and after independence. U.S. military rule ended in 1901. Taft became a civilian governor. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 created a Bill of Rights and a process for nationwide elections. This codified an American protectorate with increasingly Filipino self-government. More legislation in 1916 advanced that objective. Advocates on both sides of the Pacific, including Filipinos, argued about whether or when to end the American protectorate and fix the date for full Filipino independence. The argument was settled in 1934. The Philippines transitioned to commonwealth status with full independence set for 1944 — a date delayed until 1946 because of another war.

Alternative Futures?

Studying the exercise of judgment, the main purpose of this essay is to offer a more educational “re-enactment” of a fateful choice, in light of the information and possibilities reasonably visible at the time. Carefully reconstructed, without the blinding effect of hindsight, McKinley does seem to have made remarkably deliberate, thoughtful choices at all five stages of his Philippines decisions. At each point he also improvised to get the best information he could from a system that did not naturally provide it. Whether, in hindsight, these decisions turned out to be “right” or “wrong” is a different question.  That question is worth a brief epilogue. After all, historians are like most citizens: They tend to praise ill-judged decisions that they think turned out well and condemn well-judged decisions that they think turned out badly. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to argue about McKinley’s decisions. Critics can stress the subsequent agony of the Philippine-American war, the legitimacy of Filipino aspirations and note the patronizing incompetence of many American administrators. [quote id="8"] Yet it is still hard to sketch a plausible alternative path, one more peaceful and more prosperous, for an immediately independent Philippines. The self-government concerns were real.  Such a Philippines would have had no American shield from other foreign intervention. That danger also was real. The German Empire snapped up all the Spanish Pacific possessions it could get, all that Spain had not ceded to the United States. The Filipinos also would not have had the trade openings to the American market that their business leaders considered vital. Nor would they have had the benefit of later American nation-building efforts and infrastructure investments, which were substantial.[97] It is not hard to imagine alternative paths that could have been worse, perhaps much worse. The histories of other lands liberated after longtime Spanish rule, from Mexico to Argentina, offer a picture book of tragic examples. And, as in much of Latin American history, arguments about alternative Filipino futures soon focus more attention on the fault lines within Filipino society itself, such as the divide between pro-American ilustrados and others. Such fault lines produced a nationwide insurgency after 1946 (the “Huk” insurrection). They remain fault lines in Filipino life today. Assessing the alternative futures for the United States are another matter. Americans could have shrugged and regarded the future of the islands and its inhabitants as someone else’s fault and someone else’s problem. The United States would have had little or no Filipino blood directly on its hands. American soldiers would not have engaged in a bitter war, stained by outrages of every kind. McKinley did not take the Philippine islands because he was confident that America would gain power or profit by it. In every aspect of his public and private life, McKinley was a man, like many then, who tried to live by codes of duty. In his Boston speech, McKinley explained his conception of America’s duty “after freeing the Filipinos from the domination of Spain” to prevent a descent of the islands into violent anarchy. He told his audience, frankly, that “It is sometimes hard to determine what is best to do, and the best thing to do is oftentimes the hardest. The prophet of evil would do nothing because he flinches at sacrifice and effort, and to do nothing is easiest and involves the least cost.” For McKinley, circumstances had placed the United States into a position of responsibility. To him and many of his contemporaries, abandoning the islands to their fate would not have ended that responsibility. It would merely have shirked it. Was the acquisition of the Philippines good for the United States? The liability side of the ledger is clearest: the horrors of the war and the burdens of occupation. The islands were never great net boons to U.S. trade. Nor was Manila a key to the China trade. The U.S. position in the Philippines did extend American military power across the Pacific in a new and lasting way. In the short run, the United States used this base to help with the multinational intervention during the Boxer crisis of 1900 in China. But later that year, after the immediate crisis had passed, McKinley pulled most U.S. troops out of China, over the bitter objections of Secretary of State Hay. McKinley did not wish to use those troops as chess pieces in the great game over China’s future.[98] There would come a time, though, when the U.S. military presence in the Philippines did change the course of the history of the world. But no one in 1899 could foresee how the American presence in the islands would figure in the analysis of grand strategists in Tokyo, studying their options during 1941.     Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History.  He has also served at all levels of American government.  He began his professional career as a trial and appellate lawyer in Texas and, after returning to graduate school and then teaching for the Navy, he joined the Foreign Service and served as a career diplomat.  He was posted overseas and in Washington, including service on the National Security Council staff for President George H.W. Bush.  His Ph.D. is from Tufts University's Fletcher School.  Since leaving regular government service in 1991 he has taught and directed research programs at Harvard and at Virginia.  At Virginia he directed the Miller Center of Public Affairs from 1998 to 2005.  While there, he directed the 2001 commission on national election reform, chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford, that led directly to passage of the bipartisan Help America Vote Act of 2002.  He returned to full-time government service from 2003 to 2004, to direct the 9/11 Commission and again from 2005 to 2007 to serve as Counselor of the Department of State, a deputy to Secretary Rice.  In later academic service at Virginia, Zelikow was the dean in charge of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2011 to 2014).  He was a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board for President Bush (2001to 2003) and for President Obama (2011 to 2013) and a member of the Defense Policy Board (2015 to 2017).  He has also advised the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s program in global development (2007 to 2012). His books include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (1995, with Condoleezza Rice); The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis (2001, with Ernest May); Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (rev. ed., 1999, with Graham Allison); and America's Moment: Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age (2015, drafted on behalf of the Markle Foundation group, "Rework America"). [post_title] => Why Did America Cross the Pacific? Reconstructing the U.S. Decision to Take the Philippines, 1898-99 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => america-cross-pacific-reconstructing-u-s-decision-take-philippines-1898-99 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-25 06:56:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-25 10:56:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=284 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) ) ) [2] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_featured_articles [wgt_type] => manual [qty] => 3 [posts] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 280 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2017-10-25 07:11:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-25 11:11:54 [post_content] => Americans are mired in disagreements. They are politically divided, with many preferring to identify as independent and significant rifts clear even within the Democratic and Republican parties. But party polarization is only one measure of what separates them. Myriad considerations — age, gender, race, religion, region, class, and education — factor into the differences in how Americans view the world. Bipartisan consensus has often found its strongest roots in foreign policy and defense. The United States has a raucous history of democratic debate and disagreement on the use of military force and other national security questions. Since the end of World War II, however, most Americans have shared the belief that their prosperity and security are advanced by the United States pursuing a leading role in world affairs. This bipartisan consensus on the U.S. role in the world has grown brittle. Disagreements permeate U.S. foreign policy on issues as varied as the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and comprehensive immigration policy. Policy differences have existed throughout American history, but today’s challenge is more fundamental. The exercise of American leadership globally is growing more vulnerable to challenges overseas. Moreover, the deep U.S. political divisions are obfuscating genuine differences over policy, substituting partisan action-reaction cycles. Rejections of the status quo in 2016 galvanized the success of presidential candidates who positioned themselves outside the foreign policy mainstream. The election and foreign policy of Donald Trump have further frayed the consensus. The president’s preference for chaos, alternately wearing and shedding the mantle of global engagement in equal rhetorical measure, threatens the durability of a unified vision for America’s role in the world. The weakening of the U.S. foreign policy consensus reflects a failure to adjust effectively to changes at home and abroad, with resulting confusion and dismay about the nation’s direction and role. The fraying in turn weakens America’s ability to adapt to current and future challenges. An acknowledged consensus in favor of American engagement in the world provides the domestic foundation on which to advance U.S. interests out in the world. Such a renewed and necessarily broad consensus on the importance of a global leadership role will not resolve the disagreements or eliminate the challenges that have brought the United States to this point. But rejuvenating the consensus will aid U.S. credibility abroad, reassuring allies while deterring rivals, and strengthen the nation from within. To build an effective foreign policy that most Americans can support, one must first understand the variety of factors shaping Americans’ opinions (and U.S. government direction) on foreign policy. Some factors are tied to personal and community circumstances, others to a broader domestic political and policy context. Moreover, American views are increasingly shaped by the international arena where foreign policy is largely executed. These domestic and international factors are intertwined, at times mutually reinforcing points and other times in tension. Working from the outside in, this essay briefly explores foreign and domestic forces affecting Americans’ evolving views about foreign and security policy. It assesses the foundation for an engaged American foreign policy despite evidence of fracturing support. It then draws out three touchstones for devising foreign policy and concludes by offering three actionable priorities to secure American interests in this era.

The Global Context

Americans are inundated with troubling news from overseas, much of which they feel unable to control. Six challenges to U.S. interests in the international system are noteworthy for their current and potential effect on American foreign policy: Nation-State Adversaries More than 25 years after the Cold War ended, military opportunism and provocation from states seeking to challenge the United States are fully awakened. Four powers are particularly noteworthy as potential adversaries: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. A U.S. military conflict with any of these countries would have profound consequences. China is poised to be the most significant long-term competitor to the United States. Beijing is investing substantial resources in its military, developing capabilities clearly designed to prevent others from opposing its will in East Asia and, increasingly, beyond the region. China is also challenging basic norms of international order by using its might to claim and build out land features in the South and East China Seas. Ample evidence of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices, alongside its human rights record and increasing foreign investments, raise further concerns. Meanwhile, China is the world’s second-largest economy and a significant trading partner of the United States and most U.S. allies. The United States has a strong interest in seeing China evolve as an economically vibrant, non-hostile and less autocratic nation that contributes to peace and stability. As a power in decline rather than on the rise, Russia does not have China’s long-term potential. But the Kremlin still commands a nation with a substantial nuclear arsenal, a sizable conventional military, and the skill and affinity to execute full-scale political warfare that challenges the traditional weaknesses of open societies. Russia is working to revise the international order to its advantage. Its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 is a stand-out example, but there are others. Russia has postured aggressively against the West and expanded its military role in Syria. The Kremlin’s playbook has included energy and economic manipulation; corruption; conventional military harassments; nuclear saber-rattling; cyberattacks and information warfare, including using active measures to affect the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Playing for reputational points abroad but also largely to a domestic audience, President Vladimir Putin appears set on a course toward serving, at best, as a spoiler of Western interests and, at worst, as a direct military aggressor. [quote id="1"] For more than 60 years, war on the Korean Peninsula has been a concern for Washington. Under Kim Jong Un, this long-standing worry has become far graver. Korea’s rapid missile and nuclear development, coupled with its jingoistic propaganda and provocations and its apparent disinterest in nuclear negotiations, raise the specter of a conflict that could embroil not only South Korea and Japan but also the United States, China and Russia. Kim might seek military conflict in desperation during a regime collapse or by foolishly attempting territorial or other gains. More likely is the possibility that North Korea and the United States or its allies will miscalculate the other side’s capability and resolve, with a subsequent inability or unwillingness to control crisis dynamics. Finally, Iran poses a substantial challenge to American interests. The United States and its regional partners possess far greater conventional military capabilities than Iran, but Tehran’s preferred tactics involve seeking to destabilize its enemies by employing proxy forces, providing substantial support to terrorist groups, harassing maritime traffic, using cyber and information warfare, and developing its missile arsenal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal —if adhered to would help forestall Iran’s development of nuclear capability. But economic sanctions were lifted as part of the deal, and U.S. vigilance will be needed to curb Iranian elements from seeking to invest newly available resources in military, paramilitary or proxy forces. Weak, Unstable and Collapsing States Although they often do not receive the same attention as nation-state threats, the failures of governments in Yemen, Afghanistan, Central America and elsewhere manifest into security challenges that can hurt Americans at home. Security implications that can emanate from chronically weak states include, but are not limited to, terrorism, migration, transnational crime, weapons proliferation, piracy and cross-border health threats. Syria’s population has sat tragically astride some of the world’s most complex geopolitical dynamics. The repressive Assad government’s brutal crackdowns on peaceful protestors have led to a chain reaction that leaves the country incapacitated. More than 6 million Syrians are internally displaced; 5 million others have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and into Europe.[1] Key nations are on opposing sides of Syria’s civil war, with Iran and Russia backing the Assad regime and the United States, Europe and Gulf states seeking a negotiated peace settlement that could remove Assad from power. (Under the Trump administration, the U.S. government’s position on the ultimate disposition of the Assad regime is unclear.) The U.S.-led coalition fights the Islamic State inside Syria and Iraq. Russia, Iran and the Syrian government claim to do the same while also striking at opposition forces supported by the coalition. The battle space in and around Syria is fraught with risk. Terrorism Terrorism tops many Americans’ list of national security concerns.[2] Terrorist movements can grow in repressive and supportive states alike, in places where local governance may be inadequate to address political and societal discord. The rise of the Islamic State in Syria, its rapid territorial gains there and in Iraq, and its transformation into a global movement has provided a focal point for these concerns in recent years. The U.S.-led coalition has steadily weakened the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. However, major ISIL cells are now operating out of Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen. Islamic State and related online propaganda aim to inspire terrorism around the world. Authorities have cited ISIL as an inspiration for several attempted attacks in the United States perpetrated by U.S. citizens.[3] Just as the Islamic State grew in the shadow of al-Qaeda, so too is the Islamic State likely to generate prominent follow-on movements. Terrorist movements motivated by other political causes include white nationalists, separatists, and anarchists. Regardless of their aims, these groups can have strategic effect at relatively low cost, aided by social media and the Internet as well as tactics such as mass shootings, using vehicles as weapons, planting car bombs, or employing more advanced capabilities. Enabling Information and Other Technology Terrorists are just one subset of actors enabled by the spread of information and development of critical technologies. Thanks to the growth of biotechnology, cheaper material and forms of manufacturing, such as 3-D printing, as well as the rapid proliferation of commercial and military drones, it is easier than ever for individuals, small groups and less powerful states to achieve high-end capabilities. The increasing ease of arms sales further accelerates this trend. Whatever might be said about the U.S. approach to arms sales and technology transfer, it is guided by a body of law and established norms intended to mitigate advanced technology proliferation and end-use risks. The same cannot be said for Russia, which accounts for 23 percent of major arms exports, and China, the world’s fastest-growing arms exporter.[4] The implications of technology diffusion are perhaps most profound in the information domain. At the military-industrial level, the information revolution is enabling increased precision and actionable information and improving cyber and space capabilities. At the broader societal level, the information revolution has brought profound changes affecting the daily lives of people across the planet. In early 2017, the Pew Research Center estimated that 77% of Americans owned their own smartphone.[5] Americans (and Europeans) may be ahead in the information race, but they are far from alone. There are an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally.[6] By these estimates, mobile subscriptions have surpassed the number of active fixed-line subscriptions worldwide, and it is conceivable that the overall number of devices connected to the internet — the Internet of Things — will reach at least 20 billion by 2020.[7] Much of that connectivity growth is poised to occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This revolution in information accessibility drives gains in innovation and productivity. At its best, it has also promoted good governance, enabling the connectivity of people united in common peaceful causes. But this era will also be defined by the weaponization of this connectivity. Al-Qaeda, criminals and white supremacists were among the most successful early adapters on the digital battlefield.[8] Nations have also leveraged the tools of modern connectivity to achieve security aims, both through internal control and external manipulation. Examples include North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures, Iran’s cyber intrusions into Saudi Aramco, and Chinese theft of U.S. government employee data from the Office of Personnel Management.[9] Most recently, disagreements between Qatar and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners have played out in attempts to embarrass one another with leaked and falsified emails.[10] But no actor has as spectacularly advanced the potential to weaponize the current information domain for political ends as Russia, both in creating disinformation and in deploying that information in well-orchestrated campaigns enabled by artificial intelligence and humans. Resources, Climate Change and Urbanization U.S. foreign policy will also confront important shifts in natural resources, demography and climate. The United States has largely achieved its goal of being “energy independent” insofar as it is a net exporter of natural gas and the world’s largest exporter of refined petroleum products.[11] But the world market has become more “energy interdependent.” This is due in part to the increased number of important suppliers beyond OPEC, including the United States. It is also because energy politics are increasingly driven by issues associated with the effects of energy use, namely climate change.[12] Energy independence, as long thought of, is valuable for U.S. foreign policy, but acknowledging the world’s energy interdependence and acting upon it are equally important to American security. Climate change poses a variety of security-related challenges. Shipping lanes in the Arctic Ocean are expected to open by mid-century due to warming.[13] This will place a premium onfigur patrol and search-and-rescue assets that can operate in the austere environment, and resource competition in the region could heighten tensions among vying nations. Rising sea levels are another major threat, particularly in the Pacific. The warming of oceans is also creating more and worse storms.[14] As the 2017 hurricanes affecting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands demonstrated, the economic and human toll of major weather events is substantial. Already in the United States, more than 90 coastal communities face chronic flooding, which the Union of Concerned Scientists defines as “the kind of flooding that’s so unmanageable it prompts people to move away.”[15] The number is expected to reach 170 communities in the next 20 years.[16] Food and water crises sit at the intersection of resource and climate-change challenges. Drought, exacerbated by military conflicts, has intensified the plight of more than 20 million people enduring famines in Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.[17] Underlying mismatches in projected population and food productivity portend continuing food scarcity. By 2050, the world population is projected to increase from 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion, with more than half of this growth in Africa. Over this same period, meat consumption is projected to rise nearly 73 percent and dairy consumption by 58 percent from 2010 levels. Yet while output of food, feed, fiber and fuel will most likely continue to rise in coming decades, total food production is not on pace to meet this demand.[18] Projected shortages of clean water are also daunting.[19] Among demographic trends of note for U.S. shapers of foreign policy, one that stands out as underexplored is urbanization. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban environments, with about one-third — some 2 billion people — living in slum-like conditions.[20] All regions are expected to urbanize further over the coming decades, but Africa and Asia, home to the most rural regions remaining, are urbanizing faster than others. The combination of rapid expansion and poor living conditions creates governance challenges for cities’ ecosystems, including water, power and green space. Slum-like conditions contribute to the rapid spread of diseases. Many such growing urban areas will be situated along waterways, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and more severe natural disasters. Particularly in less developed areas, cities will likely be strained to meet the security needs of citizens as population density, inadequate governance and poverty create conditions for criminal activity and civil unrest.[21] Threats to Democratic Norms Many of these trends are culminating in support for anti-democratic policies and governance models. The Syrian crisis is a leading cause of the largest forced population displacement since the aftermath of World War II, with reverberations throughout the Levant, Europe and beyond.[22] These refugee flows have fueled concerns about sovereignty and terrorism in many parts of the world, a concern reinforced by recent terrorist incidents in Europe, Australia and the United States. Together with weak economic performance in many Western-style democracies and the use of propaganda and disinformation, the stage has been set for rising nationalism and a renewal of autocracy around the world. The U.S.-based think tank Freedom House released a report this year showing that, while the gains from non-free states are small, 2016 marked the eleventh year in a row in which the share of free countries had declined and the share of “not free” countries grew.[23] This trend, alongside tested norms regarding state sovereignty, chemical weapons use, nuclear proliferation and the Geneva Conventions, is a direct challenge to the postwar international order built by the United States and its allies.

U.S. Domestic Context

This brief synopsis of major challenges in the world misses much, but it underscores how activity beyond U.S. borders will shape America’s ability to advance its prosperity and security. The domestic context for U.S. foreign policy is equally important and far too often ignored by security analysts. There are, in fact, multiple domestic contexts: The United States is divided along a variety of dimensions that are creating challenges for envisioning and executing a coherent foreign policy. Some of the foreign policy divide may be explained by cultural differences; this includes variations in regional, national, racial, party, gender, military and religious identity.[24] Economic factors may also explain some of it.[25] Although the United States has the world’s largest gross domestic product and is a leading source of innovation across multiple sectors, in 2015 it had the world’s third-largest income gap.[26] Divisions in the U.S. electorate on issues of trade and immigration illuminate how various cultural and economic factors, and doubtless other causes, are shaping the prospect of consensus on foreign policy. In April 2016, 49 percent of general public respondents to Pew polling indicated that they believed U.S. involvement in the world economy was a “bad thing” that lowered wages and cost jobs, while 44  percent of such respondents believed it was a “good thing.”[27] That poll marked the bottoming out of a downward slide in positive views of trade, a slide that began roughly at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term. By the time of the 2016 presidential election, trade proponents were chastened by the strong negative reaction to their arguments. Yet just a few months into 2017 support for U.S. trade in the same Pew poll had rebounded to 52 percent of respondents.[28] This should not be surprising, given that the United States is the world’s top exporter of foods and agricultural products (which account for more than 20 percent of U.S. agricultural production).[29] As consumers, Americans depend on a global supply chain from airplanes to smartphones to big-box retailers. Popular wisdom holds that the U.S. manufacturing sector opposes free trade, but consider this endorsement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from the National Association of Manufacturers:
NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and since then, the United States has sold three times as much to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, the two countries alone purchased one-fifth of all manufactured goods made in the United States. This is a big deal for manufacturing workers and their families because those sales support jobs here at home—a lot of well-paying jobs. Sales of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, made possible through NAFTA, support the jobs of more than 2 million manufacturing workers.[30]
Not all trade is good, but many Americans do not believe that all trade is bad, and in numbers greater than many foreign policy elites have assumed.[31] Immigration has played an even more divisive role in U.S. politics. About 15 percent of the U.S. population is immigrant, the same share as in 1920 but higher than it was for much of the post-World War II period.[32] Roughly 75 percent of that immigrant population is estimated to be here legally.[33] Of those here illegally, most overstayed with expired temporary visas rather than illegally crossed borders.[34] About 45 percent of respondents told Pew shortly before the 2016 election that having more immigrants hurts American workers, while 42 percent said having more immigrants helps — the deepest division of opinion Pew captured on the issue over the last decade, caused by an increase in the number of respondents who react positively about immigration’s effects on American workers.[35] [quote id="2"] Although support for internationalism is evident even on issues as divisive as trade and immigration, the divisions among Americans should not be underestimated. They are likely to be further exacerbated by automation, which could put 38 percent of U.S. jobs at risk by the early 2030s, according to one recent estimate.[36] Urbanization, too, will create economic opportunities but exacerbate divides between the “global elite” and those who feel left behind. Income inequality and associated urban-rural divides are creating different American experiences. These and other divisions are reflected and reinforced in the U.S. political system. Consider Pew Research Center’s assessment of rising partisan antipathy. As Figure 1 illustrates, since 1994, the share of Republicans and Democrats who hold unfavorable or very unfavorable views of the other party has risen more than 20 points. Within this overall increase, the share holding very unfavorable views of the other party has climbed even higher, by about 30 percentage points in just over 20 years. Partisans are not just divided; increasingly, they do not like or respect each other. This poll was completed before the 2016 election, and the mutual antipathy it found — with implications for dividing American politics and society — almost certainly has deepened. Figure 1: [37] Rising partisan antipathy Political polarization is affected not only by true differences in Americans’ viewpoints but also by issues inside the U.S. political structure and process, including gerrymandering, campaign finance practices, and changes in congressional norms and processes.[38] The current period of polarization is also occurring against a backdrop of ubiquitous information, which many Americans cope with by creating increasingly fragmented and self-selected media environments. Polling from Pew Research Center suggests that six in 10 Americans get their news from social media.[39] As Figure 2 shows, Pew data also indicate that many Americans’ social media feeds are built around networks of family and friends who share a common perspective, narrowing the range of views to which they are exposed. This trend is particularly noteworthy at the far ends of the political spectrum, as is the perspective that such “one-sided” news is okay. Figure 2: [40] [amcharts id="chart-3"] [amcharts id="chart-4"] These divisions affect U.S. security by altering the way the United States, and particularly the stability and effectiveness of its political system, are viewed overseas and by driving changes in the way Americans perceive their role in the world. Foundations of an Effective American Foreign Policy It can be tempting for the U.S. foreign policy community to throw up its hands in frustration in the face of this set of circumstances, but these challenges are not unprecedented in their magnitude, either at home or abroad. Blindly holding to the past is no longer viable. Change is coming too quickly. The United States must adapt to secure its interests and in ways that build domestic support. Three factors are particularly important to helping the nation navigate effectively in the current environment. First, the United States must acknowledge that while it can probably remain the world’s sole superpower for at least the next 15 years, its ability to shape events beyond its borders is diminishing. The effectiveness of American foreign policy and how much power the nation chooses to wield will vary by region and type of issue. Non-state problems are particularly difficult to tackle with traditional American strengths such as state-to-state trade, massed military force and government-to-government diplomacy. They also test the United States where it is weakest, trying Americans’ impatience, tendency toward unilateralism, and dislike and distrust of most government spending. These weaknesses inhibit the U.S. ability to undertake generational investments toward long-term solutions. Moreover, the best solutions to many security challenges require a combination of strengths, but the United States struggles to adapt and integrate across its instruments of national power and with partners overseas. Problems such as trade, terrorism or climate issues are seldom solvable in only one sphere, or by acting alone. When facing an assertive military competitor — such as China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran, — traditional U.S. security strengths are more influential. Even in these cases, however, the United States has had difficulty deterring a range of provocations and coercive actions. A second factor that needs to ground the vision for future U.S. foreign policy is the thread of constancy in public support of international engagement. If one American grand strategy has persisted for the past 70 years, it is to advance U.S. interests by taking a leading role in the world. This may seem to run counter to the 2016 election results; Donald Trump won under an “America First” foreign policy banner that included pointed criticism of U.S. allies and overseas military operations and posture. Across the political spectrum, there are important limits to Americans’ willingness to lead on the world stage. But the share of Americans that are truly isolationist — preferring the United States have no role in world affairs — is around only 4 percent, while more than 70 percent believe the United States should have a major or leading role. Demonstrating the stability of an internationalist consensus, these figures from February 2017 are roughly the same as Gallup’s February 2001 polling.[41] [quote id="3"] This likely reflects broad recognition that the most important interests the U.S. seeks to secure in the world require American engagement and leadership. Republican and Democratic administrations have generally described America’s world interests in remarkably consistent ways since the end of World War II: ensuring the security of U.S. territory and citizens; upholding treaty commitments, to include the security of allies; ensuring a liberal economic order in which American enterprise can compete fairly; and upholding the rule of law in international affairs, including respect for human rights. Each administration has framed these interests somewhat differently, and pursued its own path to secure them, but the core tenets have not varied significantly. Predictability and stability of position are not hallmarks of this administration, but there has been enough overseas activity, spending and rhetoric in this first year to assess that President Trump’s “America First” is not Charles Lindbergh’s. Although an isolationist sentiment will always exist in U.S. politics, it is unlikely to upend the basic consensus view that what happens elsewhere in the world can affect Americans at home. By no means is the American predilection for internationalism unchecked. Indeed, Americans have generally preferred to pursue a selective approach to engagement. Yes, a majority support international engagement, but the United States has never desired to act everywhere in the world, all the time, or with the same tools of power. Polling before the 2016 election showed that 70 percent of Americans wanted the next president to focus more on national than international problems, a trend that has only strengthened since the peak of military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2007.[42] Americans have always had to weigh the risks and opportunity costs of foreign activities and needed to prioritize investments. The projected budget environment only worsens the dilemmas. In the latest Congressional Budget Office outlook, total discretionary spending would fall to about 5.4 percent of gross domestic product by 2047 as social security, major medical programs, the deficit, and net interest on the deficit rise. All national security spending — defense, diplomacy, development, intelligence and homeland security — and spending on everything from transportation and infrastructure to environmental protection and national parks would compete for fewer discretionary dollars.[43] Importantly, the track record for democracies, including the United States, is one of remarkable unpredictability when it comes to the use of force to secure interests. Policymakers need to understand this and not expect to count on an iron-clad template that governs when and where the nation’s political leaders will use force. Rather, they should work to frame choices on use of force using their best experience and help leaders reduce the risks of miscalculation that such unpredictability can pose.

Foreign Policy Priorities: The Now What

So, if American policymakers have the benefit of superpower status but are generally less able to wield it effectively; if Americans generally agree that leading or at least engaging abroad is important to protect U.S. interests; and if resource constraints, national character and other factors limit us from seeking to aggressively or even consistently act overseas, especially with military forces, what imperatives should form the core of U.S. foreign and security policy? Three stand out. Of foremost importance is avoiding the hazards of domestic political polarization. It is unlikely in this deeply dysfunctional period of governance that even a united foreign policy community could catalyze a resolution to these issues on its own. Still, the community has an important role to play in consistently and vociferously warning about the national security dangers posed by domestic political dysfunction. America’s deep divisions are a major strategic weakness. There is no stable understanding of the resources available to secure America’s role in the world, which cripples the ability to plan and act strategically. A dysfunctional political system can make others doubt the reliability of U.S. commitments. Worse, polarizing opinions around the strength of U.S. commitments to allies creates greater agency for forces within the countries that seek opportunities to forge a path distinct from the United States and potentially antithetical to American security interests. If nations begin to routinely act independently from Washington’s preference, Americans will avoid some free riding, but they will also lose say over issues that affect their security and prosperity. Political dysfunction also hampers America’s core cultural appeal — the dream of the American political system as a “city on a hill.”[44] In such an environment, alternative models of economics and governance gain greater resonance, notably anti-capitalist and anti-democratic, undermining enduring U.S. interests. The slight rise in global authoritarianism noted by Freedom House may reflect this decline in perceived Western effectiveness. Finally, political dysfunction creates problems in civil-military relations. It feeds a sense of separateness in the can-do military culture, where senior members struggle to understand why the political caste cannot put aside politics to make important decisions. In fact, Americans and their elected leaders seem to be turning toward those in uniform to overcome perceived weaknesses in civilian governance. At the least, this is disheartening. More alarmingly, it is corrosive to good civilian control, a central tenet of the U.S. Constitution. A second imperative is to focus significant leadership energy and sufficient investment on problem prevention. The nation requires capable and agile non-military instruments, such as diplomacy and development. These sectors have had difficulty convincing political leaders and the public of the value they can provide. The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and similar organizations are unlikely to ever exert the political power of the military-industrial complex. Nevertheless, they can get better at wielding diplomacy development assistance and promoting private, foreign government and international efforts that align with U.S. policy goals. Importantly, they can also improve on their ability to measure and communicate their pennies-on-the-dollar value. These sectors can take credit for contributing to tremendous gains made in the U.S.-led international order since World War II, from a substantial decline in global poverty to improvements in global life expectancy.[45] The United States should build on these successes to advance its interests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, global health improvements, and conflict resolution. America’s extensive alliance and partner network is among its most important geostrategic advantages. Alliances can require a lot of work and money with little to show. (From its allies’ perspective, so too can the United States.) It is important to get the cost-benefit balance right. By and large, the United States has managed that well throughout the postwar period and needs to continue adapting its alliances to meet the demands of an evolving security environment. Policymakers should not let imprudent comments undermine the enterprise.[46] A third imperative is to improve U.S. tools for deterrence and response to provocations that fall short of war. The United States has an excellent record of deterring existential threats. But potential adversaries are attacking U.S. interests in ways that fall below the threshold of traditional state-based military power; see Chinese coercion in the South and East China Seas, Russian subversion in its “near abroad” and within the United States, and Iranian asymmetric tactics, especially through proxies. This phenomenon is as old as warfare itself. But it is an area of increasing risk, particularly with regard to the potential for miscalculation. In some cases, such as cyber and space operations, escalation ladders and legal frameworks are not yet well-established. In territorial coercion, those frameworks are being actively tested. This trend creates a heightened risk of conflict not so much from intent — although as events with North Korea have demonstrated, that is possible — but from an increased chance that potential adversaries will inadvertently misinterpret U.S. willingness and capability to respond to provocations even when the precipitation of war is unintended. In the current environment, policymakers must pay special attention to how they can best shape the considerations of states that wish to test America’s response to ambiguous challenges. This will mean clearly communicating U.S. interests and its willingness and capability to defend them. It also means carrying out threats when deterrence fails. Effective messaging is not nearly as straightforward as it may sound, especially in an era when multiple messages sometimes compete. For instance, deterring future chemical weapons challenges was likely at the heart of the advice President Trump received before he ordered Tomahawk strikes on Syria in April 2017. However, the U.S. signaling may have been murky, coming less than one week after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and other administration officials signaled acceptance of the Assad regime, after which the regime carried out chemical attacks. It did not take long to go from a green light to a red line on Syria but too late to prevent Assad’s undesirable action. Improving America’s toolkit for countering provocations will rely on many of the same multilateral and cross-functional integrative approaches on which effective problem prevention also rests. A fundamental rethink is required to improve the national security enterprise’s ability to move with agility ahead of the pace of world events, the information environment, and the expanding array of adversary tactics and other challenges.

Conclusion

Discerning the shifting nature of the international system and designing an effective set of security tools within it are monumental but not unprecedented tasks. Those who shaped the post-World War II international system, whom Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas nicknamed “the wise men,”[47] faced the same task. Circumstances today are equally daunting, requiring a similar re-examination of U.S. strategies and capabilities. Success will depend on attributes not normally associated with the current U.S. administration or Washington’s broader political climate: political consensus on foreign policy; long-term, preventative, multidisciplinary, and multinational responses wherever possible; and improved deterrence of “gray area” challenges to prevent miscalculation or other reasons for escalation. Yet hope can be found in the nation’s foundational strengths, especially its indefatigable spirit of change and adaptation. The “now what” era of American foreign policy is upon us. President Trump is unlikely to provide the vision needed to rejuvenate U.S. foreign policy. It is time for a new generation of wise women and men to act.   Kathleen Hicks is senior vice president, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and director of the International Security Program at CSIS. She is a frequent writer and lecturer on U.S. foreign policy; national security strategy, forces, and budget; and strategic futures. Dr. Hicks previously served in the Department of Defense as principal deputy under secretary for policy, a Senate-confirmed position with responsibility for assisting in the development and oversight of global and regional defense policy, strategy, and operations. She also served as deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces, leading the development of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and crafting guidance for future force capabilities, overseas military posture, and contingency and theater campaign plans. Dr. Hicks was a senior fellow at CSIS from 2006 to 2009, leading a variety of national security research projects. From 1993 to 2006, she was a career civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, rising from Presidential Management Intern to the Senior Executive Service. Dr. Hicks received numerous recognitions for her service in the Department of Defense (DOD), including distinguished awards from three secretaries of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She also received the 2011 DOD Senior Professional Women’s Association Excellence in Leadership Award. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.P.A. from the University of Maryland, and an A.B. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College. Dr. Hicks was a presidentially appointed commissioner for the National Commission on the Future of the Army. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Boards of Advisors for the Truman National Security Project and SoldierStrong. [post_title] => Now What? The American Citizen, World Order, and Building a New Foreign Policy Consensus [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => now-american-citizen-world-order-building-new-foreign-policy-consensus [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-25 17:57:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-25 21:57:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=280 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [1] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 259 [post_author] => 98 [post_date] => 2017-10-24 09:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 13:00:31 [post_content] => One of the early strokes of genius by the architects of the American system was entrusting to Congress the sacred duty of supporting and providing for our military. The founding fathers did so to guard against an all-powerful executive and protect the foundations of individual liberty. However, two centuries of democratic governance, separation of powers, and dedication to the propositions of our founding revealed their true brilliance and foresight. As America has realized the limitless potential of its ideals, its citizens, and its destiny, the U.S. military has been transformed from a potential threat to liberty to the indispensable guardian of it — at home and around the world. Today, the challenge for Congress is navigating how to fulfill its constitutional duties in accordance with America’s global responsibilities. Through the years, as the country grew into its role as a world power, the obligation of Congress to ensure America lived up to the hopes and dreams of the founders only became more important. The post-World War II global order relies fundamentally on American leadership. The role of Congress, therefore, is not only to serve as the legislature of our great nation, but also — as a co-equal branch of government for the most powerful country in the world — to help maintain the stability and prosperity of the liberal order. We cannot take this charge seriously enough. That is why the diminished role of Congress in deliberating and debating the strategy to address the global challenges and opportunities we face is one of the great tragedies of our modern political system. Congress has a fairly straightforward set of constitutional roles and responsibilities: raising and supporting armies; providing and maintaining a Navy; providing advice and consent on treaties and nominations; controlling the purse strings; conducting oversight of executive branch departments and agencies; and exercising checks and balances as a co-equal branch of government. Yet, Congress has a more fundamental role in shaping American national security strategy than conventional constitutional wisdom would dictate. Unfortunately, we have allowed these important duties to wither away. The legislature, and in particular the Senate, is intended to be a deliberative body — one that is capable of providing a thoughtful, reasoned, and measured approach to matters of national import. In the national security sphere, the benefits of this deliberative approach are clear. Where the executive branch is consumed with the urgency of day-to-day events, the legislature can take time for precious debate and careful consideration of both current problems and future potentialities. Free from the paralysis of dealing with crisis management, Congress should be able to provide the strategic thinking that national security demands. [quote id="1"] Practically speaking, the process for Congress’s role starts with a sober assessment of national security threats. It then proceeds with spirited debate about the requirements necessary to meet those threats, followed by the authorization of policies and appropriation of resources to support those requirements. Finally, it provides vigorous oversight of those policies and resources. At its best, this is how Congress can — and has — functioned. In recent years, however, Congress has become only a shadow of the deliberative body it was intended to be. Political polarization has led to partisan gridlock. No matter which party is in power, the majority seems intent on imposing its will, while the minority seems solely interested in preventing any accomplishments. As we lurch from one self-created crisis to another, we are proving incapable of not only addressing the country’s most difficult problems but also fulfilling our most basic legislative duties. “Compromise” has become a dirty word and working across the aisle a political liability. But these very principles were meant to define our legislative process. Over time, regular order — the set of processes, rules, customs, and protocols by which Congress is supposed to govern itself and do business on behalf of the American people — has totally broken down. This has led to a paralysis that has rendered the institution largely incapable of exercising its unique responsibility to thoughtfully consider broader strategic questions. In doing so, Congress has diminished its role and, ultimately, disempowered itself. This has wrought havoc, most crucially, on our country’s national security policies. Nowhere is this more apparent than our defense budget. For years, U.S. military spending has been senselessly constrained by sequestration — perhaps the single greatest legislative failure that I have seen. Never intended to become law at all, sequestration was meant to be a threat so grave that it would force bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit. But bipartisanship proved too difficult for Congress, and the result was that arbitrary spending caps and sequestration became the law of the land. There is broad agreement on both sides of the aisle that defense has been woefully underfunded since the spending caps and sequestration came into effect. Even still, Congress has not been able to muster the political will to find a permanent solution to the problem. Instead, we have fallen into the habit of funding our government through short-term budget deals that we all know have a harmful impact on our military. Congress has all but given up on the appropriations process, and we regularly threaten the possibility of government shutdown. If we cannot fund the government, we are failing to fulfill even the most basic constitutional duties in a reliable and proper way — and, in doing so, we are ceding power to the executive and further weakening our own branch of government. I am proud to say that the Senate Armed Services Committee has long been one of the rare exceptions to the breakdown of regular order. For more than 50 consecutive years, Congress has enacted the National Defense Authorization Act in a bipartisan manner, and presidents of both parties have signed those bills into law. Unfortunately, even the bipartisanship surrounding the defense authorization bill has proven fragile. In recent years, we have struggled to reach agreement on a process to debate and vote on amendments under an open process on the floor of the Senate — undercutting one of its central purposes. While in the end a large majority of senators from both parties vote for the legislation each year, it is disappointing that we can no longer find a way to openly debate matters of such consequence to our military and our national security. It is essential that we find a way to restore Congress’s unique role in providing the deliberative, strategic approach that is so needed in our national security decision-making — especially in today’s increasingly dangerous and unstable world. To do so, we should look to our own past. At several key moments in recent history, Congress has demonstrated the courage and moral fortitude to do the hard work of thoughtful deliberation and strategic thinking to enact visionary reforms, policy changes, or shifts in national security strategy. There are a few episodes that stand out during my time in Washington. The first demonstrates the ability of a small group of members of Congress with strong personal convictions to change the trajectory of national security — despite determined opposition from a president. In the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter was considering withdrawing all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula in an effort to negotiate with the Chinese and the Soviets to prevent another war. As a Navy liaison in the Senate at the time, I escorted a bipartisan delegation of senators, including Henry “Scoop” Jackson and William Cohen, on a visit to South Korea. That on-the-ground experience led these leaders to conclude that troop withdrawal would aggravate rather than alleviate the security situation. Upon our return to Washington, the senators went to the White House and worked hard to convince the president that a troop withdrawal would not be the right course of action. These senators were highly regarded for their national security experience and expertise. While one of them might not have made a difference, the bipartisan group was able to change his mind and, in doing so, change the course of history. The results of withdrawing troops from South Korea would have been disastrous for our interests and those of our allies in the region. The second episode demonstrates the value of careful study, oversight, and reform — even when faced with bureaucratic opposition from the executive branch. The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act was the most consequential reform of the Department of Defense since its creation. Passed in 1986, my last year in the House of Representatives before I came to the Senate, this legislation was the result of years of hard work by the Armed Services Committee. Goldwater-Nichols came about in response to a series of military failures — the Vietnam War, the failed hostage rescue in Iran, and difficulties during the invasion of Grenada. After years of meticulous deliberation and study, the committee identified the root causes of these failures and enacted sweeping organizational reforms to fix the problems, increase efficiency, reduce waste, and encourage a more unified force. On the whole, those reforms have served our country well. [quote id="2"] The third episode demonstrates the power of shifting the paradigm during a crisis — in the face of strong path dependency from the administration. In 2006, the situation in Iraq was rapidly spiraling out of control. Those dark days saw slow progress, rising casualties, and dwindling public support for the war. The Bush administration continued to pursue the same strategy in the face of mounting evidence of its catastrophic failure. In Congress, we knew a new approach was urgently needed to turn the tide. As the representatives of the people, we understood that a mood of defeatism was rising, as critics who would have preferred failure called for unconditional troop withdrawal. Together with a group of highly-regarded national security experts, Congress demanded a change in strategy. The intellectual contributions of thought leaders were central to crafting the troop surge strategy, and Congress played an important role in building public support — in part through high-profile hearings like the one that allowed Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to make the case against accepting defeat. In 2007, President George W. Bush finally changed course and adopted a strategy that could lead to victory, working tirelessly to earn public support for the surge. While the gains made after the surge have since been squandered, we should not underestimate how the change in strategy turned the tide. It is time to get back to this way of doing business. To be sure, Congress is not perfect — least of all, its members. We have all made our fair share of mistakes and have gotten the details wrong on more than one occasion. Even so, we owe it to those who put our system in place to become the deliberative body we were intended to be. When it comes to asserting our role in national security, we owe it also to the men and women serving in our armed forces who put their lives at risk every day to keep our nation free. By reinvigorating the processes, rules, protocols, and customs of Congress, we can get back to fulfilling our unique role in national security decision-making. Through deliberation, debate, and regular order, we can overcome our current polarized, paralyzed moment — just as the founding fathers intended us to. By doing so, we can reassert our status as a coequal branch of government and do our part to ensure our national security. Only then can we — imperfectly — help our country move forward, secure our interests, defend our values, and protect the world order that has brought peace and prosperity to so many.   John McCain graduated from the Naval Academy in 1958. He served in the U.S. Navy until 1981. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. McCain was the Republican Party’s nominee for president in the 2008 election. He currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. [post_title] => Restoring the Vision: Overcoming Gridlock to Reassert Congress’s Role in Deliberating National Security [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => restoring-vision-overcoming-gridlock-reassert-congresss-role-deliberating-national-security [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-24 10:48:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-24 14:48:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=259 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [2] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 253 [post_author] => 52 [post_date] => 2017-10-24 09:05:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 13:05:49 [post_content] =>
There will be no day of days then when a new world order comes into being. Step by step and here and there it will arrive, and even as it comes into being it will develop fresh perspectives, discover unsuspected problems and go on to new adventures. No man, no group of men, will ever be singled out as its father or founder. For its maker will be not this man nor that man nor any man but Man, that being who is in some measure in every one of us. …The new order will be incessant; things will never stop happening, and so it defies any Utopian description.

G. Wells, The New World Order (1940)[1]

  H.G. Wells once said that civilization is a race between education and catastrophe. His thought is applicable to hemispheric relations. With common dedication to the highest ideals of mankind, including shared assumptions for a world at peace, freedom and progress, there is no insurmountable impediment to fruitful cooperation, save only insufficiency in mutual understanding.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Report to the American People on the South American Trip, March 8, 1960[2]

  … The President read passages from H.G. Wells … [He] said nations must have great ideas or they cease to be great. They talked about what happened to England and France [in 1940] and that peoples’ greatness has to be extra-dimensional and move beyond themselves. The question is whether we do what we need to both abroad and in the ghettos. If we just go to the ghettos and let go abroad, apart from the destruction that might come from a war, we might destroy ourselves. [Theodore] Roosevelt talked about it as the white man’s burden. Both of these people [Wells and Roosevelt] were searching for that same feeling that people need.

Notes of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Henry Kissinger), Washington, November 5, 1969, 7pm[3]

  The pursuit of something called “world order” has been an almost ever-present feature of Western – more specifically, American and British — statecraft for at least 100 years. It is embedded in a discourse about international affairs that can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Britain became increasingly conscious of the fragility of its empire, and the United States began to recognize the full extent of its potential power. Notions of regional or international order date further back than that and have long had a central place in conceptions of European statecraft, since the Treaty of Westphalia at least. But, the pursuit of world order speaks to a higher objective than the pursuit of the national interest or the mere preservation of stability and security in one’s neighborhood. All versions of world order are, to some extent, aspirational and visionary. They express a wish to guide the international future towards a more desirable destination. This is obviously true of more idealized versions of world order, some of which have gone so far as to envisage a future utopia in which humanity is unified under one law, war is abolished and reason prevails in the governance of man (seen in the work of H.G. Wells, for example). But, it also applies to more avowedly “realist” thinking on world order, which seeks “co-evolution” among nation states or great civilizational blocs as a better means to preserve international harmony, while eschewing “universalism” (in the alternative vision of Henry Kissinger).[4] Either way, the historical record suggests that one’s view of world order is inseparable from one’s worldview. It reveals the beholder’s hope for how the world should or could be, rather than simply how it is. The pursuit of world order has taken many forms in the last 100 years of Anglo-American statecraft, and its terms have been bitterly contested. It has been used as shorthand for a vast range of potential scenarios: from a unified “world state,” governed by a single supranational institution, to a balance of power in which the strongest prevail. Somewhere between these two poles sits the idea of “liberal international order” — the precise terms of which are much contested today. This essay does not seek to establish a typology between these various definitions, or to place them on an idealist-realist spectrum. The fluidity of the foreign policy debate, and the changing positions of those engaged in it, belies any such attempt. Instead, the essay seeks to identify a number of key inflection points in the evolution and metastization of different Anglo-American ideas of “world order” over the last century. The method adopted is that used by scholars of intellectual history, which has increasingly been applied to the study of international relations in recent years. In the first instance, this stresses the context-specific meaning of key political ideas (such as world order), while also opening up an inquiry into their genesis and lineage.[5] This inquiry begins with an analysis of a particular moment in November 1969, when the fundamental assumptions of American foreign policy were being re-examined, and it expands from there. Simply speaking, it demonstrates the enduring power of ideas. Specifically, the idea that a better world was achievable — through a combination of vision and human ingenuity — has provided a higher cause and unifying philosophy in Anglo-American statecraft. While conceptual purity has been elusive, the commitment to this endeavor has transcended different historical eras. When viewed over the longue durée, the yearning for equilibrium, structure, and order in international affairs provides an explanatory spine to the story of American and British foreign policy over the course of the last century. It also becomes clear that contending ideas of world order have been entwined with existential questions, such as the meaning of history, the survival of Western civilization, and the very future of mankind. [quote id="1"] The vagueness and ambiguity surrounding different definitions of world order are apt to infuriate practically-minded strategists, impatient with abstractions or images of an ideal future. The never-ending nature of the search for world order has played its part in foreign policy errors in the past. The current fashion for running down the idea of a “liberal international order” partly derives from the fact that it is regarded as a general good, rather than a clearly defined strategic goal. Yet, when ideas of world order are simply cast out as vapid utopianism, or “globalist” delusion, British and American foreign policy loses form, spirit, purpose, vision, and a sense of direction. A recognition of the historical force of such ideas is more important than ever at a time when the fundamental assumptions of Americans are being re-examined.

The Current “Crisis of World Order” and the Critique of Globalism

Within the last decade, a consensus has emerged in the West that there is a crisis of world order that must be addressed. The idea has proved particularly influential in the United States, as part of a broader debate about America’s status in international affairs. The reasons for this are well-known, from fears about the rising power of China and new concerns about Russia under President Vladimir Putin, to a series of costly engagements in the Middle East. For the outside observer, however, what is striking is just how widely shared this consensus is. Remarkably, it also seems to encompass four of the most distinctive influential foreign policy traditions of the United States — those who tend to classify themselves as “realists,” those often described as “liberal internationalists,” “conservative internationalists,” and those presumed to hold something more like a “neo-conservative” perspective on foreign policy. One of the most influential interjections in this debate was Henry Kissinger’s 2014 book, World Order, which examined competing visions of international order, from the peace of Westphalia to the 21st century. As the American-led order established in 1945 begins to come under strain under the force of global historical change, Kissinger wrote that the “reconstruction of the international system is the ultimate challenge of statesmanship in our time.”[6] But, different iterations of the same concern have emerged across the political spectrum. For example, when she was regarded as the most likely nominee to be the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton reviewed Kissinger’s book at length. She spoke of her own efforts, as secretary of state, in “reimagining and reinforcing the global order to meet the demands of an increasingly interdependent age.”[7] Notwithstanding the criticisms Kissinger made of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, she suggested that the two nonetheless shared a “belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.”[8] Of course, Kissinger’s thesis was critiqued by others on the liberal internationalist side of the American foreign policy spectrum, such as Anne-Marie Slaughter, who regarded it as a classic “realist” account, giving insufficient place to “moral considerations” in foreign policy. At the same time, however, Slaughter concurred on one fundamental point: the urgency of creating some sort of new “global order” for the 21st century, albeit one “acceptable not only to states but also to the vast majority of the world’s people.” In Slaughter’s view, the failure of the United States to do more to prevent bloodshed in the Syrian Civil War was a symptom of the crisis in world order, and the outcome of America eschewing pursuit of that higher ideal.[9] This chimed with a line of argument made by others such as Vali Nasr, who wrote in his book, The Dispensable Nation, that a retreat of American diplomatic leadership on the international stage deprived the existing world order of the very thing that held it together.[10] From different angles, then, a growing number of foreign policy commentators joined the chorus of concern about the so-called crisis of world order. Robert Kagan, generally thought of as a neo-conservative thinker, also joined the fray in 2014 with an essay in the New Republic entitled, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire.” [11] In it, Kagan also bemoaned what he saw as a loss of appetite for international leadership in the United States, feeding into increased global instability. “If a breakdown in the world order that America made is occurring, it is not because America’s power is declining,” he wrote. He posited that the country’s wealth, power and potential influence remained adequate to meet the present challenges. Nor was it because the world had “become more complex and intractable.” Rather, he said, it was “an intellectual problem, a question of identity and purpose,” originating in the United States itself. Americans hoped for a “return to normalcy.” But, the power and pervasiveness of the United States meant that it could not simply bow out of the world order game and expect not to feel the ramifications.[12] [quote id="2"] By the spring of 2016, as the presidential election cycle was fully under way, the linkage between the apparent crisis of world order and this national “question of identity and purpose” became more pronounced. In a March 2016 essay for The American Interest, Daniel Deudney and John Ikenberry suggested that the foundations of the American-led international order had been a “centrist tradition of American world leadership,” marked by a “strong bipartisan internationalist tradition.” A radical conservative critique was challenging the “foundations of Pax Americana” at home, with potentially grave implications for the world beyond.[13] When the purveyors of that radical conservative critique coalesced around the figure of Donald Trump during the presidential primary season, it became clear that many mainstream Republicans were similarly uncomfortable with the potential implications for future foreign policy. The same month, March 2016, more than 100 Republican national security leaders signed an open letter in opposition to any future Trump presidency.[14] As Eliot Cohen, one of the most influential Republican critics of Trump, noted in his 2017 book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force, it was increasingly difficult to convince the U.S. electorate of the necessary costs involved with America retaining its position as “the guarantor of world order.”[15] Efforts to reinvigorate “conservative internationalism,” seen in the work of Paul D. Miller, for example, reflected the same concerns.[16] To the critics of the Washington foreign policy establishment, impugned in recent times as “the blob,”[17] these concerns about a crisis of world order and a decline in American leadership are but a familiar refrain. The criticism of mainstream American foreign policy traditions — and the idea that they rest on the same misguided premise about “world order” — has a heritage on both the left and right. Noam Chomsky’s 1994 book, World Orders Old and New, characterized the “guidelines of world order,” as also defined by Britain and America since World War II, as follows:
The rich men of the rich societies are to rule the world, competing among themselves for a greater share of the wealth and power and mercilessly suppressing those who stand in their way.[18]
In a more nuanced 2015 assessment, American Foreign Policy and its Thinkers, another New Left writer, Perry Anderson, also commented on the surprising degree of consensus across these different schools of U.S. foreign policy thinking on this fundamental goal: the desirability of preserving a U.S.-led international order.[19] In a subsequent 2017 work, Anderson noted how, since the end of the Cold War, a growing number of liberal internationalist thinkers — such as Jon Ikenberry, Joseph Nye, and Robert O. Keohane — had argued that the preservation of the liberal international order was the best means for America to exert “soft” power on the world stage. On the one hand, this was seen as an evolution away from outmoded Cold War thinking — which preferred to focus on the raw metrics of economic and military power. The exponents of this position called it a “milieu-based” grand strategy and suggested it was more sustainable than past superpower strategies because it did not aspire to dominance or empire. On the other hand, from the perspective of critics on the New Left, this was just the pursuit of “hegemony” by other means.[20] Most recently, this so-called Washington consensus has come under attack from some of those associated with the Trump campaign and presidency. Most obvious, of course, are the views of the president himself. With striking consistency over the previous decades, he has expressed a worldview that is directly hostile to the idea of a U.S.-led international order.[21] Many of these ideas have 19th century antecedents.[22] But, the emphasis on “America first” converged with new trends of nationalism in American political discourse to emerge on the right that, according to Iskander Rehman, contains elements of ethno-tribalism, millenarianism, decadentism and illiberalism. When confronted with a large and influential establishment — which is perceived to be particularly deeply entrenched on issues of foreign policy — the most influential apostles of this worldview, notably former White House advisor and strategist Steve Bannon, have expressed a firm desire “to bring everything crashing down.”[23]

Stripping the Altars: World Order as a “Globalist” Aberration

One of the more articulate criticisms of the shared assumptions of the foreign policy establishment has come from Michael Anton, now deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the National Security Council. At the time of writing, he is one of the few radical critics of the foreign policy establishment to remain in office (avoiding the fates of Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka who have all either been pushed aside or left).[24] In an article written before he joined the administration, Anton took aim at the consensus, firmly held on both sides of the aisle, that a Trump presidency would undermine the “liberal international order:”
Nearly all opponents of President Trump’s foreign policy, from conservatives and Republicans to liberals and Democrats, claim to speak up for the “liberal international order.” A word may have been different here or there (e.g., “world order”) but the basic charge was always the same. Whether voiced by Fareed Zakaria and Yascha Mounk on the left, Walter Russell Mead in the center, Eliot Cohen and Robert Zoellick on the right, or Robert Kagan on the once-right-now-left, the consensus was clear: Trump threatens the international liberal order.[25]
Anton went on to argue that the foreign policy establishment lining up behind the liberal international order was both a kind of “priesthood.” The priesthood had a vested interest in protecting its status “by muddying the simple and clear, and pretending that the complex is clear and obvious — but only to themselves.” They dominated the language and discourse of foreign policy and were instinctively hostile to anything that challenged their worldview. There was even a hint of Chomsky in the argument that the liberal international order was better understood as the “liberal rich-country order.”[26] Whether it comes from Chomsky or Anton, one has to acknowledge elements of truth in this critique. There are indeed certain shared presuppositions within mainstream U.S. foreign policy traditions that have gone unchallenged and unexamined for many years. The same might be said in the British national security debate, which takes its cue from the United States, and which places similar emphasis on a “rules-based international order” as its starting point.[27] There is a distance between popular perceptions of the national interest and those prescribed by individuals within the foreign policy establishment. The benefits said to arise from an American-led international order are sometimes presumed rather than explained. Vagueness around the definition of the liberal international order has sometimes led to confusion about the core strategic purpose of American grand strategy, not to mention that of its allies. There are many who would agree with Anton that the attempt, after the end of the Cold War, to enlarge the mission in pursuit of a “new world order” was “a case of American eyes being much bigger than our stomachs (or teeth), a confusion of ideology and interests.” Anton himself suggests that he is not advocating the abandonment of the liberal international order, but simply a greater willingness to reform it.[28] [quote id="3"] Yet, the reality is that this assault on the so-called “priesthood” rests on unexamined assumptions of its own. The purported aim of bringing the Washington consensus “crashing down” has created an exaggerated disdain for the “intellectual architecture” of American grand strategy.[29] The desire to strip the altars or to rip up the sacred scripts is based on a jaundiced and limited reading of history. First, it presumes a fundamental “wrong turn” taken by the United States at some point in recent decades (and a concomitant need to press the reset button). Second, and more importantly, the radical conservative obsession with “globalism” has become the right’s equivalent of the left-wing obsession with “neo-liberalism” — that is, a vague and catch-all term, designed to signal disapproval, but offering limited utility.

World Order as a Recurring Vision in the Anglo-American Mind

The idea that the high premium placed upon the idea of world order is some sort of globalist or neo-liberal aberration, tacked on to more traditional foreign policy aims by a complacent and self-interested establishment, is not supported by the historical record. It should be said, as Or Rosenboim has pointed out, that the competing visions of world order that emerged in the mid-20th century did have a significant “globalist” dimension.[30] Such ideas were particularly influential when (according to Google’s Ngram tool) popular usage of the phrase “world order” peaked in 1945. But, the ideas of world order discussed in what follows have a longer heritage — one that predates and transcends the unique era of post-war planning from 1939-45. In fact, the pursuit of world order has provided an extra-dimension to Anglo-American thinking about world affairs for more than 100 years: providing a vision that went beyond the pursuit of narrow self-interest; easily traversing the divide between so-called idealists and realists; and acting as a bridging mechanism between the immediate considerations of the nation-state and a broader concern for the future of Western civilization. In using the hyphenated form, “Anglo-American,” the intention is not to play down the differences between British and American foreign policy. Over the course of the last 100 years, as Britain’s global power waned and America’s waxed, both nations continued to put their own interests before anything else. Nonetheless, in the most important great power transition of the 20th century, there is a striking degree of interchange about ideas of “world order.” This allowed for a commonality of purpose at a number of critical points in modern history. In some cases, such as the wake of World War I, a shared commitment to create a new international order was undermined by a failure to define the mission and unwillingness to pursue it to its end. In others, such as the wake of World War II, there was a coalescence of views on world order that had a profound impact on international affairs.[31] The shared pool of ideals provided a more solid foundation for Anglo-American relations than sentimental appeals to the “special relationship.” Moments of perfect symmetry were fleeting and rare. But, the intellectual synergies ran deep and were transmitted across different eras. Indeed, one reason why the pursuit of world order became so entrenched in Anglo-American thinking was that so many different tributaries flowed into it. It was not the preserve of one party or one intellectual tradition. It is this that explains unlikely connections, such as the fondness of at least three Republican presidents — Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Nixon — for the work of a British socialist writer like H.G. Wells. Given the broad period under discussion, and the amorphous nature of the concept of world order, the intention here is not to attempt a narrative sweep from the late 19th century through to the modern era. The evolution of American (and Anglo-American) ideas about international order over the last 100 years has been charted expertly by a number of scholars in recent years — notably Mark Mazower in Governing the World, David Milne in Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy and John Thompson in A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role.[32] Similarly, it is not my aim to chart the competition between different versions of world order — from the “world state” to the “balance of power.” Instead, I argue that what matters is not so much how world order has been defined, but the sense in which Anglo-American statesmen have continued to regard it as a noble cause. To put it another way, the endpoint may remain vague and contested, but the almost ever-present desire to work towards it is tangible, discernible, and traceable — providing an organizing philosophy and therefore a real driving force in history. Despite the significant differences between them on foreign policy, both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson can be seen to have dedicated significant portions of their career to a vision of world order. Some of these threads were brought together by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in the period from 1940-1945. But, the fact that almost all of the post-World War II presidents and prime ministers have paid some sort of homage to an idealized version of world order is a testimony to the enduring influence of the idea. The challenge, then, is to test this idea on less fertile ground. For that reason, the rest of this essay takes an unorthodox approach by beginning with a freeze frame of American foreign policy thinking at a critical moment in the Cold War, in late 1969. The primary reason for starting with this episode — as opposed to one from the era of Wilson or the Roosevelts, for example — is that it sits far outside the usual idealistic lineage of American thinking about world order. Second, it took place in a period in which the fundamental presuppositions underlying American foreign policy were being re-examined, much as they are today. As Henry Kissinger wrote at the time, in a briefing note prepared for President Richard Nixon, it was a “period in which American foreign policy has to be put on a new foundation.” For the first two decades after World War II, America’s approach to the world had been:
conducted with the maxims and the inspiration that guided the Marshall Plan, that is, the notion of a predominant United States, as the only stable country, the richest country, the country without whose leadership and physical contribution nothing was possible, and which had to make all the difference for defense and progress everywhere in the world. …Conditions have changed enormously. We are now in a world in which other parties are playing a greater role.[33]
Both Kissinger and Nixon were willing to countenance a “revolution” in U.S. foreign policy. But, in doing so, they fell back on some unlikely sources of inspiration. Tellingly, they returned to episodes of Anglo-American foreign policy that predated 1945, and they sought to reinvigorate old ideas about world order from this shared tradition. The canon Nixon referred to was a somewhat chaotic and unruly one, which darted back and forth across the Atlantic to Anglo-American statesman of different eras. Nonetheless, the variety of influences on his thinking tells a story in its own right. It says something revealing about how the search for world order was viewed — as the continuation of a historical mission, a search for meaning beyond national self-interest, a vehicle for the preservation of Western civilization and an attempt to wrestle with the future rather than to let fate take its course. Seen in this way, the pursuit of world order — in the most general sense — appears as a surprisingly ecumenical credo with a long, if somewhat controversial, backstory.

Richard Nixon and H.G. Wells

On the evening of Nov. 5, 1969, a year to the day after his election as president, Richard Nixon was in a reflective mood. At 7 p.m., he picked up the telephone on his Oval Office desk, on which he kept a stack of recently read books, and called Henry Kissinger, his national security advisor.[34] Elected with a promise to end the Vietnam War, Nixon was conscious of the weight of historical responsibility on his shoulders. He had been reading a recently published book by the World War II veteran and University of California sinologist, Laurence Thompson, titled 1940: Year of Legend, Year of History. This book told of Winston Churchill becoming prime minister of Great Britain at its darkest hour, as the remnants of his nation’s army desperately fled the Nazi advance on the beaches of Dunkirk in May.[35] The book was on Nixon’s mind as he sought to advise his national security advisor on what to say in a forthcoming interview with Time magazine. While the British survived Dunkirk to fight another day, the months that followed evacuation provided little solace. By the end of 1941, the Nazi mission to dominate Europe looked almost complete. The Wehrmacht reached the suburbs of Moscow, and the Soviet Union seemed to be on the brink of defeat. In Asia, meanwhile, Japan was preparing to launch a full-scale assault on the weakening British Empire. As it turned out, Adolf Hitler’s decision to invade Russia that winter was to prove disastrous. Even more consequential was the decision by the Japanese to launch a pre-emptive attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, for fear that it would enter the war on the side of the British. In London, as Laurence Thompson has recounted, it was certainly not seen as inevitable that Washington would enter the war until the attack happened. So, Thompson described how, Churchill, on the night of Dec. 7, 1941,
went to bed saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful. That United States, like or not, had been goaded into taking the place left vacant on the world stage by a declining Britain.[36]
With this global leadership came grave responsibilities. Almost three decades later, Nixon took charge of a country that was locked in a seemingly intractable and energy-sapping conflict in Southeast Asia. The year 1968 had been the bleakest year yet, with the loss of almost 17,000 American servicemen, adding urgency to his campaign promises to end the war. Yet, the bleak news from Vietnam was partially alleviated by another event in Nixon’s first year in office. Just a few months prior, on July 20, 1969, two American astronauts had become the first human beings to walk on the surface of the moon. As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin disembarked Apollo II for their moonwalk, they had been greeted by the voice of the president, channelled through a crackling line into their earpieces. “Because of what you have done the heavens have become a part of man's world,” said Nixon, “and as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquillity, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquillity to earth.”[37] Three months later, Nixon considered how previous generations would have viewed these remarkable achievements. Back in 1901, it had been left to English science fiction writer H.G. Wells, in one of his most fantastical stories, to envisage such a mission in his novel, The First Men in the Moon, which had been made into a feature film in 1964.[38] Such achievements were enough to spur anyone into deeper reflection about the purpose of mankind and the advance of civilization. [quote id="4"] Reflecting on this modern day “crusade,” Nixon also quoted from Well’s famous 1920 work, The Outline of History, an ambitious attempt to tell the story of human civilization from the Neolithic era to the modern era. In the book, Wells noted a recurrent tension between the nomadic cultures that emerged in the north and the settled peoples who were more common in the south. In the tension between them, one could see, at the core of the human spirit, a desire to strive for “a new and better sort of civilization.” Wells described a series of civilizational missions over the course of history, such as the Christian crusades or nomadic conquerors — Alexander the Great, Muhammed, Napoleon and Woodrow Wilson — which had attempted to unify humanity. Although they had failed, Wells believed that mankind would never forego the goal of unity, and that the march of science and technology made the prospect of success ever more likely.[39] By Nov. 5, 1969, as the sun was setting on first year of Nixon’s presidency, the United States faced a combination of challenges at home — manifested in a surge of student radicalism and inner-city riots throughout the summer — and overseas, where it was unclear how America could extricate itself without a humiliating defeat. The words of Wells weighed upon the president, as he considered the challenge ahead. “In terms of history, when we talk about the crusades that H.G. Wells talked about, for example the moon thing,” he said to Kissinger,
[They] had the effect of bringing to Western Europe not just the discovery in the East but the fact that Western Europe at that time devoted itself to a great cause beyond itself. It changed Western Europe. …The President said nations must have great ideas or they cease to be great.[40]
More than that, Nixon feared that if America focused solely on domestic problems, giving up on its leadership of the Western world, it would lose its sense of purpose:
The question is whether we do what we need to both abroad and in the ghettos. If we just go to the ghettos and let go abroad, apart from the destruction that might come from a war, we might destroy ourselves.[41]
In addition to this unlikely fondness for H.G. Wells, Nixon also sought inspiration from one of his predecessors in the White House, Theodore Roosevelt, who had been president from 1901-1908. “Roosevelt talked about it as the white man's burden,” explained Nixon as he ended the phone call. “Both of these people were searching for that same feeling that people need.” [42] Nixon’s presidency was to become one of the most controversial in American history. Yet, in its infancy, and despite his reputation for cold-hearted realpolitik, he was eager to associate himself with a cause that went beyond the narrow national interest and spoke to “great ideas” and a civilizational crusade. With the moon having been conquered already, this was to be pursued in the field of foreign affairs.

The Pursuit of World Order as a “Civilizational Mission”

For many, then and now, the notion of a “white man’s burden” represented the ultimate stain on the historical record of the West — the pretense to stand for a higher cause was but a thin veneer, masking racial prejudice and the grasping self-interest. There was, without question, a highly racialized component to some early Anglo-American thinking about world order.[43] So if Nixon had uttered these words in public in 1969, it would most likely have provoked an overwhelmingly negative response. In fact, the infamous phrase was not Roosevelt’s creation. It was coined by the English poet Rudyard Kipling and first used in the title of a poem written for the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, marking her 60 years on the throne. The Diamond Jubilee was to not only symbolize the pinnacle of British imperial power, but also the growing recognition of its fragility, and the loosening of the binds that held it together. As the 19th century drew to a close, Kipling understood that the enemies of the Empire were growing in power and number. As the 20th century loomed on the horizon, he also had come to the conclusion that the “white man’s burden” would be too much for Britain to bear alone for another century. It was thus, at the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898, that Kipling began to look to the United States to share in Britain’s burden, to preserve and spread “civilisation” in the world.[44] The American people were undecided as to the merits of assuming such a responsibility. When the United States took possession of the Philippine Islands from Spain – and assumed responsibility for its governance – it sparked a fierce national debate as to whether a country founded on rebellion against the British Empire should itself take part in the imperial game. Conscious of the way this debate was finely poised, in late November 1898, Kipling offered his verse to Roosevelt, who had just been elected Governor of New York and was a staunch supporter of expansionism. “Now, go in and put all the weight of your influence into hanging on, permanently, to the whole Philippines,” he begged Roosevelt in the letter that he sent to accompany the poem. “America has gone and stuck a pick-axe into the foundations of a rotten house, and she is morally bound to build the house over, again, from the foundations, or have it fall about her ears.” Forwarding Kipling’s poem to Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, Roosevelt commented that it was “poor poetry,” but that it made “good sense from the expansion standpoint.”[45] By evoking Wells, Kipling, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Armstrong in the space of a short phone call, Nixon clearly sought historical justification for the change of direction in American foreign policy that he was considering. It would be easy to conclude that the president, who was not a natural intellectual, was confused by these conflicting ideas from across the political spectrum. Yet, he was not amiss in seeing the connections. For one, there was an unlikely connection between the thinking of Wells and the writing of Kipling. Even a socialist like Wells, who rejected Kipling’s imperialism in favor of his dream of a “world state” — a vision captured in his 1940 book, New World Order — acknowledged that the poet of Empire had influenced him in his early years.[46] As Wells wrote in The New Machiavelli, the “prevailing force” of his worldview as a young man was “Kiplingism … we were all, you must understand, very distinctly Imperialists also, and professed a vivid sense of the ‘White Man’s Burden.’” Kipling helped to broaden his “geographical sense,” he recalled, while inspiring in him a “desire for discipline and devotion” that seemed to be sorely missing in the chaotic affairs of men.[47] To be clear, as Wells moved away from the views of his youth, he distanced himself from Kipling and any whiff of sentimentality about the Empire. In fact, The First Men in the Moon can be partly interpreted as a critique of British imperialism, published against the backdrop of the Second Boer War.[48] At the onset of World War II, Wells’s vision of a “new world order” was one in which the empires would melt away. More specifically, he believed that the British Empire was the greatest obstacle to the unity of the English-speaking peoples in pursuit of that higher ideal. He wrote:
I dislike calling myself “British” and I like to think of myself as a member of a great English-speaking community, which spreads irrespective of race and colour round and about the world.
What he hoped for was “the realisation of a common purpose and a common cultural inheritance may spread throughout all the English-speaking communities.” Foreshadowing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s position, he suggested that only the dissolution of the British Empire “may inaugurate this great synthesis.”[49] Such was the predictive power of Wells that many came to regard him as something of a prophet of the future.[50] Yet, as Nixon’s reference to the “white man’s burden” confirmed, Kipling also cast a longer shadow over the 20th century than is often presumed. In the view of George Orwell, for example, Wells’s optimistic faith in the eventual triumph of science, rationalism, and reason left him ill-equipped to understand the atavistic forces that had come to define the 20th century. In his fear of a clash of civilizations, savagery, ethnic bloodlust, and the breakdown of order, Orwell even suggested that Kipling had been a better prophet for the modern era. Wells was “too sane to understand the modern world.” Kipling, by contrast, “was not deaf to the evil voices of power and military ‘glory.’” Had he lived to see the 1930s, suggested Orwell, Kipling would have better understood “the appeal of Hitler, or for that matter of Stalin, whatever his attitude towards them might be.”[51] Without stretching the point, one can see both these instincts — the Wellsian yearning for international order and the belief that it was attainable by human endeavor and Kipling’s fear of the fragility of Western civilization — in the minds of Nixon and Kissinger, as they contemplated a new course in American foreign policy. There is, perhaps, another clue here in Nixon’s admiration for Winston Churchill. The British statesman often testified to the influence that both Wells and Kipling had upon him. Some of Churchill’s most famous wartime phrases — including his appeals to the unity of the “English-speaking peoples” and “gathering storm” — could be traced back to Wells. Most important, in this respect, was the “broad sunlit uplands” that envisaged a better future world after war.[52] Nor was the link between Wells and Roosevelt that Nixon made at the end of his first year in office — referring to this “feeling that people need” — the product of a confused imagination. It is unclear whether Nixon knew the story or whether he had an intuitive sense of the intellectual connection between them. But the writer and the statesman had in fact met many years before, when Wells visited the White House in 1907. On that occasion, Roosevelt had revealed to Wells a fondness for one of his earlier novels, The Time Machine, first published in 1895.[53] Influenced by the work of Charles Darwin, Wells had envisioned a future in which civilization had not evolved uniformly, but had led to the creation of a two-tiered world. On the surface of the earth lived the Eloi, peaceful, childlike creatures who had lost their evolutionary edge. With no apparent threat to their existence, and having triumphed over nature, they were smaller, weake, and less motivated by the quest for survival than the humans from whom they had evolved. Then, the time travelling narrator catches sight of something called a Morlock, a “queer little ape-like figure,” disappearing into a subterranean network of tunnels that was once the London underground. It dawns upon him:
that Man had not remained one species, but had differentiated into two distinct animals: that my graceful children of the Upper World were not the sole descendants of our generation, but that this bleached, obscene, nocturnal Thing, which had flashed before me, was also heir to all the ages.[54]
At the end of The Time Machine, the time traveller rushes forward in time once more to escape the Morlocks who have captured him. In a final scene, he finds a world in which all remnants of mankind are extinct, only the simplest vegetation remains and monstrous crab-like creatures slowly scuttle across blood-red beaches in search of giant butterflies to eat.[55] For many readers of the book, this dystopian vision suggested a deep anxiety about the future of the world, a view verging on fatalistic despair. Yet, this was not the case for Roosevelt, who claimed to be inspired by it. As Wells recalled, the president “became gesticulatory,” when the discussion turned to The Time Machine, gripping the back of a garden chair with his left hand and stabbing the air with his right as if he was speaking on a platform, “his straining voice a note higher in denying the pessimism of that book…”[56]  Roosevelt, crouching down on the White House lawn that afternoon in 1907, as if over a battlefield, said, “Suppose, after all that you should be right, and it ends with your butterflies and Morlocks. That doesn’t matter now! The effort’s real. It’s worth going on with it — even then.”[57] The president joked, “Morlocks! Everywhere Morlocks!” as he looked out across the lawn and pretended to shoot the imaginary creatures, as if he were holding a rifle in his hand. The two men laughed. The novelist was flattered and agreed that he had not intended his book to be an expression of despair so much as a call to action.[58] The point here was not that Wells (nor Kipling, for that matter) had some sort of decisive influence on Roosevelt or the formation of his worldview. This would be to look at the formation of an Anglo-American worldview the wrong way around, as some sort of process of British influencing America as the latter reached superpower consciousness. The president was an enthusiastic Anglophile, but he had already made his own mind up about what was in America’s best interests. Kipling and Wells had different fears and hopes about the international future. What they shared, from vastly different perspectives, was the growing conviction that the United States was the best guarantor of salvation and civilization. Like many Englishmen after them, they were not manipulating the American consciousness so much as pinning their hopes upon American leadership. “Never did a President so reflect the quality of his time,” Wells wrote after the meeting with Roosevelt. He was “a very symbol of the creative will in man, in its limitations, its doubtful adequacy, its valiant persistence, amidst complexities and confusions.” At the outset of the 20th century, Wells was pleased to report that Roosevelt embodied a new political trend in the Anglo-American world that was “altogether away from the anarchistic individualism of the nineteenth century … towards some constructive scheme.”[59] At the domestic level, elements of this new approach could be seen in the policies of the Progressive era. The real “constructive scheme” that Wells had in mind, however, was the building of a new world order.

The Elusiveness of Pax-Anglo-Saxonica

While it says something about the tangled roots of Anglo-American worldview, this vignette – an account of brief telephone conversation in 1969 — can only get us so far. It was clear that Nixon sought inspiration from this sense that he was resuming a long-term historical cause, but this did not provide him with a new blueprint for Cold War foreign policy. Meanwhile, it was one thing to see Roosevelt — as Wells did — as the harbinger of a “constructive scheme” in world affairs and a reversal of the trend towards anarchic individualism. It was quite another, as countless exponents of world order were to learn, to articulate how such a vague idea could ever be materialized. Indeed, the lack of clarity about concrete goals meant that the pursuit of world order nearly always ended in frustrated ambition. The failures of Anglo-American internationalism in the era preceding and following World War I can, to a great extent, be explained by this confusion. On the one hand, the idea that Britain and the United States might have had a shared interest in what might be (anachronistically) called a “liberal international order” had gathered some traction among elites by the turn of the 20th century. On the other hand, divergent national interests and significant cultural differences still held sway. First, British foreign policy in this era paid great homage to certain liberal international ideals while being primarily concerned with the preservation of Empire. Second, it soon became clear that — whatever the personal views of Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson after him — the U.S. Congress, and ergo the American people, was unwilling to assume the burden that the construction of a new international order demanded. [quote id="5"] For those who hoped that the “Americanization of the world” would lessen the load on the British Empire, there was much frustration at the course taken by the United States. Following Roosevelt, the presidency of William Howard Taft was regarded as particularly disappointing. In 1911, the British writer Sydney Brooks — whose pieces often appeared in Harper’s Magazine — complained that the United States did not understand the urgency of the civilizational threat to the West because of its relative security and its near-impenetrability from foreign invasion. It had become clear that Americans lived “in an atmosphere of extra-ordinary simplicity, spaciousness, and self-absorption,” he wrote. Foreign policy was never a priority in American politics and the implications of American expansionism had yet to be grasped. After expansion into Cuba and the Philippines in 1898, Americans had strewn the Pacific with stepping stones from Hawaii to Manila, just as the British had done in the Mediterranean. In effect, America had an empire, but Americans had “not yet become Imperial.” As Brooks complained in 1911, “The white man’s burden, so far as Americans are concerned, has become the white man’s boredom.”[60] For a fleeting moment, America’s entry into the Great War and Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points re-energized the idea that such a Western-led world order could be built.[61] While some of the supporters of the Anglo-American alliance in Britain were imperial survivalists, there were also genuine internationalists in the mould of Wells. The failure of the United States to join the League of Nations in 1920 was a bitter disappointment to the advocates of this new world order. At the same time, quite justifiably, some of the most forthright advocates of American internationalism believed that the project had been corrupted in inception by the failure of the European powers — Britain foremost among them — to abandon their imperial ambitions.[62] No sooner, then, had the concept of “world order” been transferred from theorists to statesmen that it became associated with failure. Tellingly, one of the earliest mentions of “world order” in the State Department archives appeared in the resignation letter of an idealistic young Wilsonian diplomat, William Bullitt, who felt that the post-war peace settlement was unduly harsh on Bolshevik Russia and that America should refuse to cooperate with Britain and France in pursuing their familiar imperialist great games. He told Wilson,
I was one of the millions who trusted confidently and implicitly in your leadership and believed that you would take nothing less than “a permanent peace” based upon “unselfish and unbiased justice.” But our Government has consented now to deliver the suffering peoples of the world to new oppressions, subjections and dismemberments — a new century of war. And I can convince myself no longer that effective labor for “a new world order” is possible as a servant of this Government.[63]
Ironically, outside the Anglo-American world, some observers took the view that the English-speaking peoples had missed an incredible opportunity to establish a dominant Anglo-American world order. Friedrich Meinecke, the foremost German theorist of “realpolitik,” addressed these questions in his classic text, Machiavellianism: The Doctrine of Raison D’État and Its Place in Modern History (1924). Meinecke refused to believe that a true League of Nations could ever be realized and had little time for Wilsonian idealism. Instead of the League, however, he believed that the shared strategic culture of America and Britain might eventually point to a different type of international order. While the moment had passed in 1920, he speculated four years later,
perhaps occur that the era of ... international conflict … may be brought to an end not by a genuine League of Nations, but by the world-hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon powers, in whose hands the strongest physical powers of the globe are already concentrated.
Meinecke did not welcome the prospect of such a “pax anglo-saxonica.” But, he did recognize that, through the lighter touch of liberal capitalism, it would “be more endurable for the individual life of ... [other] nations” than dominance by other great powers.[64] While there were those in the Anglo-American world who held on to such a vision in the 1920s, they grew increasingly forlorn. By November 1928, ten years after the Entente’s victory in World War I, an official at the British Foreign Office sat down to compose a stark assessment of the new global order that was taking shape. Russia, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and China were all locked in spirals of revolution and repression while being crippled by successive financial crises. One country stood supreme above all the others. In the United States, the official wrote, Great Britain was faced:
with a phenomenon for which there is no parallel in our modern history — a state twenty-five times as large, five times as wealthy, three times as populous, twice as ambitious, almost invulnerable, and at least our equal in prosperity, vital energy, technical equipment and industrial strength.
The problem, as it was to be for much of the next century, was that “in almost every field, the advantages to be derived from mutual co-operation are greater for us than for them.”[65] Against this backdrop, British imaginings of the future took on a darker form once again. It was in 1933 — the year that Adolf Hitler became Germany’s chancellor — that H.G. Wells returned to his musings on the idea of world order, once again through the lens of futurology, with The Shape of Things to Come. A science fiction novel purporting to be a “history” of the future, it told the story of how humanity would develop from 1930 to the year 2106. The world that Wells depicted was one in which Franklin D. Roosevelt fails to implement the New Deal, causing a global economic crisis that lasts 30 years. This is punctuated by a “second world war” that, with eerie accuracy, Wells predicted would begin in January 1940, sparked by a clash between Germany and Poland over Danzig. There would be no clear victor. Instead, the leading powers would emerge exhausted. Worse would follow in 1956 with the outbreak of a plague — spread by a group of enraged baboons having escaped from the London Zoo — that wipes out much of the world population.[66] The saving of humanity would take drastic measures over many years. Wells envisaged the emergence of a benevolent “dictatorship of the air,” formed by the global elite at an international conference convened in Basra in 1965. Through their control of the world’s aircraft, they would begin by eradicating the world’s religions, dropping bombs on Mecca and waging a long war against Catholicism. Eventually, the dictatorship would melt away, making way for a peaceful humanitarian utopia in which the struggle for material existence has ended, meaning that “reason” could finally triumph. The last recorded event in the book takes place on New Year’s Day 2106, when there is a levelling of the last skyscrapers that once dominated the New York skyline.[67] Piece by piece, the theoretical fragments of this vague world order were assembled for use at some future date. The following year, in 1934, the English historian Arnold Toynbee published the first volume of his 12-volume work, A Study of History, which traced the rise and fall of 23 major civilizations.[68] It was, in part, a response to Oswald Spengler’s two-volume masterpiece, The Decline of the West, which was produced at the end of World War I and warned that Western civilization was approaching its twilight.[69] Spengler questioned what he saw as a Eurocentric view of history, which presumed a linear development towards modernity and progress. Toynbee rejected this fatalism about the decline of the West. At the same time, he stressed the urgent need to formulate a vision for how the different civilizations of the world could co-exist and share the globe among them. “The challenge of being called upon to create a political world-order … now confronts our Modern Western society,” he warned.[70]

Coming Back Together: Anglo-American Conceptions of World Order

It was one thing to build castles in the sky, in the manner of Toynbee and Wells, or to speak in such broad civilizational terms. But the interwar era proved just how difficult it was to translate such vague aspirations about world order into tangible goals of foreign policy. The meteor-like phenomenon of Wilsonian internationalism, blazing brightly before fading out, illustrated the challenge. The phrase “world order” had first made a debut in U.S. State Department archives in the period from 1917 to 1919, yet it had all but evaporated from American diplomatic parlance thereafter. It did not appear in State Department cables again for another 12 years, until 1931 and then only five times until 1935. The watershed moment, from which point “world order” began to be used with ever greater frequency, was the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in October 1935. For many contemporary observers, this was the final death blow to the authority of the League of Nations, which had already been steadily undermined since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. In response, as shown by British and American diplomatic archives, the idea of “world order” was swiftly revived. In this case, however, it was shorn of some of the more ambitious connotations associated with the Wilson era. Instead, the restoration of world order was seen in more of a palliative than a visionary sense — the only possible antidote to the coming anarchy. In their shared diagnosis of the problem, there was, once again, the beginnings of a reconvergence between the American and British worldviews. Typical of this, in 1935, the American minister resident in Addis Ababa reported back on the growing sense, in conversations with the British, that the existing “world order” was under assault from the dictators or neo-imperialists in Italy, Germany, and Japan.[71] An obstacle remained in that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the architect of appeasement, had an almost undisguised contempt for the United States.[72] Meanwhile, it was in the second half of the 1930s that American strategists began to spend more time considering what sort of international order best served national goals. More importantly, these ideas developed a more solid form, in a way that could be translated into political and diplomatic action. That Franklin D. Roosevelt began to talk about the important “will for peace on the part of peace-loving nation” was of critical importance. It was “international lawlessness” that threatened “the very foundations of civilisation.”[73] Another crucial figure in this process was then Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles, who saw the challenge to world order in three ways: The first was in the unravelling of “norms” and existing laws governing international conduct. The second, arising out of the first, was the prospect of “anarchy.” The third was the dividing line that had opened up between “civilized” and “uncivilized” nations in the conduct of international affairs. As Welles put it in October 1937,
No one can today affirm that such a thing as international law exists or that there is any common agreement on the part of the so-called civilized nations of the world upon the fundamental standards which should and must govern the relations between nations if world order is to be restored.[74]
Having agreed on the remedy — the restoration of world order — so a greater sense of common purpose fed into U.S. and U.K. relations. Thus, a month later, in November 1937, Secretary of State Cordell Hull discussed the international crisis at length with the British ambassador in Washington, holding out improved Anglo-American relations — and constructive diplomatic engagement on issues such as trade — as “the basis upon which a restored world order could rest.”[75] Simultaneously, the United States began to impart these warnings about the dangers of anarchy to those who seemed to have veered into “uncivilized” conduct. In conversations with the Italian ambassador, Hull also expressed the hope — in reality, a thinly veiled warning — that:
sooner or later nations undertaking to live by the sword, with non-observance of the principles of world order to large extent, will decide on a permanent policy of either the sword or a course of peace and order under law such as many of our countries are pursuing.[76]
Ultimately, of course, it was only in the heat of another world war that these threads of common analysis began to coalesce into a new vision of a future world order after the end of conflict. In 1940, for example, a young John F. Kennedy wrote that the United States “ought to take our part in setting up a world order that will prevent the rise of a militaristic dictatorship.”[77] Or, as Churchill put it in a speech at Harvard University in September 1943, in which he quoted Kipling, “It must be world order or anarchy.”[78] There are many reasons why the world order that emerged out of World War II proved far more enduring than that which followed the previous world war. One reason that is sometimes overlooked, however, is that it set tighter definitional bounds on the concept. More specifically, the architects of the post-1945 order sought to strike a judicious and stable balance between the utopian idea of the “world state” and a more prosaic attempt to build a structure around the existing “balance of power.” The aspirations of the advocates of the “world state” were knocked down, above all, by the lack of any enthusiasm for a global “police force” that would be required to give such a body legitimacy. “Whatever its theoretical merits,” noted a British Foreign Office memorandum shared with the Americans in July 1944, “this postulates a greater advance in international co-operation than States are yet prepared to make, as it implies the existence of a world State.”[79] At the founding United Nations Organization in conference in San Francisco the following year, senior American delegates were particularly allergic to anything that assumed this broader form. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, a Republican internationalist, indicated that he would resist any measure that allowed the new organization to be presented as an embryonic world state.[80] For the same reason, just as the proposal of a “world police” made no ground, the idea of pooling nuclear weapons technology under U.N. control was similarly abortive. As a 1946 memorandum by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded, the only scenario in which disarmament was possible was the “creation of a world state in which all nations surrender sufficient of their sovereignty to assure the rule of law and the prevention, if not of war itself, of illicit means of waging war.”[81] This, of course, had never been the intention of the wartime planners. As the State Department later elaborated, the United Nations was a “means to an end rather than an end in itself.” It was in America’s interest to preserve the means. But the “real end” was
progressive development toward a stable world order where law and orderly processes, rather than violence and anarchy, can govern the conduct of nations in their relations with each other.
As means must come before ends, the United Nations was to be understood as “an association of independent states … based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, rather than as a single world state.” It was not designed to “terminate national sovereignty,” but rather to “facilitate the joint exercise of it by separate nations acting in friendly cooperation.”[82] On the one hand, then, the idea that a “world state” could eventually emerge out of World War II was consciously counteracted by British and American officials, who set clear bounds on the functioning of the United Nations, in order to smother any such expectations at birth. Yet, the need to invest the idea of world order with some higher sense of purpose, to make good on visionary war aims and to provide that “feeling that people need” also was understood. The case of Gladwyn Jebb (later, Lord Gladwyn), the senior British diplomat who served as the first acting secretary general of the United Nations, is particularly instructive here. Jebb, who became friends with Henry Kissinger in the mid-1960s, was known within the British foreign office establishment as the advocate of a world order based on a balance of power. In the mid-1930s, Jebb had come to the conclusion that the League of Nations had been fatally weakened by the desire to see it as a staging post towards a possible world state. “The Dictators are right in one thing at least: perpetual peace is a dream, and what is more a bad and essentially unprofitable dream,” he wrote. “For it is based on the fallacy that the Kingdom of Heaven is realisable in this world, instead of in the next — or possibly 'within oneself.’”[83] Nothing that Jebb saw in the maneuvers of the great powers during the course of the war disabused him of this belief in the paramountcy of the balance of power. As he told an audience in Oxford in February 1944, the balance of power lay “at the root of any settlement designed to provide for a long period of peace.”[84] It should be said that Jebb was prepared to believe that a world state was a possibility in some distant future. “It may ultimately come about, and indeed I think it probably will,” he said. It could be argued,
with some force, that the whole tendency of modern science and modern inventions lies in the direction of world unity. Radio communications, broadcasting, civil aviation and so on are linking up the various communities and disseminating ideas to an extent never achieved before; and certainly this process will develop and continue.
For the moment, however, he did not believe that any of the great powers would agree to any version of world order that “effectively limits their own ability to look after what they regard, rightly or wrongly, as their ‘vital interests.’”[85] Having arrived back in Britain from San Francisco after the foundation of United Nations, Jebb became concerned with what he saw as a worrying apathy among his fellow Briton about the new organization. Some of this, he felt, could be explained by the fact that the British government had not been trumpeting its own role in setting up the organization. He felt that the United Kingdom had “played a very great, perhaps even a preponderating part” in what had been agreed at San Francisco. The essential features of the original British papers circulated before Dumbarton Oaks had all been incorporated in the final Charter of the United Nations. The very basis of the scheme, continued cooperation between the Big Three, “had its origin in this country and was imparted by devious means to our two great Allies.” For this reason, he understood why British diplomats did wish to “emphasise our achievements in public, but rather to allow the Americans to claim the principal credit for the production of the Charter as a whole.” It was far better, in the long-run, “to regard the World Organisation as their special interest in order that they should play their full part in its operation.”[86] Crucially, however, Jebb felt that undue cynicism about what had been achieved was in danger of undermining the very purpose of the endeavour. Given his previous views, he was not shy to admit that there was “a great deal of truth” that the United Nations might turn out to be a new great power alliance. But he also felt this approach was:
negative rather than positive and ignores the hopeful features of the Charter and notably the very fact that a machine will now be constituted whereby the Great Powers can attempt to settle their own difficulties as well as those of other people.
Jebb still saw the building of world organization in instrumental terms — as a “machine” for the management of international relations. And yet, he also felt the aspiration and hope that it held out was a force in its own right, providing that linear sense of direction and higher purpose to foreign policy, in a way that had been absent before 1938. Thus, this arch advocate of the balance of power, quoted the Biblical Proverb: “Where there is no vision the people perish.”[87]

Conclusion

Unlikely as it might seem, there were indeed common threads that linked together figures as diverse as Kipling, Wells, both Roosevelts, Orwell, Churchill, Jebb, Nixon, and Kissinger and shaped their collective worldviews. The first was a yearning for some form of order, equilibrium and stability in international affairs — or at the very least, the prevention of “anarchy.” The second was a consciousness about the fragility of Western civilization, caught between so-called revanchists or savages who would upset the “natural order” and an uncertain future in which the West’s privileged position would no longer be guaranteed. Within the vague and unbounded aspiration to build international order were oscillations between utopian prophesying and doom-laden visions of barbarism and anarchy. Even after 1945, similar themes of civilizational angst and a desire to derive meaning from the march of history were never far below the surface when the question of world order was discussed. This essay began with a discussion of Henry Kissinger’s 2014 book, World Order. As a prelude to any of his work on foreign policy, however, Kissinger’s Harvard undergraduate thesis of 1951 wrestled with “The Meaning of History,” a study of Toynbee, Spengler and Kant. He wrote:
Even though our contemplation of history may yield as its deepest meaning a feeling of limits as the basis of the ultimate moral personality of man we are still faced with the fact that no civilization has yet been permanent, no longing completely fulfilled, no answer ever gone unchallenged.
On the one hand, the work revealed the suspicion of “universalism” that shaped Kissinger’s later statecraft. On the other, he could not deny the irreducible human feeling that there was always “a task to be achieved” as “an expression of the soul.”[88] The relative success of the world order built out of 1945 was that it accepted, as its premise, the limits of perfectibility. But the human urge for perfection could never be wished away. The quest for world order could never be truly complete. In June 1965, both Lord Gladwyn and Henry Kissinger were at the Serbellino Conference on Conditions of World Order, organized by the French political scientist, journalist, and philosopher, Raymond Aron. The meeting brought together a select group of theorists and former practitioners, and the proceedings were recorded by Stanley Hoffman, one of Kissinger’s colleagues at Harvard. Hoffman’s record of the event underscores one of the arguments of this essay — that world order could be the vaguest of aspirations, but that the pursuit of world order was an almost irresistible urge, because it spoke to the most fundamental philosophical and existential questions, from the future of humanity to the purpose of politics. [quote id="6"] It was clear from the earliest proceedings that “world order” meant something different to almost every participant. Some definitions were “purely descriptive”— that is, a diagnosis of the existing state of international affairs and an assessment of the relationship among the different parts. Some participants defined world order in more expansive terms, as “minimum conditions for existence … [or] coexistence.” Others defined it in normative, or visionary terms, “as the conditions for the good life.” As Hoffman described, Aron struggled to control the discussion or keep it within bounds, urging the speakers to avoid “platitudes” or simply resort to “an acrimonious reproduction of the conflicts of values that exist in the world.” He ventured his own definition of world order as the conditions that would help mankind “not merely … avoid destruction, but to live together relatively well in one planet.” For the most part, however, the conference attendees could not get past these first principles to move to the actual foreign policy challenges facing of the era. In the end, Hoffman observed a fatal split between the “builders and the critics.” The builders were those whose minds were “primarily devoted to the creation of a system or the advocacy of a method or the proselytizing of an idea.” The critics were those who were mostly concerned with “the analysis of reality, with the dissection (or vivisection) of systems, utopias and theories.”[89] Yet, to return to the fundamental point of this essay, the definition of world order matters much less than the sense in which it has been held out as the ultimate goal of Western statecraft. A month before the 1968 presidential election, which brought Nixon into office, the Policy Planning Council noted that attempts to define world order had proved extremely challenging in previous years. It remained crucial, however, that the “sense of direction” in foreign policy was still maintained:
“World order” is not a goal that can be defined with any precision. The time is clearly not ripe for detailed blueprints. But that is not what is needed. People are surfeited with oratory and have come to distrust grand designs. What they basically want is a sense of direction with which they can identify, and a clearer understanding of the kind of international relationships toward which we can reasonably hope to progress in the next decade.[90]
As H.G. Wells wrote in 1940, what was really important was not the identity of the people who pursued world order, the timeline on which it was to be achieved or the nature of the utopia they envisaged. He explained:
No man, no group of men, will ever be singled out as its father or founder. For its maker will be not this man nor that man nor any man but Man, that being who is in some measure in every one of us.
Instead, world order would be like most great civilizational achievements, “a social product” and “collective achievement” of many lives. What really mattered was that people in a century scourged by human destruction were now engaged in this collective effort:
A growing miscellany of people are saying — it is getting about — that "World Pax is possible," a World Pax in which men will be both united and free and creative. It is of no importance at all that nearly every man of fifty and over receives the idea with a pitying smile. Its chief dangers are the dogmatist and the would-be “leader” who will try to suppress every collateral line of work which does not minister to his supremacy. This movement must be, and it must remain, many-headed. ... The new order will be incessant; things will never stop happening. …[91]
The pursuit of world order may indeed be a many-headed monster or the vaguest of aspirations. It is a work of abstract art never complete. It has been associated with some false dawns, great disappointments, and no few misadventures. As John Thompson has written, the link between the pursuit of world order and American security and prosperity has always been “hard to sustain when subjected to sceptical questioning.”[92] The lack of concrete definition is at the heart of repeated failures of conception and strategy in the history of Anglo-American statecraft. But it has also provided a sense of continuity, direction and mission and acted as an antidote to excessive cynicism, fatalism, and short-termism in the making of Anglo-American foreign policy. It is right to question the assumptions behind ideas of world order, test their philosophical foundations and internal logic, as well as the policy recommendations that arise out of them. But it would be ahistorical and self-immolating to mistake incoherence for purposelessness and abandon the venture entirely. Stripping the altars will not do.   *The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Leverhulme Trust (as the 2015 winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize), which allowed him time to research and write this article.   John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London, and leads Britain in the World project at the think tank Policy Exchange. In 2015, he was awarded the annual Philip Leverhulme Prize for International Studies. In 2013-14, he held the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Professor Bew is the author of five books, including Citizen Clem: A Life of Attlee (2016), which won three awards: the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and Best Book in the U.K. Parliamentary Book Awards. It was also named as a book of the year in The TimesThe Sunday Times, New Statesman, and Evening Standard and as one of the top 15 political biographies of all time in The Observer. Bew’s previous book, Realpolitik: A History (2016) was named a book of the year in The Times. His 2011 book, Castlereagh: From Enlightenment to Tyranny (2011) was named a book of the year in the Sunday Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal. Bew is a contributing writer for the New Statesman, contributing editor for War on the Rocks and writes for a variety of other outlets. He has appeared before both the U.K. Defence and Foreign Affairs Select Committees. At King’s College London, where he has been based since 2010, Bew is the founding director of the Centre for Grand Strategy. Bew is also a member of the editorial board of the Texas National Security Review. [post_title] => World Order: Many-Headed Monster or Noble Pursuit? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => world-order-many-headed-monster-noble-pursuit [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-30 12:18:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-30 16:18:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=253 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) ) ) [3] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_newsletter [mc4wp] => 61 ) [4] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_textblock [main_title] => Latest Roundtables [intro_title] => What is a Roundtable? [intro_text] => Roundtables are where we get to hear from multiple experts on either a subject matter or a recently published book. These collections of essays allow for detailed debates and discussions from a variety of viewpoints so that we can deeply explore a given topic or book. ) [5] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_featured_roundtables [wgt_type] => auto [qty] => 3 [posts] => ) ) ) [queried_object_id] => 2 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.ID = 2 AND wp_posts.post_type = 'page' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 280 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2017-10-25 07:11:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-25 11:11:54 [post_content] => Americans are mired in disagreements. They are politically divided, with many preferring to identify as independent and significant rifts clear even within the Democratic and Republican parties. But party polarization is only one measure of what separates them. Myriad considerations — age, gender, race, religion, region, class, and education — factor into the differences in how Americans view the world. Bipartisan consensus has often found its strongest roots in foreign policy and defense. The United States has a raucous history of democratic debate and disagreement on the use of military force and other national security questions. Since the end of World War II, however, most Americans have shared the belief that their prosperity and security are advanced by the United States pursuing a leading role in world affairs. This bipartisan consensus on the U.S. role in the world has grown brittle. Disagreements permeate U.S. foreign policy on issues as varied as the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and comprehensive immigration policy. Policy differences have existed throughout American history, but today’s challenge is more fundamental. The exercise of American leadership globally is growing more vulnerable to challenges overseas. Moreover, the deep U.S. political divisions are obfuscating genuine differences over policy, substituting partisan action-reaction cycles. Rejections of the status quo in 2016 galvanized the success of presidential candidates who positioned themselves outside the foreign policy mainstream. The election and foreign policy of Donald Trump have further frayed the consensus. The president’s preference for chaos, alternately wearing and shedding the mantle of global engagement in equal rhetorical measure, threatens the durability of a unified vision for America’s role in the world. The weakening of the U.S. foreign policy consensus reflects a failure to adjust effectively to changes at home and abroad, with resulting confusion and dismay about the nation’s direction and role. The fraying in turn weakens America’s ability to adapt to current and future challenges. An acknowledged consensus in favor of American engagement in the world provides the domestic foundation on which to advance U.S. interests out in the world. Such a renewed and necessarily broad consensus on the importance of a global leadership role will not resolve the disagreements or eliminate the challenges that have brought the United States to this point. But rejuvenating the consensus will aid U.S. credibility abroad, reassuring allies while deterring rivals, and strengthen the nation from within. To build an effective foreign policy that most Americans can support, one must first understand the variety of factors shaping Americans’ opinions (and U.S. government direction) on foreign policy. Some factors are tied to personal and community circumstances, others to a broader domestic political and policy context. Moreover, American views are increasingly shaped by the international arena where foreign policy is largely executed. These domestic and international factors are intertwined, at times mutually reinforcing points and other times in tension. Working from the outside in, this essay briefly explores foreign and domestic forces affecting Americans’ evolving views about foreign and security policy. It assesses the foundation for an engaged American foreign policy despite evidence of fracturing support. It then draws out three touchstones for devising foreign policy and concludes by offering three actionable priorities to secure American interests in this era.

The Global Context

Americans are inundated with troubling news from overseas, much of which they feel unable to control. Six challenges to U.S. interests in the international system are noteworthy for their current and potential effect on American foreign policy: Nation-State Adversaries More than 25 years after the Cold War ended, military opportunism and provocation from states seeking to challenge the United States are fully awakened. Four powers are particularly noteworthy as potential adversaries: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. A U.S. military conflict with any of these countries would have profound consequences. China is poised to be the most significant long-term competitor to the United States. Beijing is investing substantial resources in its military, developing capabilities clearly designed to prevent others from opposing its will in East Asia and, increasingly, beyond the region. China is also challenging basic norms of international order by using its might to claim and build out land features in the South and East China Seas. Ample evidence of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices, alongside its human rights record and increasing foreign investments, raise further concerns. Meanwhile, China is the world’s second-largest economy and a significant trading partner of the United States and most U.S. allies. The United States has a strong interest in seeing China evolve as an economically vibrant, non-hostile and less autocratic nation that contributes to peace and stability. As a power in decline rather than on the rise, Russia does not have China’s long-term potential. But the Kremlin still commands a nation with a substantial nuclear arsenal, a sizable conventional military, and the skill and affinity to execute full-scale political warfare that challenges the traditional weaknesses of open societies. Russia is working to revise the international order to its advantage. Its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 is a stand-out example, but there are others. Russia has postured aggressively against the West and expanded its military role in Syria. The Kremlin’s playbook has included energy and economic manipulation; corruption; conventional military harassments; nuclear saber-rattling; cyberattacks and information warfare, including using active measures to affect the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Playing for reputational points abroad but also largely to a domestic audience, President Vladimir Putin appears set on a course toward serving, at best, as a spoiler of Western interests and, at worst, as a direct military aggressor. [quote id="1"] For more than 60 years, war on the Korean Peninsula has been a concern for Washington. Under Kim Jong Un, this long-standing worry has become far graver. Korea’s rapid missile and nuclear development, coupled with its jingoistic propaganda and provocations and its apparent disinterest in nuclear negotiations, raise the specter of a conflict that could embroil not only South Korea and Japan but also the United States, China and Russia. Kim might seek military conflict in desperation during a regime collapse or by foolishly attempting territorial or other gains. More likely is the possibility that North Korea and the United States or its allies will miscalculate the other side’s capability and resolve, with a subsequent inability or unwillingness to control crisis dynamics. Finally, Iran poses a substantial challenge to American interests. The United States and its regional partners possess far greater conventional military capabilities than Iran, but Tehran’s preferred tactics involve seeking to destabilize its enemies by employing proxy forces, providing substantial support to terrorist groups, harassing maritime traffic, using cyber and information warfare, and developing its missile arsenal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal —if adhered to would help forestall Iran’s development of nuclear capability. But economic sanctions were lifted as part of the deal, and U.S. vigilance will be needed to curb Iranian elements from seeking to invest newly available resources in military, paramilitary or proxy forces. Weak, Unstable and Collapsing States Although they often do not receive the same attention as nation-state threats, the failures of governments in Yemen, Afghanistan, Central America and elsewhere manifest into security challenges that can hurt Americans at home. Security implications that can emanate from chronically weak states include, but are not limited to, terrorism, migration, transnational crime, weapons proliferation, piracy and cross-border health threats. Syria’s population has sat tragically astride some of the world’s most complex geopolitical dynamics. The repressive Assad government’s brutal crackdowns on peaceful protestors have led to a chain reaction that leaves the country incapacitated. More than 6 million Syrians are internally displaced; 5 million others have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and into Europe.[1] Key nations are on opposing sides of Syria’s civil war, with Iran and Russia backing the Assad regime and the United States, Europe and Gulf states seeking a negotiated peace settlement that could remove Assad from power. (Under the Trump administration, the U.S. government’s position on the ultimate disposition of the Assad regime is unclear.) The U.S.-led coalition fights the Islamic State inside Syria and Iraq. Russia, Iran and the Syrian government claim to do the same while also striking at opposition forces supported by the coalition. The battle space in and around Syria is fraught with risk. Terrorism Terrorism tops many Americans’ list of national security concerns.[2] Terrorist movements can grow in repressive and supportive states alike, in places where local governance may be inadequate to address political and societal discord. The rise of the Islamic State in Syria, its rapid territorial gains there and in Iraq, and its transformation into a global movement has provided a focal point for these concerns in recent years. The U.S.-led coalition has steadily weakened the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. However, major ISIL cells are now operating out of Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen. Islamic State and related online propaganda aim to inspire terrorism around the world. Authorities have cited ISIL as an inspiration for several attempted attacks in the United States perpetrated by U.S. citizens.[3] Just as the Islamic State grew in the shadow of al-Qaeda, so too is the Islamic State likely to generate prominent follow-on movements. Terrorist movements motivated by other political causes include white nationalists, separatists, and anarchists. Regardless of their aims, these groups can have strategic effect at relatively low cost, aided by social media and the Internet as well as tactics such as mass shootings, using vehicles as weapons, planting car bombs, or employing more advanced capabilities. Enabling Information and Other Technology Terrorists are just one subset of actors enabled by the spread of information and development of critical technologies. Thanks to the growth of biotechnology, cheaper material and forms of manufacturing, such as 3-D printing, as well as the rapid proliferation of commercial and military drones, it is easier than ever for individuals, small groups and less powerful states to achieve high-end capabilities. The increasing ease of arms sales further accelerates this trend. Whatever might be said about the U.S. approach to arms sales and technology transfer, it is guided by a body of law and established norms intended to mitigate advanced technology proliferation and end-use risks. The same cannot be said for Russia, which accounts for 23 percent of major arms exports, and China, the world’s fastest-growing arms exporter.[4] The implications of technology diffusion are perhaps most profound in the information domain. At the military-industrial level, the information revolution is enabling increased precision and actionable information and improving cyber and space capabilities. At the broader societal level, the information revolution has brought profound changes affecting the daily lives of people across the planet. In early 2017, the Pew Research Center estimated that 77% of Americans owned their own smartphone.[5] Americans (and Europeans) may be ahead in the information race, but they are far from alone. There are an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally.[6] By these estimates, mobile subscriptions have surpassed the number of active fixed-line subscriptions worldwide, and it is conceivable that the overall number of devices connected to the internet — the Internet of Things — will reach at least 20 billion by 2020.[7] Much of that connectivity growth is poised to occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This revolution in information accessibility drives gains in innovation and productivity. At its best, it has also promoted good governance, enabling the connectivity of people united in common peaceful causes. But this era will also be defined by the weaponization of this connectivity. Al-Qaeda, criminals and white supremacists were among the most successful early adapters on the digital battlefield.[8] Nations have also leveraged the tools of modern connectivity to achieve security aims, both through internal control and external manipulation. Examples include North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures, Iran’s cyber intrusions into Saudi Aramco, and Chinese theft of U.S. government employee data from the Office of Personnel Management.[9] Most recently, disagreements between Qatar and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners have played out in attempts to embarrass one another with leaked and falsified emails.[10] But no actor has as spectacularly advanced the potential to weaponize the current information domain for political ends as Russia, both in creating disinformation and in deploying that information in well-orchestrated campaigns enabled by artificial intelligence and humans. Resources, Climate Change and Urbanization U.S. foreign policy will also confront important shifts in natural resources, demography and climate. The United States has largely achieved its goal of being “energy independent” insofar as it is a net exporter of natural gas and the world’s largest exporter of refined petroleum products.[11] But the world market has become more “energy interdependent.” This is due in part to the increased number of important suppliers beyond OPEC, including the United States. It is also because energy politics are increasingly driven by issues associated with the effects of energy use, namely climate change.[12] Energy independence, as long thought of, is valuable for U.S. foreign policy, but acknowledging the world’s energy interdependence and acting upon it are equally important to American security. Climate change poses a variety of security-related challenges. Shipping lanes in the Arctic Ocean are expected to open by mid-century due to warming.[13] This will place a premium onfigur patrol and search-and-rescue assets that can operate in the austere environment, and resource competition in the region could heighten tensions among vying nations. Rising sea levels are another major threat, particularly in the Pacific. The warming of oceans is also creating more and worse storms.[14] As the 2017 hurricanes affecting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands demonstrated, the economic and human toll of major weather events is substantial. Already in the United States, more than 90 coastal communities face chronic flooding, which the Union of Concerned Scientists defines as “the kind of flooding that’s so unmanageable it prompts people to move away.”[15] The number is expected to reach 170 communities in the next 20 years.[16] Food and water crises sit at the intersection of resource and climate-change challenges. Drought, exacerbated by military conflicts, has intensified the plight of more than 20 million people enduring famines in Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.[17] Underlying mismatches in projected population and food productivity portend continuing food scarcity. By 2050, the world population is projected to increase from 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion, with more than half of this growth in Africa. Over this same period, meat consumption is projected to rise nearly 73 percent and dairy consumption by 58 percent from 2010 levels. Yet while output of food, feed, fiber and fuel will most likely continue to rise in coming decades, total food production is not on pace to meet this demand.[18] Projected shortages of clean water are also daunting.[19] Among demographic trends of note for U.S. shapers of foreign policy, one that stands out as underexplored is urbanization. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban environments, with about one-third — some 2 billion people — living in slum-like conditions.[20] All regions are expected to urbanize further over the coming decades, but Africa and Asia, home to the most rural regions remaining, are urbanizing faster than others. The combination of rapid expansion and poor living conditions creates governance challenges for cities’ ecosystems, including water, power and green space. Slum-like conditions contribute to the rapid spread of diseases. Many such growing urban areas will be situated along waterways, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and more severe natural disasters. Particularly in less developed areas, cities will likely be strained to meet the security needs of citizens as population density, inadequate governance and poverty create conditions for criminal activity and civil unrest.[21] Threats to Democratic Norms Many of these trends are culminating in support for anti-democratic policies and governance models. The Syrian crisis is a leading cause of the largest forced population displacement since the aftermath of World War II, with reverberations throughout the Levant, Europe and beyond.[22] These refugee flows have fueled concerns about sovereignty and terrorism in many parts of the world, a concern reinforced by recent terrorist incidents in Europe, Australia and the United States. Together with weak economic performance in many Western-style democracies and the use of propaganda and disinformation, the stage has been set for rising nationalism and a renewal of autocracy around the world. The U.S.-based think tank Freedom House released a report this year showing that, while the gains from non-free states are small, 2016 marked the eleventh year in a row in which the share of free countries had declined and the share of “not free” countries grew.[23] This trend, alongside tested norms regarding state sovereignty, chemical weapons use, nuclear proliferation and the Geneva Conventions, is a direct challenge to the postwar international order built by the United States and its allies.

U.S. Domestic Context

This brief synopsis of major challenges in the world misses much, but it underscores how activity beyond U.S. borders will shape America’s ability to advance its prosperity and security. The domestic context for U.S. foreign policy is equally important and far too often ignored by security analysts. There are, in fact, multiple domestic contexts: The United States is divided along a variety of dimensions that are creating challenges for envisioning and executing a coherent foreign policy. Some of the foreign policy divide may be explained by cultural differences; this includes variations in regional, national, racial, party, gender, military and religious identity.[24] Economic factors may also explain some of it.[25] Although the United States has the world’s largest gross domestic product and is a leading source of innovation across multiple sectors, in 2015 it had the world’s third-largest income gap.[26] Divisions in the U.S. electorate on issues of trade and immigration illuminate how various cultural and economic factors, and doubtless other causes, are shaping the prospect of consensus on foreign policy. In April 2016, 49 percent of general public respondents to Pew polling indicated that they believed U.S. involvement in the world economy was a “bad thing” that lowered wages and cost jobs, while 44  percent of such respondents believed it was a “good thing.”[27] That poll marked the bottoming out of a downward slide in positive views of trade, a slide that began roughly at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term. By the time of the 2016 presidential election, trade proponents were chastened by the strong negative reaction to their arguments. Yet just a few months into 2017 support for U.S. trade in the same Pew poll had rebounded to 52 percent of respondents.[28] This should not be surprising, given that the United States is the world’s top exporter of foods and agricultural products (which account for more than 20 percent of U.S. agricultural production).[29] As consumers, Americans depend on a global supply chain from airplanes to smartphones to big-box retailers. Popular wisdom holds that the U.S. manufacturing sector opposes free trade, but consider this endorsement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from the National Association of Manufacturers:
NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and since then, the United States has sold three times as much to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, the two countries alone purchased one-fifth of all manufactured goods made in the United States. This is a big deal for manufacturing workers and their families because those sales support jobs here at home—a lot of well-paying jobs. Sales of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, made possible through NAFTA, support the jobs of more than 2 million manufacturing workers.[30]
Not all trade is good, but many Americans do not believe that all trade is bad, and in numbers greater than many foreign policy elites have assumed.[31] Immigration has played an even more divisive role in U.S. politics. About 15 percent of the U.S. population is immigrant, the same share as in 1920 but higher than it was for much of the post-World War II period.[32] Roughly 75 percent of that immigrant population is estimated to be here legally.[33] Of those here illegally, most overstayed with expired temporary visas rather than illegally crossed borders.[34] About 45 percent of respondents told Pew shortly before the 2016 election that having more immigrants hurts American workers, while 42 percent said having more immigrants helps — the deepest division of opinion Pew captured on the issue over the last decade, caused by an increase in the number of respondents who react positively about immigration’s effects on American workers.[35] [quote id="2"] Although support for internationalism is evident even on issues as divisive as trade and immigration, the divisions among Americans should not be underestimated. They are likely to be further exacerbated by automation, which could put 38 percent of U.S. jobs at risk by the early 2030s, according to one recent estimate.[36] Urbanization, too, will create economic opportunities but exacerbate divides between the “global elite” and those who feel left behind. Income inequality and associated urban-rural divides are creating different American experiences. These and other divisions are reflected and reinforced in the U.S. political system. Consider Pew Research Center’s assessment of rising partisan antipathy. As Figure 1 illustrates, since 1994, the share of Republicans and Democrats who hold unfavorable or very unfavorable views of the other party has risen more than 20 points. Within this overall increase, the share holding very unfavorable views of the other party has climbed even higher, by about 30 percentage points in just over 20 years. Partisans are not just divided; increasingly, they do not like or respect each other. This poll was completed before the 2016 election, and the mutual antipathy it found — with implications for dividing American politics and society — almost certainly has deepened. Figure 1: [37] Rising partisan antipathy Political polarization is affected not only by true differences in Americans’ viewpoints but also by issues inside the U.S. political structure and process, including gerrymandering, campaign finance practices, and changes in congressional norms and processes.[38] The current period of polarization is also occurring against a backdrop of ubiquitous information, which many Americans cope with by creating increasingly fragmented and self-selected media environments. Polling from Pew Research Center suggests that six in 10 Americans get their news from social media.[39] As Figure 2 shows, Pew data also indicate that many Americans’ social media feeds are built around networks of family and friends who share a common perspective, narrowing the range of views to which they are exposed. This trend is particularly noteworthy at the far ends of the political spectrum, as is the perspective that such “one-sided” news is okay. Figure 2: [40] [amcharts id="chart-3"] [amcharts id="chart-4"] These divisions affect U.S. security by altering the way the United States, and particularly the stability and effectiveness of its political system, are viewed overseas and by driving changes in the way Americans perceive their role in the world. Foundations of an Effective American Foreign Policy It can be tempting for the U.S. foreign policy community to throw up its hands in frustration in the face of this set of circumstances, but these challenges are not unprecedented in their magnitude, either at home or abroad. Blindly holding to the past is no longer viable. Change is coming too quickly. The United States must adapt to secure its interests and in ways that build domestic support. Three factors are particularly important to helping the nation navigate effectively in the current environment. First, the United States must acknowledge that while it can probably remain the world’s sole superpower for at least the next 15 years, its ability to shape events beyond its borders is diminishing. The effectiveness of American foreign policy and how much power the nation chooses to wield will vary by region and type of issue. Non-state problems are particularly difficult to tackle with traditional American strengths such as state-to-state trade, massed military force and government-to-government diplomacy. They also test the United States where it is weakest, trying Americans’ impatience, tendency toward unilateralism, and dislike and distrust of most government spending. These weaknesses inhibit the U.S. ability to undertake generational investments toward long-term solutions. Moreover, the best solutions to many security challenges require a combination of strengths, but the United States struggles to adapt and integrate across its instruments of national power and with partners overseas. Problems such as trade, terrorism or climate issues are seldom solvable in only one sphere, or by acting alone. When facing an assertive military competitor — such as China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran, — traditional U.S. security strengths are more influential. Even in these cases, however, the United States has had difficulty deterring a range of provocations and coercive actions. A second factor that needs to ground the vision for future U.S. foreign policy is the thread of constancy in public support of international engagement. If one American grand strategy has persisted for the past 70 years, it is to advance U.S. interests by taking a leading role in the world. This may seem to run counter to the 2016 election results; Donald Trump won under an “America First” foreign policy banner that included pointed criticism of U.S. allies and overseas military operations and posture. Across the political spectrum, there are important limits to Americans’ willingness to lead on the world stage. But the share of Americans that are truly isolationist — preferring the United States have no role in world affairs — is around only 4 percent, while more than 70 percent believe the United States should have a major or leading role. Demonstrating the stability of an internationalist consensus, these figures from February 2017 are roughly the same as Gallup’s February 2001 polling.[41] [quote id="3"] This likely reflects broad recognition that the most important interests the U.S. seeks to secure in the world require American engagement and leadership. Republican and Democratic administrations have generally described America’s world interests in remarkably consistent ways since the end of World War II: ensuring the security of U.S. territory and citizens; upholding treaty commitments, to include the security of allies; ensuring a liberal economic order in which American enterprise can compete fairly; and upholding the rule of law in international affairs, including respect for human rights. Each administration has framed these interests somewhat differently, and pursued its own path to secure them, but the core tenets have not varied significantly. Predictability and stability of position are not hallmarks of this administration, but there has been enough overseas activity, spending and rhetoric in this first year to assess that President Trump’s “America First” is not Charles Lindbergh’s. Although an isolationist sentiment will always exist in U.S. politics, it is unlikely to upend the basic consensus view that what happens elsewhere in the world can affect Americans at home. By no means is the American predilection for internationalism unchecked. Indeed, Americans have generally preferred to pursue a selective approach to engagement. Yes, a majority support international engagement, but the United States has never desired to act everywhere in the world, all the time, or with the same tools of power. Polling before the 2016 election showed that 70 percent of Americans wanted the next president to focus more on national than international problems, a trend that has only strengthened since the peak of military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2007.[42] Americans have always had to weigh the risks and opportunity costs of foreign activities and needed to prioritize investments. The projected budget environment only worsens the dilemmas. In the latest Congressional Budget Office outlook, total discretionary spending would fall to about 5.4 percent of gross domestic product by 2047 as social security, major medical programs, the deficit, and net interest on the deficit rise. All national security spending — defense, diplomacy, development, intelligence and homeland security — and spending on everything from transportation and infrastructure to environmental protection and national parks would compete for fewer discretionary dollars.[43] Importantly, the track record for democracies, including the United States, is one of remarkable unpredictability when it comes to the use of force to secure interests. Policymakers need to understand this and not expect to count on an iron-clad template that governs when and where the nation’s political leaders will use force. Rather, they should work to frame choices on use of force using their best experience and help leaders reduce the risks of miscalculation that such unpredictability can pose.

Foreign Policy Priorities: The Now What

So, if American policymakers have the benefit of superpower status but are generally less able to wield it effectively; if Americans generally agree that leading or at least engaging abroad is important to protect U.S. interests; and if resource constraints, national character and other factors limit us from seeking to aggressively or even consistently act overseas, especially with military forces, what imperatives should form the core of U.S. foreign and security policy? Three stand out. Of foremost importance is avoiding the hazards of domestic political polarization. It is unlikely in this deeply dysfunctional period of governance that even a united foreign policy community could catalyze a resolution to these issues on its own. Still, the community has an important role to play in consistently and vociferously warning about the national security dangers posed by domestic political dysfunction. America’s deep divisions are a major strategic weakness. There is no stable understanding of the resources available to secure America’s role in the world, which cripples the ability to plan and act strategically. A dysfunctional political system can make others doubt the reliability of U.S. commitments. Worse, polarizing opinions around the strength of U.S. commitments to allies creates greater agency for forces within the countries that seek opportunities to forge a path distinct from the United States and potentially antithetical to American security interests. If nations begin to routinely act independently from Washington’s preference, Americans will avoid some free riding, but they will also lose say over issues that affect their security and prosperity. Political dysfunction also hampers America’s core cultural appeal — the dream of the American political system as a “city on a hill.”[44] In such an environment, alternative models of economics and governance gain greater resonance, notably anti-capitalist and anti-democratic, undermining enduring U.S. interests. The slight rise in global authoritarianism noted by Freedom House may reflect this decline in perceived Western effectiveness. Finally, political dysfunction creates problems in civil-military relations. It feeds a sense of separateness in the can-do military culture, where senior members struggle to understand why the political caste cannot put aside politics to make important decisions. In fact, Americans and their elected leaders seem to be turning toward those in uniform to overcome perceived weaknesses in civilian governance. At the least, this is disheartening. More alarmingly, it is corrosive to good civilian control, a central tenet of the U.S. Constitution. A second imperative is to focus significant leadership energy and sufficient investment on problem prevention. The nation requires capable and agile non-military instruments, such as diplomacy and development. These sectors have had difficulty convincing political leaders and the public of the value they can provide. The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and similar organizations are unlikely to ever exert the political power of the military-industrial complex. Nevertheless, they can get better at wielding diplomacy development assistance and promoting private, foreign government and international efforts that align with U.S. policy goals. Importantly, they can also improve on their ability to measure and communicate their pennies-on-the-dollar value. These sectors can take credit for contributing to tremendous gains made in the U.S.-led international order since World War II, from a substantial decline in global poverty to improvements in global life expectancy.[45] The United States should build on these successes to advance its interests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, global health improvements, and conflict resolution. America’s extensive alliance and partner network is among its most important geostrategic advantages. Alliances can require a lot of work and money with little to show. (From its allies’ perspective, so too can the United States.) It is important to get the cost-benefit balance right. By and large, the United States has managed that well throughout the postwar period and needs to continue adapting its alliances to meet the demands of an evolving security environment. Policymakers should not let imprudent comments undermine the enterprise.[46] A third imperative is to improve U.S. tools for deterrence and response to provocations that fall short of war. The United States has an excellent record of deterring existential threats. But potential adversaries are attacking U.S. interests in ways that fall below the threshold of traditional state-based military power; see Chinese coercion in the South and East China Seas, Russian subversion in its “near abroad” and within the United States, and Iranian asymmetric tactics, especially through proxies. This phenomenon is as old as warfare itself. But it is an area of increasing risk, particularly with regard to the potential for miscalculation. In some cases, such as cyber and space operations, escalation ladders and legal frameworks are not yet well-established. In territorial coercion, those frameworks are being actively tested. This trend creates a heightened risk of conflict not so much from intent — although as events with North Korea have demonstrated, that is possible — but from an increased chance that potential adversaries will inadvertently misinterpret U.S. willingness and capability to respond to provocations even when the precipitation of war is unintended. In the current environment, policymakers must pay special attention to how they can best shape the considerations of states that wish to test America’s response to ambiguous challenges. This will mean clearly communicating U.S. interests and its willingness and capability to defend them. It also means carrying out threats when deterrence fails. Effective messaging is not nearly as straightforward as it may sound, especially in an era when multiple messages sometimes compete. For instance, deterring future chemical weapons challenges was likely at the heart of the advice President Trump received before he ordered Tomahawk strikes on Syria in April 2017. However, the U.S. signaling may have been murky, coming less than one week after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and other administration officials signaled acceptance of the Assad regime, after which the regime carried out chemical attacks. It did not take long to go from a green light to a red line on Syria but too late to prevent Assad’s undesirable action. Improving America’s toolkit for countering provocations will rely on many of the same multilateral and cross-functional integrative approaches on which effective problem prevention also rests. A fundamental rethink is required to improve the national security enterprise’s ability to move with agility ahead of the pace of world events, the information environment, and the expanding array of adversary tactics and other challenges.

Conclusion

Discerning the shifting nature of the international system and designing an effective set of security tools within it are monumental but not unprecedented tasks. Those who shaped the post-World War II international system, whom Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas nicknamed “the wise men,”[47] faced the same task. Circumstances today are equally daunting, requiring a similar re-examination of U.S. strategies and capabilities. Success will depend on attributes not normally associated with the current U.S. administration or Washington’s broader political climate: political consensus on foreign policy; long-term, preventative, multidisciplinary, and multinational responses wherever possible; and improved deterrence of “gray area” challenges to prevent miscalculation or other reasons for escalation. Yet hope can be found in the nation’s foundational strengths, especially its indefatigable spirit of change and adaptation. The “now what” era of American foreign policy is upon us. President Trump is unlikely to provide the vision needed to rejuvenate U.S. foreign policy. It is time for a new generation of wise women and men to act.   Kathleen Hicks is senior vice president, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and director of the International Security Program at CSIS. She is a frequent writer and lecturer on U.S. foreign policy; national security strategy, forces, and budget; and strategic futures. Dr. Hicks previously served in the Department of Defense as principal deputy under secretary for policy, a Senate-confirmed position with responsibility for assisting in the development and oversight of global and regional defense policy, strategy, and operations. She also served as deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces, leading the development of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and crafting guidance for future force capabilities, overseas military posture, and contingency and theater campaign plans. Dr. Hicks was a senior fellow at CSIS from 2006 to 2009, leading a variety of national security research projects. From 1993 to 2006, she was a career civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, rising from Presidential Management Intern to the Senior Executive Service. Dr. Hicks received numerous recognitions for her service in the Department of Defense (DOD), including distinguished awards from three secretaries of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She also received the 2011 DOD Senior Professional Women’s Association Excellence in Leadership Award. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.P.A. from the University of Maryland, and an A.B. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College. Dr. Hicks was a presidentially appointed commissioner for the National Commission on the Future of the Army. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Boards of Advisors for the Truman National Security Project and SoldierStrong. [post_title] => Now What? The American Citizen, World Order, and Building a New Foreign Policy Consensus [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => now-american-citizen-world-order-building-new-foreign-policy-consensus [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-25 17:57:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-25 21:57:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=280 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => In order for the United States to adapt to current and future international challenges, it needs a foreign policy that can unite the American public and bring back bipartisan consensus on America’s role in the world. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Americans are inundated with troubling news from overseas, much of which they feel unable to control. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The United States is divided along a variety of dimensions that are creating challenges for envisioning and executing a coherent foreign policy. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The United States must adapt to secure its interests and in ways that build domestic support. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 29 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] ECHO, “European Commission ECHO Factsheet,” European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, September 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/syria_en.pdf. [2] Dina Smeltz and Karl Friedhoff, “US Public Not Convinced That Trump’s Policies Will Make America Safer,” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 2017, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/report_ccs2017-terrorism_170908.pdf. [3] For example, on the early and rapid rise in digital identity theft, see Identity Theft — Prevalence and Cost Appear to be Growing, GAO-02-363 (Washington, D.C.: Government Accountability Office, 2002), 51; on the early digital success of al Qaeda, see Angel Rabasa et al., Beyond al-Qaeda — Part 1 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2006), xxvii, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG429.pdf; on the white supremacists use of the Internet, see Jeff Daniels, Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), 3. [4] Kate Blanchfield, Pieter D. Wezeman, and Siemon T. Wezeman, “The State of Major Arms Transfers in 8 Graphics,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, February 22, 2017, https://www.sipri.org/commentary/blog/2017/state-major-arms-transfers-8-graphics. [5] Aaron Smith, “Record Shares of Americans Now Own Smartphones, Have Home Broadband,” Pew Research Center, January 12, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/. [6] Rani Molla, “Mobile Broadband Subscriptions Are Projected to Double in Five Years,” Recode, June 18, 2017, https://www.recode.net/2017/6/18/15826036/smartphone-subscriptions-basic-phones-globally-ericsson. [7] Rob van der Meulen, “Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016,” Gartner, February 7, 2017, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917. [8] See, for example, Jonathan Dienst, David Paredes, and Joe Valiquette, “Three Men Charged With Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attack in New York,” NBC News, October 6, 2017, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-plotted-isis-inspired-attack-new-york-concerts-say-officials-n808321; James Comey, “Director Comey Remarks During May 11 ‘Pen and Pad’ Briefing with Reporters,” Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Press Conference, May 14, 2016, https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/director-comey-remarks-during-may-11-2018pen-and-pad2019-briefing-with-reporters; Paul Brinkmann, “Pulse gunman’s motive: Plenty of theories, but few answers,” Orlando Sentinel, June 4, 2017, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/pulse-orlando-nightclub-shooting/omar-mateen/os-pulse-omar-mateen-motive-20170512-story.html. [9] Andrea Peterson, “The Sony Pictures Hack, Explained,” The Washington Post, December 18, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/12/18/the-sony-pictures-hack-explained/; Nicole Perlroth, “In Cyberattack on Saudi Firm, U.S. Sees Iran Firing Back,” The New York Times, October 23, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/global/cyberattack-on-saudi-oil-firm-disquiets-us.html; David Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Hacking Linked to China Exposes Millions of U.S. Workers,” The New York Times, June 4, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/us/breach-in-a-federal-computer-system-exposes-personnel-data.html. [10] David Kirkpatrick and Sheera Frenkel, “Hacking in Qatar Highlights a Shift Toward Espionage-for-Hire,” The New York Times, June 8, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/world/middleeast/qatar-cyberattack-espionage-for-hire.html. [11] Sarah Ladislaw, Adam Sieminski, Frank Verrastro, and Andrew Stanley, U.S. Oil in the Global Economy: Markets, Policy, and Politics (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 2017), https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/170508_Ladislaw_OilGasWorkshop_Web.pdf. [12] Jason Bordoff, “America’s Energy Policy: From Independence to Interdependence,” Horizons Journal of International Relations and Sustainable Development, no. 8 (Autumn 2016), http://www.cirsd.org/files/000/000/002/43/dde28fd7d04cca8e84e00cc3467ae17fc5aa2188.pdf. [13] Jugal K. Patel and Henry Fountain, “As Arctic Ice Vanishes, New Shipping Routes Open,” The New York Times, May 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/03/science/earth/arctic-shipping.html. [14] “Climate Change Indicators: Weather and Climate,” Environmental Protection Agency, accessed September 2017, https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/weather-climate. [15] Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Kristina Dahl, Astrid Caldas, Shana Udvardy, Rachel Cleetus, Pamela Worth, and Nicole Hernandez Hammer, When Rising Seas Hit Home: Hard Choices Ahead for Hundreds of US Coastal Communities (Washington, D.C.: Union of Concerned Scientists, July 2017), http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2017/07/when-rising-seas-hit-home-full-report.pdf. [16] Ibid. [17] Jeffrey Gettleman, “Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4,” The New York Times, March 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/world/africa/famine-somalia-nigeria-south-sudan-yemen-water.html. [18] Margaret Zeigler and Ann Steensland, 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report: Sustainability in an Uncertain Season (Washington, D.C.: Global Harvest Initiative, October 2016), http://www.globalharvestinitiative.org/GAP/2016_GAP_Report.pdf. [19] “Sound Water Management, Investment in Security Vital to Sustain Adequate Supply, Access for All, Secretary-General Warns Security Council,” United Nations, June 6, 2017, https://www.un.org/press/en/2017/sc12856.doc.htm. [20] World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision (New York: United Nations, 2014), 1, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/publications/files/wup2014-highlights.Pdf. [21] Kathleen Hicks, “New Security Challenges Posed by Megacities,” World Economic Forum, November 2014, http://reports.weforum.org/global-strategic-foresight/kathleen-hicks-csis-new-security-challenges-posed-by-megacities/. [22] Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2015, (New York/Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, June 20, 2016), http://www.unhcr.org/576408cd7. [23] Arch Puddington and Tyler Roylance, Freedom in the World 2017: Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy (Washington, D.C.: Freedom House, 2017), https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FH_FIW_2017_Report_Final.pdf. [24] For insightful examinations of two such dimensions, see Sam Tabory and Dina Smeltz, “The Urban-Suburban-Rural “Divide” in American Views on Foreign Policy,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, May 2017, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/urban-suburban-rural-divide-american-views-foreign-policy; and Douglas L. Kriner and Francis X. Shen, “Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?,” (June 2017), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2989040. [25] See, for example, Hal Brands, “Is American Internationalism Dead? Reading the National Mood in the Age of Trump,” War on the Rocks, May 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/05/is-american-internationalism-dead-reading-the-national-mood-in-the-age-of-trump/. [26] “The World’s Biggest Economies,” World Economic Forum, 2015, https://assets.weforum.org/editor/8T1VYR_rQ04Dqsi98YcbpvWBSsJCmdeNRxaItXbNf00.png. [27] Jacob Poushter, “American Public, Foreign Policy Experts Sharply Disagree Over Involvement in Global Economy,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 28, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/28/american-public-foreign-policy-experts-sharply-disagree-over-involvement-in-global-economy/. [28] Bradley Jones, “Support for Free Trade Agreements Rebounds Modestly, But Wide Partisan Differences Remain,” Pew Research Center, April 25, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/25/support-for-free-trade-agreements-rebounds-modestly-but-wide-partisan-differences-remain/. [29] “Infographic: Agricultural Trade Matters,” United States Department of Agriculture: Foreign Agricultural Service, May 17, 2017, https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/infographic-agricultural-trade-matters. [30] Jay Timmons, “NAFTA: A Win for Manufacturing Workers,” National Association of Manufacturers, August 16, 2017, http://www.shopfloor.org/2017/08/nafta-win-manufacturing-workers/. [31] Joshua Busby, Craig Kafura, Jonathan Monten, Dina Smeltz, and Jordan Tama, “How the Elite Misjudge the U.S. Electorate on International Engagement,” RealClear World, November 7, 2016, http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/11/07/how_the_elite_misjudge_the_us_electorate_on_international_engagement_112112.html. [32] “U.S. Immigrant Populations and Share Over Time, 1850-Present,” Migration Policy Institute, 2015, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/immigrant-population-over-time. [33] Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009 (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, September 2016), 47, http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2016/09/31170303/PH_2016.09.20_Unauthorized_FINAL.pdf. [34] Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, “The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays Have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a Half Million,” Journal on Migration and Human Security (2017), Center for Migration Studies, http://cmsny.org/publications/jmhs-visa-overstays-border-wall/. [35] Lee Rainie and Anna Brown, “Americans Less Concerned Than a Decade Ago Over Immigrants’ Impact on Workforce,” Pew Research Center, October 7, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/07/americans-less-concerned-than-a-decade-ago-over-immigrants-impact-on-workforce/. See also Busby et al. [36] Richard Berriman and John Hawksworth, “Will Robots Steal Our Jobs? The Potential Impact of Automation on the UK and Other Major Economies,” UK Economic Outlook, March 2017, https://www.pwc.co.uk/economic-services/ukeo/pwcukeo-section-4-automation-march-2017-v2.pdf. [37] “Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016,” Pew Research Center, June 22, 2016, http://www.people-press.org/2016/06/22/partisanship-and-political-animosity-in-2016/. [38] For an excellent overview of existing research on possible causes of polarization, see Michael Barber and Nolan McCarty, “Chapter 2: Causes and Consequences of Polarization,” in Negotiating Agreement in Politics, eds. Jane Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin (Washington, DC: American Political Science Association, 2013), 19-53, https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/dtingley/files/negotiating_agreement_in_politics.pdf. [39] “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016,” Pew Research Center, May 25, 2016, http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/pj_2016-05-26_social-media-and-news_0-01/. [40] “The Modern News Consumer,” Pew Research Center, July 6, 2016, http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/the-modern-news-consumer/pj_2016-07-07_modern-news-consumer_7-02/. [41] Gary J. Gates, “Americans Still Support Major Role for US in Global Affairs,” Gallup News, March 6, 2017, http://news.gallup.com/poll/205286/americans-support-major-role-global-affairs.aspx. [42] “America’s Global Role, U.S. Superpower Status,” Pew Research Center, May 5, 2016, http://www.people-press.org/2016/05/05/1-americas-global-role-u-s-superpower-status/. [43] Congressional Budget Office, The 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook, March 2017, https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52480-ltbo.pdf. [44] Ronald Reagan, “A Vision for America,” The White House, November 3, 1980, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=85199. [45] On global poverty, see “Measuring Poverty,” The World Bank, accessed, September 27, 2017, http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/measuringpoverty. On increased life expectancy, see UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision (New York: United Nations, 2017), 7, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2017_KeyFindings.pdf. [46] Kathleen H. Hicks, Michael J. Green, and Heather A. Conley, “Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand the Value of U.S. Bases Overseas,” Foreign Policy, April 7, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/07/donald-trump-doesnt-understand-the-value-of-u-s-bases-overseas/. [47] See Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986). ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 259 [post_author] => 98 [post_date] => 2017-10-24 09:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 13:00:31 [post_content] => One of the early strokes of genius by the architects of the American system was entrusting to Congress the sacred duty of supporting and providing for our military. The founding fathers did so to guard against an all-powerful executive and protect the foundations of individual liberty. However, two centuries of democratic governance, separation of powers, and dedication to the propositions of our founding revealed their true brilliance and foresight. As America has realized the limitless potential of its ideals, its citizens, and its destiny, the U.S. military has been transformed from a potential threat to liberty to the indispensable guardian of it — at home and around the world. Today, the challenge for Congress is navigating how to fulfill its constitutional duties in accordance with America’s global responsibilities. Through the years, as the country grew into its role as a world power, the obligation of Congress to ensure America lived up to the hopes and dreams of the founders only became more important. The post-World War II global order relies fundamentally on American leadership. The role of Congress, therefore, is not only to serve as the legislature of our great nation, but also — as a co-equal branch of government for the most powerful country in the world — to help maintain the stability and prosperity of the liberal order. We cannot take this charge seriously enough. That is why the diminished role of Congress in deliberating and debating the strategy to address the global challenges and opportunities we face is one of the great tragedies of our modern political system. Congress has a fairly straightforward set of constitutional roles and responsibilities: raising and supporting armies; providing and maintaining a Navy; providing advice and consent on treaties and nominations; controlling the purse strings; conducting oversight of executive branch departments and agencies; and exercising checks and balances as a co-equal branch of government. Yet, Congress has a more fundamental role in shaping American national security strategy than conventional constitutional wisdom would dictate. Unfortunately, we have allowed these important duties to wither away. The legislature, and in particular the Senate, is intended to be a deliberative body — one that is capable of providing a thoughtful, reasoned, and measured approach to matters of national import. In the national security sphere, the benefits of this deliberative approach are clear. Where the executive branch is consumed with the urgency of day-to-day events, the legislature can take time for precious debate and careful consideration of both current problems and future potentialities. Free from the paralysis of dealing with crisis management, Congress should be able to provide the strategic thinking that national security demands. [quote id="1"] Practically speaking, the process for Congress’s role starts with a sober assessment of national security threats. It then proceeds with spirited debate about the requirements necessary to meet those threats, followed by the authorization of policies and appropriation of resources to support those requirements. Finally, it provides vigorous oversight of those policies and resources. At its best, this is how Congress can — and has — functioned. In recent years, however, Congress has become only a shadow of the deliberative body it was intended to be. Political polarization has led to partisan gridlock. No matter which party is in power, the majority seems intent on imposing its will, while the minority seems solely interested in preventing any accomplishments. As we lurch from one self-created crisis to another, we are proving incapable of not only addressing the country’s most difficult problems but also fulfilling our most basic legislative duties. “Compromise” has become a dirty word and working across the aisle a political liability. But these very principles were meant to define our legislative process. Over time, regular order — the set of processes, rules, customs, and protocols by which Congress is supposed to govern itself and do business on behalf of the American people — has totally broken down. This has led to a paralysis that has rendered the institution largely incapable of exercising its unique responsibility to thoughtfully consider broader strategic questions. In doing so, Congress has diminished its role and, ultimately, disempowered itself. This has wrought havoc, most crucially, on our country’s national security policies. Nowhere is this more apparent than our defense budget. For years, U.S. military spending has been senselessly constrained by sequestration — perhaps the single greatest legislative failure that I have seen. Never intended to become law at all, sequestration was meant to be a threat so grave that it would force bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit. But bipartisanship proved too difficult for Congress, and the result was that arbitrary spending caps and sequestration became the law of the land. There is broad agreement on both sides of the aisle that defense has been woefully underfunded since the spending caps and sequestration came into effect. Even still, Congress has not been able to muster the political will to find a permanent solution to the problem. Instead, we have fallen into the habit of funding our government through short-term budget deals that we all know have a harmful impact on our military. Congress has all but given up on the appropriations process, and we regularly threaten the possibility of government shutdown. If we cannot fund the government, we are failing to fulfill even the most basic constitutional duties in a reliable and proper way — and, in doing so, we are ceding power to the executive and further weakening our own branch of government. I am proud to say that the Senate Armed Services Committee has long been one of the rare exceptions to the breakdown of regular order. For more than 50 consecutive years, Congress has enacted the National Defense Authorization Act in a bipartisan manner, and presidents of both parties have signed those bills into law. Unfortunately, even the bipartisanship surrounding the defense authorization bill has proven fragile. In recent years, we have struggled to reach agreement on a process to debate and vote on amendments under an open process on the floor of the Senate — undercutting one of its central purposes. While in the end a large majority of senators from both parties vote for the legislation each year, it is disappointing that we can no longer find a way to openly debate matters of such consequence to our military and our national security. It is essential that we find a way to restore Congress’s unique role in providing the deliberative, strategic approach that is so needed in our national security decision-making — especially in today’s increasingly dangerous and unstable world. To do so, we should look to our own past. At several key moments in recent history, Congress has demonstrated the courage and moral fortitude to do the hard work of thoughtful deliberation and strategic thinking to enact visionary reforms, policy changes, or shifts in national security strategy. There are a few episodes that stand out during my time in Washington. The first demonstrates the ability of a small group of members of Congress with strong personal convictions to change the trajectory of national security — despite determined opposition from a president. In the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter was considering withdrawing all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula in an effort to negotiate with the Chinese and the Soviets to prevent another war. As a Navy liaison in the Senate at the time, I escorted a bipartisan delegation of senators, including Henry “Scoop” Jackson and William Cohen, on a visit to South Korea. That on-the-ground experience led these leaders to conclude that troop withdrawal would aggravate rather than alleviate the security situation. Upon our return to Washington, the senators went to the White House and worked hard to convince the president that a troop withdrawal would not be the right course of action. These senators were highly regarded for their national security experience and expertise. While one of them might not have made a difference, the bipartisan group was able to change his mind and, in doing so, change the course of history. The results of withdrawing troops from South Korea would have been disastrous for our interests and those of our allies in the region. The second episode demonstrates the value of careful study, oversight, and reform — even when faced with bureaucratic opposition from the executive branch. The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act was the most consequential reform of the Department of Defense since its creation. Passed in 1986, my last year in the House of Representatives before I came to the Senate, this legislation was the result of years of hard work by the Armed Services Committee. Goldwater-Nichols came about in response to a series of military failures — the Vietnam War, the failed hostage rescue in Iran, and difficulties during the invasion of Grenada. After years of meticulous deliberation and study, the committee identified the root causes of these failures and enacted sweeping organizational reforms to fix the problems, increase efficiency, reduce waste, and encourage a more unified force. On the whole, those reforms have served our country well. [quote id="2"] The third episode demonstrates the power of shifting the paradigm during a crisis — in the face of strong path dependency from the administration. In 2006, the situation in Iraq was rapidly spiraling out of control. Those dark days saw slow progress, rising casualties, and dwindling public support for the war. The Bush administration continued to pursue the same strategy in the face of mounting evidence of its catastrophic failure. In Congress, we knew a new approach was urgently needed to turn the tide. As the representatives of the people, we understood that a mood of defeatism was rising, as critics who would have preferred failure called for unconditional troop withdrawal. Together with a group of highly-regarded national security experts, Congress demanded a change in strategy. The intellectual contributions of thought leaders were central to crafting the troop surge strategy, and Congress played an important role in building public support — in part through high-profile hearings like the one that allowed Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to make the case against accepting defeat. In 2007, President George W. Bush finally changed course and adopted a strategy that could lead to victory, working tirelessly to earn public support for the surge. While the gains made after the surge have since been squandered, we should not underestimate how the change in strategy turned the tide. It is time to get back to this way of doing business. To be sure, Congress is not perfect — least of all, its members. We have all made our fair share of mistakes and have gotten the details wrong on more than one occasion. Even so, we owe it to those who put our system in place to become the deliberative body we were intended to be. When it comes to asserting our role in national security, we owe it also to the men and women serving in our armed forces who put their lives at risk every day to keep our nation free. By reinvigorating the processes, rules, protocols, and customs of Congress, we can get back to fulfilling our unique role in national security decision-making. Through deliberation, debate, and regular order, we can overcome our current polarized, paralyzed moment — just as the founding fathers intended us to. By doing so, we can reassert our status as a coequal branch of government and do our part to ensure our national security. Only then can we — imperfectly — help our country move forward, secure our interests, defend our values, and protect the world order that has brought peace and prosperity to so many.   John McCain graduated from the Naval Academy in 1958. He served in the U.S. Navy until 1981. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. McCain was the Republican Party’s nominee for president in the 2008 election. He currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. [post_title] => Restoring the Vision: Overcoming Gridlock to Reassert Congress’s Role in Deliberating National Security [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => restoring-vision-overcoming-gridlock-reassert-congresss-role-deliberating-national-security [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-24 10:48:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-24 14:48:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=259 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => In recent years, Congress’s role in shaping American national security strategy has diminished due to partisan gridlock from both parties. It’s time to reassert our status as a coequal branch of government and do our part to ensure our national security. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Congress has a more fundamental role in shaping American national security strategy than conventional constitutional wisdom would dictate. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => [W]e owe it to those who put our system in place to become the deliberative body we were intended to be. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 98 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 253 [post_author] => 52 [post_date] => 2017-10-24 09:05:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 13:05:49 [post_content] =>
There will be no day of days then when a new world order comes into being. Step by step and here and there it will arrive, and even as it comes into being it will develop fresh perspectives, discover unsuspected problems and go on to new adventures. No man, no group of men, will ever be singled out as its father or founder. For its maker will be not this man nor that man nor any man but Man, that being who is in some measure in every one of us. …The new order will be incessant; things will never stop happening, and so it defies any Utopian description.

G. Wells, The New World Order (1940)[1]

  H.G. Wells once said that civilization is a race between education and catastrophe. His thought is applicable to hemispheric relations. With common dedication to the highest ideals of mankind, including shared assumptions for a world at peace, freedom and progress, there is no insurmountable impediment to fruitful cooperation, save only insufficiency in mutual understanding.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Report to the American People on the South American Trip, March 8, 1960[2]

  … The President read passages from H.G. Wells … [He] said nations must have great ideas or they cease to be great. They talked about what happened to England and France [in 1940] and that peoples’ greatness has to be extra-dimensional and move beyond themselves. The question is whether we do what we need to both abroad and in the ghettos. If we just go to the ghettos and let go abroad, apart from the destruction that might come from a war, we might destroy ourselves. [Theodore] Roosevelt talked about it as the white man’s burden. Both of these people [Wells and Roosevelt] were searching for that same feeling that people need.

Notes of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Henry Kissinger), Washington, November 5, 1969, 7pm[3]

  The pursuit of something called “world order” has been an almost ever-present feature of Western – more specifically, American and British — statecraft for at least 100 years. It is embedded in a discourse about international affairs that can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Britain became increasingly conscious of the fragility of its empire, and the United States began to recognize the full extent of its potential power. Notions of regional or international order date further back than that and have long had a central place in conceptions of European statecraft, since the Treaty of Westphalia at least. But, the pursuit of world order speaks to a higher objective than the pursuit of the national interest or the mere preservation of stability and security in one’s neighborhood. All versions of world order are, to some extent, aspirational and visionary. They express a wish to guide the international future towards a more desirable destination. This is obviously true of more idealized versions of world order, some of which have gone so far as to envisage a future utopia in which humanity is unified under one law, war is abolished and reason prevails in the governance of man (seen in the work of H.G. Wells, for example). But, it also applies to more avowedly “realist” thinking on world order, which seeks “co-evolution” among nation states or great civilizational blocs as a better means to preserve international harmony, while eschewing “universalism” (in the alternative vision of Henry Kissinger).[4] Either way, the historical record suggests that one’s view of world order is inseparable from one’s worldview. It reveals the beholder’s hope for how the world should or could be, rather than simply how it is. The pursuit of world order has taken many forms in the last 100 years of Anglo-American statecraft, and its terms have been bitterly contested. It has been used as shorthand for a vast range of potential scenarios: from a unified “world state,” governed by a single supranational institution, to a balance of power in which the strongest prevail. Somewhere between these two poles sits the idea of “liberal international order” — the precise terms of which are much contested today. This essay does not seek to establish a typology between these various definitions, or to place them on an idealist-realist spectrum. The fluidity of the foreign policy debate, and the changing positions of those engaged in it, belies any such attempt. Instead, the essay seeks to identify a number of key inflection points in the evolution and metastization of different Anglo-American ideas of “world order” over the last century. The method adopted is that used by scholars of intellectual history, which has increasingly been applied to the study of international relations in recent years. In the first instance, this stresses the context-specific meaning of key political ideas (such as world order), while also opening up an inquiry into their genesis and lineage.[5] This inquiry begins with an analysis of a particular moment in November 1969, when the fundamental assumptions of American foreign policy were being re-examined, and it expands from there. Simply speaking, it demonstrates the enduring power of ideas. Specifically, the idea that a better world was achievable — through a combination of vision and human ingenuity — has provided a higher cause and unifying philosophy in Anglo-American statecraft. While conceptual purity has been elusive, the commitment to this endeavor has transcended different historical eras. When viewed over the longue durée, the yearning for equilibrium, structure, and order in international affairs provides an explanatory spine to the story of American and British foreign policy over the course of the last century. It also becomes clear that contending ideas of world order have been entwined with existential questions, such as the meaning of history, the survival of Western civilization, and the very future of mankind. [quote id="1"] The vagueness and ambiguity surrounding different definitions of world order are apt to infuriate practically-minded strategists, impatient with abstractions or images of an ideal future. The never-ending nature of the search for world order has played its part in foreign policy errors in the past. The current fashion for running down the idea of a “liberal international order” partly derives from the fact that it is regarded as a general good, rather than a clearly defined strategic goal. Yet, when ideas of world order are simply cast out as vapid utopianism, or “globalist” delusion, British and American foreign policy loses form, spirit, purpose, vision, and a sense of direction. A recognition of the historical force of such ideas is more important than ever at a time when the fundamental assumptions of Americans are being re-examined.

The Current “Crisis of World Order” and the Critique of Globalism

Within the last decade, a consensus has emerged in the West that there is a crisis of world order that must be addressed. The idea has proved particularly influential in the United States, as part of a broader debate about America’s status in international affairs. The reasons for this are well-known, from fears about the rising power of China and new concerns about Russia under President Vladimir Putin, to a series of costly engagements in the Middle East. For the outside observer, however, what is striking is just how widely shared this consensus is. Remarkably, it also seems to encompass four of the most distinctive influential foreign policy traditions of the United States — those who tend to classify themselves as “realists,” those often described as “liberal internationalists,” “conservative internationalists,” and those presumed to hold something more like a “neo-conservative” perspective on foreign policy. One of the most influential interjections in this debate was Henry Kissinger’s 2014 book, World Order, which examined competing visions of international order, from the peace of Westphalia to the 21st century. As the American-led order established in 1945 begins to come under strain under the force of global historical change, Kissinger wrote that the “reconstruction of the international system is the ultimate challenge of statesmanship in our time.”[6] But, different iterations of the same concern have emerged across the political spectrum. For example, when she was regarded as the most likely nominee to be the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton reviewed Kissinger’s book at length. She spoke of her own efforts, as secretary of state, in “reimagining and reinforcing the global order to meet the demands of an increasingly interdependent age.”[7] Notwithstanding the criticisms Kissinger made of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, she suggested that the two nonetheless shared a “belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.”[8] Of course, Kissinger’s thesis was critiqued by others on the liberal internationalist side of the American foreign policy spectrum, such as Anne-Marie Slaughter, who regarded it as a classic “realist” account, giving insufficient place to “moral considerations” in foreign policy. At the same time, however, Slaughter concurred on one fundamental point: the urgency of creating some sort of new “global order” for the 21st century, albeit one “acceptable not only to states but also to the vast majority of the world’s people.” In Slaughter’s view, the failure of the United States to do more to prevent bloodshed in the Syrian Civil War was a symptom of the crisis in world order, and the outcome of America eschewing pursuit of that higher ideal.[9] This chimed with a line of argument made by others such as Vali Nasr, who wrote in his book, The Dispensable Nation, that a retreat of American diplomatic leadership on the international stage deprived the existing world order of the very thing that held it together.[10] From different angles, then, a growing number of foreign policy commentators joined the chorus of concern about the so-called crisis of world order. Robert Kagan, generally thought of as a neo-conservative thinker, also joined the fray in 2014 with an essay in the New Republic entitled, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire.” [11] In it, Kagan also bemoaned what he saw as a loss of appetite for international leadership in the United States, feeding into increased global instability. “If a breakdown in the world order that America made is occurring, it is not because America’s power is declining,” he wrote. He posited that the country’s wealth, power and potential influence remained adequate to meet the present challenges. Nor was it because the world had “become more complex and intractable.” Rather, he said, it was “an intellectual problem, a question of identity and purpose,” originating in the United States itself. Americans hoped for a “return to normalcy.” But, the power and pervasiveness of the United States meant that it could not simply bow out of the world order game and expect not to feel the ramifications.[12] [quote id="2"] By the spring of 2016, as the presidential election cycle was fully under way, the linkage between the apparent crisis of world order and this national “question of identity and purpose” became more pronounced. In a March 2016 essay for The American Interest, Daniel Deudney and John Ikenberry suggested that the foundations of the American-led international order had been a “centrist tradition of American world leadership,” marked by a “strong bipartisan internationalist tradition.” A radical conservative critique was challenging the “foundations of Pax Americana” at home, with potentially grave implications for the world beyond.[13] When the purveyors of that radical conservative critique coalesced around the figure of Donald Trump during the presidential primary season, it became clear that many mainstream Republicans were similarly uncomfortable with the potential implications for future foreign policy. The same month, March 2016, more than 100 Republican national security leaders signed an open letter in opposition to any future Trump presidency.[14] As Eliot Cohen, one of the most influential Republican critics of Trump, noted in his 2017 book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force, it was increasingly difficult to convince the U.S. electorate of the necessary costs involved with America retaining its position as “the guarantor of world order.”[15] Efforts to reinvigorate “conservative internationalism,” seen in the work of Paul D. Miller, for example, reflected the same concerns.[16] To the critics of the Washington foreign policy establishment, impugned in recent times as “the blob,”[17] these concerns about a crisis of world order and a decline in American leadership are but a familiar refrain. The criticism of mainstream American foreign policy traditions — and the idea that they rest on the same misguided premise about “world order” — has a heritage on both the left and right. Noam Chomsky’s 1994 book, World Orders Old and New, characterized the “guidelines of world order,” as also defined by Britain and America since World War II, as follows:
The rich men of the rich societies are to rule the world, competing among themselves for a greater share of the wealth and power and mercilessly suppressing those who stand in their way.[18]
In a more nuanced 2015 assessment, American Foreign Policy and its Thinkers, another New Left writer, Perry Anderson, also commented on the surprising degree of consensus across these different schools of U.S. foreign policy thinking on this fundamental goal: the desirability of preserving a U.S.-led international order.[19] In a subsequent 2017 work, Anderson noted how, since the end of the Cold War, a growing number of liberal internationalist thinkers — such as Jon Ikenberry, Joseph Nye, and Robert O. Keohane — had argued that the preservation of the liberal international order was the best means for America to exert “soft” power on the world stage. On the one hand, this was seen as an evolution away from outmoded Cold War thinking — which preferred to focus on the raw metrics of economic and military power. The exponents of this position called it a “milieu-based” grand strategy and suggested it was more sustainable than past superpower strategies because it did not aspire to dominance or empire. On the other hand, from the perspective of critics on the New Left, this was just the pursuit of “hegemony” by other means.[20] Most recently, this so-called Washington consensus has come under attack from some of those associated with the Trump campaign and presidency. Most obvious, of course, are the views of the president himself. With striking consistency over the previous decades, he has expressed a worldview that is directly hostile to the idea of a U.S.-led international order.[21] Many of these ideas have 19th century antecedents.[22] But, the emphasis on “America first” converged with new trends of nationalism in American political discourse to emerge on the right that, according to Iskander Rehman, contains elements of ethno-tribalism, millenarianism, decadentism and illiberalism. When confronted with a large and influential establishment — which is perceived to be particularly deeply entrenched on issues of foreign policy — the most influential apostles of this worldview, notably former White House advisor and strategist Steve Bannon, have expressed a firm desire “to bring everything crashing down.”[23]

Stripping the Altars: World Order as a “Globalist” Aberration

One of the more articulate criticisms of the shared assumptions of the foreign policy establishment has come from Michael Anton, now deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the National Security Council. At the time of writing, he is one of the few radical critics of the foreign policy establishment to remain in office (avoiding the fates of Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka who have all either been pushed aside or left).[24] In an article written before he joined the administration, Anton took aim at the consensus, firmly held on both sides of the aisle, that a Trump presidency would undermine the “liberal international order:”
Nearly all opponents of President Trump’s foreign policy, from conservatives and Republicans to liberals and Democrats, claim to speak up for the “liberal international order.” A word may have been different here or there (e.g., “world order”) but the basic charge was always the same. Whether voiced by Fareed Zakaria and Yascha Mounk on the left, Walter Russell Mead in the center, Eliot Cohen and Robert Zoellick on the right, or Robert Kagan on the once-right-now-left, the consensus was clear: Trump threatens the international liberal order.[25]
Anton went on to argue that the foreign policy establishment lining up behind the liberal international order was both a kind of “priesthood.” The priesthood had a vested interest in protecting its status “by muddying the simple and clear, and pretending that the complex is clear and obvious — but only to themselves.” They dominated the language and discourse of foreign policy and were instinctively hostile to anything that challenged their worldview. There was even a hint of Chomsky in the argument that the liberal international order was better understood as the “liberal rich-country order.”[26] Whether it comes from Chomsky or Anton, one has to acknowledge elements of truth in this critique. There are indeed certain shared presuppositions within mainstream U.S. foreign policy traditions that have gone unchallenged and unexamined for many years. The same might be said in the British national security debate, which takes its cue from the United States, and which places similar emphasis on a “rules-based international order” as its starting point.[27] There is a distance between popular perceptions of the national interest and those prescribed by individuals within the foreign policy establishment. The benefits said to arise from an American-led international order are sometimes presumed rather than explained. Vagueness around the definition of the liberal international order has sometimes led to confusion about the core strategic purpose of American grand strategy, not to mention that of its allies. There are many who would agree with Anton that the attempt, after the end of the Cold War, to enlarge the mission in pursuit of a “new world order” was “a case of American eyes being much bigger than our stomachs (or teeth), a confusion of ideology and interests.” Anton himself suggests that he is not advocating the abandonment of the liberal international order, but simply a greater willingness to reform it.[28] [quote id="3"] Yet, the reality is that this assault on the so-called “priesthood” rests on unexamined assumptions of its own. The purported aim of bringing the Washington consensus “crashing down” has created an exaggerated disdain for the “intellectual architecture” of American grand strategy.[29] The desire to strip the altars or to rip up the sacred scripts is based on a jaundiced and limited reading of history. First, it presumes a fundamental “wrong turn” taken by the United States at some point in recent decades (and a concomitant need to press the reset button). Second, and more importantly, the radical conservative obsession with “globalism” has become the right’s equivalent of the left-wing obsession with “neo-liberalism” — that is, a vague and catch-all term, designed to signal disapproval, but offering limited utility.

World Order as a Recurring Vision in the Anglo-American Mind

The idea that the high premium placed upon the idea of world order is some sort of globalist or neo-liberal aberration, tacked on to more traditional foreign policy aims by a complacent and self-interested establishment, is not supported by the historical record. It should be said, as Or Rosenboim has pointed out, that the competing visions of world order that emerged in the mid-20th century did have a significant “globalist” dimension.[30] Such ideas were particularly influential when (according to Google’s Ngram tool) popular usage of the phrase “world order” peaked in 1945. But, the ideas of world order discussed in what follows have a longer heritage — one that predates and transcends the unique era of post-war planning from 1939-45. In fact, the pursuit of world order has provided an extra-dimension to Anglo-American thinking about world affairs for more than 100 years: providing a vision that went beyond the pursuit of narrow self-interest; easily traversing the divide between so-called idealists and realists; and acting as a bridging mechanism between the immediate considerations of the nation-state and a broader concern for the future of Western civilization. In using the hyphenated form, “Anglo-American,” the intention is not to play down the differences between British and American foreign policy. Over the course of the last 100 years, as Britain’s global power waned and America’s waxed, both nations continued to put their own interests before anything else. Nonetheless, in the most important great power transition of the 20th century, there is a striking degree of interchange about ideas of “world order.” This allowed for a commonality of purpose at a number of critical points in modern history. In some cases, such as the wake of World War I, a shared commitment to create a new international order was undermined by a failure to define the mission and unwillingness to pursue it to its end. In others, such as the wake of World War II, there was a coalescence of views on world order that had a profound impact on international affairs.[31] The shared pool of ideals provided a more solid foundation for Anglo-American relations than sentimental appeals to the “special relationship.” Moments of perfect symmetry were fleeting and rare. But, the intellectual synergies ran deep and were transmitted across different eras. Indeed, one reason why the pursuit of world order became so entrenched in Anglo-American thinking was that so many different tributaries flowed into it. It was not the preserve of one party or one intellectual tradition. It is this that explains unlikely connections, such as the fondness of at least three Republican presidents — Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Nixon — for the work of a British socialist writer like H.G. Wells. Given the broad period under discussion, and the amorphous nature of the concept of world order, the intention here is not to attempt a narrative sweep from the late 19th century through to the modern era. The evolution of American (and Anglo-American) ideas about international order over the last 100 years has been charted expertly by a number of scholars in recent years — notably Mark Mazower in Governing the World, David Milne in Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy and John Thompson in A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role.[32] Similarly, it is not my aim to chart the competition between different versions of world order — from the “world state” to the “balance of power.” Instead, I argue that what matters is not so much how world order has been defined, but the sense in which Anglo-American statesmen have continued to regard it as a noble cause. To put it another way, the endpoint may remain vague and contested, but the almost ever-present desire to work towards it is tangible, discernible, and traceable — providing an organizing philosophy and therefore a real driving force in history. Despite the significant differences between them on foreign policy, both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson can be seen to have dedicated significant portions of their career to a vision of world order. Some of these threads were brought together by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in the period from 1940-1945. But, the fact that almost all of the post-World War II presidents and prime ministers have paid some sort of homage to an idealized version of world order is a testimony to the enduring influence of the idea. The challenge, then, is to test this idea on less fertile ground. For that reason, the rest of this essay takes an unorthodox approach by beginning with a freeze frame of American foreign policy thinking at a critical moment in the Cold War, in late 1969. The primary reason for starting with this episode — as opposed to one from the era of Wilson or the Roosevelts, for example — is that it sits far outside the usual idealistic lineage of American thinking about world order. Second, it took place in a period in which the fundamental presuppositions underlying American foreign policy were being re-examined, much as they are today. As Henry Kissinger wrote at the time, in a briefing note prepared for President Richard Nixon, it was a “period in which American foreign policy has to be put on a new foundation.” For the first two decades after World War II, America’s approach to the world had been:
conducted with the maxims and the inspiration that guided the Marshall Plan, that is, the notion of a predominant United States, as the only stable country, the richest country, the country without whose leadership and physical contribution nothing was possible, and which had to make all the difference for defense and progress everywhere in the world. …Conditions have changed enormously. We are now in a world in which other parties are playing a greater role.[33]
Both Kissinger and Nixon were willing to countenance a “revolution” in U.S. foreign policy. But, in doing so, they fell back on some unlikely sources of inspiration. Tellingly, they returned to episodes of Anglo-American foreign policy that predated 1945, and they sought to reinvigorate old ideas about world order from this shared tradition. The canon Nixon referred to was a somewhat chaotic and unruly one, which darted back and forth across the Atlantic to Anglo-American statesman of different eras. Nonetheless, the variety of influences on his thinking tells a story in its own right. It says something revealing about how the search for world order was viewed — as the continuation of a historical mission, a search for meaning beyond national self-interest, a vehicle for the preservation of Western civilization and an attempt to wrestle with the future rather than to let fate take its course. Seen in this way, the pursuit of world order — in the most general sense — appears as a surprisingly ecumenical credo with a long, if somewhat controversial, backstory.

Richard Nixon and H.G. Wells

On the evening of Nov. 5, 1969, a year to the day after his election as president, Richard Nixon was in a reflective mood. At 7 p.m., he picked up the telephone on his Oval Office desk, on which he kept a stack of recently read books, and called Henry Kissinger, his national security advisor.[34] Elected with a promise to end the Vietnam War, Nixon was conscious of the weight of historical responsibility on his shoulders. He had been reading a recently published book by the World War II veteran and University of California sinologist, Laurence Thompson, titled 1940: Year of Legend, Year of History. This book told of Winston Churchill becoming prime minister of Great Britain at its darkest hour, as the remnants of his nation’s army desperately fled the Nazi advance on the beaches of Dunkirk in May.[35] The book was on Nixon’s mind as he sought to advise his national security advisor on what to say in a forthcoming interview with Time magazine. While the British survived Dunkirk to fight another day, the months that followed evacuation provided little solace. By the end of 1941, the Nazi mission to dominate Europe looked almost complete. The Wehrmacht reached the suburbs of Moscow, and the Soviet Union seemed to be on the brink of defeat. In Asia, meanwhile, Japan was preparing to launch a full-scale assault on the weakening British Empire. As it turned out, Adolf Hitler’s decision to invade Russia that winter was to prove disastrous. Even more consequential was the decision by the Japanese to launch a pre-emptive attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, for fear that it would enter the war on the side of the British. In London, as Laurence Thompson has recounted, it was certainly not seen as inevitable that Washington would enter the war until the attack happened. So, Thompson described how, Churchill, on the night of Dec. 7, 1941,
went to bed saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful. That United States, like or not, had been goaded into taking the place left vacant on the world stage by a declining Britain.[36]
With this global leadership came grave responsibilities. Almost three decades later, Nixon took charge of a country that was locked in a seemingly intractable and energy-sapping conflict in Southeast Asia. The year 1968 had been the bleakest year yet, with the loss of almost 17,000 American servicemen, adding urgency to his campaign promises to end the war. Yet, the bleak news from Vietnam was partially alleviated by another event in Nixon’s first year in office. Just a few months prior, on July 20, 1969, two American astronauts had become the first human beings to walk on the surface of the moon. As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin disembarked Apollo II for their moonwalk, they had been greeted by the voice of the president, channelled through a crackling line into their earpieces. “Because of what you have done the heavens have become a part of man's world,” said Nixon, “and as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquillity, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquillity to earth.”[37] Three months later, Nixon considered how previous generations would have viewed these remarkable achievements. Back in 1901, it had been left to English science fiction writer H.G. Wells, in one of his most fantastical stories, to envisage such a mission in his novel, The First Men in the Moon, which had been made into a feature film in 1964.[38] Such achievements were enough to spur anyone into deeper reflection about the purpose of mankind and the advance of civilization. [quote id="4"] Reflecting on this modern day “crusade,” Nixon also quoted from Well’s famous 1920 work, The Outline of History, an ambitious attempt to tell the story of human civilization from the Neolithic era to the modern era. In the book, Wells noted a recurrent tension between the nomadic cultures that emerged in the north and the settled peoples who were more common in the south. In the tension between them, one could see, at the core of the human spirit, a desire to strive for “a new and better sort of civilization.” Wells described a series of civilizational missions over the course of history, such as the Christian crusades or nomadic conquerors — Alexander the Great, Muhammed, Napoleon and Woodrow Wilson — which had attempted to unify humanity. Although they had failed, Wells believed that mankind would never forego the goal of unity, and that the march of science and technology made the prospect of success ever more likely.[39] By Nov. 5, 1969, as the sun was setting on first year of Nixon’s presidency, the United States faced a combination of challenges at home — manifested in a surge of student radicalism and inner-city riots throughout the summer — and overseas, where it was unclear how America could extricate itself without a humiliating defeat. The words of Wells weighed upon the president, as he considered the challenge ahead. “In terms of history, when we talk about the crusades that H.G. Wells talked about, for example the moon thing,” he said to Kissinger,
[They] had the effect of bringing to Western Europe not just the discovery in the East but the fact that Western Europe at that time devoted itself to a great cause beyond itself. It changed Western Europe. …The President said nations must have great ideas or they cease to be great.[40]
More than that, Nixon feared that if America focused solely on domestic problems, giving up on its leadership of the Western world, it would lose its sense of purpose:
The question is whether we do what we need to both abroad and in the ghettos. If we just go to the ghettos and let go abroad, apart from the destruction that might come from a war, we might destroy ourselves.[41]
In addition to this unlikely fondness for H.G. Wells, Nixon also sought inspiration from one of his predecessors in the White House, Theodore Roosevelt, who had been president from 1901-1908. “Roosevelt talked about it as the white man's burden,” explained Nixon as he ended the phone call. “Both of these people were searching for that same feeling that people need.” [42] Nixon’s presidency was to become one of the most controversial in American history. Yet, in its infancy, and despite his reputation for cold-hearted realpolitik, he was eager to associate himself with a cause that went beyond the narrow national interest and spoke to “great ideas” and a civilizational crusade. With the moon having been conquered already, this was to be pursued in the field of foreign affairs.

The Pursuit of World Order as a “Civilizational Mission”

For many, then and now, the notion of a “white man’s burden” represented the ultimate stain on the historical record of the West — the pretense to stand for a higher cause was but a thin veneer, masking racial prejudice and the grasping self-interest. There was, without question, a highly racialized component to some early Anglo-American thinking about world order.[43] So if Nixon had uttered these words in public in 1969, it would most likely have provoked an overwhelmingly negative response. In fact, the infamous phrase was not Roosevelt’s creation. It was coined by the English poet Rudyard Kipling and first used in the title of a poem written for the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, marking her 60 years on the throne. The Diamond Jubilee was to not only symbolize the pinnacle of British imperial power, but also the growing recognition of its fragility, and the loosening of the binds that held it together. As the 19th century drew to a close, Kipling understood that the enemies of the Empire were growing in power and number. As the 20th century loomed on the horizon, he also had come to the conclusion that the “white man’s burden” would be too much for Britain to bear alone for another century. It was thus, at the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898, that Kipling began to look to the United States to share in Britain’s burden, to preserve and spread “civilisation” in the world.[44] The American people were undecided as to the merits of assuming such a responsibility. When the United States took possession of the Philippine Islands from Spain – and assumed responsibility for its governance – it sparked a fierce national debate as to whether a country founded on rebellion against the British Empire should itself take part in the imperial game. Conscious of the way this debate was finely poised, in late November 1898, Kipling offered his verse to Roosevelt, who had just been elected Governor of New York and was a staunch supporter of expansionism. “Now, go in and put all the weight of your influence into hanging on, permanently, to the whole Philippines,” he begged Roosevelt in the letter that he sent to accompany the poem. “America has gone and stuck a pick-axe into the foundations of a rotten house, and she is morally bound to build the house over, again, from the foundations, or have it fall about her ears.” Forwarding Kipling’s poem to Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, Roosevelt commented that it was “poor poetry,” but that it made “good sense from the expansion standpoint.”[45] By evoking Wells, Kipling, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Armstrong in the space of a short phone call, Nixon clearly sought historical justification for the change of direction in American foreign policy that he was considering. It would be easy to conclude that the president, who was not a natural intellectual, was confused by these conflicting ideas from across the political spectrum. Yet, he was not amiss in seeing the connections. For one, there was an unlikely connection between the thinking of Wells and the writing of Kipling. Even a socialist like Wells, who rejected Kipling’s imperialism in favor of his dream of a “world state” — a vision captured in his 1940 book, New World Order — acknowledged that the poet of Empire had influenced him in his early years.[46] As Wells wrote in The New Machiavelli, the “prevailing force” of his worldview as a young man was “Kiplingism … we were all, you must understand, very distinctly Imperialists also, and professed a vivid sense of the ‘White Man’s Burden.’” Kipling helped to broaden his “geographical sense,” he recalled, while inspiring in him a “desire for discipline and devotion” that seemed to be sorely missing in the chaotic affairs of men.[47] To be clear, as Wells moved away from the views of his youth, he distanced himself from Kipling and any whiff of sentimentality about the Empire. In fact, The First Men in the Moon can be partly interpreted as a critique of British imperialism, published against the backdrop of the Second Boer War.[48] At the onset of World War II, Wells’s vision of a “new world order” was one in which the empires would melt away. More specifically, he believed that the British Empire was the greatest obstacle to the unity of the English-speaking peoples in pursuit of that higher ideal. He wrote:
I dislike calling myself “British” and I like to think of myself as a member of a great English-speaking community, which spreads irrespective of race and colour round and about the world.
What he hoped for was “the realisation of a common purpose and a common cultural inheritance may spread throughout all the English-speaking communities.” Foreshadowing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s position, he suggested that only the dissolution of the British Empire “may inaugurate this great synthesis.”[49] Such was the predictive power of Wells that many came to regard him as something of a prophet of the future.[50] Yet, as Nixon’s reference to the “white man’s burden” confirmed, Kipling also cast a longer shadow over the 20th century than is often presumed. In the view of George Orwell, for example, Wells’s optimistic faith in the eventual triumph of science, rationalism, and reason left him ill-equipped to understand the atavistic forces that had come to define the 20th century. In his fear of a clash of civilizations, savagery, ethnic bloodlust, and the breakdown of order, Orwell even suggested that Kipling had been a better prophet for the modern era. Wells was “too sane to understand the modern world.” Kipling, by contrast, “was not deaf to the evil voices of power and military ‘glory.’” Had he lived to see the 1930s, suggested Orwell, Kipling would have better understood “the appeal of Hitler, or for that matter of Stalin, whatever his attitude towards them might be.”[51] Without stretching the point, one can see both these instincts — the Wellsian yearning for international order and the belief that it was attainable by human endeavor and Kipling’s fear of the fragility of Western civilization — in the minds of Nixon and Kissinger, as they contemplated a new course in American foreign policy. There is, perhaps, another clue here in Nixon’s admiration for Winston Churchill. The British statesman often testified to the influence that both Wells and Kipling had upon him. Some of Churchill’s most famous wartime phrases — including his appeals to the unity of the “English-speaking peoples” and “gathering storm” — could be traced back to Wells. Most important, in this respect, was the “broad sunlit uplands” that envisaged a better future world after war.[52] Nor was the link between Wells and Roosevelt that Nixon made at the end of his first year in office — referring to this “feeling that people need” — the product of a confused imagination. It is unclear whether Nixon knew the story or whether he had an intuitive sense of the intellectual connection between them. But the writer and the statesman had in fact met many years before, when Wells visited the White House in 1907. On that occasion, Roosevelt had revealed to Wells a fondness for one of his earlier novels, The Time Machine, first published in 1895.[53] Influenced by the work of Charles Darwin, Wells had envisioned a future in which civilization had not evolved uniformly, but had led to the creation of a two-tiered world. On the surface of the earth lived the Eloi, peaceful, childlike creatures who had lost their evolutionary edge. With no apparent threat to their existence, and having triumphed over nature, they were smaller, weake, and less motivated by the quest for survival than the humans from whom they had evolved. Then, the time travelling narrator catches sight of something called a Morlock, a “queer little ape-like figure,” disappearing into a subterranean network of tunnels that was once the London underground. It dawns upon him:
that Man had not remained one species, but had differentiated into two distinct animals: that my graceful children of the Upper World were not the sole descendants of our generation, but that this bleached, obscene, nocturnal Thing, which had flashed before me, was also heir to all the ages.[54]
At the end of The Time Machine, the time traveller rushes forward in time once more to escape the Morlocks who have captured him. In a final scene, he finds a world in which all remnants of mankind are extinct, only the simplest vegetation remains and monstrous crab-like creatures slowly scuttle across blood-red beaches in search of giant butterflies to eat.[55] For many readers of the book, this dystopian vision suggested a deep anxiety about the future of the world, a view verging on fatalistic despair. Yet, this was not the case for Roosevelt, who claimed to be inspired by it. As Wells recalled, the president “became gesticulatory,” when the discussion turned to The Time Machine, gripping the back of a garden chair with his left hand and stabbing the air with his right as if he was speaking on a platform, “his straining voice a note higher in denying the pessimism of that book…”[56]  Roosevelt, crouching down on the White House lawn that afternoon in 1907, as if over a battlefield, said, “Suppose, after all that you should be right, and it ends with your butterflies and Morlocks. That doesn’t matter now! The effort’s real. It’s worth going on with it — even then.”[57] The president joked, “Morlocks! Everywhere Morlocks!” as he looked out across the lawn and pretended to shoot the imaginary creatures, as if he were holding a rifle in his hand. The two men laughed. The novelist was flattered and agreed that he had not intended his book to be an expression of despair so much as a call to action.[58] The point here was not that Wells (nor Kipling, for that matter) had some sort of decisive influence on Roosevelt or the formation of his worldview. This would be to look at the formation of an Anglo-American worldview the wrong way around, as some sort of process of British influencing America as the latter reached superpower consciousness. The president was an enthusiastic Anglophile, but he had already made his own mind up about what was in America’s best interests. Kipling and Wells had different fears and hopes about the international future. What they shared, from vastly different perspectives, was the growing conviction that the United States was the best guarantor of salvation and civilization. Like many Englishmen after them, they were not manipulating the American consciousness so much as pinning their hopes upon American leadership. “Never did a President so reflect the quality of his time,” Wells wrote after the meeting with Roosevelt. He was “a very symbol of the creative will in man, in its limitations, its doubtful adequacy, its valiant persistence, amidst complexities and confusions.” At the outset of the 20th century, Wells was pleased to report that Roosevelt embodied a new political trend in the Anglo-American world that was “altogether away from the anarchistic individualism of the nineteenth century … towards some constructive scheme.”[59] At the domestic level, elements of this new approach could be seen in the policies of the Progressive era. The real “constructive scheme” that Wells had in mind, however, was the building of a new world order.

The Elusiveness of Pax-Anglo-Saxonica

While it says something about the tangled roots of Anglo-American worldview, this vignette – an account of brief telephone conversation in 1969 — can only get us so far. It was clear that Nixon sought inspiration from this sense that he was resuming a long-term historical cause, but this did not provide him with a new blueprint for Cold War foreign policy. Meanwhile, it was one thing to see Roosevelt — as Wells did — as the harbinger of a “constructive scheme” in world affairs and a reversal of the trend towards anarchic individualism. It was quite another, as countless exponents of world order were to learn, to articulate how such a vague idea could ever be materialized. Indeed, the lack of clarity about concrete goals meant that the pursuit of world order nearly always ended in frustrated ambition. The failures of Anglo-American internationalism in the era preceding and following World War I can, to a great extent, be explained by this confusion. On the one hand, the idea that Britain and the United States might have had a shared interest in what might be (anachronistically) called a “liberal international order” had gathered some traction among elites by the turn of the 20th century. On the other hand, divergent national interests and significant cultural differences still held sway. First, British foreign policy in this era paid great homage to certain liberal international ideals while being primarily concerned with the preservation of Empire. Second, it soon became clear that — whatever the personal views of Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson after him — the U.S. Congress, and ergo the American people, was unwilling to assume the burden that the construction of a new international order demanded. [quote id="5"] For those who hoped that the “Americanization of the world” would lessen the load on the British Empire, there was much frustration at the course taken by the United States. Following Roosevelt, the presidency of William Howard Taft was regarded as particularly disappointing. In 1911, the British writer Sydney Brooks — whose pieces often appeared in Harper’s Magazine — complained that the United States did not understand the urgency of the civilizational threat to the West because of its relative security and its near-impenetrability from foreign invasion. It had become clear that Americans lived “in an atmosphere of extra-ordinary simplicity, spaciousness, and self-absorption,” he wrote. Foreign policy was never a priority in American politics and the implications of American expansionism had yet to be grasped. After expansion into Cuba and the Philippines in 1898, Americans had strewn the Pacific with stepping stones from Hawaii to Manila, just as the British had done in the Mediterranean. In effect, America had an empire, but Americans had “not yet become Imperial.” As Brooks complained in 1911, “The white man’s burden, so far as Americans are concerned, has become the white man’s boredom.”[60] For a fleeting moment, America’s entry into the Great War and Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points re-energized the idea that such a Western-led world order could be built.[61] While some of the supporters of the Anglo-American alliance in Britain were imperial survivalists, there were also genuine internationalists in the mould of Wells. The failure of the United States to join the League of Nations in 1920 was a bitter disappointment to the advocates of this new world order. At the same time, quite justifiably, some of the most forthright advocates of American internationalism believed that the project had been corrupted in inception by the failure of the European powers — Britain foremost among them — to abandon their imperial ambitions.[62] No sooner, then, had the concept of “world order” been transferred from theorists to statesmen that it became associated with failure. Tellingly, one of the earliest mentions of “world order” in the State Department archives appeared in the resignation letter of an idealistic young Wilsonian diplomat, William Bullitt, who felt that the post-war peace settlement was unduly harsh on Bolshevik Russia and that America should refuse to cooperate with Britain and France in pursuing their familiar imperialist great games. He told Wilson,
I was one of the millions who trusted confidently and implicitly in your leadership and believed that you would take nothing less than “a permanent peace” based upon “unselfish and unbiased justice.” But our Government has consented now to deliver the suffering peoples of the world to new oppressions, subjections and dismemberments — a new century of war. And I can convince myself no longer that effective labor for “a new world order” is possible as a servant of this Government.[63]
Ironically, outside the Anglo-American world, some observers took the view that the English-speaking peoples had missed an incredible opportunity to establish a dominant Anglo-American world order. Friedrich Meinecke, the foremost German theorist of “realpolitik,” addressed these questions in his classic text, Machiavellianism: The Doctrine of Raison D’État and Its Place in Modern History (1924). Meinecke refused to believe that a true League of Nations could ever be realized and had little time for Wilsonian idealism. Instead of the League, however, he believed that the shared strategic culture of America and Britain might eventually point to a different type of international order. While the moment had passed in 1920, he speculated four years later,
perhaps occur that the era of ... international conflict … may be brought to an end not by a genuine League of Nations, but by the world-hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon powers, in whose hands the strongest physical powers of the globe are already concentrated.
Meinecke did not welcome the prospect of such a “pax anglo-saxonica.” But, he did recognize that, through the lighter touch of liberal capitalism, it would “be more endurable for the individual life of ... [other] nations” than dominance by other great powers.[64] While there were those in the Anglo-American world who held on to such a vision in the 1920s, they grew increasingly forlorn. By November 1928, ten years after the Entente’s victory in World War I, an official at the British Foreign Office sat down to compose a stark assessment of the new global order that was taking shape. Russia, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and China were all locked in spirals of revolution and repression while being crippled by successive financial crises. One country stood supreme above all the others. In the United States, the official wrote, Great Britain was faced:
with a phenomenon for which there is no parallel in our modern history — a state twenty-five times as large, five times as wealthy, three times as populous, twice as ambitious, almost invulnerable, and at least our equal in prosperity, vital energy, technical equipment and industrial strength.
The problem, as it was to be for much of the next century, was that “in almost every field, the advantages to be derived from mutual co-operation are greater for us than for them.”[65] Against this backdrop, British imaginings of the future took on a darker form once again. It was in 1933 — the year that Adolf Hitler became Germany’s chancellor — that H.G. Wells returned to his musings on the idea of world order, once again through the lens of futurology, with The Shape of Things to Come. A science fiction novel purporting to be a “history” of the future, it told the story of how humanity would develop from 1930 to the year 2106. The world that Wells depicted was one in which Franklin D. Roosevelt fails to implement the New Deal, causing a global economic crisis that lasts 30 years. This is punctuated by a “second world war” that, with eerie accuracy, Wells predicted would begin in January 1940, sparked by a clash between Germany and Poland over Danzig. There would be no clear victor. Instead, the leading powers would emerge exhausted. Worse would follow in 1956 with the outbreak of a plague — spread by a group of enraged baboons having escaped from the London Zoo — that wipes out much of the world population.[66] The saving of humanity would take drastic measures over many years. Wells envisaged the emergence of a benevolent “dictatorship of the air,” formed by the global elite at an international conference convened in Basra in 1965. Through their control of the world’s aircraft, they would begin by eradicating the world’s religions, dropping bombs on Mecca and waging a long war against Catholicism. Eventually, the dictatorship would melt away, making way for a peaceful humanitarian utopia in which the struggle for material existence has ended, meaning that “reason” could finally triumph. The last recorded event in the book takes place on New Year’s Day 2106, when there is a levelling of the last skyscrapers that once dominated the New York skyline.[67] Piece by piece, the theoretical fragments of this vague world order were assembled for use at some future date. The following year, in 1934, the English historian Arnold Toynbee published the first volume of his 12-volume work, A Study of History, which traced the rise and fall of 23 major civilizations.[68] It was, in part, a response to Oswald Spengler’s two-volume masterpiece, The Decline of the West, which was produced at the end of World War I and warned that Western civilization was approaching its twilight.[69] Spengler questioned what he saw as a Eurocentric view of history, which presumed a linear development towards modernity and progress. Toynbee rejected this fatalism about the decline of the West. At the same time, he stressed the urgent need to formulate a vision for how the different civilizations of the world could co-exist and share the globe among them. “The challenge of being called upon to create a political world-order … now confronts our Modern Western society,” he warned.[70]

Coming Back Together: Anglo-American Conceptions of World Order

It was one thing to build castles in the sky, in the manner of Toynbee and Wells, or to speak in such broad civilizational terms. But the interwar era proved just how difficult it was to translate such vague aspirations about world order into tangible goals of foreign policy. The meteor-like phenomenon of Wilsonian internationalism, blazing brightly before fading out, illustrated the challenge. The phrase “world order” had first made a debut in U.S. State Department archives in the period from 1917 to 1919, yet it had all but evaporated from American diplomatic parlance thereafter. It did not appear in State Department cables again for another 12 years, until 1931 and then only five times until 1935. The watershed moment, from which point “world order” began to be used with ever greater frequency, was the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in October 1935. For many contemporary observers, this was the final death blow to the authority of the League of Nations, which had already been steadily undermined since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. In response, as shown by British and American diplomatic archives, the idea of “world order” was swiftly revived. In this case, however, it was shorn of some of the more ambitious connotations associated with the Wilson era. Instead, the restoration of world order was seen in more of a palliative than a visionary sense — the only possible antidote to the coming anarchy. In their shared diagnosis of the problem, there was, once again, the beginnings of a reconvergence between the American and British worldviews. Typical of this, in 1935, the American minister resident in Addis Ababa reported back on the growing sense, in conversations with the British, that the existing “world order” was under assault from the dictators or neo-imperialists in Italy, Germany, and Japan.[71] An obstacle remained in that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the architect of appeasement, had an almost undisguised contempt for the United States.[72] Meanwhile, it was in the second half of the 1930s that American strategists began to spend more time considering what sort of international order best served national goals. More importantly, these ideas developed a more solid form, in a way that could be translated into political and diplomatic action. That Franklin D. Roosevelt began to talk about the important “will for peace on the part of peace-loving nation” was of critical importance. It was “international lawlessness” that threatened “the very foundations of civilisation.”[73] Another crucial figure in this process was then Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles, who saw the challenge to world order in three ways: The first was in the unravelling of “norms” and existing laws governing international conduct. The second, arising out of the first, was the prospect of “anarchy.” The third was the dividing line that had opened up between “civilized” and “uncivilized” nations in the conduct of international affairs. As Welles put it in October 1937,
No one can today affirm that such a thing as international law exists or that there is any common agreement on the part of the so-called civilized nations of the world upon the fundamental standards which should and must govern the relations between nations if world order is to be restored.[74]
Having agreed on the remedy — the restoration of world order — so a greater sense of common purpose fed into U.S. and U.K. relations. Thus, a month later, in November 1937, Secretary of State Cordell Hull discussed the international crisis at length with the British ambassador in Washington, holding out improved Anglo-American relations — and constructive diplomatic engagement on issues such as trade — as “the basis upon which a restored world order could rest.”[75] Simultaneously, the United States began to impart these warnings about the dangers of anarchy to those who seemed to have veered into “uncivilized” conduct. In conversations with the Italian ambassador, Hull also expressed the hope — in reality, a thinly veiled warning — that:
sooner or later nations undertaking to live by the sword, with non-observance of the principles of world order to large extent, will decide on a permanent policy of either the sword or a course of peace and order under law such as many of our countries are pursuing.[76]
Ultimately, of course, it was only in the heat of another world war that these threads of common analysis began to coalesce into a new vision of a future world order after the end of conflict. In 1940, for example, a young John F. Kennedy wrote that the United States “ought to take our part in setting up a world order that will prevent the rise of a militaristic dictatorship.”[77] Or, as Churchill put it in a speech at Harvard University in September 1943, in which he quoted Kipling, “It must be world order or anarchy.”[78] There are many reasons why the world order that emerged out of World War II proved far more enduring than that which followed the previous world war. One reason that is sometimes overlooked, however, is that it set tighter definitional bounds on the concept. More specifically, the architects of the post-1945 order sought to strike a judicious and stable balance between the utopian idea of the “world state” and a more prosaic attempt to build a structure around the existing “balance of power.” The aspirations of the advocates of the “world state” were knocked down, above all, by the lack of any enthusiasm for a global “police force” that would be required to give such a body legitimacy. “Whatever its theoretical merits,” noted a British Foreign Office memorandum shared with the Americans in July 1944, “this postulates a greater advance in international co-operation than States are yet prepared to make, as it implies the existence of a world State.”[79] At the founding United Nations Organization in conference in San Francisco the following year, senior American delegates were particularly allergic to anything that assumed this broader form. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, a Republican internationalist, indicated that he would resist any measure that allowed the new organization to be presented as an embryonic world state.[80] For the same reason, just as the proposal of a “world police” made no ground, the idea of pooling nuclear weapons technology under U.N. control was similarly abortive. As a 1946 memorandum by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded, the only scenario in which disarmament was possible was the “creation of a world state in which all nations surrender sufficient of their sovereignty to assure the rule of law and the prevention, if not of war itself, of illicit means of waging war.”[81] This, of course, had never been the intention of the wartime planners. As the State Department later elaborated, the United Nations was a “means to an end rather than an end in itself.” It was in America’s interest to preserve the means. But the “real end” was
progressive development toward a stable world order where law and orderly processes, rather than violence and anarchy, can govern the conduct of nations in their relations with each other.
As means must come before ends, the United Nations was to be understood as “an association of independent states … based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, rather than as a single world state.” It was not designed to “terminate national sovereignty,” but rather to “facilitate the joint exercise of it by separate nations acting in friendly cooperation.”[82] On the one hand, then, the idea that a “world state” could eventually emerge out of World War II was consciously counteracted by British and American officials, who set clear bounds on the functioning of the United Nations, in order to smother any such expectations at birth. Yet, the need to invest the idea of world order with some higher sense of purpose, to make good on visionary war aims and to provide that “feeling that people need” also was understood. The case of Gladwyn Jebb (later, Lord Gladwyn), the senior British diplomat who served as the first acting secretary general of the United Nations, is particularly instructive here. Jebb, who became friends with Henry Kissinger in the mid-1960s, was known within the British foreign office establishment as the advocate of a world order based on a balance of power. In the mid-1930s, Jebb had come to the conclusion that the League of Nations had been fatally weakened by the desire to see it as a staging post towards a possible world state. “The Dictators are right in one thing at least: perpetual peace is a dream, and what is more a bad and essentially unprofitable dream,” he wrote. “For it is based on the fallacy that the Kingdom of Heaven is realisable in this world, instead of in the next — or possibly 'within oneself.’”[83] Nothing that Jebb saw in the maneuvers of the great powers during the course of the war disabused him of this belief in the paramountcy of the balance of power. As he told an audience in Oxford in February 1944, the balance of power lay “at the root of any settlement designed to provide for a long period of peace.”[84] It should be said that Jebb was prepared to believe that a world state was a possibility in some distant future. “It may ultimately come about, and indeed I think it probably will,” he said. It could be argued,
with some force, that the whole tendency of modern science and modern inventions lies in the direction of world unity. Radio communications, broadcasting, civil aviation and so on are linking up the various communities and disseminating ideas to an extent never achieved before; and certainly this process will develop and continue.
For the moment, however, he did not believe that any of the great powers would agree to any version of world order that “effectively limits their own ability to look after what they regard, rightly or wrongly, as their ‘vital interests.’”[85] Having arrived back in Britain from San Francisco after the foundation of United Nations, Jebb became concerned with what he saw as a worrying apathy among his fellow Briton about the new organization. Some of this, he felt, could be explained by the fact that the British government had not been trumpeting its own role in setting up the organization. He felt that the United Kingdom had “played a very great, perhaps even a preponderating part” in what had been agreed at San Francisco. The essential features of the original British papers circulated before Dumbarton Oaks had all been incorporated in the final Charter of the United Nations. The very basis of the scheme, continued cooperation between the Big Three, “had its origin in this country and was imparted by devious means to our two great Allies.” For this reason, he understood why British diplomats did wish to “emphasise our achievements in public, but rather to allow the Americans to claim the principal credit for the production of the Charter as a whole.” It was far better, in the long-run, “to regard the World Organisation as their special interest in order that they should play their full part in its operation.”[86] Crucially, however, Jebb felt that undue cynicism about what had been achieved was in danger of undermining the very purpose of the endeavour. Given his previous views, he was not shy to admit that there was “a great deal of truth” that the United Nations might turn out to be a new great power alliance. But he also felt this approach was:
negative rather than positive and ignores the hopeful features of the Charter and notably the very fact that a machine will now be constituted whereby the Great Powers can attempt to settle their own difficulties as well as those of other people.
Jebb still saw the building of world organization in instrumental terms — as a “machine” for the management of international relations. And yet, he also felt the aspiration and hope that it held out was a force in its own right, providing that linear sense of direction and higher purpose to foreign policy, in a way that had been absent before 1938. Thus, this arch advocate of the balance of power, quoted the Biblical Proverb: “Where there is no vision the people perish.”[87]

Conclusion

Unlikely as it might seem, there were indeed common threads that linked together figures as diverse as Kipling, Wells, both Roosevelts, Orwell, Churchill, Jebb, Nixon, and Kissinger and shaped their collective worldviews. The first was a yearning for some form of order, equilibrium and stability in international affairs — or at the very least, the prevention of “anarchy.” The second was a consciousness about the fragility of Western civilization, caught between so-called revanchists or savages who would upset the “natural order” and an uncertain future in which the West’s privileged position would no longer be guaranteed. Within the vague and unbounded aspiration to build international order were oscillations between utopian prophesying and doom-laden visions of barbarism and anarchy. Even after 1945, similar themes of civilizational angst and a desire to derive meaning from the march of history were never far below the surface when the question of world order was discussed. This essay began with a discussion of Henry Kissinger’s 2014 book, World Order. As a prelude to any of his work on foreign policy, however, Kissinger’s Harvard undergraduate thesis of 1951 wrestled with “The Meaning of History,” a study of Toynbee, Spengler and Kant. He wrote:
Even though our contemplation of history may yield as its deepest meaning a feeling of limits as the basis of the ultimate moral personality of man we are still faced with the fact that no civilization has yet been permanent, no longing completely fulfilled, no answer ever gone unchallenged.
On the one hand, the work revealed the suspicion of “universalism” that shaped Kissinger’s later statecraft. On the other, he could not deny the irreducible human feeling that there was always “a task to be achieved” as “an expression of the soul.”[88] The relative success of the world order built out of 1945 was that it accepted, as its premise, the limits of perfectibility. But the human urge for perfection could never be wished away. The quest for world order could never be truly complete. In June 1965, both Lord Gladwyn and Henry Kissinger were at the Serbellino Conference on Conditions of World Order, organized by the French political scientist, journalist, and philosopher, Raymond Aron. The meeting brought together a select group of theorists and former practitioners, and the proceedings were recorded by Stanley Hoffman, one of Kissinger’s colleagues at Harvard. Hoffman’s record of the event underscores one of the arguments of this essay — that world order could be the vaguest of aspirations, but that the pursuit of world order was an almost irresistible urge, because it spoke to the most fundamental philosophical and existential questions, from the future of humanity to the purpose of politics. [quote id="6"] It was clear from the earliest proceedings that “world order” meant something different to almost every participant. Some definitions were “purely descriptive”— that is, a diagnosis of the existing state of international affairs and an assessment of the relationship among the different parts. Some participants defined world order in more expansive terms, as “minimum conditions for existence … [or] coexistence.” Others defined it in normative, or visionary terms, “as the conditions for the good life.” As Hoffman described, Aron struggled to control the discussion or keep it within bounds, urging the speakers to avoid “platitudes” or simply resort to “an acrimonious reproduction of the conflicts of values that exist in the world.” He ventured his own definition of world order as the conditions that would help mankind “not merely … avoid destruction, but to live together relatively well in one planet.” For the most part, however, the conference attendees could not get past these first principles to move to the actual foreign policy challenges facing of the era. In the end, Hoffman observed a fatal split between the “builders and the critics.” The builders were those whose minds were “primarily devoted to the creation of a system or the advocacy of a method or the proselytizing of an idea.” The critics were those who were mostly concerned with “the analysis of reality, with the dissection (or vivisection) of systems, utopias and theories.”[89] Yet, to return to the fundamental point of this essay, the definition of world order matters much less than the sense in which it has been held out as the ultimate goal of Western statecraft. A month before the 1968 presidential election, which brought Nixon into office, the Policy Planning Council noted that attempts to define world order had proved extremely challenging in previous years. It remained crucial, however, that the “sense of direction” in foreign policy was still maintained:
“World order” is not a goal that can be defined with any precision. The time is clearly not ripe for detailed blueprints. But that is not what is needed. People are surfeited with oratory and have come to distrust grand designs. What they basically want is a sense of direction with which they can identify, and a clearer understanding of the kind of international relationships toward which we can reasonably hope to progress in the next decade.[90]
As H.G. Wells wrote in 1940, what was really important was not the identity of the people who pursued world order, the timeline on which it was to be achieved or the nature of the utopia they envisaged. He explained:
No man, no group of men, will ever be singled out as its father or founder. For its maker will be not this man nor that man nor any man but Man, that being who is in some measure in every one of us.
Instead, world order would be like most great civilizational achievements, “a social product” and “collective achievement” of many lives. What really mattered was that people in a century scourged by human destruction were now engaged in this collective effort:
A growing miscellany of people are saying — it is getting about — that "World Pax is possible," a World Pax in which men will be both united and free and creative. It is of no importance at all that nearly every man of fifty and over receives the idea with a pitying smile. Its chief dangers are the dogmatist and the would-be “leader” who will try to suppress every collateral line of work which does not minister to his supremacy. This movement must be, and it must remain, many-headed. ... The new order will be incessant; things will never stop happening. …[91]
The pursuit of world order may indeed be a many-headed monster or the vaguest of aspirations. It is a work of abstract art never complete. It has been associated with some false dawns, great disappointments, and no few misadventures. As John Thompson has written, the link between the pursuit of world order and American security and prosperity has always been “hard to sustain when subjected to sceptical questioning.”[92] The lack of concrete definition is at the heart of repeated failures of conception and strategy in the history of Anglo-American statecraft. But it has also provided a sense of continuity, direction and mission and acted as an antidote to excessive cynicism, fatalism, and short-termism in the making of Anglo-American foreign policy. It is right to question the assumptions behind ideas of world order, test their philosophical foundations and internal logic, as well as the policy recommendations that arise out of them. But it would be ahistorical and self-immolating to mistake incoherence for purposelessness and abandon the venture entirely. Stripping the altars will not do.   *The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Leverhulme Trust (as the 2015 winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize), which allowed him time to research and write this article.   John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London, and leads Britain in the World project at the think tank Policy Exchange. In 2015, he was awarded the annual Philip Leverhulme Prize for International Studies. In 2013-14, he held the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Professor Bew is the author of five books, including Citizen Clem: A Life of Attlee (2016), which won three awards: the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and Best Book in the U.K. Parliamentary Book Awards. It was also named as a book of the year in The TimesThe Sunday Times, New Statesman, and Evening Standard and as one of the top 15 political biographies of all time in The Observer. Bew’s previous book, Realpolitik: A History (2016) was named a book of the year in The Times. His 2011 book, Castlereagh: From Enlightenment to Tyranny (2011) was named a book of the year in the Sunday Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal. Bew is a contributing writer for the New Statesman, contributing editor for War on the Rocks and writes for a variety of other outlets. He has appeared before both the U.K. Defence and Foreign Affairs Select Committees. At King’s College London, where he has been based since 2010, Bew is the founding director of the Centre for Grand Strategy. Bew is also a member of the editorial board of the Texas National Security Review. [post_title] => World Order: Many-Headed Monster or Noble Pursuit? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => world-order-many-headed-monster-noble-pursuit [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-30 12:18:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-30 16:18:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=253 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => The pursuit of world order has taken many forms in the last 100 years of Anglo-American statecraft, and its terms have been bitterly contested. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => [W]hen ideas of world order are simply cast out as vapid utopianism, or “globalist” delusion, British and American foreign policy loses form, spirit, purpose, vision, and a sense of direction ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => From different angles, then, a growing number of foreign policy commentators joined the chorus of concern about the so-called crisis of world order. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => There are indeed certain shared presuppositions within mainstream U.S. foreign policy traditions that have gone unchallenged and unexamined for many years. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Nixon feared that if America focused solely on domestic problems, giving up on its leadership of the Western world, it would lose its sense of purpose. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => For a fleeting moment, America’s entry into the Great War and Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points re-energized the idea that such a Western-led world order could be built. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The relative success of the world order built out of 1945 was that it accepted, as its premise, the limits of perfectibility. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 52 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] H. G. Wells, The New World Order: Whether It Is Attainable, How It Can Be Attained, and What Sort of World a World at Peace Will Have to Be (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1940). [2] Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960-1 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office), 88. [3] “Notes of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger),” Louis J. Smith and David H. Herschler, ed., Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Vol. 1, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1969–1972 (November 5, 1969): 142-3. Available at https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v01/d43. [4] This is a central theme of Henry Kissinger’s On China (New York: Penguin, 2011). [5] Some important examples include: Paul Schroeder, “Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory,” International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994): 108-148; Jonathan Haslam, No Virtue like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations Since Machiavelli (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002); Lucian M. Ashworth, “Did the Realist-Idealist Great Debate Really Happen? A Revisionist History of International Relations,” International Relations 16, no. 33 (2002): 33-51; Duncan Bell, ed., Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Mark Mazower, Governing the World: The History of an Idea, 1815 to the Present (New York: Penguin, 2012); David Milne, Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2015); John Thompson, A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2015); Or Rosenboim, The Emergence of Globalism: Visions of World Order in Britain and the United States, 1939-1950 (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017). [6] Henry Kissinger, World Order (New York and London; Penguin, 2014), 371. [7] Hillary Clinton, “Hillary Clinton reviews Henry Kissinger’s ‘World Order,’” The Washington Post, September 4, 2014. [8] Ibid. [9] Anne-Marie Slaughter, “How to Fix America's Foreign Policy: What Obama should learn from Kissinger's new book,” New Republic, November 18, 2014. [10] Vali Nasr, The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (Doubleday: New York, 2013). [11] Robert Kagan, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” New Republic, May 26, 2014. [12] Ibid. [13] Daniel Deudney and John Ikenberry, “Unraveling America the Great,” American Interest 11, no. 5 (March 2016). [14] “Open Letter to Donald Trump from GOP National Security Leaders,” War on the Rocks, March 2, 2016, available at https://warontherocks.com/2016/03/open-letter-on-donald-trump-from-gop-national-security-leaders. [15] Eliot Cohen, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force (Basic Books: New York, 2017). [16] Paul D. Miller, American Power and Liberal Order: A Conservative Internationalist Grand Strategy (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2016). [17] The phrase is attributed to President Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes. David Samuels, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” New York Times Magazine, May 5, 2016. [18] Noam Chomsky, World Orders: Old and New (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 5. [19] Perry Anderson, American Foreign Policy and its Thinkers (London: Verso, 2015). [20] Perry Anderson, The H-Word: The Peripeteia of Hegemony (London: Verso, 2017) [21] Charlie Laderman and Brendan Simms, Trump: The Making of a Worldview (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017). [22] Thomas Wright, “Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy,” Politico, January 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-foreign-policy-213546. [23] Iskander Rehman, “Bring Everything Crashing Down: Bannon’s Reactionary Guard and U.S. National Security,” War on the Rocks, February 27, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/02/bring-everything-crashing-down-bannons-reactionary-guard-and-u-s-national-security. [24] James Mann, “The Adults in the Room,” New York Review of Books, October 26, 2017. [25] Michael Anton, “America and the Liberal International Order,” American Affairs 1, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 113-25. [26] Ibid., 114. [27] See, for example, National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015: A Secure and Prosperous United Kingdom (London: HM Govt., 2015). [28] Anton, “America and the Liberal International Order,” passim. [29] The phrase “intellectual architecture” is Hal Brands’s in What Good is Grand Strategy? Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2014). [30] Rosenboim, The Emergence of Globalism. [31] For that power transition, and the importance of shared intellectual traditions, see: Kori Shaki, Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2017); Walter Russell Mead, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (New York: Vintage, 2008). [32] Mazower, Governing the World; Milne, Worldmaking; Thompson, A Sense of Power. [33] “White House Background Press Briefing by the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger),” Louis J. Smith and David H. Herschler, ed., Foreign Relations of The United States, 1969–1976, Vol. 1, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1969–1972 (December 18, 1969). Available at https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v01/d47. [34] “Notes of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger),” Foreign Relations of The United States, 1969–1976, Vol. 1, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1969–1972 (November 5, 1969): 142-3. [35] Laurence Thompson, 1940: Year of Legend, Year of History (London: Collins: 1966), 12. [36] Ibid. [37] “Telephone Conversation with the Apollo 11 Astronauts on the Moon,” July 20, 1969, available at https://www.nixonlibrary.gov/forkids/speechesforkids/moonlanding/moonlandingcall.pdf. [38] H.G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon (London: Penguin, 2005), xxiii. [39] H.G. Wells, The Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man (London: George Newnes, 1920). [40] “Notes of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger),” November 5, 1969. [41] Ibid. [42] Ibid. [43] Duncan Bell, “The Project for a New Anglo Century: Race, Space and Global Order,” Peter Katzenstein, ed., Anglo-America and Its Discontents: Civilizational Identities Beyond West and East (London: Routledge, 2012): 33-56. [44] Gretchen Murphy, Shadowing the White Man’s Burden: U.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line (New York: NYU Press, 2010), 36. [45] Patrick Brantlinger, “Kipling's ‘The White Man's Burden’ and Its Afterlives,” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 50, no. 2 (2007): 172-191. [46] H. G. Wells, The New World Order. [47] George Orwell, “Rudyard Kipling,” New English Weekly (January 23, 1936). Available at http://theorwellprize.co.uk/george-orwell/by-orwell/essays-and-other-works/rudyard-kipling. [48] H.G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon (London: Penguin, 2005), xxiii. [49] Wells, The New World Order. [50] See Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History (London: Penguin, 2017). [51] George Orwell, “Rudyard Kipling,” Horizon, February 1942, available at https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-prize/orwell/essays-and-other-works/rudyard-kipling-1936. [52] Richard Toye, “H.G. Wells and Winston Churchill: a reassessment,” S. McClean, ed., H.G. Wells: Interdisciplinary Essays, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008). [53] Patrick Parrinder, Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction, and Prophecy (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995), 70. [54] Wells, The Time Machine. [55] Ibid. [56] H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography (New York: Macmillan, 1934), 648-9. [57] Norman Ian MacKenzie and ‎Jeanne MacKenzie, H.G. Wells: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973), 202-3. [58] Ibid. [59] Parrinder, Shadows of the Future, 70. [60] Sydney Brooks, “American Foreign Policy,” The English Review (November 1911): 682-95. [61] Mazower, Governing the World, 116-153. [62] John Bew, Realpolitik: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 123-134. [63] “Mr. William C. Bullitt to the Secretary General of the Commission to Negotiate Peace (Grew) [Paris,],” May 17, 1919, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Vol. XI, Paris Peace Conf, 184.1. [64] Friedrich Meinecke, Machiavellianism: The Doctrine of Raison d'État and Its Place in Modern History, Werner Stark, ed., Douglas Scott, trans. (New Haven: Yale University Press: 1957), 424-33. [65] Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 (New York: Viking, 2014), 463-4. [66] H.G. Wells, The Shape of Things to Come (London, 1933). [67] Ibid. [68] Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History, Vol I: Introduction: The Geneses of Civilizations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934), 397. [69] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, edited by Arthur Helps and Helmut Werner, Charles F. Atkinson, trans. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). [70] Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History, Vol III: The Growths of Civilizations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934), 364. [71] “The Minister Resident in Ethiopia (Engert) to the Secretary of State, Addis Ababa Telegram,” June 27, 1936, Foreign Relations of The United States Diplomatic Papers, The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, 765.84/4737. [72] Robin Renwick, Fighting with Allies: America and Britain in Peace and War (London: Biteback, 2016), 21. [73] John Thompson, A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press: 2015), 146, 280. [74] “Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles),” October 6, 1937, Pres. Speech Oct. 5, 1937/3½, Foreign Relations of The United States Diplomatic Papers, 1937, General I, 711.00. Available at https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1937v01/d685. [75] “Memorandum by the Secretary of State,” November 29, 1937, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1937, The Far East III, 693.002/407. [76] “Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State,” July 26, 1938, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1938, The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East, and Africa II, 865.4016/36. [77] J. Kennedy, Why England Slept (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1940), 232-233. [78] Renwick, Fighting with Allies, 67-8. [79] “Tentative Proposals by the United Kingdom for a General International Organization,” July 22, 1944, D.O./Conv.A/Doc. 2, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1944, General, Vol. I, Lot 60–D 224, Box 57. [80] “Minutes of the Fourteenth Meeting of the United States Delegation, Held at San Francisco, Tuesday, April 24, 1945, 9:30 a.m., San Francisco,” April 24, 1945, U.S. Cr. Min. 14, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1945, General: The United Nations, Vol. I, April 24, 1945, Lot 60–D 224, Box 96. [81] “Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee,” January 23, 1946, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, General; The United Nations, Vol. I, 811.2423/2–146. [82]“Department of State Policy Statement Regarding the United Nations, Washington DC,” September 18, 1950, Executive Secretariat Files, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The United Nations; The Western Hemisphere, Vol. II, Lot 57 D 649. [83] Gladwyn Jebb, “Defence of the West,” April 25, 1936, UK National Archives, FCO 73/257, Def/38/1/A. [84] Ibid. [85] Gladwyn Jebb, “Balance of Power lecture, Canning Club, Oxford,” February 21, 1944, FCO 73/263, Mis/44/1, UK National Archives. [86] Gladwyn Jebb, “Reflections on San Francisco,” July 25, 1945 U 5998/12/70, Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series 1, Vol. 1: The Conference at Potsdam July – August 1945, Item 407, 893-897. [87] Ibid. [88] Henry Kissinger, The Meaning of History (Reflections on Toynbee, Spengler and Kant) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University undergraduate honors thesis, 1951), 21-22; 24-26. [89] Stanley Hoffman, “Report of the Conference on Conditions of World Order: June 12-19, 1965, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy,” Daedalus 95, no. 2 (Spring 1966): 455-478. [90] “U.S. Foreign Policy: Current Issues in a Longer-Term Perspective”, Policy Planning Council, December 1968, Papers of Lyndon Baines Johnson, LBJ Archive, University of Texas, National Security File, Box 50. [91] Wells, The New World Order. [92] Thompson, A Sense of Power, 281-2. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 280 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2017-10-25 07:11:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-25 11:11:54 [post_content] => Americans are mired in disagreements. They are politically divided, with many preferring to identify as independent and significant rifts clear even within the Democratic and Republican parties. But party polarization is only one measure of what separates them. Myriad considerations — age, gender, race, religion, region, class, and education — factor into the differences in how Americans view the world. Bipartisan consensus has often found its strongest roots in foreign policy and defense. The United States has a raucous history of democratic debate and disagreement on the use of military force and other national security questions. Since the end of World War II, however, most Americans have shared the belief that their prosperity and security are advanced by the United States pursuing a leading role in world affairs. This bipartisan consensus on the U.S. role in the world has grown brittle. Disagreements permeate U.S. foreign policy on issues as varied as the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and comprehensive immigration policy. Policy differences have existed throughout American history, but today’s challenge is more fundamental. The exercise of American leadership globally is growing more vulnerable to challenges overseas. Moreover, the deep U.S. political divisions are obfuscating genuine differences over policy, substituting partisan action-reaction cycles. Rejections of the status quo in 2016 galvanized the success of presidential candidates who positioned themselves outside the foreign policy mainstream. The election and foreign policy of Donald Trump have further frayed the consensus. The president’s preference for chaos, alternately wearing and shedding the mantle of global engagement in equal rhetorical measure, threatens the durability of a unified vision for America’s role in the world. The weakening of the U.S. foreign policy consensus reflects a failure to adjust effectively to changes at home and abroad, with resulting confusion and dismay about the nation’s direction and role. The fraying in turn weakens America’s ability to adapt to current and future challenges. An acknowledged consensus in favor of American engagement in the world provides the domestic foundation on which to advance U.S. interests out in the world. Such a renewed and necessarily broad consensus on the importance of a global leadership role will not resolve the disagreements or eliminate the challenges that have brought the United States to this point. But rejuvenating the consensus will aid U.S. credibility abroad, reassuring allies while deterring rivals, and strengthen the nation from within. To build an effective foreign policy that most Americans can support, one must first understand the variety of factors shaping Americans’ opinions (and U.S. government direction) on foreign policy. Some factors are tied to personal and community circumstances, others to a broader domestic political and policy context. Moreover, American views are increasingly shaped by the international arena where foreign policy is largely executed. These domestic and international factors are intertwined, at times mutually reinforcing points and other times in tension. Working from the outside in, this essay briefly explores foreign and domestic forces affecting Americans’ evolving views about foreign and security policy. It assesses the foundation for an engaged American foreign policy despite evidence of fracturing support. It then draws out three touchstones for devising foreign policy and concludes by offering three actionable priorities to secure American interests in this era.

The Global Context

Americans are inundated with troubling news from overseas, much of which they feel unable to control. Six challenges to U.S. interests in the international system are noteworthy for their current and potential effect on American foreign policy: Nation-State Adversaries More than 25 years after the Cold War ended, military opportunism and provocation from states seeking to challenge the United States are fully awakened. Four powers are particularly noteworthy as potential adversaries: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. A U.S. military conflict with any of these countries would have profound consequences. China is poised to be the most significant long-term competitor to the United States. Beijing is investing substantial resources in its military, developing capabilities clearly designed to prevent others from opposing its will in East Asia and, increasingly, beyond the region. China is also challenging basic norms of international order by using its might to claim and build out land features in the South and East China Seas. Ample evidence of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices, alongside its human rights record and increasing foreign investments, raise further concerns. Meanwhile, China is the world’s second-largest economy and a significant trading partner of the United States and most U.S. allies. The United States has a strong interest in seeing China evolve as an economically vibrant, non-hostile and less autocratic nation that contributes to peace and stability. As a power in decline rather than on the rise, Russia does not have China’s long-term potential. But the Kremlin still commands a nation with a substantial nuclear arsenal, a sizable conventional military, and the skill and affinity to execute full-scale political warfare that challenges the traditional weaknesses of open societies. Russia is working to revise the international order to its advantage. Its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 is a stand-out example, but there are others. Russia has postured aggressively against the West and expanded its military role in Syria. The Kremlin’s playbook has included energy and economic manipulation; corruption; conventional military harassments; nuclear saber-rattling; cyberattacks and information warfare, including using active measures to affect the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Playing for reputational points abroad but also largely to a domestic audience, President Vladimir Putin appears set on a course toward serving, at best, as a spoiler of Western interests and, at worst, as a direct military aggressor. [quote id="1"] For more than 60 years, war on the Korean Peninsula has been a concern for Washington. Under Kim Jong Un, this long-standing worry has become far graver. Korea’s rapid missile and nuclear development, coupled with its jingoistic propaganda and provocations and its apparent disinterest in nuclear negotiations, raise the specter of a conflict that could embroil not only South Korea and Japan but also the United States, China and Russia. Kim might seek military conflict in desperation during a regime collapse or by foolishly attempting territorial or other gains. More likely is the possibility that North Korea and the United States or its allies will miscalculate the other side’s capability and resolve, with a subsequent inability or unwillingness to control crisis dynamics. Finally, Iran poses a substantial challenge to American interests. The United States and its regional partners possess far greater conventional military capabilities than Iran, but Tehran’s preferred tactics involve seeking to destabilize its enemies by employing proxy forces, providing substantial support to terrorist groups, harassing maritime traffic, using cyber and information warfare, and developing its missile arsenal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal —if adhered to would help forestall Iran’s development of nuclear capability. But economic sanctions were lifted as part of the deal, and U.S. vigilance will be needed to curb Iranian elements from seeking to invest newly available resources in military, paramilitary or proxy forces. Weak, Unstable and Collapsing States Although they often do not receive the same attention as nation-state threats, the failures of governments in Yemen, Afghanistan, Central America and elsewhere manifest into security challenges that can hurt Americans at home. Security implications that can emanate from chronically weak states include, but are not limited to, terrorism, migration, transnational crime, weapons proliferation, piracy and cross-border health threats. Syria’s population has sat tragically astride some of the world’s most complex geopolitical dynamics. The repressive Assad government’s brutal crackdowns on peaceful protestors have led to a chain reaction that leaves the country incapacitated. More than 6 million Syrians are internally displaced; 5 million others have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and into Europe.[1] Key nations are on opposing sides of Syria’s civil war, with Iran and Russia backing the Assad regime and the United States, Europe and Gulf states seeking a negotiated peace settlement that could remove Assad from power. (Under the Trump administration, the U.S. government’s position on the ultimate disposition of the Assad regime is unclear.) The U.S.-led coalition fights the Islamic State inside Syria and Iraq. Russia, Iran and the Syrian government claim to do the same while also striking at opposition forces supported by the coalition. The battle space in and around Syria is fraught with risk. Terrorism Terrorism tops many Americans’ list of national security concerns.[2] Terrorist movements can grow in repressive and supportive states alike, in places where local governance may be inadequate to address political and societal discord. The rise of the Islamic State in Syria, its rapid territorial gains there and in Iraq, and its transformation into a global movement has provided a focal point for these concerns in recent years. The U.S.-led coalition has steadily weakened the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. However, major ISIL cells are now operating out of Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen. Islamic State and related online propaganda aim to inspire terrorism around the world. Authorities have cited ISIL as an inspiration for several attempted attacks in the United States perpetrated by U.S. citizens.[3] Just as the Islamic State grew in the shadow of al-Qaeda, so too is the Islamic State likely to generate prominent follow-on movements. Terrorist movements motivated by other political causes include white nationalists, separatists, and anarchists. Regardless of their aims, these groups can have strategic effect at relatively low cost, aided by social media and the Internet as well as tactics such as mass shootings, using vehicles as weapons, planting car bombs, or employing more advanced capabilities. Enabling Information and Other Technology Terrorists are just one subset of actors enabled by the spread of information and development of critical technologies. Thanks to the growth of biotechnology, cheaper material and forms of manufacturing, such as 3-D printing, as well as the rapid proliferation of commercial and military drones, it is easier than ever for individuals, small groups and less powerful states to achieve high-end capabilities. The increasing ease of arms sales further accelerates this trend. Whatever might be said about the U.S. approach to arms sales and technology transfer, it is guided by a body of law and established norms intended to mitigate advanced technology proliferation and end-use risks. The same cannot be said for Russia, which accounts for 23 percent of major arms exports, and China, the world’s fastest-growing arms exporter.[4] The implications of technology diffusion are perhaps most profound in the information domain. At the military-industrial level, the information revolution is enabling increased precision and actionable information and improving cyber and space capabilities. At the broader societal level, the information revolution has brought profound changes affecting the daily lives of people across the planet. In early 2017, the Pew Research Center estimated that 77% of Americans owned their own smartphone.[5] Americans (and Europeans) may be ahead in the information race, but they are far from alone. There are an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally.[6] By these estimates, mobile subscriptions have surpassed the number of active fixed-line subscriptions worldwide, and it is conceivable that the overall number of devices connected to the internet — the Internet of Things — will reach at least 20 billion by 2020.[7] Much of that connectivity growth is poised to occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This revolution in information accessibility drives gains in innovation and productivity. At its best, it has also promoted good governance, enabling the connectivity of people united in common peaceful causes. But this era will also be defined by the weaponization of this connectivity. Al-Qaeda, criminals and white supremacists were among the most successful early adapters on the digital battlefield.[8] Nations have also leveraged the tools of modern connectivity to achieve security aims, both through internal control and external manipulation. Examples include North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures, Iran’s cyber intrusions into Saudi Aramco, and Chinese theft of U.S. government employee data from the Office of Personnel Management.[9] Most recently, disagreements between Qatar and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners have played out in attempts to embarrass one another with leaked and falsified emails.[10] But no actor has as spectacularly advanced the potential to weaponize the current information domain for political ends as Russia, both in creating disinformation and in deploying that information in well-orchestrated campaigns enabled by artificial intelligence and humans. Resources, Climate Change and Urbanization U.S. foreign policy will also confront important shifts in natural resources, demography and climate. The United States has largely achieved its goal of being “energy independent” insofar as it is a net exporter of natural gas and the world’s largest exporter of refined petroleum products.[11] But the world market has become more “energy interdependent.” This is due in part to the increased number of important suppliers beyond OPEC, including the United States. It is also because energy politics are increasingly driven by issues associated with the effects of energy use, namely climate change.[12] Energy independence, as long thought of, is valuable for U.S. foreign policy, but acknowledging the world’s energy interdependence and acting upon it are equally important to American security. Climate change poses a variety of security-related challenges. Shipping lanes in the Arctic Ocean are expected to open by mid-century due to warming.[13] This will place a premium onfigur patrol and search-and-rescue assets that can operate in the austere environment, and resource competition in the region could heighten tensions among vying nations. Rising sea levels are another major threat, particularly in the Pacific. The warming of oceans is also creating more and worse storms.[14] As the 2017 hurricanes affecting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands demonstrated, the economic and human toll of major weather events is substantial. Already in the United States, more than 90 coastal communities face chronic flooding, which the Union of Concerned Scientists defines as “the kind of flooding that’s so unmanageable it prompts people to move away.”[15] The number is expected to reach 170 communities in the next 20 years.[16] Food and water crises sit at the intersection of resource and climate-change challenges. Drought, exacerbated by military conflicts, has intensified the plight of more than 20 million people enduring famines in Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.[17] Underlying mismatches in projected population and food productivity portend continuing food scarcity. By 2050, the world population is projected to increase from 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion, with more than half of this growth in Africa. Over this same period, meat consumption is projected to rise nearly 73 percent and dairy consumption by 58 percent from 2010 levels. Yet while output of food, feed, fiber and fuel will most likely continue to rise in coming decades, total food production is not on pace to meet this demand.[18] Projected shortages of clean water are also daunting.[19] Among demographic trends of note for U.S. shapers of foreign policy, one that stands out as underexplored is urbanization. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban environments, with about one-third — some 2 billion people — living in slum-like conditions.[20] All regions are expected to urbanize further over the coming decades, but Africa and Asia, home to the most rural regions remaining, are urbanizing faster than others. The combination of rapid expansion and poor living conditions creates governance challenges for cities’ ecosystems, including water, power and green space. Slum-like conditions contribute to the rapid spread of diseases. Many such growing urban areas will be situated along waterways, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and more severe natural disasters. Particularly in less developed areas, cities will likely be strained to meet the security needs of citizens as population density, inadequate governance and poverty create conditions for criminal activity and civil unrest.[21] Threats to Democratic Norms Many of these trends are culminating in support for anti-democratic policies and governance models. The Syrian crisis is a leading cause of the largest forced population displacement since the aftermath of World War II, with reverberations throughout the Levant, Europe and beyond.[22] These refugee flows have fueled concerns about sovereignty and terrorism in many parts of the world, a concern reinforced by recent terrorist incidents in Europe, Australia and the United States. Together with weak economic performance in many Western-style democracies and the use of propaganda and disinformation, the stage has been set for rising nationalism and a renewal of autocracy around the world. The U.S.-based think tank Freedom House released a report this year showing that, while the gains from non-free states are small, 2016 marked the eleventh year in a row in which the share of free countries had declined and the share of “not free” countries grew.[23] This trend, alongside tested norms regarding state sovereignty, chemical weapons use, nuclear proliferation and the Geneva Conventions, is a direct challenge to the postwar international order built by the United States and its allies.

U.S. Domestic Context

This brief synopsis of major challenges in the world misses much, but it underscores how activity beyond U.S. borders will shape America’s ability to advance its prosperity and security. The domestic context for U.S. foreign policy is equally important and far too often ignored by security analysts. There are, in fact, multiple domestic contexts: The United States is divided along a variety of dimensions that are creating challenges for envisioning and executing a coherent foreign policy. Some of the foreign policy divide may be explained by cultural differences; this includes variations in regional, national, racial, party, gender, military and religious identity.[24] Economic factors may also explain some of it.[25] Although the United States has the world’s largest gross domestic product and is a leading source of innovation across multiple sectors, in 2015 it had the world’s third-largest income gap.[26] Divisions in the U.S. electorate on issues of trade and immigration illuminate how various cultural and economic factors, and doubtless other causes, are shaping the prospect of consensus on foreign policy. In April 2016, 49 percent of general public respondents to Pew polling indicated that they believed U.S. involvement in the world economy was a “bad thing” that lowered wages and cost jobs, while 44  percent of such respondents believed it was a “good thing.”[27] That poll marked the bottoming out of a downward slide in positive views of trade, a slide that began roughly at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term. By the time of the 2016 presidential election, trade proponents were chastened by the strong negative reaction to their arguments. Yet just a few months into 2017 support for U.S. trade in the same Pew poll had rebounded to 52 percent of respondents.[28] This should not be surprising, given that the United States is the world’s top exporter of foods and agricultural products (which account for more than 20 percent of U.S. agricultural production).[29] As consumers, Americans depend on a global supply chain from airplanes to smartphones to big-box retailers. Popular wisdom holds that the U.S. manufacturing sector opposes free trade, but consider this endorsement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from the National Association of Manufacturers:
NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and since then, the United States has sold three times as much to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, the two countries alone purchased one-fifth of all manufactured goods made in the United States. This is a big deal for manufacturing workers and their families because those sales support jobs here at home—a lot of well-paying jobs. Sales of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, made possible through NAFTA, support the jobs of more than 2 million manufacturing workers.[30]
Not all trade is good, but many Americans do not believe that all trade is bad, and in numbers greater than many foreign policy elites have assumed.[31] Immigration has played an even more divisive role in U.S. politics. About 15 percent of the U.S. population is immigrant, the same share as in 1920 but higher than it was for much of the post-World War II period.[32] Roughly 75 percent of that immigrant population is estimated to be here legally.[33] Of those here illegally, most overstayed with expired temporary visas rather than illegally crossed borders.[34] About 45 percent of respondents told Pew shortly before the 2016 election that having more immigrants hurts American workers, while 42 percent said having more immigrants helps — the deepest division of opinion Pew captured on the issue over the last decade, caused by an increase in the number of respondents who react positively about immigration’s effects on American workers.[35] [quote id="2"] Although support for internationalism is evident even on issues as divisive as trade and immigration, the divisions among Americans should not be underestimated. They are likely to be further exacerbated by automation, which could put 38 percent of U.S. jobs at risk by the early 2030s, according to one recent estimate.[36] Urbanization, too, will create economic opportunities but exacerbate divides between the “global elite” and those who feel left behind. Income inequality and associated urban-rural divides are creating different American experiences. These and other divisions are reflected and reinforced in the U.S. political system. Consider Pew Research Center’s assessment of rising partisan antipathy. As Figure 1 illustrates, since 1994, the share of Republicans and Democrats who hold unfavorable or very unfavorable views of the other party has risen more than 20 points. Within this overall increase, the share holding very unfavorable views of the other party has climbed even higher, by about 30 percentage points in just over 20 years. Partisans are not just divided; increasingly, they do not like or respect each other. This poll was completed before the 2016 election, and the mutual antipathy it found — with implications for dividing American politics and society — almost certainly has deepened. Figure 1: [37] Rising partisan antipathy Political polarization is affected not only by true differences in Americans’ viewpoints but also by issues inside the U.S. political structure and process, including gerrymandering, campaign finance practices, and changes in congressional norms and processes.[38] The current period of polarization is also occurring against a backdrop of ubiquitous information, which many Americans cope with by creating increasingly fragmented and self-selected media environments. Polling from Pew Research Center suggests that six in 10 Americans get their news from social media.[39] As Figure 2 shows, Pew data also indicate that many Americans’ social media feeds are built around networks of family and friends who share a common perspective, narrowing the range of views to which they are exposed. This trend is particularly noteworthy at the far ends of the political spectrum, as is the perspective that such “one-sided” news is okay. Figure 2: [40] [amcharts id="chart-3"] [amcharts id="chart-4"] These divisions affect U.S. security by altering the way the United States, and particularly the stability and effectiveness of its political system, are viewed overseas and by driving changes in the way Americans perceive their role in the world. Foundations of an Effective American Foreign Policy It can be tempting for the U.S. foreign policy community to throw up its hands in frustration in the face of this set of circumstances, but these challenges are not unprecedented in their magnitude, either at home or abroad. Blindly holding to the past is no longer viable. Change is coming too quickly. The United States must adapt to secure its interests and in ways that build domestic support. Three factors are particularly important to helping the nation navigate effectively in the current environment. First, the United States must acknowledge that while it can probably remain the world’s sole superpower for at least the next 15 years, its ability to shape events beyond its borders is diminishing. The effectiveness of American foreign policy and how much power the nation chooses to wield will vary by region and type of issue. Non-state problems are particularly difficult to tackle with traditional American strengths such as state-to-state trade, massed military force and government-to-government diplomacy. They also test the United States where it is weakest, trying Americans’ impatience, tendency toward unilateralism, and dislike and distrust of most government spending. These weaknesses inhibit the U.S. ability to undertake generational investments toward long-term solutions. Moreover, the best solutions to many security challenges require a combination of strengths, but the United States struggles to adapt and integrate across its instruments of national power and with partners overseas. Problems such as trade, terrorism or climate issues are seldom solvable in only one sphere, or by acting alone. When facing an assertive military competitor — such as China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran, — traditional U.S. security strengths are more influential. Even in these cases, however, the United States has had difficulty deterring a range of provocations and coercive actions. A second factor that needs to ground the vision for future U.S. foreign policy is the thread of constancy in public support of international engagement. If one American grand strategy has persisted for the past 70 years, it is to advance U.S. interests by taking a leading role in the world. This may seem to run counter to the 2016 election results; Donald Trump won under an “America First” foreign policy banner that included pointed criticism of U.S. allies and overseas military operations and posture. Across the political spectrum, there are important limits to Americans’ willingness to lead on the world stage. But the share of Americans that are truly isolationist — preferring the United States have no role in world affairs — is around only 4 percent, while more than 70 percent believe the United States should have a major or leading role. Demonstrating the stability of an internationalist consensus, these figures from February 2017 are roughly the same as Gallup’s February 2001 polling.[41] [quote id="3"] This likely reflects broad recognition that the most important interests the U.S. seeks to secure in the world require American engagement and leadership. Republican and Democratic administrations have generally described America’s world interests in remarkably consistent ways since the end of World War II: ensuring the security of U.S. territory and citizens; upholding treaty commitments, to include the security of allies; ensuring a liberal economic order in which American enterprise can compete fairly; and upholding the rule of law in international affairs, including respect for human rights. Each administration has framed these interests somewhat differently, and pursued its own path to secure them, but the core tenets have not varied significantly. Predictability and stability of position are not hallmarks of this administration, but there has been enough overseas activity, spending and rhetoric in this first year to assess that President Trump’s “America First” is not Charles Lindbergh’s. Although an isolationist sentiment will always exist in U.S. politics, it is unlikely to upend the basic consensus view that what happens elsewhere in the world can affect Americans at home. By no means is the American predilection for internationalism unchecked. Indeed, Americans have generally preferred to pursue a selective approach to engagement. Yes, a majority support international engagement, but the United States has never desired to act everywhere in the world, all the time, or with the same tools of power. Polling before the 2016 election showed that 70 percent of Americans wanted the next president to focus more on national than international problems, a trend that has only strengthened since the peak of military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2007.[42] Americans have always had to weigh the risks and opportunity costs of foreign activities and needed to prioritize investments. The projected budget environment only worsens the dilemmas. In the latest Congressional Budget Office outlook, total discretionary spending would fall to about 5.4 percent of gross domestic product by 2047 as social security, major medical programs, the deficit, and net interest on the deficit rise. All national security spending — defense, diplomacy, development, intelligence and homeland security — and spending on everything from transportation and infrastructure to environmental protection and national parks would compete for fewer discretionary dollars.[43] Importantly, the track record for democracies, including the United States, is one of remarkable unpredictability when it comes to the use of force to secure interests. Policymakers need to understand this and not expect to count on an iron-clad template that governs when and where the nation’s political leaders will use force. Rather, they should work to frame choices on use of force using their best experience and help leaders reduce the risks of miscalculation that such unpredictability can pose.

Foreign Policy Priorities: The Now What

So, if American policymakers have the benefit of superpower status but are generally less able to wield it effectively; if Americans generally agree that leading or at least engaging abroad is important to protect U.S. interests; and if resource constraints, national character and other factors limit us from seeking to aggressively or even consistently act overseas, especially with military forces, what imperatives should form the core of U.S. foreign and security policy? Three stand out. Of foremost importance is avoiding the hazards of domestic political polarization. It is unlikely in this deeply dysfunctional period of governance that even a united foreign policy community could catalyze a resolution to these issues on its own. Still, the community has an important role to play in consistently and vociferously warning about the national security dangers posed by domestic political dysfunction. America’s deep divisions are a major strategic weakness. There is no stable understanding of the resources available to secure America’s role in the world, which cripples the ability to plan and act strategically. A dysfunctional political system can make others doubt the reliability of U.S. commitments. Worse, polarizing opinions around the strength of U.S. commitments to allies creates greater agency for forces within the countries that seek opportunities to forge a path distinct from the United States and potentially antithetical to American security interests. If nations begin to routinely act independently from Washington’s preference, Americans will avoid some free riding, but they will also lose say over issues that affect their security and prosperity. Political dysfunction also hampers America’s core cultural appeal — the dream of the American political system as a “city on a hill.”[44] In such an environment, alternative models of economics and governance gain greater resonance, notably anti-capitalist and anti-democratic, undermining enduring U.S. interests. The slight rise in global authoritarianism noted by Freedom House may reflect this decline in perceived Western effectiveness. Finally, political dysfunction creates problems in civil-military relations. It feeds a sense of separateness in the can-do military culture, where senior members struggle to understand why the political caste cannot put aside politics to make important decisions. In fact, Americans and their elected leaders seem to be turning toward those in uniform to overcome perceived weaknesses in civilian governance. At the least, this is disheartening. More alarmingly, it is corrosive to good civilian control, a central tenet of the U.S. Constitution. A second imperative is to focus significant leadership energy and sufficient investment on problem prevention. The nation requires capable and agile non-military instruments, such as diplomacy and development. These sectors have had difficulty convincing political leaders and the public of the value they can provide. The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and similar organizations are unlikely to ever exert the political power of the military-industrial complex. Nevertheless, they can get better at wielding diplomacy development assistance and promoting private, foreign government and international efforts that align with U.S. policy goals. Importantly, they can also improve on their ability to measure and communicate their pennies-on-the-dollar value. These sectors can take credit for contributing to tremendous gains made in the U.S.-led international order since World War II, from a substantial decline in global poverty to improvements in global life expectancy.[45] The United States should build on these successes to advance its interests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, global health improvements, and conflict resolution. America’s extensive alliance and partner network is among its most important geostrategic advantages. Alliances can require a lot of work and money with little to show. (From its allies’ perspective, so too can the United States.) It is important to get the cost-benefit balance right. By and large, the United States has managed that well throughout the postwar period and needs to continue adapting its alliances to meet the demands of an evolving security environment. Policymakers should not let imprudent comments undermine the enterprise.[46] A third imperative is to improve U.S. tools for deterrence and response to provocations that fall short of war. The United States has an excellent record of deterring existential threats. But potential adversaries are attacking U.S. interests in ways that fall below the threshold of traditional state-based military power; see Chinese coercion in the South and East China Seas, Russian subversion in its “near abroad” and within the United States, and Iranian asymmetric tactics, especially through proxies. This phenomenon is as old as warfare itself. But it is an area of increasing risk, particularly with regard to the potential for miscalculation. In some cases, such as cyber and space operations, escalation ladders and legal frameworks are not yet well-established. In territorial coercion, those frameworks are being actively tested. This trend creates a heightened risk of conflict not so much from intent — although as events with North Korea have demonstrated, that is possible — but from an increased chance that potential adversaries will inadvertently misinterpret U.S. willingness and capability to respond to provocations even when the precipitation of war is unintended. In the current environment, policymakers must pay special attention to how they can best shape the considerations of states that wish to test America’s response to ambiguous challenges. This will mean clearly communicating U.S. interests and its willingness and capability to defend them. It also means carrying out threats when deterrence fails. Effective messaging is not nearly as straightforward as it may sound, especially in an era when multiple messages sometimes compete. For instance, deterring future chemical weapons challenges was likely at the heart of the advice President Trump received before he ordered Tomahawk strikes on Syria in April 2017. However, the U.S. signaling may have been murky, coming less than one week after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and other administration officials signaled acceptance of the Assad regime, after which the regime carried out chemical attacks. It did not take long to go from a green light to a red line on Syria but too late to prevent Assad’s undesirable action. Improving America’s toolkit for countering provocations will rely on many of the same multilateral and cross-functional integrative approaches on which effective problem prevention also rests. A fundamental rethink is required to improve the national security enterprise’s ability to move with agility ahead of the pace of world events, the information environment, and the expanding array of adversary tactics and other challenges.

Conclusion

Discerning the shifting nature of the international system and designing an effective set of security tools within it are monumental but not unprecedented tasks. Those who shaped the post-World War II international system, whom Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas nicknamed “the wise men,”[47] faced the same task. Circumstances today are equally daunting, requiring a similar re-examination of U.S. strategies and capabilities. Success will depend on attributes not normally associated with the current U.S. administration or Washington’s broader political climate: political consensus on foreign policy; long-term, preventative, multidisciplinary, and multinational responses wherever possible; and improved deterrence of “gray area” challenges to prevent miscalculation or other reasons for escalation. Yet hope can be found in the nation’s foundational strengths, especially its indefatigable spirit of change and adaptation. The “now what” era of American foreign policy is upon us. President Trump is unlikely to provide the vision needed to rejuvenate U.S. foreign policy. It is time for a new generation of wise women and men to act.   Kathleen Hicks is senior vice president, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and director of the International Security Program at CSIS. She is a frequent writer and lecturer on U.S. foreign policy; national security strategy, forces, and budget; and strategic futures. Dr. Hicks previously served in the Department of Defense as principal deputy under secretary for policy, a Senate-confirmed position with responsibility for assisting in the development and oversight of global and regional defense policy, strategy, and operations. She also served as deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces, leading the development of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and crafting guidance for future force capabilities, overseas military posture, and contingency and theater campaign plans. Dr. Hicks was a senior fellow at CSIS from 2006 to 2009, leading a variety of national security research projects. From 1993 to 2006, she was a career civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, rising from Presidential Management Intern to the Senior Executive Service. Dr. Hicks received numerous recognitions for her service in the Department of Defense (DOD), including distinguished awards from three secretaries of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She also received the 2011 DOD Senior Professional Women’s Association Excellence in Leadership Award. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.P.A. from the University of Maryland, and an A.B. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College. Dr. Hicks was a presidentially appointed commissioner for the National Commission on the Future of the Army. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Boards of Advisors for the Truman National Security Project and SoldierStrong. [post_title] => Now What? The American Citizen, World Order, and Building a New Foreign Policy Consensus [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => now-american-citizen-world-order-building-new-foreign-policy-consensus [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-25 17:57:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-25 21:57:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=280 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => In order for the United States to adapt to current and future international challenges, it needs a foreign policy that can unite the American public and bring back bipartisan consensus on America’s role in the world. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Americans are inundated with troubling news from overseas, much of which they feel unable to control. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The United States is divided along a variety of dimensions that are creating challenges for envisioning and executing a coherent foreign policy. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The United States must adapt to secure its interests and in ways that build domestic support. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 29 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] ECHO, “European Commission ECHO Factsheet,” European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, September 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/syria_en.pdf. [2] Dina Smeltz and Karl Friedhoff, “US Public Not Convinced That Trump’s Policies Will Make America Safer,” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 2017, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/report_ccs2017-terrorism_170908.pdf. [3] For example, on the early and rapid rise in digital identity theft, see Identity Theft — Prevalence and Cost Appear to be Growing, GAO-02-363 (Washington, D.C.: Government Accountability Office, 2002), 51; on the early digital success of al Qaeda, see Angel Rabasa et al., Beyond al-Qaeda — Part 1 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2006), xxvii, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG429.pdf; on the white supremacists use of the Internet, see Jeff Daniels, Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), 3. [4] Kate Blanchfield, Pieter D. Wezeman, and Siemon T. Wezeman, “The State of Major Arms Transfers in 8 Graphics,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, February 22, 2017, https://www.sipri.org/commentary/blog/2017/state-major-arms-transfers-8-graphics. [5] Aaron Smith, “Record Shares of Americans Now Own Smartphones, Have Home Broadband,” Pew Research Center, January 12, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/. [6] Rani Molla, “Mobile Broadband Subscriptions Are Projected to Double in Five Years,” Recode, June 18, 2017, https://www.recode.net/2017/6/18/15826036/smartphone-subscriptions-basic-phones-globally-ericsson. [7] Rob van der Meulen, “Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016,” Gartner, February 7, 2017, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917. [8] See, for example, Jonathan Dienst, David Paredes, and Joe Valiquette, “Three Men Charged With Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attack in New York,” NBC News, October 6, 2017, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-plotted-isis-inspired-attack-new-york-concerts-say-officials-n808321; James Comey, “Director Comey Remarks During May 11 ‘Pen and Pad’ Briefing with Reporters,” Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Press Conference, May 14, 2016, https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/director-comey-remarks-during-may-11-2018pen-and-pad2019-briefing-with-reporters; Paul Brinkmann, “Pulse gunman’s motive: Plenty of theories, but few answers,” Orlando Sentinel, June 4, 2017, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/pulse-orlando-nightclub-shooting/omar-mateen/os-pulse-omar-mateen-motive-20170512-story.html. [9] Andrea Peterson, “The Sony Pictures Hack, Explained,” The Washington Post, December 18, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/12/18/the-sony-pictures-hack-explained/; Nicole Perlroth, “In Cyberattack on Saudi Firm, U.S. Sees Iran Firing Back,” The New York Times, October 23, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/global/cyberattack-on-saudi-oil-firm-disquiets-us.html; David Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Hacking Linked to China Exposes Millions of U.S. Workers,” The New York Times, June 4, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/us/breach-in-a-federal-computer-system-exposes-personnel-data.html. [10] David Kirkpatrick and Sheera Frenkel, “Hacking in Qatar Highlights a Shift Toward Espionage-for-Hire,” The New York Times, June 8, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/world/middleeast/qatar-cyberattack-espionage-for-hire.html. [11] Sarah Ladislaw, Adam Sieminski, Frank Verrastro, and Andrew Stanley, U.S. Oil in the Global Economy: Markets, Policy, and Politics (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 2017), https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/170508_Ladislaw_OilGasWorkshop_Web.pdf. [12] Jason Bordoff, “America’s Energy Policy: From Independence to Interdependence,” Horizons Journal of International Relations and Sustainable Development, no. 8 (Autumn 2016), http://www.cirsd.org/files/000/000/002/43/dde28fd7d04cca8e84e00cc3467ae17fc5aa2188.pdf. [13] Jugal K. Patel and Henry Fountain, “As Arctic Ice Vanishes, New Shipping Routes Open,” The New York Times, May 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/03/science/earth/arctic-shipping.html. [14] “Climate Change Indicators: Weather and Climate,” Environmental Protection Agency, accessed September 2017, https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/weather-climate. [15] Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Kristina Dahl, Astrid Caldas, Shana Udvardy, Rachel Cleetus, Pamela Worth, and Nicole Hernandez Hammer, When Rising Seas Hit Home: Hard Choices Ahead for Hundreds of US Coastal Communities (Washington, D.C.: Union of Concerned Scientists, July 2017), http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2017/07/when-rising-seas-hit-home-full-report.pdf. [16] Ibid. [17] Jeffrey Gettleman, “Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4,” The New York Times, March 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/world/africa/famine-somalia-nigeria-south-sudan-yemen-water.html. [18] Margaret Zeigler and Ann Steensland, 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report: Sustainability in an Uncertain Season (Washington, D.C.: Global Harvest Initiative, October 2016), http://www.globalharvestinitiative.org/GAP/2016_GAP_Report.pdf. [19] “Sound Water Management, Investment in Security Vital to Sustain Adequate Supply, Access for All, Secretary-General Warns Security Council,” United Nations, June 6, 2017, https://www.un.org/press/en/2017/sc12856.doc.htm. [20] World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision (New York: United Nations, 2014), 1, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/publications/files/wup2014-highlights.Pdf. [21] Kathleen Hicks, “New Security Challenges Posed by Megacities,” World Economic Forum, November 2014, http://reports.weforum.org/global-strategic-foresight/kathleen-hicks-csis-new-security-challenges-posed-by-megacities/. [22] Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2015, (New York/Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, June 20, 2016), http://www.unhcr.org/576408cd7. [23] Arch Puddington and Tyler Roylance, Freedom in the World 2017: Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy (Washington, D.C.: Freedom House, 2017), https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FH_FIW_2017_Report_Final.pdf. [24] For insightful examinations of two such dimensions, see Sam Tabory and Dina Smeltz, “The Urban-Suburban-Rural “Divide” in American Views on Foreign Policy,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, May 2017, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/urban-suburban-rural-divide-american-views-foreign-policy; and Douglas L. Kriner and Francis X. Shen, “Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?,” (June 2017), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2989040. [25] See, for example, Hal Brands, “Is American Internationalism Dead? Reading the National Mood in the Age of Trump,” War on the Rocks, May 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/05/is-american-internationalism-dead-reading-the-national-mood-in-the-age-of-trump/. [26] “The World’s Biggest Economies,” World Economic Forum, 2015, https://assets.weforum.org/editor/8T1VYR_rQ04Dqsi98YcbpvWBSsJCmdeNRxaItXbNf00.png. [27] Jacob Poushter, “American Public, Foreign Policy Experts Sharply Disagree Over Involvement in Global Economy,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 28, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/28/american-public-foreign-policy-experts-sharply-disagree-over-involvement-in-global-economy/. [28] Bradley Jones, “Support for Free Trade Agreements Rebounds Modestly, But Wide Partisan Differences Remain,” Pew Research Center, April 25, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/25/support-for-free-trade-agreements-rebounds-modestly-but-wide-partisan-differences-remain/. [29] “Infographic: Agricultural Trade Matters,” United States Department of Agriculture: Foreign Agricultural Service, May 17, 2017, https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/infographic-agricultural-trade-matters. [30] Jay Timmons, “NAFTA: A Win for Manufacturing Workers,” National Association of Manufacturers, August 16, 2017, http://www.shopfloor.org/2017/08/nafta-win-manufacturing-workers/. [31] Joshua Busby, Craig Kafura, Jonathan Monten, Dina Smeltz, and Jordan Tama, “How the Elite Misjudge the U.S. Electorate on International Engagement,” RealClear World, November 7, 2016, http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/11/07/how_the_elite_misjudge_the_us_electorate_on_international_engagement_112112.html. [32] “U.S. Immigrant Populations and Share Over Time, 1850-Present,” Migration Policy Institute, 2015, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/immigrant-population-over-time. [33] Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009 (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, September 2016), 47, http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2016/09/31170303/PH_2016.09.20_Unauthorized_FINAL.pdf. [34] Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, “The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays Have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a Half Million,” Journal on Migration and Human Security (2017), Center for Migration Studies, http://cmsny.org/publications/jmhs-visa-overstays-border-wall/. [35] Lee Rainie and Anna Brown, “Americans Less Concerned Than a Decade Ago Over Immigrants’ Impact on Workforce,” Pew Research Center, October 7, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/07/americans-less-concerned-than-a-decade-ago-over-immigrants-impact-on-workforce/. See also Busby et al. [36] Richard Berriman and John Hawksworth, “Will Robots Steal Our Jobs? The Potential Impact of Automation on the UK and Other Major Economies,” UK Economic Outlook, March 2017, https://www.pwc.co.uk/economic-services/ukeo/pwcukeo-section-4-automation-march-2017-v2.pdf. [37] “Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016,” Pew Research Center, June 22, 2016, http://www.people-press.org/2016/06/22/partisanship-and-political-animosity-in-2016/. [38] For an excellent overview of existing research on possible causes of polarization, see Michael Barber and Nolan McCarty, “Chapter 2: Causes and Consequences of Polarization,” in Negotiating Agreement in Politics, eds. Jane Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin (Washington, DC: American Political Science Association, 2013), 19-53, https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/dtingley/files/negotiating_agreement_in_politics.pdf. [39] “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016,” Pew Research Center, May 25, 2016, http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/pj_2016-05-26_social-media-and-news_0-01/. [40] “The Modern News Consumer,” Pew Research Center, July 6, 2016, http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/the-modern-news-consumer/pj_2016-07-07_modern-news-consumer_7-02/. [41] Gary J. Gates, “Americans Still Support Major Role for US in Global Affairs,” Gallup News, March 6, 2017, http://news.gallup.com/poll/205286/americans-support-major-role-global-affairs.aspx. [42] “America’s Global Role, U.S. Superpower Status,” Pew Research Center, May 5, 2016, http://www.people-press.org/2016/05/05/1-americas-global-role-u-s-superpower-status/. [43] Congressional Budget Office, The 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook, March 2017, https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52480-ltbo.pdf. [44] Ronald Reagan, “A Vision for America,” The White House, November 3, 1980, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=85199. [45] On global poverty, see “Measuring Poverty,” The World Bank, accessed, September 27, 2017, http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/measuringpoverty. On increased life expectancy, see UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision (New York: United Nations, 2017), 7, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2017_KeyFindings.pdf. [46] Kathleen H. Hicks, Michael J. Green, and Heather A. Conley, “Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand the Value of U.S. Bases Overseas,” Foreign Policy, April 7, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/07/donald-trump-doesnt-understand-the-value-of-u-s-bases-overseas/. [47] See Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986). ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 1 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => 1 [is_archive] => [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => 1 [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 4152b146e3eab6919c4497c3c9241d19 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )