Buy Print
Magazine

Buy Print
Magazine

Whither the “City Upon a Hill”? Donald Trump, America First, and American Exceptionalism

Whither the “City Upon a Hill”? Donald Trump, America First, and American Exceptionalism

In order to understand Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda, we must examine the master narrative that underpins it. Trump breaks with all modern presidents not just because he challenges the postwar “liberal international order,” but because he…

Sense and Indispensability: American Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty

Sense and Indispensability: American Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty

Former ambassador to Sweden, Azita Raji, proposes a way forward for a renewed and sustainable American foreign policy. This would require a re-examination of America's interests, institutional reforms, and a revival of American ideals. To wit: reflection,…

What Is a Moral Foreign Policy?

What Is a Moral Foreign Policy?

How should we judge the morality of a president's foreign policy? Joseph Nye suggests a rubric that is based on a three-dimensional ethics of intentions, means, and consequences and that draws from realism, cosmopolitanism, and liberalism.

More Significance than Value: Explaining Developments in the Sino-Japanese Contest Over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

More Significance than Value: Explaining Developments in the Sino-Japanese Contest Over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are presently the focus of a dangerous contest between the People’s Republic of China and Japan, one that even now has the potential to spark a military conflict that could draw in the United States. How has this come about?…

The End of the End of History: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

The End of the End of History: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

Americans lack a shared vision of what the role of the United States ought to be in the world. It's time for America to start asking itself some tough questions about the future of American leadership and for U.S. leaders to rethink how to persuade the…

WP_Query Object
(
    [query] => Array
        (
            [category_name] => foreign-policy
        )

    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [category_name] => foreign-policy
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [tag] => 
            [cat] => 65
            [tag_id] => 
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [paged] => 0
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [title] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [embed] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_name__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [post_type] => 
            [posts_per_page] => 12
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => foreign-policy
                                )

                            [field] => slug
                            [operator] => IN
                            [include_children] => 1
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
            [table_aliases:protected] => Array
                (
                    [0] => wp_term_relationships
                )

            [queried_terms] => Array
                (
                    [category] => Array
                        (
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => foreign-policy
                                )

                            [field] => slug
                        )

                )

            [primary_table] => wp_posts
            [primary_id_column] => ID
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
            [meta_table] => 
            [meta_id_column] => 
            [primary_table] => 
            [primary_id_column] => 
            [table_aliases:protected] => Array
                (
                )

            [clauses:protected] => Array
                (
                )

            [has_or_relation:protected] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [queried_object] => WP_Term Object
        (
            [term_id] => 65
            [name] => Foreign Policy
            [slug] => foreign-policy
            [term_group] => 0
            [term_taxonomy_id] => 65
            [taxonomy] => category
            [description] => 
            [parent] => 0
            [count] => 7
            [filter] => raw
            [cat_ID] => 65
            [category_count] => 7
            [category_description] => 
            [cat_name] => Foreign Policy
            [category_nicename] => foreign-policy
            [category_parent] => 0
        )

    [queried_object_id] => 65
    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( 
  wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (65)
) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'acf-disabled') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 12
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 2301
                    [post_author] => 341
                    [post_date] => 2019-12-18 13:08:55
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-18 18:08:55
                    [post_content] => 

The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world — and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.

 –Harry Truman, 1947[1]

 

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

 –Donald Trump, 2017[2]

 

I. Introduction

While there has been ample scholarly debate on the Trump administration’s grand strategy, there is one factor that deserves far more attention than it has received: Donald Trump’s rejection of American exceptionalism.[3] Trump breaks with all U.S. presidents since 1945 not just because he challenges the postwar “liberal international order,” as many scholars have argued,[4] but because he rejects its underlying master narrative. A master narrative is the enduring narrative of a nation, which, according to Ronald Krebs, constitutes the discursive playing field upon which voters and policymakers debate more discrete national security narratives.[5] Whether it was to promote “the four freedoms,” to be “a shining city on a hill,” or to be an “indispensable nation,” presidents of both parties have based their arguments for U.S. leadership on a belief in American exceptionalism.[6] Significantly, this master narrative has influenced not only presidential statements and rhetoric, but also actual foreign policy. Constructivist and liberal scholars of U.S. foreign policy argue that there exists a powerful national agreement on what role the United States is supposed to play in world history because of what kind of nation the United States is believed to be.[7] This is not to say there has not been disagreement over U.S. foreign policy since 1945 — take, for example, the profound disagreement over the Vietnam War. But there has been a fundamental agreement that the United States should have a leading role in the international institutions it set up in the 1940s. One important reason for this was the powerful meta-narrative of American exceptionalism. Ironically, realist scholars have repeatedly confirmed the importance of exceptionalism by lamenting its effect on American politics.[8] Unlike the disagreement over how ideas of American exceptionalism influenced earlier U.S. foreign policy, then, scholars actually agree that, since World War II, the makers of U.S. foreign policy have operated under the assumption that the world needs U.S. leadership not just because of American military might or the dollar, but because the United States is exceptional.[9] This elite agreement deepened, rather than weakened, after the end of the Cold War. In fact, Barack Obama invoked American exceptionalism in 31 percent more speeches than the average of all other presidents combined since 1945.[10] The contrast with Obama’s successor is stark. While Trump’s attack on the “liberal world order” has received ample attention from scholars of U.S. foreign policy,[11] the analysis of Trump’s puzzling rejection of American exceptionalism has only just begun.[12] Perhaps this is because Trump is often incoherent and self-contradictory and frequently tells lies and falsehoods,[13] making an analysis of his statements and policies challenging.[14] Yet, as Charlie Laderman and Brandon Simms show, there are important consistencies in Trump’s worldview, such as his critiques of NATO and China, as well as the general critique of U.S. leaders as fools taken advantage of by “wily foreigners.”[15] Another such consistency is the glaring absence of the narrative of American exceptionalism from his worldview. Indeed, Trump’s rate of invoking American exceptionalism in his first year as president was less than half of the overall average across all presidents since World War II.[16] Of course, in arguing that putting “America First” would make America “great again,” one might think that Trump, in fact, is promoting American exceptionalism. The idea of American exceptionalism is certainly connected to “greatness.” Republican voters might think Trump is embracing exceptionalism — understood as American superiority and even a sense of national mission — because the “America First” agenda is, to some degree, reminiscent of the Republican Party’s foreign policy agenda.[17] This article argues against this view. Trump’s grand strategy is different in kind, and not just in degree, from U.S. postwar foreign policy because it rejects the underlying master narrative of American exceptionalism.[18] The competing narrative Trump has adopted underscores this: The United States is not morally or ideationally superior to other countries — it is not an “exemplar.”[19] In fact, according to Trump’s worldview, it is remarkably similar to countries that define themselves by materialist national interests and an ethnic national identity. Specifically, Trump’s embrace of an “America First” foreign policy entails a rejection of the moral mission that has been central to modern U.S. foreign policy: promoting (in theory, anyway) liberal internationalism through democratization, free-market economics, and human rights.[20] Trump’s master narrative views the world somewhat similarly to realists: as a competitive, anarchic place where it is every state for itself, where alliances are temporary, and only the fittest survive.[21] In this worldview, making America “great” means making America economically wealthy, militarily powerful, and safeguarding the white, Christian cultural heritage of the United States. In other words, Trump’s America First foreign policy platform is grounded in a master narrative perhaps best thought of as what Walter Russell Mead calls “Jacksonian” nationalism.[22] [quote id="1"] At the heart of Trump’s rejection of the U.S. post-World War II grand strategy of international leadership, therefore, is a confrontation between two master narratives: that of American exceptionalism and Jacksonian nationalism. American exceptionalism is an ideational master narrative. It is a story about an ethnically and religiously diverse nation united in adherence to liberal ideas and institutions both at home and abroad. In contrast, the Trump administration’s story of America is ascriptive: It is the story of a white, Christian race with materialist interests to pursue abroad.[23] To be clear: In labeling the two narratives ideational and ascriptive (or even materialist), I am not making an ontological distinction between the world of ideas and the world of matter. Rather, I am analyzing two different narratives that stress different ideas. It is, as such, an analysis based in constructivist theory. Furthermore, I am not arguing that the exceptionalist narrative has only led to good foreign policy outcomes and that America therefore ought to return to the pre-Trump era. In fact, the sense of moral superiority inherent in the exceptionalist narrative has demonstrably led the United States astray numerous times.[24] Rather than endorse one narrative over the other, this article analyzes the current foreign policy debate as a conflict between two master narratives, and contributes to a better understanding of what is at stake at this pivotal moment in American history: the meaning of “America” in the world.[25] This article is structured as follows: In section two, I define American exceptionalism and discuss its influence throughout U.S. history. In section three, I examine the political history of America First and Jacksonian nationalism, and compare each to Trump’s own version of America First. I argue that Trump’s America First platform is closely related to its historical predecessors in the 1940s and the 1990s, especially its focus on economic and cultural protectionism. However, Trump’s America First breaks with the historic focus on non-interventionism as Trump’s version is more militaristic and interventionist. In the final section, I conclude by posing two questions: Can the United States simply “snap back” after Trump, and, if not, have we finally arrived at the “end of American exceptionalism”?

II. American Exceptionalism and U.S. Foreign Policy: Superiority, Mission, and Resisting the Laws of History

American exceptionalism is a set of ideas, not a set of observable facts.[26] As Richard Hofstadter famously observed, the United States does not have an ideology, rather, it is one.[27] These ideas define the United States as “an extraordinary nation with a special role to play in human history; not only unique but also superior among nations.”[28] The belief in American exceptionalism is an “enduring identity narrative” in the United States,[29] and sets the parameters for how political leaders can and will narrate the story of “America” and its place in the world.[30] It is a narrative with a long pedigree. In the colonial era, British ideas of exceptionalism, which included a religious as well as a racial component, contributed to what would later become American exceptionalism, with specific claims to political exceptionalism made during the founding era.[31] Today, this narrative defines the United States not as a country like many others, built on a blood-and-soil identity, but rather as an exceptional Enlightenment invention built on liberal ideas and ideals.[32] It is a narrative so strong and so pervasive it would be fitting to argue, as Anatol Lieven does, that “‘American exceptionalism’ is just another way of saying American civic nationalism without using the word nationalism.”[33] Significantly, historians as well as constructivist and liberal scholars of international relations see this narrative as not only influencing rhetoric, but also having played an important role in influencing U.S. foreign policy throughout U.S. history.[34] American exceptionalism, however, is a malleable concept and has been taken to mean different things throughout its history.[35] This is especially clear when considering the role race has played in the definitional struggle over the meaning of “America.” There are three ideas that contribute to the master narrative of American exceptionalism.[36] The first is that the United States is superior to the rest of the world. The second is that, because of this superiority, the United States has a special role to play in world history — it has a moral mission to pursue abroad. The third is that where other great nations and indeed empires have risen to power only to fall, the United States will not — it will resist this law of history. American Exceptionalism: Superiority and Mission Below, I discuss how superiority and mission have manifested themselves throughout U.S. history. I will show, among other things, that American exceptionalism has been a rather malleable concept, used to advocate for almost opposite foreign policy approaches. Superiority “America” has a long tradition of being seen as “superior” by its own people. This idea does not connote mere difference or uniqueness. Rather, the distinction is hierarchical: It classifies the United States as superior in both ideas and institutions and therefore it promotes an idea that America has a mission to fulfill.[37] This is different from patriotism,[38] as it implies more than just love of country. The belief that America is superior has had a first-order effect on how the United States views itself and its role in the world: Because it is superior, it has a mission to pursue, and in this mission, it shall not fail because its superiority enables the circumventing of the laws of history. The idea of superiority has also influenced the framing of American foreign policy. U.S. presidents often use exceptionalist rhetoric in their speeches both at home and abroad, setting the country apart from or above its international counterparts.[39] This indicates a broad and deep acceptance of the idea of American exceptionalism among the American public.[40] A typical expression of this broad acceptance can be found in an article by commentators Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru, who write that the United States “is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth.” This they attribute to “our Founding and our cultural heritage.”[41] This is, of course, not something that one can ascertain objectively. If one tried to measure levels of freedom and dynamism, one might find that the United States did not, in fact, top these rankings.[42] This is immaterial, however. What matters are not the rankings, but rather the belief Lowry and Ponnuru (and most Americans with them) hold. American exceptionalism is the master narrative of the United States, not a fact to be measured. The belief that the United States is superior to the rest of the world because of its ideals and institutions has been powerful, persistent, and pervasive throughout U.S. history. In fact, this self-perception is so well established in U.S. political discourse that American polling firms such as Gallup and the Pew Research Center actually poll Americans on their belief in American exceptionalism. Defined in various manners in such polls, American exceptionalism can be operationalized as a belief that the United States is the “greatest country in the world because of its history and Constitution” or that “American culture is superior to others.” In 2010, Gallup reported that a huge majority of Americans (80 percent) agreed with the statement, “The United States has a unique character because of its history and Constitution that sets it apart from other nations as the greatest in the world.” The fact that U.S. polling bureaus regularly ask Americans such questions speaks volumes about the pervasive belief in American exceptionalism (and, relatedly, the persistent fear that it is dwindling).[43] While the poll numbers vary, the exceptionalist master narrative has held for over two centuries.[44] If one questions American exceptionalism, and the idea that it connotes superiority rather than simply difference, one’s Americanness may itself be questioned. It means one does not sufficiently believe in the idea of “America,” which is inherently suspicious. This became clear amid the harsh criticism of Obama’s answer to a question posed to him in Strasbourg, France in 2009 on whether he believed in American exceptionalism or not. Obama’s answer seemed to convey an understanding of American exceptionalism as a relative phenomenon — a narrative, if you will. Contrasting American exceptionalism with narratives found in other nations such as Britain and Greece, Obama’s answer — “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism” — was seen as rejecting the idea that American exceptionalism implies moral superiority. It set off a heated debate in the American media,[45] possibly because reports ignored the rest of Obama’s answer. Obama, in the tradition of previous presidents, went on to say that he was enormously proud of his country “and its role and history in the world.”[46] [quote id="2"] Research on social and national identity indicates why Obama’s initial qualifier would upset many Americans. As Jason Gilmore and Charles M. Rowling argue, messages that enhance the “standing of one’s own national group” feed citizens’ self-esteem and pride “because their own personal identity is tied to the image of that national group.”[47] Messages that counter this source of self-esteem naturally meet with resistance, as Obama’s comments did.[48] Constantly invoking American exceptionalism is therefore not only a proven way that American presidents can bolster their community’s feelings of self-esteem, but in fact is a vital part of nation-building in a country made up of many different ethnicities and religions. Of course, the idea that America is exceptional because of its superior civic ideals rather than its ascriptive characteristics is not something there has been agreement about in American history. If seen as a battle between civic and ethnic nationalism, American exceptionalism has represented both at various times, again testifying to the malleability of the concept itself.[49] Originally, American exceptionalism stemmed from British exceptionalism, which entailed the promotion of a white, Protestant civilizational mission against the Catholic colonialism of the Spanish empire, as they competed over territory and influence in the “New World.”[50] Up until the American Civil War and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, it was not clear whether a racialized definition of American exceptionalism or a civic kind of nationalism would prevail. While the civic nationalism of the “last, best hope on earth” won the Civil War, what civic nationalism actually meant was still under development. Theodore Roosevelt, for instance, allowed for a kind of melting-pot definition of the nation, but one that only included “races” from Europe, entirely excluding black Americans.[51] Liberal ideals have been an important — yet contested — part of modern, post-Civil War, U.S. nation-building, but they have not been the only ones.[52] Rogers Smith divides American identity into three equal strands: a “liberal” strand composed of classical liberal rights and liberties; a “democratic republican” strand composed of civic-minded participation by citizens who are motivated by a defense of the common good; and an “ascriptive inegalitarian” strand composed of nativist, xenophobic, and racial hierarchies. The contestation between ascriptive and civic definitions of “America” is why the narrative of American exceptionalism has been useful in the ongoing effort to create a nation out of an ethnically and religiously diverse population.[53] The Mission In addition to being viewed as a “superior” republic, the United States is also on a world historic “mission” according to the narrative of American exceptionalism. What this mission consists of has been the source of constant and fierce debate throughout U.S. history, and has evolved over time.[54] What is clear is that this belief in a mission has influenced not just the framing, but also the content of U.S. foreign policy. Throughout American history, prominent groups have used exceptionalism to argue for both an interventionist foreign policy (i.e., a “missionary” version of exceptionalism) and a non-interventionist foreign policy (i.e., an “exemplarist” version of exceptionalism), attesting to how ideas of exceptionalism can be used for different — indeed contravening — political purposes.[55] Proponents of an exemplarist worldview have often defined the United States’ role as “standing apart from the world and serving merely as a model of social and political possibility.”[56] Creating a “more perfect union” is the meaning of the United States, which is why “meddling in the affairs of other states could cause irreparable harm to the U.S. body politic.”[57] Summarizing the exemplarist sentiment, H. W. Brands warned, “in attempting to save the world, and probably failing, America could risk losing its democratic soul.”[58] For a long time, most historians of U.S. foreign policy argued that as American exceptionalism cycled between exemplarism and missionary expressions, U.S. foreign policy was concomitantly isolationist or internationalist.[59] But this view was highly problematic, as it required categorizing U.S. foreign policy before World War II — or at least up until 1898 — as isolationist.[60] Viewing early U.S. foreign policy up through the 1800s as an expression of exemplarism required categorizing “manifest destiny” as a form of domestic politics. The manifest destiny of the United States, as journalist John O’Sullivan wrote in 1845, was “to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”[61] Testifying to the strength of the American self-conception as superior to the Old World, historians did not begin to compare “westward expansion” to European colonialism until the early 20th century.[62] And yet, much like European great powers, U.S. foreign policy in the 19th century often consisted of wars of aggression and “civilizing” “inferior” races. Indeed, a constant feature of the U.S. debate over expansion and territorial conquest — whether on the continent or across the seas — was marked by the problem of race: who could be part of “America” and whether non-whites could truly become Americans.[63] For example, Thomas Jefferson associated Native Americans with the “earliest stages of civilization” and expected them to civilize or perish. This was certainly a “self-serving logic” that “provided the ideological rationale for an expansive republican empire,” as Peter Onuf writes.[64] Later, Andrew Jackson engineered the forcible removal of Native Americans from their lands southeast of the Mississippi River in order to make way for white settlers. While the tensions leading up to the Civil War slowed down U.S. settlement of the western part of the continent,[65] its potential as a civilizing power was finally reached when the United States entered the Spanish-American War in order to, in the words of President William McKinley, “uplift and civilize” the savages languishing in the Spanish empire in Cuba and the Philippines.”[66] William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt made similar arguments for the superiority of the nation, encouraging it to take upon itself the “white man’s burden” of civilizing “backwards” peoples.[67] The mission in U.S. foreign policy — whether directed at Mexicans, Native Americans, the Spanish Empire, or Prussian militarism — historically mixed elements of ethno-nationalism with Enlightenment ideals of democracy and capitalism, executed with religious zeal. Various presidents as different as Jefferson, Jackson, James Polk, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson have endeavored to teach the world what to do and how to do it — to execute the “white man’s burden.”[68] [quote id="3"] While it is correct to divide the narrative of American exceptionalism into two foreign policy articulations — one missionary and one exemplarist — it is wholly inaccurate to argue these two articulations have been reflected in actual U.S. foreign policy history. In fact, while the missionary foreign policy — which is active, international, and sometimes aggressive — appears throughout U.S. history, there is very little evidence of an exemplarist foreign policy being employed. This is a common misconception, and, one might add, a consequence of having bought into the manifest destiny narrative of U.S. expansion in the 19th century, which argues that the United States was simply taking control of territory God always meant for them.[69] Arguing that the United States was exemplarist during its first century because it was “geographically isolated,”[70] when it competed with European imperial powers for territory, ethnically cleansed Native Americans, and indeed fought a war of aggression against Mexico, renders the term “isolationist” meaningless.[71] In fact, as revisionist historians of the Wisconsin School, led by William Appleman Williams, began arguing in the mid-20th century, rather than a cyclical U.S. foreign policy (where U.S. foreign policy was seen as “cycling” between internationalism and isolationism), the United States has always been interventionist.[72] The territories not already owned by the United States in 1783 were not some mythical region waiting to be “civilized” by the United States. Rather, “westward expansion” was itself a settler colonial project.[73] Indeed, how could a supposedly isolationist country go from 13 colonies to controlling an entire continent without an interventionist foreign policy? Unfortunately, the isolationist thesis is still argued today.[74] As the United States grew in size and diversity, its impending great power status led to fierce debates over the white, Christian emphasis of its foreign policy mission. The racial aspect of “America” was toned down. Following World War II, U.S. presidents focused on the liberal ideas of exceptionalism, rather than the civilizational aspect of the “white man’s burden,” as the source of America’s uniqueness and the reason for its mission in the world. Thus, American exceptionalism separated out its earlier racial components. Obama’s understanding of American exceptionalism can be seen as the culmination of this evolving civic version of the concept: “Obama offered an inclusive vision of patriotism,” writes Greg Gardin, “using his own success to celebrate the country’s meritocracy and as proof that racial division could be overcome through the gradual extension of liberal political equality.”[75] As Obama said in 2007 as a presidential candidate, “Our exceptionalism must be based on our Constitution, our principles, our values, and our ideals.”[76] It is with this modern, post-World War II master narrative that Trump has broken. Resisting the Laws of History: Exceptionalism and Modern Foreign Policy from 1945 to 2015 With each historical era, the United States has proven itself resistant to the laws of history. Rather than rise and fall, it has only risen — vanquishing powerful enemies along the way.[77] After conquering an entire continent, the United States went about conquering the seas, and ultimately defeated two iterations of the worst the Old World had to offer: German militarism and fascism. Significantly, upon defining itself in contravention to Soviet Communism, the promotion of American exceptionalism became an important tool for U.S. presidents, especially in the era of what Jeffrey Tulis has labeled the “rhetorical presidency.”[78] Against these ideologies American exceptionalism, understood as the adherence to liberal ideals, flourished. In foreign policy, the narrative of American exceptionalism has been used by presidents to communicate the purpose of U.S. foreign policy and therein garner support for their preferred policies, because what “America” means conditions what it can and should do in the world. In fact, argue Gilmore and Rowling, “The concept of American exceptionalism has become one of the most common features in U.S. political discourse.”[79] The assumption that the United States has a “uniquely moral national mission has shaped debates over foreign affairs since the nation’s founding.”[80] The narratives American presidents communicate about foreign policy exist on different levels: Any discrete national security narrative — such as that of “primacy” in the 1990s or the “Global War on Terror” in the 2000s — must operate within and adhere to the discursive landscape of the master narrative of exceptionalism.[81] Over the years, presidents and political parties have disagreed on discrete national security narratives but not on the exceptionalist master narrative that has underpinned U.S. foreign policy since 1945, and which builds on a story about an exceptional America that dates to before the founding. Until Trump became president, this story constrained not only how U.S. presidential candidates and presidents framed the discourse on the United States and its role in the world, but policies themselves. All U.S. presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have taken pains to narrate foreign policy as a moral mission based in American exceptionalism, understood as an adherence to “superior” liberal ideals.[82] Since then, the United States has presented itself as a beacon to the world, standing for “a vibrant, forward-looking Americanism that presented itself as the highest expression of liberal universalism.”[83] Many studies show how and why the idea of American exceptionalism has come to be so prominent in American politics, whether from the field of communications,[84] presidential studies,[85] or, more recently, international relations.[86] By promoting the idea of American exceptionalism, U.S. presidents have justified why the United States should play such an active role in international politics: because the world needs this exceptional nation and its benevolent influence. From this perspective, it was quite natural to conclude that what was right for America was right for the world. An eloquent example of how presidents have framed U.S. foreign policy as a moral mission comes from John F. Kennedy, whose rhetoric frequently played on American exceptionalism. Indeed, as president-elect he gave a speech simply referred to as the “city upon a hill” speech:
I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. “We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill — the eyes of all people are upon us.” Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us — and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.[87]
Using American exceptionalism to frame U.S. grand strategy has not been a partisan phenomenon, even though the Republican Party associates itself more with overt statements of patriotic sentiment.[88] In fact, Gilmore and Rowling find that Democratic presidents have been more fervent in their invocation of American exceptionalism in global contexts (44 percent of speeches given by Democrats versus 17 percent given by Republicans).[89] This is not to say that presidents have agreed on how the United States should best advance its moral mission, but there has been a post-World War II consensus on whether the United States is so obligated. There has also been bipartisan agreement on the reason why — namely that the United States has a special role to play in world history.[90] As scholars have shown, U.S. presidents since 1945 have repeatedly turned to the reliable rhetorical strategy of emphasizing American exceptionalism to “reinforce mythic notions of America as the unquestioned leader of a stable world order.”[91] Indeed, the superiority of the United States and the special role it is supposed to play as a leader of other nations has been ubiquitous in modern presidential rhetoric. A quantitative content analysis of State of the Union addresses from 1934 to 2008 found only three mentions of other countries as worthy of serving as examples for the United States to follow.[92] The United States has always been the shining city on the hill, as no other country can be. Post-Cold War Triumphalism The influence of American exceptionalism on the framing and content of U.S. foreign policy took on a new force after the Cold War ended.[93] Indeed, Americans interpreted the Cold War’s end as a reaffirmation of American exceptionalism: “By the grace of God,” President George H. W. Bush said in his State of the Union speech in 1992, “we have won the Cold War.”[94] Whatever the questions had been — what were the best political systems, economic theories, or civic ideals? — the only answer left in international politics was the United States and its example to the world. The end of ideological history was here, comfortably parked in an oversized American driveway.[95] This exceptionalist interpretation of why the Cold War had ended set the stage for a triumphalist decade, or a “holiday from history,” as George Will called it.[96] In arguing for why the United States should continue its deep involvement in world affairs even without a clear enemy, President Bill Clinton and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, looked inward to the peculiar genius of the American body politic for the answer. The United States was “the indispensable nation,” Clinton stated in 1996 while defending the U.S. intervention in Bosnia.[97] That became the Clinton administration’s go-to phrase for conveying American exceptionalism in an age of primacy. In making the case for a possible strike against Saddam Hussein in 1998 on “The Today Show” Albright said,
[I]f we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us. I know that the American men and women in uniform are always prepared to sacrifice for freedom, democracy and the American way of life.[98]
And yet, Republicans viewed Clinton’s vision as too timid. In 2000, future George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen wrote in the Weekly Standard that there were two competing visions of internationalism in the 21st century: the “‘global multilateralism’ of the Clinton-Gore Democrats” versus the “‘American exceptionalism’ of the Reagan-Bush Republicans.”[99] Nevertheless, this disagreement belied a fundamental foreign policy agreement: All post-Cold War presidents have promoted a strategy of primacy, which essentially argued that the United States should seek world hegemony because of its exceptional mission.[100] Although they all used the rhetoric of American exceptionalism, this was not merely a discursive tactic. There was strong bipartisan belief in American exceptionalism and America’s mission: to convince the rest of the world to join in the “end of history” with the one nation that had already reached history’s destination. The Republican and Democratic views on the international order in the 1990s — and America’s role in it — were more similar than perhaps many recognized at the time. Indeed, Hans Morgenthau’s description of Wilsonian liberals at the beginning of the 20th century applies equally to neoconservatives and liberal internationalists at its end — they all believed that a new world order of peace would eventually “end” history once all countries adopted liberal democracy.[101] [quote id="4"] After 9/11, President George W. Bush’s communication of a clear, black-and-white story of good versus evil was a natural extension of the triumphalism of the 1990s and fit perfectly within the master narrative of American exceptionalism. This became what Krebs calls “the national security narrative” of the post-9/11 era — the “Global War on Terror.”[102] This narrative organized how the administration promoted its policies, how the media framed these policies, and how the American public thought about the new “war” they were now in.[103] As Krebs writes, “The War on Terror was more than a slogan: it was shorthand for a post-9/11 narrative that not only placed that day’s horrific events in a meaningful context, but also set the terms of national security debate in the United States for the next decade.”[104] This narrative would not have resonated or received such widespread bipartisan acceptance from the American public had it not overlapped with the master narrative of U.S. foreign policy: that the United States is an exceptional nation with moral intentions, bound to make the world a better place. The Bush administration’s story of what had happened and why cast the United States as the innocent victim, attacked out of the blue not for its policies in the Middle East, but for its very exceptional nature: “Why do they hate us? They hate us because of what they see in this very Chamber,” Bush told Congress on Sept. 20, 2001. “They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”[105] In his second inaugural, Bush essentially argued that fighting the “war on terror” was a continuation of the eternal American mission:
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation.[106]
Returning to the question of whether Obama rejected American exceptionalism, as his critics charged, this article builds on the theoretical assumption that there is a meaningful and important distinction between a nation’s master narrative and its various foreign policies. One can have a variety of grand strategies all based in the exceptionalist master narrative, but one must distinguish, as Krebs does, between master narratives and discrete national security narratives. One could argue about whether Obama’s counter-terrorism policies diverged more in rhetoric than in practice from his predecessor, or about whether Obama actually moved in a non-interventionist direction. However, his discrete national security narrative of modest retrenchment did not reject the master narrative of American exceptionalism. Indeed, at Strasbourg, Obama said,
If you think about the site of this summit [Strasbourg] and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that… . And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality that, though imperfect, are exceptional.[107]
Lest one think this was pandering to the press, this was a belief Obama had long held. As he said in his speech to the Democratic national convention in 2004,
I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.[108]

III. Donald Trump, American Exceptionalism, and America First

Prior to Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination, the Republican Party promoted a grand strategy of leading the liberal international order, grounded in the master narrative of American exceptionalism. This had been the case since Dwight D. Eisenhower won the foreign policy battle inside the Republican Party in 1952, defeating non-interventionist proponent Robert Taft. With Eisenhower, the GOP embraced the view “that America had a moral obligation as well as a national interest in transforming the victory of World War II into a lasting global peace by building strong alliances and expanding military readiness around the world to counter the Communist threat.”[109] It was, in David Farber’s words, the “Willkie-Dewey-Eisenhower — and then Goldwater-Reagan-Bush-Bush — wing of the Republican Party” that won out in the GOP in the post-World War II era.[110] The American exceptionalist narrative constituted the foundation of U.S. foreign policy debate in both political parties, influencing their views on foreign policy and constraining presidential candidates’ rhetorical choices.[111] The 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney arguably built its foreign policy platform on this very idea.[112] That same year, the Republican Party included the concept in its party platform, stating that American exceptionalism is “the conviction that our country holds a unique place in human history.”[113] In 2016, all Republican presidential candidates save one took pains to use exceptionalist rhetoric.[114] In April 2015, two months before he announced his candidacy for president, Trump broke with the Republican Party and stated that he did “not like” the term American exceptionalism.[115] He ironically said this at an event called “Celebrating the American Dream,” hosted in Houston by the Texas Patriots PAC. At the event, Trump was asked to define American exceptionalism, whether it still existed, and what should be done to help grow it. Trump answered,
Look, if I’m a Russian, or I’m a German, or I’m a person we do business with, why, you know, I don’t think it’s a very nice term. We’re exceptional; you’re not. First of all, Germany is eating our lunch. So they say, ‘Why are you exceptional. We’re doing a lot better than you.’[116]
Trump stated that those who refer to American exceptionalism were “insulting the world” and offending people in other countries, such as Russia, China, Germany, and Japan.  Contravening common talking points for any presidential candidate regardless of party, Trump said, rather, that it is “not a nice term,” showing unusual foreign policy flair. He did suggest that were he to become president, he would make the United States exceptional, but even then Trump said he would not use the term because he would not want to “rub it in.”[117] But Trump has not only rejected American exceptionalism in his rhetoric — that is, when he talks about it at all — he has also rejected it in his policies.[118] His America First platform shows that he rejects American exceptionalism on two fronts: He does not view the United States as morally superior to other countries and, therefore, he does not view the United States as having a mission to pursue abroad. Trump’s definition of American “greatness” is ascriptive and material, rather than ideational and aspirational. In this section, I examine Trump’s views on American exceptionalism along with his grand strategy in order to show how Trump rejects both the American exceptionalism master narrative and its policy implications. In so doing, I argue that Trump relies on a competing master narrative, Jacksonian nationalism. Trump’s grounding in Jacksonian nationalism leads him to embrace parts of the traditional America First platform, which in its two previous iterations has promoted ethnic nationalism and economic protectionism. However, Trump rejects non-interventionism, opting instead for unilateral militarism abroad. Here, Trump is more in line with original Jacksonianism than with America First. America First in U.S. History What does “America First” mean? Is it a concept, a slogan, or a foreign policy agenda? Or perhaps just a refreshingly honest brand of realism?[119] “America First” is in fact several things. It was most famously the name of an organization founded in 1940 in order to lobby against U.S. intervention in World War II. As historian Melvyn P. Leffler writes, “For me, America First was associated with the insularity, isolationism, unilateralism, nativism, anti-Semitism, and appeasement policies that President Franklin D. Roosevelt struggled to overcome in 1940 and 1941.”[120] It was also a slogan used by Pat Buchanan in the 1990s to argue against free trade, immigration, military alliances, and interventions.[121] Today, it is the shorthand for Trump’s foreign policy platform. Let us examine each in turn, their connections, and the master narrative on which they all rely. America First Before World War II The phrase “America First” is most strongly associated with its use during World War II. According to Susan Dunn, America First was the name of the “isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.”[122] This summary is somewhat unfair to the organization’s varied membership. The interwar America First was composed of all kinds of people who were skeptical of America entering into another European war. They included future president Gerald Ford, future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter, and Sargent Shriver, who would go on to lead the U.S. Peace Corps. Ford and Potter, students at Yale at the time, founded the “Committee to Defend America First.” Its establishment in 1940 was “in direct opposition to progressive journalist William Allen White’s Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.”[123] It grew quickly from a group started by anti-war students to a large movement with hundreds of chapters and almost a million members. Some notable members were Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gore Vidal. The committee would come to be associated with fascists and anti-Semites, and most famously, Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh argued in 1940, during the blitzkrieg in Europe, that the United States should not interfere because “the white race” was not under threat.[124] Lindbergh joined America First in April 1941, drawing big crowds at its rallies. Despite the varied membership and commendable aim of avoiding yet another war, the committee’s main historical legacy has been that of a disgraced organization that was on the wrong side of history both in terms of advocating against intervention in World War II and in terms of anti-Semitism. [quote id="5"] The phrase “America First” predates 1940, however. It was a Republican campaign slogan in the 1880s.[125] As Christopher McKnight Nichols writes, “the cry of America First emerged in the nineteenth century’s era of rapid industrialization, modernization, and urbanization,” and its foreign policy agenda was “non-entanglement, nonintervention, neutrality, and unilateralism.”[126] It was the latest discussion in a historic debate on why, how much, and in what ways the United States should be involved outside its borders.[127] The slogan did not quite catch on until Wilson popularized it in a speech in 1915, however, declaring, “Our whole duty for the present, at any rate, is summed up in the motto: America First.”[128] Although he was arguing for U.S. neutrality in the Great War, not isolationism, the phrase nonetheless became the motto of those who wanted the United States to stay out of European politics and indeed stay isolated from it. Wilson’s goal was to keep a diverse nation with people whose heritage stemmed from all over the world firmly pro-American. This topic would become tense as the patriotism of “hyphenated” Americans of Irish, German, and Italian descent became increasingly questioned. Indeed, at this time, the U.S. Bureau of Education was mounting an America First campaign in order to promote the assimilation of immigrants. The purpose was to encourage immigrants to put America first, before their old countries, all the while signaling that immigrants did not need to reject their culture, language, or history of origin.[129] After Wilson, the motto caught on. As presidential candidates in 1916, both Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes used America First as part of their election slogans.[130] After the debate over the League of Nations and the future role of the United States in the world, Warren G. Harding, the Republican presidential nominee of 1920, similarly thought it useful to employ America First as part of his campaign:
Call it the selfishness of nationality if you will, I think it an inspiration to patriotic devotion — To safeguard America first, to stabilize America first, to prosper America first, to think of America first, to exalt America first, to live for and revere America first.[131]
The second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan, which reasserted itself in the early 20th century, taking aim at Catholics and Jews in addition to African-Americans, also used “America First” as a motto.[132] In evidence submitted to Congress, at a hearing on the activities on the Klan in 1921, the Klan’s “Imperial Proclamation” was entered into the record. Here, it said: “[The Klan] stands for America first – first in thought, first in affections, and first in the galaxy of nations.”[133] With the attack on Pearl Harbor and eventual Allied victory in World War II, “America First” became synonymous with having been on the wrong side of history. The disbandment of the Committee to Defend America First four days after Pearl Harbor conceded the point. The 1990s: Pat Buchanan’s Revival of “America First” When Pat Buchanan resurrected the motto “America First” in the 1990s, the New York Times labeled his agenda “fearful isolationism, nativism and protectionism.”[134] His version of America First was focused on the economy and culture. In the post-Cold War era, this meant making “America first again in manufacturing,” including proposing deep tax cuts in order to prevent U.S. industries from moving abroad.[135] Buchanan’s economic platform was nationalist and protectionist, as was his cultural platform: He wanted to keep the United States a white, Christian country. Arguing against the effects of globalization, Buchanan said that “our Western heritage is going to be handed down to future generations, not dumped onto some landfill called multiculturalism.” He argued for “a new patriotism, where Americans begin to put the needs of Americans first.”[136] This was “a new nationalism” meant to divide and conquer.[137] Campaigning in Georgia in 1992, Buchanan argued that the Voting Rights Act was “an act of regional discrimination against the South,” and told unemployed (presumably white) Georgians that, “anti-discrimination laws caused their jobs to be given to blacks.”[138] In his famous “culture war” speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, Buchanan said, “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.” He labeled Bill Clinton’s agenda “radical feminism,” and accused the Democratic Party of not respecting the “Judeo-Christian values” the country was founded upon.[139] His speech ended by recounting his visit to the Army compound in south Los Angeles, from which law enforcement had been dispatched to quell the riots. “And as they took back the streets of LA, block by block, so we must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country.”[140] Buchanan ran for the Republican nomination again in 1996, this time against Bob Dole, then for the Reform Party nomination in 2000. In 2000, he revived “America First” as a campaign slogan. Interestingly, Trump, who was also seeking the Reform Party nomination at the time, called Buchanan “a Hitler lover,” alluding to the controversy about Buchanan’s view that Adolf Hitler had initially presented no serious threat to the United States, a view that was consistent with the original America First Committee’s stance in 1940.[141] Jacksonian Nationalism “America First” is a slogan that would resonate with what Walter Russell Mead calls the “Jacksonian tradition” in U.S. foreign policy. This populist tradition is one of four traditions found in U.S. history, according to Mead: the “American realist” or Hamiltonian tradition; the exemplary Jeffersonian tradition; and missionary Wilsonianism.[142] Named after President Andrew Jackson (1829–1837) the Jacksonian tradition refers to a populist foreign policy outlook originating in the era of white, male mass politics that Jackson brought forth. Prior to the era of Jackson, politics — whether foreign or domestic — belonged to “silk stocking”-wearing statesmen like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.[143] Jackson, however, was a Revolutionary War veteran and the heroic victor of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.[144] When the “elite establishment” — in the form of John Quincy Adams, son of second president John Adams — entered into a “corrupt bargain” and stole the election from Jackson in 1824, Jackson’s persona as a man of the people standing up to the entitled elite was cemented.[145] His revanche over Adams in the 1828 presidential election inaugurated the era of “the people’s president” where Jackson “spoke in plain and powerful language to the people at large.”[146] Jacksonian political philosophy is an instinct, rather than an ideology.[147] Because it is “less an intellectual movement than it is an expression of the social, cultural, and religious values of a large portion of the American public,” Mead argues Jacksonianism is “obscure” to academics and the media.[148] In other words: In true populist fashion, Jacksonians and the elite have mutual disregard for one another.[149] Jacksonians are suspicious of what the elites might do with their tax money both at home and abroad. They worry about “untrammeled federal power” and are “skeptical about the prospects of domestic and foreign do-gooding.”[150] When it comes to the military, though, Jacksonians are looser with the purse strings and are more trusting of the military establishment. “For Jacksonians, spending money on the military is one of the best things government can do,” Mead argues.[151] So far, Jacksonians and America Firsters can agree — elites should not be trusted with one’s tax dollars, but military preparedness is important and is worth paying for. Were Jacksonians an early expression of the non-interventionism of America First, then? Not at all, according to Mead. Indeed, Jacksonians were consistently the most hawkish during the Cold War. Mead argues the Jacksonian tradition does not embrace isolationism. Rather, it is an interest-based foreign policy.[152] Jacksonians are not eager to sit at home if there is a worthy fight to be fought. But for what cause are Jacksonians willing to go abroad and fight? According to Mead, Jacksonians are not that concerned with defending American values across the globe, but rather are focused on “national honor” on behalf of their community:
Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens.[153]
How does the Jacksonian tradition define the American community, on whose behalf it conducts foreign policy? Is it defined by adherence to liberal ideals, or by ethno-cultural boundaries? In fact, the answer to the question, “who counts as American citizens” in the quote above unites Jacksonians, traditional America Firsters, and Trump. Jacksonians are historically associated with “white Protestant males of the lower and middle classes”[154] whom Mead refers to as making up a “folk community.” This is a “folk” that is “Christian in religious background, if not always in practice. They are European in origin — but largely without strong ties to a specific country other than the United States — and self-identify with American society from the colonial era until today.”[155] Mead contrasts this group with “believers in a multicultural United States” who define the United States as a “nation based on ideology rather than ethnicity.”[156] These are two very different things: Jacksonianism is based on the community values and sense of identity that stem from the British colonizers, specifically a subgroup whom historian David Hacket Fischer defined as the Scotch-Irish settlers.[157] The Scotch-Irish Americans were “formed by centuries of bitter warfare before they came to the United States,” an experience that informed their warrior ethos and non-isolationist attitudes in foreign policy.[158] This ethno-cultural definition of the American nation is distinctly different from the other three foreign policy traditions Mead identifies — Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, and Wilsonian — as they all identify the United States as built on an idea, not a people.[159] Thus, ethnic nationalism is where Jacksonianism diverges fundamentally from the other three foreign policy traditions. [quote id="6"] Jackson was the first populist president, commencing a tradition carried on by presidential candidates in both political parties such as William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt.[160] Mead identifies Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan as modern presidents who managed to connect with Jacksonian voters. He also lists George Wallace, Ross Perot, Jesse Ventura, Pat Buchanan, and John McCain as political figures that have successfully tapped into this populist energy.[161] Of course, these politicians advocated quite different grand strategies, with Buchanan overtly promoting non-interventionism. Further complicating the picture, the Jacksonian “folk community” is no longer ethnically homogeneous. Rather, Jacksonianism is a tradition with a long, bipartisan pedigree in U.S. history that attracts those Americans who feel unrepresented by the “elites.” Because Jacksonianism is more of an “instinct” than a political ideology, and no longer exclusively represents a specific ethno-cultural group in U.S. society, general arguments and comparisons — such as the one I am making in this article — are inherently imperfect.[162] The point is not to argue that Trump is a perfect replica of Andrew Jackson the president, but rather that there are important similarities between the Jacksonian tradition and Trump’s worldview. Donald Trump’s America First Economic Protectionism In Trump’s first inaugural speech, he accused the world of having swindled the United States: “We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”[164] Trump added, “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”[165] The speech was, as Jim Goldgeier has noted, “a far cry from Morgenthau’s articulation of the purpose of Bretton Woods.”[166] Upon entering office, Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that had taken seven years to negotiate, in favor of bilateral deals that he argued would “promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages.”[167] He also renegotiated the North America Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, an agreement he had repeatedly criticized on the campaign trail.[168] The hallmark of Trump’s protectionist agenda, however, has been commencing a trade war with China. Many economic experts share his complaints — that China engages in unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property.[169] Trump’s remedy is highly controversial, however: Trump has increased tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States in several rounds since 2018.[170] Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has argued that the trade war with China threatens to undermine global economic growth, causing a “great stagnation.”[171] In wanting to “protect” American consumers, Trump is echoing one of the most familiar aspects of the nationalism of the 1920s and 1930s (on which America First relied)  — economic protectionism.[172] This motto resonated with the protectionist Republicans in Congress after the Great War, who in the 1920s passed “two of the most protectionist tariff bills in history,” the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930. Although, as Thomas W. Zeiler writes, the United States should have learned from the “Smoot-Hawley debacle” in the 1930s what “America First demagoguery” can lead to,[173] Trump has revived economic protectionism. During the presidential campaign of 2016, he presented trade as a zero-sum game. Trump, argues Zeiler, “went Hoover.”[174] Here, Trump is in line with the original America First Committee, which also questioned whether foreign trade was all that important to the United States.[175] Since World War II, both the Republican and Democratic parties have argued that being a responsible leader of the liberal world order involves not only enforcing the rules of an open international economy but also participating fully in it.[176] Trump essentially rejects the economic pillar of the “liberal world order” and has repeatedly argued for a much more conditional role for America, insisting that the United States is being taken advantage of by other countries.[177] This assumes that being the leader of the liberal international order is not currently economically beneficial to the United States, and leaves out entirely the ideational aspect. Returning to Trump’s discussion of what makes America exceptional, the United States is not exceptional as long as it is losing money to trading competitors such as China and Germany. It can only regain its exceptional status by renegotiating its trade deals to give the United States a higher return.[178] In other words, there is nothing about the United States that is inherently exceptional, rather, exceptionalism is a function of being the richest country in the world. In 2015, according to Trump, the United States was less exceptional than other countries because other countries were “eating” its “lunch.”[179] To be sure, past presidents have communicated the idea of American exceptionalism in different ways, sometimes taking pains to be sensitive to the interests and identities of foreign actors. Indeed, American presidents face a dilemma when speaking to foreign audiences. According to Gilmore and Rowling, “[T]hey must be ever mindful of a domestic audience that expects its leaders to champion American exceptionalism on the world stage but also sensitive to the interests and identities of other global actors.”[180] As a result, some presidents have framed American exceptionalism in a more diplomatic manner when speaking in different foreign contexts. Perhaps this is what Obama was attempting to do in Strasbourg in 2009, and what Trump has been doing — taking pains not to insult foreign leaders, as he hinted at in his 2015 interview. However, Trump’s comments were not made on foreign soil or directed at a foreign audience. Rather, they were made in a domestic, even local, context. The absence of a values-based definition of American exceptionalism in Trump’s rhetoric is as striking as it is unprecedented.[181] To be clear, Trump does believe in some kind of American superiority — that is what his slogan “Make America Great Again” seems to be all about. However, he does not define greatness in terms of exceptional ideals and values, but in terms of economic wealth, military strength, and cultural identity. Echoing Buchanan, who started his 2000 presidential run for the Reform Party by championing West Virginia steel workers, Trump’s economic definition of what would make America great entails a revival of the U.S. industrial economy: “buy American; hire American.”[182] Ethnic Nationalism The second important component of Trump’s America First platform is ethnic nationalism. This worldview builds on the tradition Smith and Gerstle have documented extensively in their work.[183] This kind of ethnic nationalism represents a commonality between the Jacksonian tradition and the America First Committee, as well as Buchanan’s revival of the America First political brand. Ethnic nationalism is foundational to Trump’s worldview, and that of his administration. Trump has called for fewer immigrants from “shithole countries”[184] and a ban on Muslims entering the United States[185] in order to preserve its white, Christian culture. From promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory (which accused the first black president of not being American partly because he was accused of not being Christian),[186] to launching his presidential campaign by accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists and drug-dealers,[187] to telling members of the House of Representatives to “go back” to their supposed homelands,[188] the list of exclusionary rhetoric based on race, ethnicity, and religion is long. [quote id="7"] Implicitly endorsing the thesis that Trump’s campaign was built on ethnic nationalism, some observers argued in 2016 that his appeal to non-white voters would be historically low, thereby dooming his chances at the ballot box.[189] When Trump did win, some assumed his presidency would pivot to more inclusive rhetoric (and perhaps even policies) in order to bring on board more voters.[190] Rather than broaden his appeal in an increasingly diverse country, Trump has continued to promote his ascriptive vision of the United States.[191] The first prominent policy example of this was the “travel ban” (called the “Muslim Ban” by political opponents), the third iteration of which was found legal by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018.[192] It excludes immigrants from seven countries, five of them Muslim-majority countries.[193] The second notable signal was when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency responsible for issuing visas and green cards and for naturalizing immigrants as U.S. citizens, released its new mission statement. As of February 2018 that statement no longer contains references to immigrants themselves — including taking out a line that called the United States a “nation of immigrants.”[194] In fact, the Trump administration has racialized the issue of immigration.[195] Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting director of USCIS, has argued that the famous Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus,” which appears on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, refers to “people coming from Europe,”[196] while Trump himself has expressed hope of more immigrants from countries like Norway.[197] Trump’s comment, which included the “shithole” remark, prompted U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Rupert Colville, to call Trump’s remarks “racist.”[198] Most prominently, however, might be the symbolism — presumably intended — of wanting to build a physical wall along the southern border of the United States, but not along its northern border.[199] The public announcement by Trump in the fall of 2018 — just before the midterm elections — that he would seek to end birthright citizenship (as defined in the 14th amendment) showed that rather than pivot toward inclusion, Trump would embrace ethnic nationalism, which was indeed an important part of his political platform. This is why it is not quite right when Abram van Engen writes,
Trump never talks about Americans as descendants from those who came here long ago. He offers no story. There is no rise from immigration, no fleeing from oppression in the American past, no historical movement from one land to another. There is only the present day, only sovereignty and self-interest here and now.[200]
On the contrary, Trump does offer a narrative of the United States, but it is not the familiar story of a “nation of immigrants.” Rather, it is that of white, Christian America, a narrative compatible with Gerstle’s “racial nationalism,” Smith’s ascriptive tradition, and Mead’s Jacksonian nationalism.[201] It explicitly rejects the inclusive narrative of a diverse nation unified by civic ideals. It builds, as this article has shown, on an important competing strand in American political history in which Americans have identified membership in their political community not with adherence to a set of classically liberal ideas and ideals, but rather with ethno-cultural origins and customs “strongly linked to North European ancestry, Protestantism, belief in the superiority of the ‘white race,’ and patriarchal familial leadership.”[202] Mead, writing in 2002, acknowledged the “deeply regrettable Jacksonian record of racism,” but argued that Jacksonian America was evolving rapidly.[203] Here, Mead might have been mistaken. In November 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center published leaked emails from Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s most important advisers on immigration, showing his support for and utilization of white nationalist literature and websites.[204] Non-Intervention Abroad? Does Trump’s “America First” imply a resurrection of an older U.S. foreign policy tradition labeled non-interventionism, exemplarism, or even “isolationism”? Or, is he simply a more extreme version of previous Republican presidents, many of whom were strong critics of the constraints emanating from international alliances, institutions, and traditions? I argue that when it comes to military intervention abroad, Trump differs from both historic America First positions as well as Republican presidents since World War II. Previous America Firsters argued for non-intervention on exceptionalist grounds. Trump, however, rejects the non-interventionist view that the United States is too special to get involved in the “corrupt old world.” Rather, Trump’s grand strategy is more similar to the classical realist tradition in international relations, in sharp contrast to the ideational tradition of exceptionalism.[205] Indeed, in the 2017 National Security Strategy, the administration labels its strategy one “of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.”[206] Trump’s version of America First strips out all the focus on ideals and norms, something realists often argue U.S. foreign policy focuses too much on. Nor is Trump simply a more extreme version of existing Republican foreign policy. Previous Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush argued that the United States was too exceptional to be constrained by the rules of the liberal world order.[207] Rather than principled exemplarism (America First) or exceptional unilateralism (Reagan and George W. Bush), then, Trump’s grand strategy is a “contradictory combination of hawkish militarism and strategic retrenchment,”[208] relying on unilateralism, militarism, aggressive threats, and the strategic support from authoritarian leaders abroad. Trump’s record is evidence that he is an interventionist.[209] After promising to end the war in Afghanistan on the campaign trail, Trump increased the number of U.S. troops on the ground as president.[210] President Trump dramatically increased the number of lethal drone strikes compared to the number launched during the Obama administration.[211] He also sanctioned cruise missile strikes against targets controlled by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria in April 2017 as a response to a chemical weapons attack against the inhabitants of Idlib province earlier that month.[212] Similarly, in April 2017, Trump declared he had ordered an aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan to serve as a deterrent to North Korean aggression. “We’re sending an armada,” Trump told Fox News.[213] A year later, the United States, in cooperation with Great Britain and France, again carried out strikes against Syrian government targets in response to a chemical weapons attack in Douma.[214] Former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, sees Trump’s national security policy as not one of retrenchment, but rather as “revisionist and interventionist” because it seeks regime change in Syria, Iran, and Venezuela.[215] Scholars such as Charles A. Kupchan and Graham Allison therefore gravely misunderstand not just the history of U.S. foreign relations but Trump’s foreign policy when they assert that Trump’s America First is a revival of isolationism. Prior to World War II, Kupchan argues,
American exceptionalism meant insulating the American experiment from foreign threats, shunning international entanglements, spreading democracy through example rather than intrusion, embracing protectionism and fair (not free) trade, and preserving a relatively homogeneous citizenry through racist and anti-immigrant policies. In short, it was about America first.[216]
Not only is Kupchan wrong that Trump is embracing isolationism, he is also mistaken in thinking that America has a history of isolationism to revive.[217] As this article has shown, isolationism as a 19th century U.S. foreign policy tradition is a myth.[218] It certainly does not have anything in common with Mead’s Jacksonianism, as seen earlier. [quote id="8"] Historical accuracy aside, Kupchan’s argument also gets Trump’s contemporary policies wrong when he argues that, “Trump has cloaked himself in isolationist garb, repeatedly questioning the value of core U.S. alliances in Europe and Asia.”[219] Trump did seemingly promise retrenchment — if not isolationism — on the campaign trail.[220] Rather than retrench however, President Trump has increased troop deployments in Afghanistan, threatened war with North Korea, supported the Saudi-led war in Yemen, threatened war with Iran, and consistently promoted a military power build-up including the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the launching of a “Space Force.”[221] While Trump’s strategy for the use of U.S. military power is unilateral — e.g., his strike against Syria in 2017 and his general approach to North Korea and Iran — it is not isolationist nor a strategy of retrenchment.[222] What separates Trump from those in U.S. history who are often labeled isolationists is the same thing that separates him from the foreign policy establishment in general: his material, as opposed to ideational, definition of “American exceptionalism.”[223] As Trump put it on Twitter, “I will make our Military so big, powerful & strong that no one will mess with us.”[224] Trump’s foreign policy represents the Jacksonian skepticism “about the United States’ policy of global engagement and liberal order building,” a skepticism that comes “more from a lack of trust in the people shaping foreign policy than from a desire for a specific alternative vision.”[225] It is not principled non-interventionism, rather it is a rejection of the liberal part of the world order. It is a materialist, militarist, unilateral kind of internationalism, not isolationism.

IV. Conclusion: “The End of American Exceptionalism”?

Trump’s foreign policy approach raises important questions about the future of American exceptionalism as a national narrative and its role in U.S. foreign policy. First, regarding foreign policy: Does the Trump era really matter all that much, if the next president can simply reverse course? In other words, is it possible for the next U.S. administration to snap back to a pre-Trump era when there was bipartisan consensus that the United States should play a leadership role in the liberal international order, even if there were disagreements about what that leadership style should look like? Second, regarding the American national narrative: If a snap-back is not possible, does that mean we have finally arrived at the “end of American exceptionalism”?[226] I argue that a snap-back is unlikely because it is increasingly unwanted by important voices in both parties. Ultimately, the future of U.S. foreign policy depends on how thoughtfully American politicians approach this fork in the road. Rethinking U.S. grand strategy in the post-Trump era will require a more nuanced reflection about what American exceptionalism means than has been the norm in American political history up until this point. Trump and the Liberal International Order: Can the United States Snap Back? Is it possible for the first post-Trump president to “‘snap back’ to the status quo ante” and pretend that the Trump presidency never happened?[227] Given all of the benefits the United States has accrued from its hegemonic position in the world, it would be natural to assume American elites in both parties will try. In terms of the Republican Party, I argue that Trump’s wholesale rejection of the master narrative underlying the U.S. commitment to the liberal international order makes this a difficult task. Having embraced America First — despite some important policy disagreements on issues such as Syria[228] — any attempt at a snap back from the Trump presidency by the GOP faces the risk of being seen as non-credible by both domestic and foreign audiences.[229] Furthermore, because of the growing dissatisfaction in both parties with the prior foreign policy consensus,[230] it is entirely possible that another populist nationalist — perhaps next time from the left — will win an election in the future and further remove the United States from its leadership role abroad. For allies, therefore, the United States is a less reliable partner, and will continue to be so unless it produces a new and credible internationalist foreign policy alternative to Trumpism that appeals to important actors in both parties.[231] This alternative must be rooted in a credible and unifying national narrative. Trump vs. American Exceptionalism: A Republican Walk-Over? According to Leffler, America First means
minimizing obligations to allies, treating everyone as a competitor, freeing the United States from the restrictions imposed by multilateral institutions, seeking trade advantages through bilateral negotiations, building up military power, befriending dictators if they support him, and acting unilaterally in a zero-sum framework of international politics.[232]
The goal is to get ahead, and getting ahead means leaving others behind. This means America First is, in important respects, a significant departure from neoconservatism, the heretofore paradigmatic Republican ideals-based foreign policy as defined in the post-Cold War years, particularly those of George W. Bush. More than anything else, the America First agenda and its rejection of American exceptionalism was why neoconservatives rebelled against the Trump candidacy and formed the NeverTrump movement.[233] Given what we know of Bush’s faith and his strong belief in American exceptionalism, his view of the missionary role the United States could and should play in world history arguably influenced how he viewed Iraq and the “Global War on Terror.”[234] As the invasion of Iraq was underway, in a televised address, Bush said, “To all the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you.”[235] That is not to say that material factors such as oil have not been an important goal of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East since before World War II, or that such concerns have not eclipsed liberal democratic goals on many occasions. But, allowing for a complex interplay of material interests and liberal ideals guiding U.S. foreign policy, there is still quite a distance between the rhetoric and policy of Bush, and Trump’s statement that “we want to keep the oil” in Iraq “to reimburse ourselves.”[236] Rex Tillerson made explicit the divorcing of ideals from interests in his second speech as secretary of state: “I think it is really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values… . Our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated — those are our values. Those are not our policies.”[237] The late Sen. John McCain immediately criticized the speech in an op-ed, defending the traditional bipartisan consensus on U.S. foreign policy: “Our values are our strength and greatest treasure. We are distinguished from other countries because we are not made from a land or tribe or particular race or creed, but from an ideal that liberty is the inalienable right of mankind and in accord with nature and nature’s Creator.”[238] Allies appreciated McCain’s efforts.[239] Indeed, McCain seemed at times to serve as “shadow secretary of state” when he disagreed with the president’s foreign policies.[240] Yet although there are Republican Party members who disagree with Trump’s foreign policy,[241] McCain’s vocal opposition to Trump was rather unique in his party. Those Republican lawmakers who disagree with Trumpism either stay quiet and vote with the party, or find themselves retiring — whether willingly or not.[242] Thus, despite a few internationalist voices, allies are having a hard time recognizing the Republican Party they thought they knew.[243] The explanation for all this might be that the Republican Party itself has changed. Indeed, despite many Republicans disagreeing with Trump, he has still managed to successfully take over the party: First, by attaining its nomination, and second by winning over many important conservatives who initially were skeptical.[244] The Republican journey from condemning Buchanan’s radical rhetoric in the 1990s to first, tacitly accepting and then, mainstreaming Trump is an important part of this development. “Over the last two and a half decades,” write Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, “the GOP has mutated from a traditional conservative party into an insurgent force that threatens the norms and institutions of American democracy.”[245] Trump did not cause this populist, nationalist moment as much as reap the benefits of the long-term trajectory of the GOP and its narrowing voter base. As Lilliana Mason shows, the Republican Party has increasingly come to represent “the white, Christian, male and rural elements of the U.S. electorate.”[246] Trump’s version of “America First” is devoid of historic mission or religious election, but it is not “primacy without a purpose,” as Barry Posen has labeled it.[247] Rather, it has a nationalist, protectionist, and populist purpose, rooted in an ascriptive master narrative. Future paeans to American exceptionalism of the sort that Marco Rubio made in the 2016 campaign would ironically be a rebuke of Trump’s presidency.[248] At best, the current Republican Party is unsure of what “America” should mean at home and abroad. At worst, it has changed its mind entirely. In short, while the GOP may try to return to the status quo ante in a post-Trump future, they still have to fill a significant credibility gap in order to do so successfully. Bipartisan Re-evaluation of “The Blob” Significantly, both political parties are rethinking what the United States’ role in the world should be, which is why it is unlikely that there will be a wholesale return to the previous bipartisan consensus regarding U.S. primacy and leadership in the international order, no matter who wins the next presidential election.[249] Trump is not the only person who is severely dissatisfied with America’s post-Cold War foreign policy.[250] Nor is he the only one who thinks “exceptionalism is not a nice term.”[251] Obama’s answer to the Strasbourg question in 2009 was a clear rebuke of his predecessor’s moralistic exceptionalism. Trump’s less eloquent response in April 2015 was, in a way, communicating the same idea as Obama: It is offensive to say to the world, “we are superior to you.” [quote id="9"] Obama’s struggle with American power and ideals was an early sign of the re-evaluation and recalibration of U.S. grand strategy that was underway. Obama consciously distanced himself from the D.C. foreign-policy elites his adviser Ben Rhodes derisively nicknamed “the Blob.”[252] In the end, many liberals were disappointed in the limited amount of “change,” but the Obama era was a sign of a dissolving foreign policy consensus.[253] This was especially evident in the complex and tragic case of Syria, where reasonable people could disagree on whether and how much the United States should have intervened. After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on the people of Ghouta in August 2013, Obama stated,
America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer in the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.[254]
To many European allies, this was refreshingly different from the perceived moralism and arrogance of the George W. Bush administration. Obama’s more constrained view of what the United States should represent in the world signaled a growing internal debate in the Democratic Party that somewhat mirrors the one found in the Republican Party:[255] Does American exceptionalism entail endless U.S. military engagement around the world? Americans — and many others — are understandably skeptical about such a proposition. According to a national survey by the Eurasia Group Foundation,
A plurality of Republicans and Independents believe America’s focus should be on building a healthy democracy at home and avoiding foreign conflicts. Democrats believe peace is best achieved through economic integration and free trade. “Peace through military strength,” associated with neoconservative hawks, and the “democracy promotion” approach associated with liberal interventionism received significantly less support.[256]
There is an important generational profile to this debate. In the 2017 Chicago Council Survey on generational attitudes toward U.S. foreign policy, Millennials were less inclined than Generation X-ers, Boomers, and the Silent Generation to embrace the idea that the United States is “the greatest country in the world.” Only one-quarter of Millenials saw the need for the United States to be “the dominant world leader.”[257] In other words, no matter who wins the presidency in 2020, an attempt at a snap-back might be unwanted by significant groups of voters in both parties. Does This Mean the End of American Exceptionalism? When Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell argued for the “end” of American exceptionalism after the Watergate scandal and Vietnam War in 1975, he did so because he found that the “belief in American exceptionalism has vanished with the end of empire, the weakening of power, the loss of faith in the nation’s future.”[258] As it happens, this sentiment is strikingly similar to the disillusionment Peter Beinart finds when reviewing the memoirs of three Obama-era foreign policy officials. Indeed, writes Beinart, “it’s possible to read their books not only as tales of tempered idealism but also as chronicles of America’s declining exceptionalism.”[259] Could it be that after several exaggerated reports of its death, the end of American exceptionalism is here? Let us look at what happened last time: Bell failed to predict the rise of Reagan and the strong comeback of American exceptionalism. If history is any guide, perhaps the next president will restore America’s sense of exceptionalism and purpose in the world like Reagan did in the 1980s. The counterpoint is that this time it might actually be different — and that it should be different. Jimmy Carter — the president Reagan was reacting to — never negated American exceptionalism. He instead rebuked previous American foreign policy from the viewpoint of exceptionalism itself: “we can be better, if we try.” It was a familiar American rhetorical tradition — the lament of having fallen short of American exceptional ideals. No president or presidential candidate between 1945 and 2012 argued that the United States is unexceptional and has no role to play in the fight for liberal values around the globe. That powerful national agreement on what role the United States is supposed to play in world history because of what kind of nation the United States is believed to be held, in the end, for a rather short American century. The United States has thus arrived at a fork in the road. There is still strong support for continued international engagement among Americans,[260] but there is also an undeniable weakening of the U.S. foreign policy consensus. This dissolving 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.”[261] At the heart of this moment of confusion and dismay is the confrontation between two master narratives: that of American exceptionalism and Jacksonian nationalism. American exceptionalism is an ideational master narrative. It is a story about an ethnically and religiously diverse nation united in adherence to liberal ideas and institutions both at home and abroad. In contrast, the Trump administration’s story of America is ascriptive: It is the story of a white, Christian folk community with materialist interests to pursue abroad. Yet, Trump did not create this moment. Before Trump’s presidential campaign, in 2014, the American National Election Study found that only 45 percent of Millennials “consider their American identity as extremely important.”[262] The narrative contestation currently underway must be addressed properly because the United States — and its foreign policy — needs a master narrative. Americans need a story about who they are, where they come from, and where they are going. American exceptionalism has proven to be a very useful civic narrative for a nation that cannot unite around shared ethnicity or religion. Indeed, it might be the only possible narrative going forward for a country whose ethnic and cultural identities are increasingly diverse, yet increasingly divided along party lines.[263] Leadership based on liberal ideals and institutions — rather than ascriptive characteristics — is also still the most attractive vision any great power in history has had to offer. According to Bell, American exceptionalism in foreign policy was supposed to be about the belief that the United States would be different from previous world empires in the exercise of power because it was democratic.[264] Given the imperfect execution of the liberal part of the order in the past,[265] however, if the United States wants to reclaim the leadership position Trump is currently forfeiting, it will need more than formulaic invocations of America as a “city on a Hill” or nostalgic paeans to a liberal world order that never quite was.[266] It will need an updated story of “America” in the world, a story that acknowledges the problems with the “liberal world order” to address the concerns of the next generation of Americans, allies, and adversaries.[267] A fresh discussion of what the United States can contribute to the world would entail leaving behind exceptionalist ideas of U.S. superiority and rather focus on securing a future that global advocates of liberal democracy can work together to achieve.[268] After Trump comes a moment of opportunity: not to simply put the U.S. ship in reverse, but rather, to plot out a new course.   Hilde Eliassen Restad is associate professor of international studies at Bjørknes University College in Oslo, Norway. A Fulbright alumna, she has a Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and is the author of American Exceptionalism: An Idea that Made a Nation and Remade the World (Routledge, 2015).   Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the following colleagues for their valuable feedback on the various stages of this manuscript: Melvyn P. Leffler, Nadim Khoury, Stephen Pampinella, panelists at the 2018 ISSS-IS conference, panelists at the 2018 BISA U.S. Foreign Policy Working Group Conference, Chris White and my colleagues at Bjørknes University College. A sincere thank you to the thorough and highly efficient editors Galen Jackson, Doyle Hodges, and Megan Oprea at TNSR as well as to the anonymous reviewers.   Image: Patrick Kelley [post_title] => Whither the “City Upon a Hill”? Donald Trump, America First, and American Exceptionalism [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => whither-the-city-upon-a-hill-donald-trump-america-first-and-american-exceptionalism [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-12-18 13:09:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-12-18 18:09:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=2301 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In order to understand Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda, we must examine the master narrative that underpins it. Trump breaks with all modern presidents not just because he challenges the postwar “liberal international order,” but because he rejects its underlying master narrative — American exceptionalism. America First relies instead on the narrative of Jacksonian nationalism. What makes America great, according to this narrative, is not a diverse nation unified in its adherence to certain liberal ideals, but rather ethnocultural homogeneity, material wealth, and military prowess. In this view, the United States is unexceptional, and therefore has no mission to pursue abroad. By shedding light on this alternative master narrative, we can better understand Trump’s presidency, his grand strategy, and why a return to the status quo ante after Trump is unlikely. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 3, Iss 1 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Trump’s grand strategy is different in kind, and not just in degree, from U.S. postwar foreign policy because it rejects the underlying master narrative of American exceptionalism. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => If one questions American exceptionalism, and the idea that it connotes superiority rather than simply difference, one’s Americanness may itself be questioned.  ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => In addition to being viewed as a “superior” republic, the United States is also on a world historic “mission” according to the narrative of American exceptionalism. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The influence of American exceptionalism on the framing and content of U.S. foreign policy took on a new force after the Cold War ended. Indeed, Americans interpreted the Cold War’s end as a reaffirmation of American exceptionalism. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => With the attack on Pearl Harbor and eventual Allied victory in World War II, “America First” became synonymous with having been on the wrong side of history. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => When it comes to the military, though, Jacksonians are looser with the purse strings and are more trusting of the military establishment. ) [6] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => This kind of ethnic nationalism represents a commonality between the Jacksonian tradition and the America First Committee, as well as Buchanan’s revival of the America First political brand. ) [7] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => While Trump’s strategy for the use of U.S. military power is unilateral — e.g., his strike against Syria in 2017 and his general approach to North Korea and Iran — it is not isolationist nor a strategy of retrenchment. ) [8] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => In short, while the GOP may try to return to the status quo ante in a post-Trump future, they still have to fill a significant credibility gap in order to do so successfully. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 341 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] “President Harry S. Truman’s Address before a Joint Session of Congress, March 12, 1947,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/trudoc.asp; also known as the “Truman Doctrine.” [2] Donald J. Trump “The Inaugural Address,” The White House, Jan. 20, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address/. [3] Peter Feaver, “What Is Grand Strategy and Why Do We Need It?” Foreign Policy, April 8, 2009, https://foreignpolicy.com/2009/04/08/what-is-grand-strategy-and-why-do-we-need-it/. [4] See, e.g., the special issue on the liberal order by Foreign Affairs: “Out of Order? The Future of the International System,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 1 (January/February 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2017/96/1; Doug Stokes, “Trump, American Hegemony, and the Future of the Liberal International Order,” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (January 2018): 133–50, https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix238; and Robert L. Jervis, Francis Gavin, Joshua Rovner, and Diane Labrosse, eds., Chaos in the Liberal Order: The Trump Presidency and International Politics in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018). [5] See, Ronald R. Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 13–15. [6] Jason A. Edwards and David Weiss, eds., The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2011). [7] See, e.g., John Gerard Ruggie, “The Past as Prologue? Interests, Identity, and American Foreign Policy,” International Security 21, no. 4 (Spring 1997): 89–125, https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.21.4.89; G. John Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Henry R. Nau, At Home Abroad: Identity and Power in American Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002); Jeffrey W. Legro, Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Karl K. Schonberg, Constructing 21st Century U.S. Foreign Policy: Identity, Ideology, and America's World Role in a New Era (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Michael C. Desch, “America’s Liberal Illiberalism: The Ideological Origins of Overreaction in U.S. Foreign Policy,” International Security 32 no. 3 (Winter 2007/08): 7–43,https://www.jstor.org/stable/30130517; Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security; and Hilde Eliassen Restad, American Exceptionalism: An Idea that Made a Nation and Remade the World (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2015). [8] See, for instance, Robert Osgood, Ideals and Self-Interest in America’s Foreign Relations (Chicago: Phoenix Books, 1953/1964); Stephen M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America's Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2018); John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018). [9] For the ongoing debate over the scope and nature of the “liberal international order,” see, for example, James Goldgeier, “The Misunderstood Roots of International Order — and Why They Matter Again,” Washington Quarterly 41, no. 3 (2018): 7–20, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2018.1519339; Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry, “Liberal World: The Resilient Order,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 4 (July/August 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-06-14/liberal-world; Patrick Porter, “A World Imagined: Nostalgia and Liberal Order,” CATO Institute, Policy Analysis No. 843, June 5, 2018, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/world-imagined-nostalgia-liberal-order. [10] Jason Gilmore, Penelope Sheets, and Charles Rowling, “Make No Exception, Save One: American Exceptionalism, the American Presidency, and the Age of Obama,” Communication Monographs 83, no. 4 (2016): 10, https://doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2016.1182638. [11] Walter Russell Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt: American Populism and the Liberal Order,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 2 (March/April 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-01-20/jacksonian-revolt. For a counterargument, see, Elliot Abrams, “Trump the Traditionalist: A Surprisingly Standard Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 4 (July/August 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-06-13/trump-traditionalist. [12] Media attention has so far been more attuned to this than scholars have. Some journalists laud this development, such as Janan Ganesh, who argues Trump has merely dropped the “pretense” in favor of “interest-driven statecraft.” See, “Donald Trump Drops the Pretense on American Exceptionalism,” Financial Times, Nov. 28, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/e292150a-f270-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d. Daniel Sargent, on the other hand, laments that Trump has ended American exceptionalism by suggesting it is no better than Russia. See, “RIP American Exceptionalism, 1776-2018,” Foreign Policy, July 23, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/23/rip-american-exceptionalism-1776-2018/. Scholarship on how American exceptionalism, understood as a narrative, influences Trump’s foreign policy approach has so far been scarce, but see, Stephen Wertheim, “Trump and American Exceptionalism: Why a Crippled America Is Something New,” Foreign Affairs, Jan. 3, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-01-03/trump-and-american-exceptionalism; Stephen Wertheim “Policy Series: Donald Trump Versus American Exceptionalism: Toward the Sources of Trumpian Conduct,” H-Diplo | ISSF POLICY Series America and the World – 2017 and Beyond, Feb. 1, 2017, https://issforum.org/roundtables/policy/1-5k-trump-exceptionalism. For an early article, published before the presidential election, see, Anatol Lieven, “Clinton and Trump: Two Faces of American Nationalism,” Survival 58, no. 5 (2016): 7­–22, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2016.1231526. For scholarly work examining Trump’s rhetoric on American exceptionalism, see, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Doron Taussig, “Disruption, Demonization, Deliverance, and Norm Destruction: The Rhetorical Signature of Donald J. Trump,” Political Science Quarterly 132, no. 4 (Winter 2017-2018): 619–50; Jason A. Edwards, “Make America Great Again: Donald Trump and Redefining the U.S. Role in the World,” Communication Quarterly 66, no. 2 (2018): 176–95, https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2018.1438485. [13] Pete Vernon, “Lie? Falsehood? What to Call the President’s Words,” Columbia Journalism Review May 29, 2018, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/trump-lie-falsehood.php. [14]  Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, “President Trump Has Made 10, 796 False or Misleading Claims Over 869 Days,” Washington Post, June 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/10/president-trump-has-made-false-or-misleading-claims-over-days/. [15] Charlie Laderman and Brendan Simms, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View, rev. ed. (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017), 98–99. See also, Colin Kahl and Hal Brands, “Trump’s Grand Strategic Train Wreck,” Foreign Policy, Jan. 31, 2017, https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/31/trumps-grand-strategic-train-wreck/. [16] See, Jason Gilmore and Charles M. Rowling, “Partisan Patriotism in the American Presidency: American Exceptionalism, Issue Ownership, and the Age of Trump,” Mass Communication and Society 22, no. 3 (2019): 389–416, https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2018.1559334. [17] I thank Reviewer 1 for pointing this out. General skepticism of international institutions and multilateralism is as American as apple pie in both parties, but has been more pronounced in the Republican party since Woodrow Wilson. However, economic protectionism has never before in the post-World War II era been promoted by a Republican president to the extent seen with Trump. See also Part III of this article. [18] David Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism,’” Mother Jones, June 7, 2016, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/donald-trump-american-exceptionalism/. For a different view, see, Edwards, “Make America Great Again,” 177. [19] See Part II for a discussion of what “exemplar” means in regard to U.S. foreign policy and American exceptionalism. [20] Donald Trump, “The Inaugural Address.” [21] I am indebted to Melvyn P. Leffler for discussing this with me. [22] See Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt.” See also, Taesuh Cha, “The Return of Jacksonianism: The International Implications of the Trump Phenomenon,” Washington Quarterly 39, no. 4 (2016): 83–97, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2016.1261562. [23] For a discussion of the ascriptive tradition, see, Rogers M. Smith, Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999); and see also, Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century, rev. ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2017). [24] Restad, American Exceptionalism. [25] A note on terminology: Any study of national identity in the United States has to deal with the issue of what to call the United States of America. Americans themselves often refer to their country as “America.” This terminology is problematic, however, especially to inhabitants of other countries located in the Americas. When writing on American exceptionalism, however, the term “America” has specific meaning. It is an expression of the national tendency to elevate the United States above others (such as those neighboring countries in the Americas). I thank Trevor McCrisken for these insights. [26] See, Hilde Eliassen Restad, “American Exceptionalism,” in, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior, ed. Fathali M. Moghaddam (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2017), 24–27. For a contrary view, see, Seymour Martin Lipset, American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996). [27] Quoted in, Hans Kohn, American Nationalism: An Interpretative Essay (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1957), 13. [28] Trevor McCrisken, American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam: U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1974 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003), 1. [29] See, Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security, 13–15. [30] Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security. See also, Michael H. Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987); Deborah Madsen, American Exceptionalism (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1998); and Nadim Khoury, “Plotting Stories After War: Toward a Methodology for Negotiating Identity,” European Journal of International Relations 24, no. 2 (2018), 367–90, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1354066117711743. [31] See, for instance, Jack P. Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993). [32] Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1955). [33] Lieven, “Clinton and Trump,” 11. [34] Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy; Madsen, American Exceptionalism; McCrisken, American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam; Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997); Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right (New York: Hill & Wang, 1995); Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World (New York: Routledge, 2002); Restad, American Exceptionalism. [35] The Puritans are often credited with an early version of an exceptionalist narrative. See, for instance, Stephanson, Manifest Destiny; and Sacvan Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission, American Quarterly 30, no. 2 (Summer 1978): 135–55, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2712320. That is not to say they created a kind of homogeneous, constant national identity seamlessly kept through history. See, Richard M. Gamble, In Search for the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth (New York: Continuum Books, 2012). The exceptionalist narrative was, however, present throughout the 1800s. When Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, “[t]he position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one,” he pointed back to their “strictly Puritanical origin,” as the first factor explaining this exceptionalism. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, volume II, chapter IX, “The Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That A Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and No Taste for Science, Literature, Or Art.” Access at, http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/toc_indx.html. See also, Rahul Sharma, American Civil Religion and the Puritan Antecedents of American Foreign Policy, PhD Thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (2019). [36] This definition builds on McCrisken, “Exceptionalism,” in, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy Vol. 2, 2nd ed., ed. Alexander DeConde et al. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002), 64–65. I develop this more in detail in, Restad, American Exceptionalism. [37] McCrisken, American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam; Daniel T. Rodgers, “American Exceptionalism Revisited,” Raritan Review 24, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 21–47; Restad, American Exceptionalism. [38] See, Tom W. Smith and Seokho Kim, “National Pride in Comparative Perspective: 1995/96 and 2003/04,” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 18, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 127–36, https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edk007. [39] Jason A. Edwards, Navigating the Post-Cold War World: President Clinton’s Foreign Policy Rhetoric (Washington, DC: Lexington Books, 2008); Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon”; Rico Neumann and Kevin Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency: A Quantitative Assessment,” 11–31, in, The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism. [40] Jason Gilmore, “American Exceptionalism in the American Mind: Presidential Discourse, National Identity, and U.S. Public Opinion,” Communication Studies 66, no. 3 (2015): 301–20, https://doi.org/10.1080/10510974.2014.991044. [41] Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry, “An Exceptional Debate: The Obama Administration’s Assault on American identity,” National Review, March 8, 2010, https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2010/03/08/exceptional-debate/. [42] See, for example, Ian Vásquez and Tania Porčnik, “The Human Freedom Index 2017: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom,” Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf. [43] See Restad, “Conclusion,” in, American Exceptionalism. [44] Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America. [45] Monica Crowley, “American Exceptionalism…” Washington Times, July 1, 2009, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/1/american-exceptionalism/. [46] Robert Schlesinger, “Obama Has Mentioned ‘American Exceptionalism’ More than Bush,” U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 31, 2011, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2011/01/31/obama-has-mentioned-american-exceptionalism-more-than-bush. [47] From, Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 275. Also see, Henri Tajfel, Social Identity and Intergroup Relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982). [48] Crowley, “American Exceptionalism”; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 1. [49] The seminal work here is Gerstle’s American Crucible. [50] Robert Kagan, Dangerous Nation: America’s Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century (New York: Knopf, 2006), 12. [51] Because of Roosevelt’s understanding of European nations as themselves mixed, and of (white) Americans as a result of this mix, Gerstle did not label Roosevelt’s view “ethnic nationalism,” because Gerstle defined this as a European-style ethnic nationalism viewing a Volk as “pure biological entities” as with the Ku Klux Klan. Gerstle, American Crucible, 14–43; 44–45. [52] See, Rogers Brubaker, “The Manichean Myth: Rethinking the Distinction Between ‘Civic’ and ‘Ethnic’ Nationalism,” in, Nation and National Identity: The European Experience in Perspective, ed. Hanspeter Kriesl et al. (Zurich: Ruegger, 1999), 55–73. [53] Smith, Civic Ideals; Gerstle, American Crucible, 59. [54] For a detailed discussion of this debate in various eras in U.S. history, see, Restad, American Exceptionalism. For an overview of the debates at the turn of the century, when the United States is widely seen as becoming a world power, see, Christopher McKnight Nichols, Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). [55] Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [56] Paul T. McCartney, “Power and Progress: American National Identity, the War of 1898, and the Rise of American Imperialism” Communication Quarterly, no. 191 (2006): 401, quoted in, Jason A. Edwards, “Make America Great Again: Donald Trump and Redefining the U.S. Role in the World,” Communication Quarterly 66, no. 2, (2018): 178, https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2018.1438485. [57] Edwards, “Make America Great Again,” 178. [58] H. W. Brands, What America Owes the World: The Struggle for the Soul of American Foreign Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), viii, quoted in, Edwards, “Make America Great Again,” 178. [59] See, Dexter Perkins, The American Approach to Foreign Policy rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962); Stanley Hoffmann, Gulliver’s Troubles, Or the Setting of American Foreign Policy (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968); Frank L. Klingberg, Cyclical Trends in American Foreign Policy Moods (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983); Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994); Ruggie, “The Past as Prologue?” [60] Some scholars might ask why use the term at all in this article. I agree that it is an unfortunate term that serves to confuse rather than enlighten debates over U.S. foreign policy. Because it is still — despite much scholarly effort — ubiquitous in popular and scholarly works on U.S. foreign policy, and has been used specifically about Trump, however, I use it in this article. Substituting it for other terms like “nationalism” does not quite work, since nationalism is an ideology and isolationism is a (mythical) foreign policy tradition. I thank Reviewer 1 for asking me to address this. Michael Hunt, “Isolationism: Behind the myth, a usable past,” UNC Press Blog, June 29, 2011, https://uncpressblog.com/2011/06/29/michael-h-hunt-isolationism-behind-the-myth-a-usable-past/. But see also, Nichols, Promise and Peril. [61] Albert Katz Weinberg, Manifest Destiny. A Study in Nationalist Expansionism in American History, 6th ed. (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1935), 122. [62] William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (Cleveland, Ohio: World Pub. Co., 1959); Alexander DeConde, Entangling Alliance: Politics and Diplomacy Under George Washington (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1958). For more recent works, see, Peter Onuf and Nicholas G. Onuf, Federal Union, Modern World: The Law of Nations in an Age of Revolutions, 1776-1814 (Indianapolis, IN: Madison House: 1993); McDougall, Promised land, Crusader State; Manfred Jonas, “Isolationism,” in, Alexander DeConde et al., eds., Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, Vol. II, 2nd ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002). [63] See, for example, Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981); and, Matthew Karp, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). [64] Peter S. Onuf, Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 2000), 13–14; also chap. 1. [65] Thomas R. Hietala, Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003); Ernest N. Paolino, The Foundations of the American Empire: William Henry Seward and U.S. Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973); William Earl Weeks, John Quincy Adams and American Global Empire (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1992); and William Earl Weeks, Building the Continental Empire: American Expansion from the Revolution to the Civil War (Chicago, Ill.: Ivan R. Dee, 1996). [66] Thomas A. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People (New York: F. S. Crofts and Co., 1950), 520, cited in, Edward McNall Burns, America’s Idea of Mission: Concepts of National Purpose and Destiny (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1957), 8. [67] “The White Man’s Burden” was a poem written by Rudyard Kipling originally published in the popular magazine McClure’s in 1899, with the subtitle “The United States and the Philippine Islands.[68] See, Weinberg, Manifest Destiny, esp. chaps. 1, 2, and 4. [69] Stephanson, Manifest Destiny. [70] Charles A. Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms: A New Fight Over an Old Idea,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 2 (March/April 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-02-13/clash-exceptionalisms. [71] Bear F. Braumoeller, “The Myth of American Isolationism,” Foreign Policy Analysis 6, no. 4 (October 2010): 349–71, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-8594.2010.00117.x; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [72] Williams, The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy; DeConde, Entangling Alliance. [73] In addition to the classic revisionist historians, see also, Richard W. Van Alstyne, The Rising American Empire (Chicago, Ill: Quadrangle Books, 1965); Paolino, The Foundations of the American Empire; Hietala, Manifest Design. [74] See, for example, Charles Kupchan, who argues that the only exception to the isolationism of the 1800s was 1898, when the United States “did experiment” with “broader imperialism,” which then supposedly caused an isolationist backlash. Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms.” [75] Greg Grandin, “The Strange Career of American Exceptionalism,” The Nation, Dec. 6, 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/the-strange-career-of-american-exceptionalism/. [76] Roger Cohen, “Obama’s American Idea,” New York Times, Dec. 10, 2007, https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/10/opinion/10cohen.html. [77] Restad, American Exceptionalism, 6. [78] Jeffrey K. Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Rob P. Saldin, “William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 41, no. 1 (March 2011): 119–34, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5705.2010.03833.x. [79] Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 273. [80] Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security, 14. [81] Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security. [82] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 18. [83] Gardin, “The Strange Career of American Exceptionalism.” [84] Edwards, Navigating the Post-Cold War World; Edwards and Weiss, The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism; Pease, The New American Exceptionalism; Megan D. McFarlane, “Visualizing the Rhetorical Presidency: Barack Obama in the Situation Room,” Visual Communication Quarterly 23, no. 1 (2016): 3–13, https://doi.org/10.1080/15551393.2015.1105105; Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon.” [85] James W. Ceaser, Glen E. Thuerow, Jeffrey K. Tulis, and Joseph M. Bessette, “The Rise of the Rhetorical Presidency,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 11, no. 2 (Spring 1981): 158–71; Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency; Saldin, “William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency.” [86] McCrisken, American Exceptionalism; Nau, At Home Abroad; Legro, Rethinking the World; Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security; Restad, American Exceptionalism. [87] “The City Upon a Hill Speech,” Address of President-Elect John F. Kennedy Delivered to a Joint Convention of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The State House, Boston, Jan. 9, 1961, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/OYhUZE2Qo0-ogdV7ok900A.aspx. [88] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 18. [89] Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 288. [90] Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security, 14. [91] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 26. [92] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 23. [93] See, for example, Heather Hulbert, “More Diplomacy, Less Intervention, But for What? Making Sense of the Grand Strategy Debate,” Lawfare, June 7, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/more-diplomacy-less-intervention-what-making-sense-grand-strategy-debate. [94] George Bush, “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” Jan. 28, 1992, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-before-joint-session-the-congress-the-state-the-union-0, emphasis mine. [95] Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” National Interest, no. 16 (Summer 1989): 3–18, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24027184. [96] George F. Will, “The End of Our Holiday from History,” Washington Post, Sept. 12, 2001, https://wapo.st/2BkTVIb. [97] Uri Friedman, “Democratic Platform Swaps ‘American Exceptionalism’ for ‘Indispensable Nation,’” Sept. 4, 2012, https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/09/04/democratic-platform-swaps-american-exceptionalism-for-indispensable-nation/. [98] Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, “Interview on NBC-TV ‘The Today Show’ with Matt Lauer, Columbus, Ohio,” U.S. Department of State, Feb. 19, 1998, https://1997-2001.state.gov/statements/1998/980219a.html. [99] Quoted in, Uri Friedman, “‘American Exceptionalism’: A Short History,” Foreign Policy, June 18, 2012, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/18/american_exceptionalism. [100] Hal Brands, “Choosing Primacy: U.S. Strategy and Global Order at the Dawn of the Post-Cold War Era,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 2 (February 2018): 8–33, http://hdl.handle.net/2152/63941; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 7. [101] Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946), cited in, Lloyd E. Ambrosius, Wilsonianism: Woodrow Wilson and His Legacy in American Foreign Relations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 16. [102] Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security, 13. [103] Goddard and Krebs, “Rhetoric, Legitimation, and Grand Strategy.” [104] Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security, 3. [105] “President George W. Bush Addressed a Joint Session of Congress on the Subject of the War on Terrorism,” Sept. 20, 2001, https://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/2000-/President-George-W--Bush-addressed-a-Joint-Session-of-Congress-on-the-subject-of-the-war-on-terrorism/. [106] “President George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address,” Jan. 20, 2005, emphasis added, quoted in, Daniel W. Drezner, “The Realist Tradition in American Public Opinion,” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 1 (March 2008): 53, https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592708080067. [107] Quoted in, Schlesinger, “Obama Has Mentioned ‘American Exceptionalism’ More than Bush.” See, for example, Trevor McCrisken, “Obama’s Drone War,” Survival 55, no. 2 (2013): 97–122, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2013.784469. [108] “Barack Obama's Remarks to the Democratic National Convention,” New York Times, July 27, 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/politics/campaign/barack-obamas-remarks-to-the-democratic-national.html, emphasis mine. [109] William I. Hitchcock, “How the GOP Embraced the World — and then Turned Away,” Politico Magazine, July 13, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/07/13/gop-isolationism-trump-eisenhower-219003; David Farber, “America First and International Trade Policy in the Cold War Era,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and William Hitchcock, Passport (September 2018): 39–41, https://shafr.org/sites/default/files/passport-09-2018-america-first-essays.pdf. [110] Farber, “America First and International Trade Policy in the Cold War Era,” 40. [111] I would like to thank Reviewer 1 for pointing this out. [112] See, Mitt Romney, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010); Ashley Parker, “Romney Makes His Pitch to Social Conservatives and Attacks Obama,” New York Times, March 31, 2012, https://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/romney-makes-his-pitch-to-social-conservatives-and-attacks-obama/. [113] “2012 Republican Party Platform,” Aug. 27, 2012, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/2012-republican-party-platform#american. [114] For more on this, and how Trump diverges, see, Gilmore and Rowling, “Partisan Patriotism in the American Presidency.” [115] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [116] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [117] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [118] According to Stewart M. Patrick, Trump “has undermined Western solidarity with repeated assaults on NATO and the G-7 and repudiation of the international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He has threatened to leave the World Trade Organization and blocked judicial appointments to its appellate body. He has repudiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, forced the renegotiation of NAFTA into a more closed deal, slapped aluminum and steel tariffs on U.S. allies on dubious national security grounds, and launched an all-out trade war with China… . Most disconcerting, the president himself has embraced a rogues’ gallery of authoritarian thugs, from Kim Jong Un to Xi Jinping, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte.” In other words, by going much further than previous presidents in his critiques of NATO (not simply stating that allies must raise their defense budgets, but embracing NATO’s main adversary — Putin’s Russia — while aggressively attacking NATO allies such as Germany) and by embracing authoritarian leaders instead of liberal democratic allies, Trump has rejected the values underpinning the liberal world order. See, Patrick, “The Liberal World Order Is Dying. What Comes Next?” World Politics Review, Jan. 15, 2019, https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/insights/27192/the-liberal-world-order-is-dying-what-comes-next. [119] Thanks to my colleague Chris White for this phrase. [120] Leffler, “America First: Introduction,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Leffler and Hitchcock, 33. [121] See, Nicole Hemmer, “America First, a Second Time,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Leffler and Hitchcock, 47. [122] Susan Dunn, “Trump’s ‘America First’ Has Ugly Echoes from American History,” CNN, April 28, 2016, https://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/27/opinions/trump-america-first-ugly-echoes-dunn/. [123] Christopher Nichols, “America First, American Isolationism, and the Coming of World War II,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Leffler and Hitchcock, 35. [124] Sarah Churchwell, Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 258. [125] Sean Illing, “How ‘America First’ Ruined the ‘American Dream,’” Vox, Oct. 22, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/10/22/17940964/america-first-trump-sarah-churchwell-american-dream. [126] Nichols, “America First, American Isolationism, and the Coming of World War II,” 35. [127] Nichols, Promise and Peril, chap. 1. See also, Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [128] Churchwell, Behold, America, 43. [129] Churchwell, Behold, America, 45. [130] Churchwell, Behold, America, 48. [131] Quoted in, Churchwell, Behold, America, 84. See also, Laderman and Simms, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View, 10–11. [132] Churchwell, Behold, America, 91. [133] “The Ku-Klux Klan,” Committee on Rules, House of Representatives, Oct. 11, 1921, 120, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.hj1i8v. See also, Churchwell, Behold, America, 288–89. [134] “Bush, Buchanan, and No One at All,” New York Times, March 4, 1992, https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/04/opinion/bush-buchanan-and-no-one-at-all.html [135] “Pat Buchanan in 1992: Make America First Again,” Face the Nation (1992), available on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBm7SZ_WjYY. The appearance on Face the Nation was prior to the New Hampshire primary. [136] Jeff Greenfield, “Trump Is Pat Buchanan with Better Timing,” Politico Magazine (September/October 2016), https://politi.co/2S7NFx1. [137] Greenfield, “Trump Is Pat Buchanan with Better Timing.” [138] Greenfield, “Trump Is Pat Buchanan with Better Timing.” [139] Patrick J. Buchanan, “1992 Republican National Convention Speech,” Patrick J. Buchanan Official Website, Aug. 17, 1992, http://buchanan.org/blog/1992-republican-national-convention-speech-148. [140] Buchanan, “1992 Republican National Convention Speech.” [141] Krishnadev Calamur, “A Short History of ‘America First,’” The Atlantic, Jan. 21, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/trump-america-first/514037/. [142] Mead, Special Providence. [143] Mead, Special Providence, 223. [144] The battle of New Orleans took place after the war was formally over, but the participants in New Orleans were unaware. The battle nevertheless cemented the image of Jackson as a heroic warrior. From the Jackson presidential library: “Jackson’s string of military success, despite the obstacles he faced, the poor results of other military leaders during the War of 1812 and his stunning victory at New Orleans made him a celebrated national hero, revered above all others except George Washington.” See, “War Hero,” Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, https://thehermitage.com/learn/andrew-jackson/general/war-hero/. [145] Daniel Fellner, “Andrew Jackson: Campaigns and Elections,” Miller Center, https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/campaigns-and-elections. [146] Daniel Fellner, “Andrew Jackson: Impact and Legacy,” Miller Center, https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/impact-and-legacy. [147] Mead, Special Providence, 244. [148] Mead, Special Providence, 226. [149] Rogers Brubaker, “Populism and Nationalism,” Nations and Nationalism, April 29, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12522. [150] Brubaker, “Populism and Nationalism,” 224. [151] Mead, Special Providence, 240. [152] Mead, Special Providence, 246. [153] Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt.” [154] Mead, Special Providence, 244. [155] Mead, Special Providence, 226. [156] Mead, Special Providence, 227. [157] Mead, Special Providence, 227. See, David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). [158] Michael Clarke and Anthony Ricketts, “Donald Trump and American Foreign Policy: The Return of the Jacksonian Tradition,” Comparative Strategy, 36, no. 4 (2017): 368, https://doi.org/10.1080/01495933.2017.1361210. [159] Mead, Special Providence, 226–27. [160] Terri Bimes and Quinn Mulroy, “The Rise and Decline of Presidential Populism,” Studies in American Political Development, 18, no. 2 (October 2004): 136–59, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0898588X04000082. [161] Mead, Special Providence, 230. [162] Mark R. Cheathem, “Donald Trump Is Not a Twenty-First Century Andrew Jackson,” The American Historian (2017), https://www.oah.org/tah/issues/2017/february/donald-trump-is-not-a-twenty-first-century-andrew-jackson/. [163] John Torpey, “The End of the World as We Know It? American Exceptionalism in an Age of Disruption,” Sociological Forum 32, no. 4 (December 2017): 25, https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12372. [164] Trump, “Inaugural Address.” [165] Trump, “Inaugural Address.” [166] Goldgeier, “The Misunderstood Roots of International Order,” 11. [167] Hasan Dudar and Deirdre Shesgreen, “Trump’s Long List of Global Trade Deals, Agreements Exited or Renegotiated,” USA Today, Nov. 21, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/11/21/donald-trump-foreign-policy-iran-nafta-russia-mexico-canada-trade/1732952002/. [168] Patrick Gillespie, “Trump Hammers ‘America’s Worst Trade Deal,’” CNN Money, Sept. 27, 2016, https://money.cnn.com/2016/09/27/news/economy/donald-trump-nafta-hillary-clinton-debate/. [169] Ryan Hass, “Trump’s Focus on China Trade: Right Target, Wrong Approach,” Order from Chaos Blog, June 14, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/06/14/trumps-focus-on-china-trade-right-target-wrong-approach/. [170] Martha C. White, “Top Economists Blame Trump’s Protectionist Policies for Global ‘Stagnation,’” NBC News, Oct. 22, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/top-economists-blame-trump-s-protectionist-policies-global-stagnation-n1070036. [171] White, “Top Economists Blame Trump’s Protectionist Policies.” [172] Indeed, as Frank Ninkovich points out, it is similar to President William McKinley’s 1896 campaign slogan, “Patriotism, protection, and prosperity.” Ninkovich, “Trumpism, History, and the Future of US Foreign Relations,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 396. [173] Zeiler, “This Is What Nationalism Looks Like,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 143. [174] Zeiler, “This Is What Nationalism Looks Like,” 143. [175] Zeiler, “This Is What Nationalism Looks Like,” 146. [176] Robert C. Hilderbrand, Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1990). [177] Indeed, his protectionism has been one of his most consistently held policy positions. See, Laderman and Simms, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View. [178] In a campaign speech on trade in Pennsylvania on June 28, 2016, Trump said, “Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export. We can’t continue to do that. This is not some natural disaster, it’s a political and politician-made disaster. … It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism. This is a direct affront to our founding fathers, who — America wanted to be strong. They wanted this country to be strong. They wanted to be independent and they wanted it to be free.” “Read Donald Trump’s Speech on Trade,” Time, June 28, 2016, https://time.com/4386335/donald-trump-trade-speech-transcript/. See also, Dudar and Shesgreen, “Trump’s Long List of Global Trade Deals.” [179] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.” [180] Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 272. [181] Barry R. Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony: Trump’s Surprising Grand Strategy,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 2 (March/April, 2018), https://fam.ag/2FYj1QY. [182] I thank Melvyn P. Leffler for pointing this out. [183] See Smith, Civic Ideals; and Gerstle, American Crucible. [184] Josh Dawsey, “Trump Derides Protections for Immigrants from ‘Shithole Countries,’” Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-shithole-countries-in-oval-office-meeting/2018/01/11/bfc0725c-f711-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html. [185] In December 2015, Trump issued a statement saying, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Jenna Johnson and Abigail Hauslohner, “’I Think Islam Hates Us’: A Timeline of Trump’s Comments About Islam and Muslims,” Washington Post, May 20, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/20/i-think-islam-hates-us-a-timeline-of-trumps-comments-about-islam-and-muslims/. [186] Chris Moody and Kristen Holmes, “Donald Trump's History of Suggesting Obama Is a Muslim,” CNN, Sept. 19, 2015, https://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/18/politics/trump-obama-muslim-birther/index.html. [187] “Donald Trump Presidential Announcement,” C-Span, June 16, 2015, https://www.c-span.org/video/?326473-1/donald-trump-presidential-campaign-announcement. [188] Donald Trump (@realdonaldtrump), “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Twitter, June 14, 2019, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1150381394234941448?s=20. [189] Stuart Rothenberg, “Will There Be Enough White Voters to Elect Donald Trump?” Washington Post, July 7, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/06/07/will-there-be-enough-white-voters-to-elect-donald-trump/. [190] Mike Allen, “Trump’s Next Move: Stick It to Immigration Hardliners,” Axios, Sept. 8, 2017, https://www.axios.com/trumps-next-move-stick-it-to-immigration-hardliners-1513305364-d0631aae-f7bc-4cef-880a-62db9fe42091.html [191] Despite a few exceptions, such as his first inaugural address containing the phrase, “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots,” Trump has largely continued his exclusionary rhetoric while in office. See, Trump, “Inaugural Address,” (2017). [192] Tucker Higgins, “Supreme Court Rules that Trump’s Travel Ban Is Constitutional,” CNBC, June 26, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/26/supreme-court-rules-in-trump-muslim-travel-ban-case.html. [193] The countries are Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, along with North Korea and Venezuela. Vahid Niayesh, “Trump’s Travel Ban Really Was a Muslim Ban, Data Suggests,” Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/26/trumps-muslim-ban-really-was-muslim-ban-thats-what-data-suggest/. [194] Dara Lind, “America’s Immigration Agency Removes ‘Nation of Immigrants’ from Its Mission Statement,” Vox, Feb. 22, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/2/22/17041862/uscis-removes-nation-of-immigrants-from-mission-statement. [195] Jayashri Srikantiah and Shirin Sinnar, “White Nationalism as Immigration Policy,” Stanford Law Review, no. 71 (March 2019), https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/white-nationalism-as-immigration-policy/. [196] Michael Luo, “America’s Exclusionary Past and Present and the Judgment of History,” New Yorker, Aug. 17, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/americas-exclusionary-past-and-present-and-the-judgment-of-history. [197] Norway is generally viewed as a white, Christian country. This is largely correct, although the demographics are changing. As of 2018, Norway consisted of 85.9 percent native Norwegians (this includes a small Sami population as well as 3.2 percent born to non-native parents). The largest immigrant community in Norway is Polish. See, “Fjorten present av befolkningen er innvandrere,” Statistics Norway (SSB), March 5, 2018, https://www.ssb.no/befolkning/artikler-og-publikasjoner/14-prosent-av-befolkningen-er-innvandrere. [198] Robin Wright, “The ‘Shithole Countries’ — and the Rest of the World — Respond to President Trump,” New Yorker, Jan. 12, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-shithole-countriesand-the-rest-of-the-worldrespond-to-president-trump. [199] Susannah Crockford, “Why Building a Wall on the US-Mexico Border Is a Symbolic Monument, not Sensible Immigration Policy,” London School of Economics UC Centre Blog, Feb. 21, 2017, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2017/02/21/why-building-a-wall-on-the-us-mexico-border-is-a-symbolic-monument-not-sensible-immigration-policy/h. [200] Abram Van Engen, “American Exceptionalism and America First,” Religion and Politics, Jan. 9, 2018, http://religionandpolitics.org/2018/01/09/american-exceptionalism-and-america-first. [201] See, Gerstle, American Crucible, 418–26. [202] Clarke and Ricketts, “Donald Trump and American Foreign Policy,” 368. [203] Mead, Special Providence, 260–61. [204] Michael Edison Hayden, “Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails,” Southern Poverty Law Center, Nov. 12, 2019, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/11/12/stephen-millers-affinity-white-nationalism-revealed-leaked-emails. [205] Robert Kagan argues that Trump’s grand strategy is classically realist. Personal conversation, April 26, 2018. Robert Jervis argues Trump’s foreign policy does not quite square with realism, whereas Randall Schweller argues that it does. See, Jervis, “President Trump and International Relations Theory,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 5; Schweller, “Why Trump Now,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 23, 35. [206] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, The White House (December, 2017), 1, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. To be sure, it is not clear that the National Security Strategy reflects Trump’s personal foreign policy vision. Mostly, it reads like the national security strategy of any Republican administration, or, as Barry R. Posen calls it, “a word salad of a document.” One might even question whether Trump has read it. This is why this article mostly focuses on Trump’s own statements and foreign policy actions. See, Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony.” [207] See, Restad, American Exceptionalism, chaps. 7 and 8. [208] Micah Zenko, “Trump Is America’s First Contradiction-in-Chief,” Foreign Policy, Feb. 12, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/12/trump-is-americas-first-narcissist-in-chief/. [209] Paul K. MacDonald and Joseph M. Parent, “Trump Didn’t Shrink U.S. Military Commitments Abroad—He Expanded Them,” Foreign Affairs, Dec. 3, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-12-03/trump-didnt-shrink-us-military-commitments-abroad-he-expanded-them. [210] Daniel Byman and Steve Simon, “Trump’s Surge in Afghanistan: Why We Can’t Seem to End the War,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 18, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2017-09-18/trumps-surge-afghanistan. [211] Micah Zenko, “The (Not-So) Peaceful Transition of Power: Trump’s Drone Strikes Outpace Obama,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 2, 2017, https://www.cfr.org/blog/not-so-peaceful-transition-power-trumps-drone-strikes-outpace-obama. [212] Michael R. Gordon, Helene Cooper, and Michael D. Shear, “Dozens of U.S. Missiles Hit Air Base in Syria,” New York Times, April 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/world/middleeast/us-said-to-weigh-military-responses-to-syrian-chemical-attack.html. [213] This later turned out to be incorrect, as the aircraft carrier was sailing in the opposite direction to take part in joint exercises with the Australian navy. Of course, the original diplomatic signal sent by this statement by the U.S. president was still significant. Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt, “Aircraft Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea, as U.S. Suggested,” New York Times, April 18, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/world/asia/aircraft-carrier-north-korea-carl-vinson.html. [214] W. J. Hennigan, “Trump Orders Strikes on Syria Over Chemical Weapons,” Time Magazine, April 13, 2018, https://time.com/5240164/syria-missile-strikes-donald-trump-chemical-weapons/. [215] Brett McGurk, “American Foreign Policy Adrift,” Foreign Affairs, June 5, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2019-06-05/american-foreign-policy-adrift. [216] Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms.” [217] Diplomatic historians realized this was an outdated paradigm long before political scientists. See, Emily S. Rosenberg, “A Call to Revolution: A Roundtable on Early U.S. Foreign Relations,” Diplomatic History 22, no. 1 (January 1998): 63–70, https://doi.org/10.1111/0145-2096.00101. [218] Braumoeller, “The Myth of American Isolationism”; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [219] Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms.” [220] Yochi Dreazen, “Candidate Trump Promised to Stay Out of Foreign Wars. President Trump Is Escalating Them,” Vox, Aug. 25, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/8/25/16185936/trump-america-first-afghanistan-war-troops-iraq-generals. [221] MacDonald and Parent, “Trump Didn’t Shrink U.S. Military Commitments Abroad”; Scot Paltrow, “Special Report: In Modernizing Nuclear Arsenal, U.S. Stokes New Arms Race,” Reuters, Nov. 21, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-modernize-specialreport/special-report-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal-u-s-stokes-new-arms-race-idUSKBN1DL1AH; Lara Seligman, “One Small Step for Trump’s Space Force,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 29, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/29/one-small-step-for-trump-space-force-space-command/h. [222] On this, see, Braumoeller, “The Myth of American Isolationism;” Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. John A. Thompson, “The Appeal of ‘America First,’” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 153. Frank Ninkovich disagrees, labeling it isolationist. See, Ninkovich, “Trumpism, History, and the Future of US Foreign Relations,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 396. [223] On Trump’s non-isolationism, see also, Wertheim, “Donald Trump Versus American Exceptionalism.” [224] Quoted in, Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony.” [225] Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt.” [226] Daniel Bell, “The End of American Exceptionalism,” National Affairs, 41 (Fall 1975): 197, https://www.nationalaffairs.com/public_interest/detail/the-end-of-american-exceptionalism. [227] Doug Stokes, “Trump, American Hegemony and the Future of the Liberal International Order,” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (January 2018): 134, https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix238. [228] Patricia Zengerle and Makini Brice, “Breaking with Trump, U.S. Republicans Press for Response to Turkey Over Syria,” Reuters, Oct. 9, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-turkey-usa-graham/breaking-with-trump-u-s-republicans-press-for-response-to-turkey-over-syria-idUSKBN1WO1ZK. [229] Not to say there have not been internal disagreements, for instance, over Trump’s policy toward Kurdish allies in Syria. See, Catie Edmondson, “In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal,” New York Times, Oct. 16, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/us/politics/house-vote-trump-syria.html. [230] Van Jackson, Heather HurlburtAdam MountLoren DeJonge Schulman, and Thomas Wright, “Policy Roundtable: The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy,” Texas National Security Review, Dec. 4, 2018, https://tnsr.org/roundtable/policy-roundtable-the-future-of-progressive-foreign-policy/. [231] Megan Trimble, “America Perceived Less Trustworthy in Trump Era,” U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 23, 2019, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2019-01-23/america-falls-in-trustworthy-countries-ranking-under-trump. [232] Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Strategic Thinking that Made America Great,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 10, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-08-10/strategic-thinking-made-america-great. [233] Which is, admittedly, not a movement so much as a few political advisers and writers (a group that has dwindled in numbers since Trump’s election). Contrast the special edition of the National Review — “Conservatives Against Trump,” National Review, January 22, 2016, https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/01/donald-trump-conservatives-oppose-nomination/ — with where its contributors are today on the president. See, Jeremy W. Peters, “The ‘Never Trump’ Coalition that Decided Eh, Never Mind, He’s Fine, New York Times, Oct. 5, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/us/politics/never-trumper-republicans.html. [234] I am not arguing that Bush’s highly ideological approach to counter-terrorism was an example to follow. I am merely pointing out the radical differences between neoconservatism and Trump’s America First. [235] George W. Bush, “President Bush Addresses the Nation,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March 19, 2003, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030319-17.html. [236] James G. Stewart, “Trump Keeps Talking About ‘Keeping’ Middle East Oil. That Would Be Illegal,” Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/11/05/trump-keeps-talking-about-keeping-middle-east-oil-that-would-be-illegal/. [237] Julian Borger, “Rex Tillerson: ‘America First’ Means Divorcing Our Policies from Our Values,” The Guardian (May 3, 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/03/rex-tillerson-america-first-speech-trump-policy. [238] John McCain, “John McCain: Why We Must Support Human Rights,” New York Times May 8, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/opinion/john-mccain-rex-tillerson-human-rights.html. For more on this, see also the leaked memo Tillerson’s adviser Brian Hook wrote on Trump’s “realist” foreign policy: “Balancing Interests and Values,” Politico, May 17, 2017, https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000160-6c37-da3c-a371-ec3f13380001. [239] Indeed, after McCain’s passing, NATO reportedly considered naming its new headquarters after him. Amanda Macias, “NATO Is Considering Naming Its Headquarters After Sen. John McCain,” CNBC, Aug. 29, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/29/nato-considers-naming-headquarters-after-sen-john-mccain.html. [240] Tina Nguyen, “John McCain Takes Over as Shadow Secretary of State,” Vanity Fair, Feb. 2, 2017, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/02/donald-trump-australia-call-john-mccain. [241] Peter Baker, “A Growing Chorus of Republican Critics for Trump’s Foreign Policy,” New York Times, Jan. 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/us/politics/trump-foreign-policy.html. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has stated that Trump’s requests to Ukraine and China to investigate Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are “wrong and appalling.” This issue could be seen as both a domestic and a foreign policy issue. See, Carl Hulse, “For Once, Republicans Break with Trump, but Not on Impeachment,” New York Times, Oct. 8, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/us/politics/republicans-trump-syria.html. [242] Rachael Bade, “Trump’s Takeover of GOP Forces Many House Republicans to Head for the Exits,” Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-takeover-of-gop-forces-many-house-republicans-to-head-for-the-exits/2019/09/22/d89f99fc-d4bd-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html. [243] Henry Farrell, “Thanks to Trump, Germany Says It Can’t Rely on the United States. What Does that Mean?” Washington Post, May 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/05/28/thanks-to-trump-germany-says-it-cant-rely-on-america-what-does-that-mean/; Steven Erlanger, “Macron Says NATO Is Experiencing ‘Brain Death’ Because of Trump,” New York Times, Nov. 7, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/world/europe/macron-nato-brain-death.html. [244] Rich Lowry, “The Fantasy of Republicans Ditching Trump,” Politico Magazine, Oct. 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/10/24/the-fantasy-of-republicans-ditching-trump-229879. [245] Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, “The Republican Devolution: Partisanship and the Decline of American Governance,” Foreign Affairs 98, no. 4 (July/August 2019), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-06-11/republican-devolution. [246] “Both the Democrats and Republicans Were Once White Majority Parties. Now, Race Divides Them,” Washington Post, Dec. 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/02/both-democrats-republicans-were-once-white-majority-parties-now-race-divides-them/. [247] Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony.” [248] Benjamin Hardy, “In Little Rock, Marco Rubio Sells American Exceptionalism,” Arkansas Times, Feb. 22, 2016, https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2016/02/22/in-little-rock-marco-rubio-sells-american-exceptionalism. For an analysis of what Republican rhetoric on American exceptionalism looked like right before Trump, see, Jason A. Edwards, “Contemporary Conservative Constructions of American Exceptionalism,” Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 1, no. 2 (2011): 40–54, http://contemporaryrhetoric.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/edwards1_5.pdf. [249] Chris Murphy, “How to Make a Progressive Foreign Policy Actually Work,” The Atlantic, Oct. 7, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/senator-chris-murphy-progressive-foreign-policy/599470/. [250] A rather remarkable sign of the times is that the conservative Charles Koch Foundation has teamed up with the liberal Open Society Foundation in order to fund a bipartisan foreign policy think tank aiming to end the “forever wars” called the Quincy Institute. See, Bryan Bender, “George Soros and Charles Koch Take On the ‘Endless Wars,’” Politico, Dec. 2, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/02/george-soros-and-charles-koch-take-on-the-endless-wars-074737. [251] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [252] David Samuels, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru,” New York Times, May 5, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/magazine/the-aspiring-novelist-who-became-obamas-foreign-policy-guru.html; Trevor McCrisken, “Ten Years On: Obama’s War on Terrorism in Rhetoric and Practice,” International Affairs 87, no. 4 (July 2011): 781–801, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2011.01004.x. [253] Nicholas Kitchen, “Ending ‘Permanent War’: Security and Economy Under Obama,” in, The Obama Doctrine: A Legacy of Continuity in US Foreign Policy? ed. Michelle Bentley and Jack Holland (Oxon: Routledge 2016), 9–25. [254] “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Syria,” White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Sept. 10, 2013, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/09/10/remarks-president-address-nation-syria. [255] For the current debate in the Democratic party, see, for example, Thomas Wright, “The Problem at the Core of Progressive Foreign Policy,” The Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/progressives-foreign-policy-dilemma/597823/. [256] Mark Hannah and Caroline Gray, “Indispensable No More? How the American Public Sees U.S. Foreign Policy,” Eurasia Group Foundation (November 2019), https://egfound.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Indispensable-no-more.pdf. [257] Bruce Jentleson, “Millennials Are So Over U.S. Domination of World Affairs,” The Conversation, July 26, 2018, http://theconversation.com/millennials-are-so-over-us-domination-of-world-affairs-99167. [258] Daniel Bell, “The End of American Exceptionalism,” 197. [259] Peter Beinart, “Obama’s Idealists: American Power in Theory and Practice,” Foreign Affairs 98, no. 6 (November/December 2019), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2019-10-07/obamas-idealists. [260] Dina Smeltz, et al., “Rejecting Retreat,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Sept. 6, 2019, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/rejecting-retreat. [261] Kathleen Hicks, “Now What? The American Citizen, World Order, and Building a New Foreign Policy Consensus,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1 (November 2017): 109, http://hdl.handle.net/2152/63936. [262] See Jentleson, “Millennials Are So Over U.S. Domination of World Affairs.” [263] Michael Tesler, Post-Racial or Most-Racial? Race and Politics in the Obama Era (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2016); Lilliana Mason, Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2018). [264] Bell, “The End of American Exceptionalism.” [265] Paul Staniland, “Misreading the ‘Liberal Order’: Why We Need New Thinking in American Foreign Policy,” Lawfare, July 29, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/misreading-liberal-order-why-we-need-new-thinking-american-foreign-policy. [266] Porter, “A World Imagined. Nostalgia and the Liberal Order.” [267] Jentleson, “Millennials Are So Over U.S. Domination of World Affairs.” [268] Rebecca Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Day After Trump: American Strategy for a New International Order,”  Washington Quarterly 41, no. 1 (2018): 7–25, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2018.1445353. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2271 [post_author] => 339 [post_date] => 2019-12-16 05:00:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-16 10:00:36 [post_content] => Like many people of a certain age, I vividly remember the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon nearly 50 years ago. I held my breath as the lunar module approached the moon’s surface, and when the camera showed the American flag standing on the surface of another world, I was filled with pride, like millions of Americans. But I wasn’t an American yet. I was an Iranian citizen, a young girl watching television in our house in Tehran. And although I wouldn’t move to the United States until several years later, I knew from an early age that America was the place for me. The America I admired as a young girl was the America that put a man on the moon, the America that stood for democracy in the face of the Soviet monolith, the America that struggled righteously and courageously to bring justice to all, regardless of color or creed. Over the past century, the United States has served as the world’s premier example and defender of freedom and human rights. Most people on this planet admired America’s foundational values — perhaps not universally, but broadly and deeply.[1] I saw this when I studied in Switzerland. I saw it when I worked as an investment banker in Japan. And I especially saw it when I served as the U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Even when they disagreed with American policies, people abroad had faith in the American people and, by and large, believed that the United States would ultimately do the right thing and lead by example. It is true that, from America’s beginning, a certain distance has separated its ideals from its practices, particularly in issues related to race, such as slavery and segregation. The great comfort is that, over time, this disparity has shrunk as America’s practices have approached its ideals. For example, many young people like me, viewing the United States from the outside, saw the achievements of the Civil Rights movement as a historical catharsis that righted old wrongs and helped America purge itself of the Jim Crow era. But now the distance between America’s ideals and practices seems not to be shrinking, but widening. Countries around the world take note when the United States abandons desperate friends, shrugs when dictatorial partners murder critics, or appears to politicize the prosecution of domestic political opponents.[2] Their observations will have consequences. They may partner less often with the United States, and more often with America’s more dictatorial geopolitical competitors. Already some European allies, faced with chaotic and contradictory U.S. policies, are thinking about a possible accommodation with Russia over Crimea.[3] This suddenly widening gap between what America stands for and what it does grates deeply against the grain of the country’s overwhelmingly beneficial role in post-World War II global history. The United States was instrumental in designing the post-war architecture of international cooperation that created the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other institutions.[4] It created the conditions, space, and security that led from the European Coal and Steel Community to the European Union, conditions that transformed Europe from a driver of global conflict twice in one century into one of the world’s most remarkable economic and political successes. That security was underwritten by NATO — the world’s most effective military alliance — which successfully deterred the Soviet Union for decades until what Ronald Reagan aptly called the “evil empire” was consigned to the dustbin of history. [quote id="1"] All of these institutions were created to tame international anarchy and promote global cooperation that would enable the spread of free political systems and free markets. Given the violence endemic to human affairs, they were enormously successful, particularly in Europe. But these global institutions require an engaged, productive United States, no less so nearly 30 years after the end of the Cold War. For example, NATO without the United States is less than the sum of its parts. The question isn’t simply one of power, but of legitimacy and leadership. An America that leads NATO in the pursuit of legitimate goals turns a summation of military forces into a multiplier of both hard power and soft power.[5] A United Nations without the United States is a debate club, barren of ideals or purpose, overwhelmed by disinformation and autocratic bluster. The G7 relies on active leadership from Washington for its success. But in a few short years, the Trump administration has taken an axe to these institutions by praising and partnering with authoritarians, railing against longtime democratic allies, and straining or breaking international alliances and agreements.[6] As many voices predicted, “America First,” is mostly “America Alone,” with only the occasional bad company of faithless autocrats and noxious hyper-nationalists. America occupies a privileged, but assailable position, rivaled by revisionist powers. If it continues on its current course of disengaging from global leadership and adopting “America First” policies, those of us who watched in wonder the landing on the moon may live to see a darker, more terrifying era set in. Arguably this era has already begun, given that Turkey’s intervention in Syria — made possible by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. troops — could lead to an even more unpredictable downward spiral of that conflict, and the president is demanding dramatically increased monetary contributions to defense from stalwart Asian allies, such as Japan and South Korea.[7] As the country prepares for what is sure to be a contentious and tense electoral season, presidential aspirants and analysts of all stripes are offering their visions for America’s role in the world in the forthcoming era. Many of these visions are inspiring. Too many, however, lack a process for identifying specific policies. The “vision thing” is surely important for guiding the country forward, but the devil is in the details, and a way to create these details is needed in order to find the devil inside them. Pivotal moments in history hinge on the hard cases, and these tend to defy high-minded principles.

Surviving Contact with Reality

A durable vision for foreign policy that can survive contact with hard cases must grapple with the following inter-related realities. First, the post-Cold War era, defined by America’s “unipolar moment,” is ending.[8] That would be true regardless of who is in the White House. But the global distribution of power that will define the next world order is still up for grabs. Whoever wins the 2020 presidential election will have the unenviable task of reaffirming alliances and rebuilding trust with partners made skeptical that America can make promises that last from one administration to another. The task is essential in order to preserve and promote America’s values in a multipolar world. Rather than America First, the country should strive to be America primus inter pares — first among equals, or leader by general acclamation rather than by proclamation. Second, while the international institutions that America built over the last 70 years — military, economic, and beyond — remain critical, they are no longer as fit-for-purpose as they once were. Rising competitors may offer compelling alternatives such as China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Old institutions are also increasingly challenged from within as governments in countries like Hungary, Poland, and Turkey develop autocratic characteristics. And America’s own foreign policy institutions are also in need of modernization, recapitalization, and reform. Third, the American people have been disengaged from foreign policy for far too long. This is not necessarily a question of public ignorance. As Emma Ashford recently wrote, “[A]fter almost two decades of an unwinnable ‘War on Terror,’ it’s somewhat condescending to assume that the problem is with the American people, not with the foreign policy itself.”[9] It may be true that there are aspects of U.S. foreign policy that demand better explanations to some segments of the electorate, such as the value of multilateral agreements and military alliances. But it is also time for America’s foreign policy elite to listen to the American people. While Trump’s visceral hostility to NATO is wrong, for example, his antagonism has shined a light on legitimate questions regarding burden-sharing that deserve fair debate. Rather than just pivoting to Asia, America will need to balance itself carefully in the east and the west to counter terrorist threats and an emerging Sino-Russian bloc that supports autocratic practices and policies. For this job, America’s allies — particularly in Europe — must be better invested both ideologically and financially in their own defense.

Toward a Sustainable American Foreign Policy

How do we restore U.S. leadership in a sustainable way that advances American interests without overextension? It’s a big question, but difficult times call for ambitious thinking. As John F. Kennedy said when he announced America’s intention to go to the moon, we do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” I propose three groups of priorities for a renewed and sustainable American foreign policy. They consist of a period of public deliberation and debate to re-examine, clarify, and perhaps redefine assumptions about America’s interests; wide-ranging institutional reforms as a result of those deliberations; and a corresponding revival of American ideals and the hard and soft power behind them. To sum up, America needs to begin the process for reflection, reform, and renewal. First, reflection. America needs a national conversation about how to rekindle the power of its ideals. The 1945 Joint Congressional Committee on the Organization of Congress, and subsequent iterations in 1965 and 1991, offers a model.[10] A new Joint Committee for a Renewed American Foreign Policy would serve a useful political purpose, showing the public that both parties can come together again for the country’s greater good. It would also inject needed congressional oversight into foreign policy formulation during a time when it is dangerously concentrated in the executive branch. [quote id="2"] The problem is party polarization. I assume, perhaps optimistically, that following the next election cycle policymakers from both sides of the aisle will crave a period of relative political peace, irrespective of the victor. After every presidential election, a period of good feelings — mixed with exhaustion — invariably settles upon Washington. Politicians from both parties pledge to work on a bipartisan basis and the newly elected president is toasted at an inaugural luncheon hosted by the bipartisan Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. All the rancor of the 2016 election did not stop President Barack Obama from graciously welcoming President-elect Trump to the White House while making a call for national unity.[11] Perhaps those good feelings could be channeled into a Joint Committee for a Renewed American Foreign Policy, with all the appeal to political independents that such high-minded bipartisanship would hold. They could use that time to rebuild bridges and ponder ways to ensure that America’s policies are consonant with its ideals. The United States is the oldest democracy in the world: a self-perfecting nation based on the ideals of equality. If it is again to become Reagan’s “shining city on a hill,” America must remember that all eyes are upon it.[12] It must also be willing to recognize and correct its mistakes. If America stays true to its core values, it will continue to attract the sympathies and support of right-thinking people around the world. This is a subtle kind of power, but it extends wherever people demand freedom and justice, which is to say everywhere. In that vein, perhaps the greatest failure of the current administration is the perception, widely held abroad and sometimes at home, that U.S. foreign policy has ceased to defend democratic rules, ideals, and norms, and instead has become an instrument that American elites use to pursue their own corrupt interests — or like many other countries whose foreign policies are extensions of autocratic agendas. Therein lies the fundamental contradiction of “America First.” Eisenhower once said, “America is great because she is good.” But an America that uses all means to place herself first cannot be great because she is just like everyone else, throwing around sharp elbows to grab whatever scraps lie on the geopolitical table. And if America’s greatness is measured only by the size of its economy or the strength of its military, rather than the appeal of its ideals, then it will eventually likely be overtaken by a country like China, which has a larger population and more natural resources. Where such a country can never overtake America is in its commitment to universal ideals that respect and enable the fundamental potential and goodness of all people. When I was a young girl watching Apollo 11 descend onto the lunar surface, I did not think of the United States as advancing a narrow and self-interested agenda while fighting with others at the geopolitical table. America was the only table worth sitting at, and all of us wanted a seat. Apollo 11 represented the vanguard of humanity’s desire to transcend its limits, and the stunning accomplishment of putting a man on the Moon had a seismic foreign policy impact far beyond our ability to measure. It was freedom’s ultimate success story: Dare to be free, and you could reach for the stars. Second, reform. The outcome of this national conversation would serve as the basis for wide-ranging institutional reform. America must invest in and modernize its diplomacy. As U.S. ambassador to Sweden, I had the privilege of leading a team of career diplomats, military officers, and civil servants from numerous government agencies and departments as we worked together to advance American interests abroad. Those people remain some of the most capable professionals I have had the pleasure to work with in my career. Diplomats testifying in the ongoing House impeachment hearings have demonstrated for the American people the high standards of professionalism in the Foreign Service, as well as the seriousness and consequential nature of U.S. diplomacy. They are not exceptions, but the rule. But even the most capable individuals need adequate resources to do their jobs, and in his 2020 budget, the president proposed a 23 percent cut in State Department and USAID funding.[13] Gen. Jim Mattis famously said in 2013, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”[14] His meaning was that the hard daily work of diplomacy, rarely acknowledged in public, defuses disputes before they break out into military conflicts. Both of Trump’s secretaries of state, however, have driven junior and senior members of the Foreign Service out of the department at a time when U.S. foreign policy is in tatters across the globe.[15] As former Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns recently wrote in Foreign Affairs, the damage now being done to the State Department “will likely prove to be more severe to both diplomatic tradecraft and U.S. foreign policy” than any previous political assault on the institution.[16] All that said, it is not enough to simply provide more funding. The State Department’s challenges have become more complex, from the rise of China to the impact of artificial intelligence on foreign policy. The way that it does its work must be fundamentally re-imagined. I cannot claim to know exactly how the department should be reformed. Ideally, the results of a Joint Committee for a Renewed American Foreign Policy, informed by career staffers and specialist academics, would help to provide more specific prescriptions. But I can say that while diplomacy cannot achieve everything, it is the most cost-effective way to build support for America’s priorities abroad and promote the mutual understanding so necessary for international cooperation. [quote id="3"] Part-and-parcel of reforming U.S. diplomacy is communicating its necessity and value to Americans who are often skeptical of what taxpayer dollars purchase at the State Department. America seems more willing to fund what it can count. To borrow Mattis’ words, ammunition is easy to quantify, but soft power is not. It is important to help people understand that America’s military forces aren’t based in Europe out of altruism; they are there to keep the peace in a continent that has spawned two world wars that killed tens of millions, including hundreds of thousands of Americans. America isn’t in the United Nations because it likes getting harangued by its adversaries; it is there to push back against their hostile policies, and to help ensure that conflicts get resolved before they flame out of control and become armed conflicts that drag America in. American primacy in international affairs has allowed the United States to set standards and reach markets in a way that a less engaged nation never could.[17] And American consumers have gained enormously from trade, with access to affordable goods undreamt of when Neil Armstrong was taking big steps on the moon. The benefits to average Americans are real. Policymakers need to work harder to communicate these benefits, while not dismissing concerns about trade out of hand. Finally, out of reform would come renewal. With faith in America’s ideals renewed, the country would have a newfound confidence in supporting those ideals without hypocrisy, using both hard and soft power. U.S. foreign policy works best when American ideals and aspirations are at its core. But the country would also have to stop turning a blind eye to behaviors that contradict its fundamental values. A “transactional” foreign policy leaves America short-changed because autocracies inevitably gain more from it, and rules-based democracies gain less. If American leaders shrug when autocrats murder journalists or repress their own peoples, America’s natural allies are repelled, and by acquiescing to authoritarianism the country helps corrode the international order. Friend or competitor, ally or enemy, the United States must hold other nations to account when they step over the line. This can take the form of quiet diplomacy and arm-twisting behind the scenes, public rebuke and peer pressure, or even bilateral or multilateral sanctions. But the message should be clear: Autocratic regimes cannot enjoy the benefits of the West while taking actions that undermine it. Perhaps the first goal for an American foreign policy revival would be to try again on international trade accords. The Obama administration began to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed the Paris Climate Agreement, and advocated for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, while the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the climate accord and suspended negotiations on the two trade agreements. But all these agreements had real benefits for the United States, from setting the “rules of the game” for global trade before China can do so itself, to tackling the existential threat of climate change, to forming the world’s largest free trade zone with wealthy nations eager to buy American goods. It’s not too late to resurrect all these agreements or negotiate new ones. Doing so would lay the foundation for years of mutually beneficial economic exchange that would do much to lower the chances of great power warfare. In the past, America has thrown open its doors to refugees, kept the peace in war-wracked regions, stemmed the tide of AIDS in Africa, and kept the light of freedom alive in hopeless corners of the world. After the unbelievable horror of World War II, the United States helped build an international system that has prevented another global catastrophe. It has become the richest country in the world through trade and helped bring unimaginable levels of prosperity to the rest of the globe. The United States may have hit a rough patch in its history. But for me, it will always be that gutsy country that dared to dream that a person could walk on the moon. A momentary crisis of confidence doesn’t change the fact that America is a positive force for good in the world. That’s what America is: a place where hope compels us to believe that great things can still be done. That’s who Americans are. And if Americans are true to their values, then the United States will once again be a guiding light in the night for the world.   Azita Raji served as U.S. ambassador to Sweden from 2016 to 2017. She is a senior fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. [post_title] => Sense and Indispensability: American Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sense-and-indispensability-american-leadership-in-an-age-of-uncertainty [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-12-15 10:57:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-12-15 15:57:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=2271 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => Former ambassador to Sweden, Azita Raji, proposes a way forward for a renewed and sustainable American foreign policy. This would require a re-examination of America's interests, institutional reforms, and a revival of American ideals. To wit: reflection, reform, and renewal. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 3, Iss 1 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => But in a few short years, the Trump administration has taken an axe to these institutions by praising and partnering with authoritarians, railing against longtime democratic allies, and straining or breaking international alliances and agreements. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => If America stays true to its core values, it will continue to attract the sympathies and support of right-thinking people around the world. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => American primacy in international affairs has allowed the United States to set standards and reach markets in a way that a less engaged nation never could. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 339 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] See, for example, Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Idea that Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World (New York: Basic Books, 2007). [2] On abandoning friends, see, Peter Baker and Catie Edmondson, “Trump Lashes Out on Syria as Republicans Rebuke Him in House Vote,” New York Times, Oct. 16, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/world/middleeast/trump-erdogan-turkey-syria-kurds.html. On minimizing the murder of American-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, see, Michael D. Shear, “Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia,” New York Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/us/politics/trump-khashoggi-killing-saudi-arabia.html. On politicizing the prosecution of political opponents, see, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, “Justice Dep’t Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation,” New York Times, Oct, 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/24/us/politics/john-durham-criminal-investigation.html. [3] See, for example, David Chazan, “France Says ‘Time Has Come’ to Ease Tensions with Russia,” The Telegraph, Sept. 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/09/france-says-time-has-come-ease-tensions-russia/. [4] See, G. John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011). [5] Alexandra Gheciu, “Security Institutions as Agents of Socialization? NATO and the ‘New Europe,’” International Organization 59, no. 4 (October 2005): 973–1012, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818305050332. [6] For praising and partnering with authoritarians, see, for example, Domenico Montanaro, “6 Strongmen Trump Has Praised — and the Conflicts It Presents,” NPR, May 2, 2017, https://www.npr.org/2017/05/02/526520042/6-strongmen-trumps-praised-and-the-conflicts-it-presents?t=1576072717010; and “The Strange Love-In Between Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” The Economist, Nov. 14, 2019, https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/14/the-strange-love-in-between-donald-trump-and-recep-tayyip-erdogan. For railing against longtime democratic allies, see, for example, Paul D. Shinkman, “Trump Attacks France, Germany while Praising Turkey at NATO Summit,” U.S. News and World Report, Dec. 3, 2019, https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-12-03/trump-attacks-france-germany-while-praising-turkey-at-nato-summit. For straining or breaking international alliances and agreements, see, for example, “Donald Trump: European Union Is a Foe on Trade,” BBC, July 15, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44837311; Lisa Friedman, “Trump Serves Notice to Quit Paris Climate Agreement,” New York Times, Nov. 4, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/climate/trump-paris-agreement-climate.html; and Mark Landler, “Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned,” New York Times, May 8, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html. [7] See, Lara Seligman and Robbie Gramer, “Trump Asks Tokyo to Quadruple Payments for U.S. Troops in Japan,” Foreign Policy, Nov. 15, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/15/trump-asks-tokyo-quadruple-payments-us-troops-japan/. [8] The phrase “unipolar moment” was popularized by Charles Krauthammer in an influential essay in Foreign Affairs. Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 18, 1990, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1991-02-01/unipolar-moment. [9] Emma Ashford, “The Gentleman from Nebraska Misfires on America’s Foreign Policy Debate,” War on the Rocks, May 6, 2019, https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/the-gentleman-from-nebraska-misfires-on-americas-foreign-policy-debate/. [10] For a useful overview of these committees, see, Donald R. Wolfensberger’s “A Brief History of Congressional Reform Efforts,” The Bipartisan Policy Center and The Woodrow Wilson Center, Feb. 22, 2013, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/brief_history_congressional_reform_efforts.pdf. Wolfensberger concludes that such committees have had, at best, mixed results. But a new joint committee could be a useful way to begin a conversation about how to rebalance power between the legislative and executive branches, particularly in areas of foreign policy and defense. It could also help lead the way to reforming legislation. [11] David Nakamura and Juliet Eilperin, “Trump Meets with Obama at the White House as Whirlwind Transition Starts,” Washington Post, Nov. 10, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/11/10/obama-to-welcome-trump-to-white-house-for-first-meeting-since-election/. [12] In Reagan’s election eve address, he said, “I know I have told before of the moment in 1630 when the tiny ship Arabella bearing settlers to the New World lay off the Massachusetts coast. To the little bank of settlers gathered on the deck John Winthrop said: ‘we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.’ Well, America became more than ‘a story,’ or a ‘byword’ — more than a sterile footnote in history. I have quoted John Winthrop's words more than once on the campaign trail this year — for I believe that Americans in 1980 are every bit as committed to that vision of a shining ‘city on a hill,’ as were those long ago settlers.” Ronald Reagan, “Election Eve Address: ‘A Vision for America,’” American Presidency Project, Nov. 3, 1980, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/election-eve-address-vision-for-america. [13] “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First,” The White House, March 11, 2019, 71, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/budget-fy2020.pdf. [14] Mattis frequently reprised this theme, even while serving as secretary of defense.  See, for example, his remarks of Oct. 30, 2018: “I was frustrated enough with some aspects of State Department's budget that, in my testimony, I said if you don't fully fund up on Capitol Hill, my testimony, if you don't fully fund the State Department, please buy a little more ammunition for me because I'm going to need it.” “Secretary Mattis Remarks on the National Defense Strategy in Conversation with the United States Institute for Peace,” Department of Defense, Oct 30, 2018, https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Transcripts/Transcript/Article/1678512/secretary-mattis-remarks-on-the-national-defense-strategy-in-conversation-with/. [15] Max Greenwood, “State Dept. saw 12 percent Drop in Foreign Affairs Workers in First 8 Months of 2017,” The Hill, Feb. 10, 2018, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/373299-state-dept-saw-12-percent-drop-in-foreign-affairs-workers-in-first-9. [16] William J. Burns, “The Demolition of U.S. Diplomacy,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 14, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-10-14/demolition-us-diplomacy. [17] See, for example, G. John Ikenberry, “Why the Liberal World Order Will Survive,” Ethics and International Affairs 32, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 17–29, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0892679418000072. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2152 [post_author] => 334 [post_date] => 2019-11-25 05:00:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-11-25 10:00:19 [post_content] => While historians write about American exceptionalism and moralism, diplomats and theorists like George Kennan have often warned about the negative consequences of the American moralist-legalist tradition. According to this line of thinking, international relations is anarchic and there is no world government to provide order. States must provide for their own defense and when survival is at stake, the ends justify the means. Where there is no meaningful choice there can be no ethics. Thus, in judging a president’s foreign policy, we should simply ask whether it worked, not whether it was moral. However, in my experience as a scholar and sometime practitioner of foreign policy, morals do matter. The skeptics duck the hard questions by oversimplifying things. The absence of world government does not, in fact, mean the absence of all order. And while some foreign policy issues do relate to America’s survival as a nation, most do not. Since World War II, the United States has been involved in several wars but none were necessary to ensure its survival. Many important foreign policy choices having to do with human rights or climate change or internet freedom do not involve war at all. Instead, most foreign policy issues involve making trade-offs between values — something that requires making choices — not the application of a rigid formula of “raison d’état.” A cynical French official once told me, “I define good as what is good for the interests of France. Morals are irrelevant.” He seemed unaware that his statement was a moral judgment. It is tautological, or at best trivial, to say that all states try to act in their national interest. The important question is how leaders choose to define and pursue that national interest under different circumstances. Access to oil, sales of military equipment, and regional stability are all national interests, but so too are values and principles that are attractive to others. How can these two categories of interests be combined? Moreover, whether practitioners like it or not, Americans continuously make moral judgments about presidents and foreign policies.[1] The election of Donald Trump has revived interest in what is a moral foreign policy, shifting it from a theoretical question to front page news. For example, after the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Trump was criticized for ignoring clear evidence of a brutal crime in order to maintain good relations with the Saudi crown prince. The New York Times labelled Trump’s statement about Khashoggi “remorselessly transactional, heedless of the facts,” while the Wall Street Journal editorialized that “we are aware of no President, not even such ruthless pragmatists as Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson, who would have written a public statement like this without so much as a grace note about America’s abiding values and principles.”[2] Unfortunately, many judgments about ethics and foreign policy are haphazard or poorly thought through, and too much of the current debate focuses on Trump’s personality. Americans are seldom clear about the criteria by which they judge a moral foreign policy. They praise a president like Ronald Reagan for the moral clarity of his statements, as though rhetorical good intentions are sufficient in making ethical judgments. However, Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush showed that good intentions without adequate means to achieve them can lead to ethically bad consequences, such as the failure of Wilson’s Treaty of Versailles or Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Or they judge a president simply on results. Some observers have praised Richard Nixon for ending the Vietnam War, but was he right to sacrifice 21,000 American lives just to create a reputational “decent interval” that turned out to be an ephemeral pause on the road to defeat? In this essay, I suggest an approach to comparing different moral foreign policies. I first argue that good moral reasoning should be three dimensional: weighing and balancing the intentions, the means, and the consequences of a president’s decisions. Determining a moral foreign policy is not a matter of intentions versus consequences but must include both as well as the means that were used. I then examine and compare the elements of three common mental maps of world politics — realism, cosmopolitanism, and liberalism. Presidents often combine these three mental maps in different ways that shape the intentions, means, and assessment of consequences of their foreign policy. I illustrate this process with a discussion of the problem of intervention. Finally, I develop a scoring system that allows us to compare their policies, and then apply it to three presidents. Given the different cultural backgrounds, political views, and religious beliefs of Americans, moral reasoning about foreign policy is hotly contested both by politicians and analysts, but it is inescapable.[3] This article aims not to solve but to bring structure to these arguments.

Three-Dimensional Ethics

In their daily lives, most people make moral judgments along three dimensions: intentions, means, and consequences. Intentions are more than just goals. They include both stated values and personal motives (as in, “her motives were well meant”). Most leaders publicly express goals that sound noble and worthy, even though their personal motives, such as ego and self-interest, may subtly corrupt those goals. Moreover, good goals must not only satisfy one’s values, they also have to pass a feasibility test. Otherwise, the best of intentions can have disastrous moral consequences, often providing the proverbial pavement for the road to hell. Johnson may have had good intentions when he sent American troops to Vietnam, but a leader’s good intentions are not proof of what is sometimes misleadingly called “moral clarity.” Judgments based on good intentions alone are simply one-dimensional ethics. For example, Ari Fleischer, the press secretary for George W. Bush, praised his boss for the “moral clarity” of his intentions, but more than that is needed for a sound moral evaluation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[4] The second important dimension of moral judgment is means. Means are spoken of as being effective if they achieve one’s goals, but ethical means also depend upon their quality as well as their efficacy. How do leaders treat others? A moral leader must likewise consider the soft power of attraction and the importance of developing the trust of other countries. When it comes to means, leaders must decide how to combine the hard power of inducements and threats with the soft power of values, culture, diplomacy, and policies that attract people to their goals.[5] Using hard power when soft power will do or using soft power alone when hard power is necessary to protect values raises serious ethical questions about means. As for consequences, effectiveness is crucial and involves achieving the country’s goals, but ethical consequences must also be good not merely for Americans, but for others as well. “America first” must be tempered by what the Declaration of Independence called “a proper consideration for the opinions of mankind.” In practice, effectiveness and ethical means are often closely related. A leader who pursues moral but unrealistic goals or uses ineffective means can produce terrible moral consequences at home and abroad. Leaders with good intentions but weak contextual intelligence and reckless reality-testing sometimes produce bad consequences and lead to ethical failure. [quote id="1"] Given the complexity of foreign policy, prudence is more than just an instrumental virtue. Recklessness in assessing what just war theorists call “a reasonable prospect of success” can become culpable negligence in moral terms. Good moral reasoning about consequences must also consider maintaining an institutional order that encourages moral interests as well as particular newsworthy actions, such as helping a human rights dissident. It is also important to include the ethical consequences of “non-actions,” such as President Harry Truman’s willingness to accept stalemate and domestic political punishment during the Korean War rather than follow Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s recommendation to use nuclear weapons. Good moral reasoning does not judge presidential choices based on stated intentions or outcomes alone, but on all three dimensions of intentions, means, and consequences.[6] Mental Maps of the World and Moral Foreign Policy What is an accurate picture of world politics? Is it so harsh that leaders must abandon their morals at the border? Do they have any duties to those who are not fellow citizens? Cynics might say, “No, because foreigners don’t vote.” Total skeptics argue that the entire notion of a “world community” is a myth, and that where there is no community, there are no moral rights and duties. Nonetheless, moral discourse in the realm of foreign policy persists, and leaders use three prevailing mental maps of world politics to offer different answers to these questions. Realism While there are various strands of realism, realists all portray a world of anarchy where a state’s survival depends upon it helping itself — international morals and institutions provide little succor. Unlike total skeptics, realists accept some moral obligations but see them as limited primarily to practicing the virtue of prudence in the harsh environment of world politics. John Bolton argues for “defending American interests as vigorously as possible and seeing yourself as an advocate for the US rather than a guardian of the world itself.”[7] Hans Morgenthau wrote that “the state has no right to let its moral disapprobation…get in the way of successful political survival. … Realism, then, considers prudence…to be the supreme virtue in politics.”[8] In the words of John Mearsheimer, “States operate in a self-help world in which the best way to survive is to be as powerful as possible, even if that requires pursuing ruthless policies. That is not a pretty story, but there is no better alternative if survival is a country’s paramount goal.”[9] In dire situations of survival, consequences may indeed justify what appear to be immoral acts. Robert D. Kaplan argues that “the rare individuals who have recognized the necessity of violating such morality, acted accordingly, and taken responsibility for their actions are among the most necessary leaders for their countries.”[10] A frequently cited example is when Winston Churchill attacked the French fleet in 1940, killing some 1,300 Frenchmen, rather than let the fleet fall into Hitler’s hands. Churchill referred to that crisis of British survival as a “supreme emergency,” and Michael Walzer argues that in such rare instances moral rules can be overriden even though “there are no moments in human history that are not governed by moral rules.”[11] For instance, some ethicists have justified Churchill’s bombing of German civilian targets in the early days of World War II when Britain’s survival was at stake, but condemned his later support for the fire-bombing of Dresden in February 1945 when victory in Europe was already assured.[12] In the early days of the war, Churchill could claim the necessity of “dirty hands” as his justification for overriding the moral rules, but he was wrong to continue to do so in the later days of the war when he had more leeway. In general, such dire straits of supreme emergency are rare and leaders often exaggerate dangers and threats to justify their actions. For example, Trump justified his mild reaction to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi with, “America First! The world is a dangerous place!”[13] But realists who describe the world in a way that pretends moral choices do not exist are, in fact, making a moral choice and then merely disguising that choice. Survival comes first, but that is not the end of the list of values. Most of international politics is not about survival. A smart realist also knows different types of power exist. No president can lead without power, at home or abroad, but power is more than bombs, bullets, or resources. You can get others to do what you want by coercion (sticks), payment (carrots), and attraction (soft power), and a full understanding of power encompasses all three of these behaviors. Because soft power is rarely sufficient by itself and takes longer to accomplish its effects, leaders find the hard power of coercion or payment more appealing. But when wielded alone, hard power can exact higher costs than when it is combined with the soft power of attraction. The Roman empire rested not only on its legions, but also on the attraction of Roman culture. The Berlin Wall came down not under an artillery barrage, but from hammers and bulldozers wielded by people who had lost faith in communism. A nation’s soft power rests upon its culture, its values, and its policies (when the latter are seen as legitimate in the eyes of others). It can be reinforced by the narratives that a president uses to explain his foreign policy. John F. Kennedy, Reagan, and Barack Obama, for example, framed their policies in ways that attracted support both at home and abroad. Nixon and Trump were less successful in attracting those outside the United States. There is a moral difference between a broad, long-term definition of national interest that can include citizens of other nations and a myopic definition that excludes others. Cosmopolitanism Another important mental map of the world involves viewing the world through a lens of common humanity, known as cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitans see all humans as of equal moral worth regardless of borders. While it may be weak, some degree of international human community exists. As neural science has shown, moral intuition about other humans is evolutionarily hard-wired into people.[14] Most Americans respond with empathy to pictures of starving or drowned children even if not all Americans would allow them to cross the U.S. border or would take them into their homes, although some would. The cosmopolitan mental map rests on the belief that basic human rights are universal. David Luban argues that rights “are not respecters of political boundaries and require a universalist politics to implement them; even if this means breaching the wall of state sovereignty.”[15] Many Americans hold multiple loyalties to several communities at the same time in a series of widening concentric circles that extend beyond national boundaries. One can simultaneously feel part of a town, a state, a region, a profession, a transnational ethnic group, and humanity at large. However, loyalty to the outer circles tends to be weaker and generate weaker moral duties than cosmopolitans often assume. One can be a stout inclusive nationalist and a moderate globalist at the same time, but the community of nationality is usually stronger. [quote id="2"] I often used to ask my students to test their moral intuitions about the existence and limits of cosmopolitanism with the following thought experiment. Suppose you are a good swimmer reading at the beach and you notice a child drowning in the surf. Would you put down your book and rescue her? Most would say yes. Would it matter whether she called, “Help!” or cried out in a foreign language? Most would say the foreign language would make no difference. If she were somewhat further out and you were not a strong swimmer, how much risk would you take? Answers would range from the prudent to the heroic. If there were two children, one of which was yours, and you could rescue only one, would it matter whether it was yours? Most would say yes. In other words, one’s role as parent adds moral rights and duties beyond the common humanitarian duty that would prompt one to rescue an anonymous drowning child. Borders are arbitrary and sometimes unjust, but nations are communities that similarly engender additional roles, rights, and responsibilities. As Stanley Hoffmann pointed out, “States may be no more than a collection of individuals and borders may be mere facts, but a moral significance is attached to them.”[16] A cosmopolitan who ignores the moral, legal, and institutional significance of borders fails to do justice to the difficult job of balancing rights in the international realm as much as the blinkered realist who sees everything as a matter of national survival. A humanitarian duty to rescue can coexist with a preference for prioritizing the protection of one’s fellow citizens.[17] The devil is in the details of how far and how much. Liberalism There are various strands of liberalism including economic liberalism, which stresses the pacific benefits of trade; social liberalism, which emphasizes contacts among people; and institutional liberalism, which argues that institutions can create a society of states that mitigates the negative effects of anarchy. International politics is often called anarchic, but anarchy simply means “without government,” and does not necessarily mean chaos. Liberals argue that rudimentary practices and institutions such as the balance of power, international law, norms, and international organizations can create enough order to establish a framework for making meaningful moral choices in most cases. Institutions shape expectations of future behavior, which allows leaders to go beyond simple transactionalism. Institutions of international law and morality play a role even in war. The just war doctrine originated in the early Christian church as Saint Augustine and others wrestled with the paradox that if the good did not fight back, they would perish and the evil would inherit the earth. That doctrine of just self-defense became secularized after the 17th century and today it provides a broad normative structure that encompasses all three moral dimensions discussed above: good intentions represented by a just cause; forceful means that are proportional to the situation and which discriminate between military and civilian targets; and good consequences that emerge from a prudent regard for the probability of success. Just war doctrine is more than theoretical. It is enshrined both in international humanitarian law (e.g., the Geneva Conventions) and the American military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice. Soldiers who violated the moral principles that are enshrined in the law of armed conflict have been jailed in many countries including the United States. Different mental maps of the world portray anarchy differently, and that affects the way leaders frame their moral choices. Writing in 1651 after the bloody English civil war in which the king was decapitated, the realist Thomas Hobbes thought of anarchy as chaotic and imagined a state of nature without government as a war of all against all where life was “nasty, brutish, and short.” In contrast, writing in a somewhat more peaceful period a few decades later, the liberal John Locke thought of anarchy as the absence of government, but imagined that such a state of nature would involve social contracts that permitted the successful pursuit of life, liberty, and property. Modern liberals follow the Lockean approach to international anarchy and believe that institutions stabilize expectations in ways that permit reciprocity and morality to enter into policy decisions. They help create a “long shadow of the future,” that is a means to escape zero-sum calculations.[18] Liberals argue that while there is no world government, there is a degree of world governance. They argue that anarchy therefore has limits. At the same time, they recognize that the state is a key institution of world politics both as a reality and as a moral community. Even a renowned liberal philosopher like John Rawls believed that the conditions for his theory of justice applied only to domestic society.[19] At the same time, Rawls argued that a liberal society’s duties went beyond its borders: These should include mutual aid in dire circumstances and respect for laws and institutions that ensure basic human rights while allowing people in a diverse world to determine their own affairs as much as possible.[20] The rise of human rights law after World War II, particularly in reaction to the horror of genocide, has complicated presidential choices. The American public wants some response to genocide, but it is divided over how much. For example, in retrospect, Bill Clinton criticized his own failure to respond to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.[21] Yet, after the death of American soldiers in an earlier humanitarian intervention in Somalia in 1993, had Clinton tried to send American troops to Rwanda he would have encountered stiff resistance in parts of his administration, the Congress, and the public. Clinton has acknowledged that he could have done more to help the United Nations and other countries to save some of the lives that were lost in Rwanda, but this example is a reminder that good leaders today are often caught between their cosmopolitan inclinations and their more traditional democratic obligations to the people who elected them. Mixing Mental Maps These three mental maps of world politics are not mutually exclusive — in practice, leaders mix them in inconsistent ways in different contexts to shape the stated intent, means, and consequences of their foreign policies. In a detailed comparison of the 14 American presidents since 1945, I found that most have turned out to be “liberal realists with a touch of cosmopolitanism.”[22] Realism is the default position that most presidents use to chart their course in foreign policy. Given a world of sovereign states, in my personal policy experience, realism is the best map to start with. For example, at the end of the Cold War when I participated in formulating an East Asia policy in the Clinton administration, we wanted to integrate a rising China into liberal international institutions, but we started with a realist policy of reaffirming the U.S.-Japan security relationship, which was, at that point, in disarray. By reaffirming America’s position in the regional balance of power, we were taking out a realist insurance policy in case our policy of liberal integration failed. The two approaches were complementary to one another. Realism is the right place to start, but too many realists stop where they start without realizing that realism is a necessary but not sufficient condition for crafting good policy. They fail to recognize that cosmopolitanism and liberalism often have something important to contribute to forming an accurate moral map. When survival is in jeopardy, realism is a necessary basis for a moral foreign policy, but it is not sufficient for all foreign policy scenarios. The question again is one of degree. Since no state can attain perfect security, the moral issue is what degree of security must be assured before other values such as welfare, identity, or rights become part of a president’s foreign policy? Most foreign policy choices involve questions about authorizing arms sales to authoritarian allies or criticizing the human rights behavior of another country. When some realists treat such isssues as similar to Churchill’s decision to attack the French fleet, they are simply ducking hard moral issues. It is not enough to say that security comes first or that justice presupposes some degree of order. Presidents have to assess how closely a situation fits a Hobbesian or Lockean mental map, or where an action lies on a continuum between ensuring security and pursuing other important values. [quote id="3"] Public opinion also shows a similar pattern of mixing mental maps. Because the American people are usually more concerned with domestic issues than foreign policy, they tend toward a basic form of realism. Security from attack and economic security generally rank highest in opinion polls. Because elite opinion is often more interventionist than the public, some critics argue that the elite is more liberal than the public.[23] However, patterns of “strong, widespread public support for international organizations, multilateral agreements and actions, and collective international decision making suggest that most Americans are…‘neo liberals,’” while support for humanitarian assistance shows strands of cosmopolitanism.[24] 

The Example of Intervention

Intervention has been a fraught issue in recent foreign policy debates, prompting questions about when the United States should take actions that involve extending its reach beyond its own borders. Since 1945, the liberal Charter of the United Nations has limited the use of force to self-defense or actions authorized by the Security Council (where the United States and four other countries have veto power). Realists argue that intervention can be justified if it prevents disruption of the balance of power upon which order depends. Cosmopolitans prioritize justice and individual human rights to justify humanitarian intervention. Liberals argue that nations are groups of people with a sovereign right — enshrined in the U.N. Charter — to determine their own fate. Intervention can only be justified to counter a prior intervention or to prevent a massacre that would make a mockery of self-determination.[25] In practice, these principles often get combined in odd ways. In Vietnam, Kennedy and Johnson argued that America was countering a North Vietnamese intervention in the South, but the Vietnamese saw themselves as one nation that had been artificially divided for realist, Cold War balance-of-power purposes. In the first Gulf War, George H.W. Bush used force to expel Iraq’s forces from Kuwait in order to preserve the regional balance of power, but he did so using the liberal mechanism of a U.N. collective security resolution and a broad coalition to enhance American legitimacy and soft power. Bush considered himself a realist and refused to intervene to stop the shelling of civilians in Sarajevo, but after devastating pictures of starving Somalis were shown on American television in December 1992, he sent American troops on a cosmopolitan humanitarian intervention in Mogadishu, which subsequently became a problem for his successor.[26] In the second Gulf War, American motives for intervention were mixed. Theorists have sparred over whether the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a realist or a liberal intervention.[27] Some key figures in the George W. Bush adminstration, such as Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, were realists concerned about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and the local balance of power. The “neo-conservatives” in the administration (many of whom were former liberals) stressed promoting democracy as well as maintaining American hegemony. Outside the administration, some liberals supported the war because of Hussein’s abominable human rights record, while others opposed Bush for failing to obtain the institutional support of the U.N. Security Council as his father had in the first Gulf War. Stephen Walt, a realist skeptic about intervention, argues that “had realists been at the helm of US foreign policy over the past 20 years, it is likely that a number of costly debacles would have been avoided.”[28] Perhaps he is right, but his case is far from clear, for there are many variants of realism as well as of liberalism. Realism is a broad tendency, not a precise category with clear implications for policy. Certainly Cheney and Rumsfeld considered themselves realists. In the 2016 presidential debate, both Trump and Hillary Clinton said the United States had a responsibility to prevent mass casualties in Syria, but neither advocated major military intervention. While some commentators argue that liberal interventionism to promote democracy has “grown into ‘America’s self-designation as a special nation,’” there is an enormous difference between democracy promotion by coercive and non-coercive means.[29] Voice of America broadcasts and the National Endowment for Democracy cross international borders in a very different manner than does the 82nd Airborne Division. In terms of consequences, the means are as important as the ends. No one of the mental maps of the world provides presidents with an easy answer or substitutes for their good judgment and contextual intelligence when deciding whether to intervene or not. In its broadest definition, intervention refers to external actions that influence the domestic affairs of another sovereign state, and they can range from broadcasts, economic aid, and support for opposition parties at the low-coercion end of the spectrum, to blockades, cyber attacks, drone strikes, and military invasion at the high-coercive end. From a moral point of view, the degree of coercion involved is very important in terms of restricting local choice and rights. Moreover, military intervention is a dangerous instrument to use. It looks deceptively simple, but rarely is. Prudence warns against unintended consequences.

“The Best Moral Choice in the Context”: A Presidential Scorecard

How then should we judge the morality of a foreign policy? Presidents have their own values and convictions but they are also leaders living in what Max Weber described as a political world of non-perfectionist ethics.[30] Arnold Wolfers, a sophisticated and subtle Swiss-American realist, argued after World War II that “the interpretation of what constitutes a vital national interest and how much value should be attached to it is a moral question. It cannot be answered by reference to alleged amoral necessities inherent in international politics.” At the same time, leaders cannot always follow a simple formula. The best one can hope for in judging the ethics of foreign policy leaders, Wolfers concluded, is determining whether they made “the best moral choices that circumstances permit.”[31] While this is true, it is not completely helpful. It is a necessary but certainly not a sufficient standard. As mentioned above, prudence is a virtue in an anarchic world, but such a broad rule of prudence can easily be abused. How, then, can Americans decide whether their presidents did indeed make “the best moral choices” under the circumstances? They can start by making sure to judge them in terms of three-dimensional ethics, deriving criteria for each dimension from the wisdom of all three mental maps of realism, liberalism, and cosmopolitanism (in that order). When looking at the foreign policy goals that presidents have sought, one should not expect them to have pursued justice at the international level similar to what they aspired to in their domestic policies. In the August 1941 Atlantic Charter, one of the founding documents of the liberal international order, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Churchill declared their devotion to ensuring freedom from want and from fear (though they disagreed about the British empire),[32] but Roosevelt did not try to transfer his domestic New Deal to the international stage. [quote id="4"] As mentioned earlier, survival comes first, but liberals and cosmopolitans argue that America has duties abroad that include humanitarian assistance and respect for basic human rights. Beyond that, Rawlsian liberals want to allow peoples in a diverse world to determine their own affairs as much as possible.[33] Thus, Americans should ask whether a president’s goals include a vision that expresses widely attractive values both at home and abroad, but also prudently balances those values and assesses risks so that there is a reasonable prospect of success. It is not enough to articulate noble goals — feasibility also matters. This means a president should be judged not only on his or her character and intentions, but also on contextual intelligence when it comes to promoting values. Regarding ethical means, presidents can be judged by the well-established just war criteria of proportional and discriminate use of force that are the law of the land in the United States. They can also be judged by Rawls’ liberal concern for minimal degrees of intervention in order to respect the rights and institutions of other peoples. As for ethical consequences, Americans can ask whether a president succeeded in promoting the country’s long-term national interests, but also whether he respected cosmopolitan values regarding human life by avoiding extreme insularity totally discounts harm to foreigners. The example that leaders set also has important moral consequences, as does whether they are promoting truth and trust that broadens moral discourse at home and abroad. These criteria are modest and derived from insights from realism, liberalism, and cosmopolitanism. The resulting “scorecard” below is by no means complete. Others might select other criteria from the different mental maps and weight them differently. Nevertheless, this scorecard provides some basic guidance to determine what constitutes a moral foreign policy that goes beyond Wolfers’ simple generality about prudence: Intentions: Goals and Motives
  1. Moral vision: Did the president express attractive values, and did those values determine his motives? Did he have the “emotional IQ” to avoid contradicting those values because of his personal needs?[34]
  2. Prudence: Did he have the contextual intelligence to wisely balance the values he pursued and the risks he imposed on others?
Means
  1. Use of force: Did he use force while paying attention to necessity, discrimination in the treatment of civilians, and the proportionality of benefits and harm?
  2. Liberal concerns: Did he try to respect and use institutions at home and abroad? To what extent did he consider the rights of other peoples?
Consequences
  1. Fiduciary: Was he a good trustee of America’s long-term interests?
  2. Cosmopolitan: Did he consider the interests of other peoples and minimize causing them unnecessary harm?
  3. Educational: Did he respect the truth and build credibility? Did he respect facts? Did he try to create and broaden moral discourse at home and abroad?

Three Illustrations

This three-dimensional scorecard hardly solves all problems of judgment, but it encourages looking at all dimensions of a president’s actions when comparing the morality of different foreign policy leadership. Consider the example of Reagan and the two Bushes. When people sometimes call for a “Reaganite foreign policy,” they tend to mean the moral clarity that went with Reagan’s simplification of complex issues and his effective rhetoric in the presentation of his values. Not only is this type of morality inadequate and one-dimensional for reasons explained above, but it also mistakes the success of Reagan’s moral leadership, which included the ability to bargain and compromise as he pursued his policies. Nonetheless, clear and clearly stated objectives can educate and motivate the public. The key question is whether Reagan was prudent in balancing his aspirations and the risks of trying to achieve his objectives. Reagan’s initial rhetoric in his first term created a dangerous degree of tension and distrust in U.S.–Soviet relations that increased the prospect of a miscalculation or accident leading to war, but it also created incentives to bargain which Reagan later put to good advantage when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Reagan’s second term. In terms of consequences, Reagan undoubtedly advanced the national interests of the United States, though most of the credit for ending the Cold War and the Soviet Union belongs to Gorbachev. In any event, Reagan took good advantage of the opportunity in a manner that did not exclusively benefit insular American interests. He ranks near the top of the second quartile. By his own account, George H. W. Bush did not have a transformational vision for the world, but was interested in avoiding disaster in a world that was changing dramatically at the end of the Cold War. While he referred to a “new world order” he never spelled out what this would look like. As Bush and his team responded to the forces that were largely outside of his control, he set goals that balanced opportunities and prudence. In each instance, Bush limited his short-term aims in order to pursue long-term stability, prompting some critics to complain that Bush did not set more transformational objectives.[35] In ethical terms, although Bush did not express a strong moral vision, it is difficult to make the case that he should have been less prudent and taken more risks. In terms of consequences, Bush was a worthy fiduciary in accomplishing national goals and managed to do so in a manner that was not unduly insular and did minimal damage to the interests of foreigners. He was careful not to humiliate Gorbachev and to manage Boris Yeltsin’s transition to power in Russia. At the same time, not all foreigners were adequately protected; for example, Bush assigned a lower priority to Kurds in northern Iraq, to dissidents in China, or to Bosnians who were embroiled in a civil war in the former Yugoslavia. In that sense, Bush’s realist approach limited his cosmopolitan impulses. With better communication skills, Bush might also have been able to do more to educate the American public about the changing nature of the world they faced after the Cold War. But given the uncertainties of history, and the potential for disaster as the Cold War era came to a close, Bush had one of best foreign policies of the period after 1945. He allowed America to benefit from a rising tide and his skills avoided shipwreck during tempest. He ranks in the top quartile (along with Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.)[36] In contrast, George W. Bush started his first term in office as a limited realist with little interest in foreign policy, but his objectives became transformational after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Like Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman, Bush became concerned about security but turned to the rhetoric of democracy to rally his followers in a time of crisis. His 2002 national security strategy, which came to be called the Bush Doctrine, proclaimed that the United States would “identify and eliminate terrorists wherever they are, together with the regimes that sustain them.”[37] In this new game, there were no rules. The solution to the terrorist problem was to spread democracy everywhere, and a freedom agenda thus became the basis of his 2006 national security strategy.[38] But the removal of Hussein did not accomplish the mission, and inadequate understanding of the context plus poor planning and management undercut Bush’s grand objectives. As a result, I rank him in the bottom quartile of presidents since World War II.

Conclusion

A perpetual problem in American foreign policy is the complexity of the context, and that is why contextual intelligence is such an important skill for presidents to have in framing an ethical foreign policy. Contextual intelligence is the ability to understand an evolving environment and capitalize on trends.[39] Sometimes prudence is dismissed as mere strategic self-interest and contrasted with moral conviction. But in three-dimensional ethics, both are essential. As Max Weber famously pointed out, conviction is important but in a complex political environment like foreign policy, the president is a trustee who must follow an ethic of responsibility.[40] In that context, weak contextual intelligence that produces negligent assessment and reckless risk-taking leads to immoral consequences. In legal terms, irresponsible assessment is termed “culpable negligence.” In assessing foreign policy, Trump’s rejection of intelligence and reliance on television sources raises serious moral as well as practical questions. We live in a world of diverse cultures and still know very little about social engineering and how to “build nations.” When one cannot be sure how to improve the world, prudence becomes an important virtue in an ethic of responsibility, while hubristic visions can do serious damage. Prudence usually requires emotional intelligence and the ability to manage one’s emotions and turn them to constructive purposes rather than to be dominated by them. [quote id="5"] That returns us to the role of institutions, public goods, and how broadly a president defines America’s national interest. The overall assessment of a president’s foreign policy depends not just on specific actions but also on how a pattern of actions shapes the environment of world politics. A president may have a broad and long-term vision but be unable to convince the public — witness Wilson in 1919. The disastrous 1930s were caused when the United States replaced Britain as the largest global power but failed to take on Britain’s role in providing global public goods. The result was the collapse of the global system into depression, genocide, and world war. In the domestic realm, governments produce public goods such as policing or clean water from which all citizens can benefit and none are excluded. At the anarchic global level, where there is no government, public goods — such as managing climate change, ensuring financial stability, or guaranteeing freedom of the seas — are provided by coalitions led by the largest power. Small countries have little incentive to pay for such global public goods: Because their small contributions make little difference to whether they benefit or not from these goods, it is rational for them to ride for free. But the largest powers can see the effect and feel the benefit of their own contributions. Thus, it is rational and in the long-term national interest of the largest countries to lead. Part of American exceptionalism is America’s disproportionate size. Leadership by the largest country in the production of global public goods is consistent with “America First” but it rests on a broader historical and institutional understanding of the current context than Trump has shown when he uses that term. As Henry Kissinger has argued,
to strike a balance between the two aspects of world order — power and legitimacy — is the essence of statesmanship. Calculations of power without a moral dimension will turn every disagreement into a test of strength. … Moral prescriptions without concern for equilibrium, on the other hand, tend toward either crusades or an impotent policy tempting challenges; either extreme risks endangering the coherence of the international order itself.[41]
Well-meaning interventions that are not based on good contextual intelligence can alter millions of lives for the worse. For presidents, prudence is a necessary virtue for a good foreign policy, but it is not sufficient. American presidents in the inter-war period were prudent when they instead needed to embrace a broader institutional vision. Wilson had such a vision, but without adequate contextual intelligence. Roosevelt began his presidency without a foreign policy vision but developed one on the job. In the future, a sense of vision and strategy that correctly understands and responds to new technological and environmental changes, such as cyber threats and climate change, will be crucial. In judging a president’s record of pursuing a moral foreign policy that makes Americans safer but also makes the world a better place, it is important to look at the full range of his or her leadership skills, to look at both actions and institutions, commissions and omissions, and to make three-dimensional moral judgments. Even then, we will often wind up with mixed verdicts — but that is the nature of foreign policy. We cannot responsibly banish moral discourse from foreign policy, but we can try to be more disciplined in how we structure our moral reasoning about it.   Joseph S. Nye Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus and former dean of the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, and earned a PhD in political science from Harvard. He has served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, chair of the National Intelligence Council, and deputy under secretary of state for security assistance, science, and technology. His most recent books include Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, Is the American Century Over?, and Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers.   Image: Sgt. Bryan Lewis [post_title] => What Is a Moral Foreign Policy? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => what-is-a-moral-foreign-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-25 18:42:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-25 23:42:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=2152 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => How should we judge the morality of a president's foreign policy? Joseph Nye suggests a rubric that is based on a three-dimensional ethics of intentions, means, and consequences and that draws from realism, cosmopolitanism, and liberalism. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 3, Iss 1 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => In their daily lives, most people make moral judgments along three dimensions: intentions, means, and consequences.  ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Borders are arbitrary and sometimes unjust, but nations are communities that similarly engender additional roles, rights, and responsibilities. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The rise of human rights law after World War II, particularly in reaction to the horror of genocide, has complicated presidential choices. The American public wants some response to genocide, but it is divided over how much.  ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => No one of the mental maps of the world provides presidents with an easy answer or substitutes for their good judgment and contextual intelligence when deciding whether to intervene or not. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => We cannot responsibly banish moral discourse from foreign policy, but we can try to be more disciplined in how we structure our moral reasoning about it. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 334 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry, “Realism, Liberalism and the Iraq War,” Survival 59, no. 4 (August-September 2017): 7–26, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2017.1349757. [2]  Mark Landler, “Trump Stands with Saudis Over Murder of Khashoggi,” New York Times, Nov. 20, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/20/world/middleeast/trump-saudi-khashoggi.html; “Trump’s Crude Realpolitik,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-crude-realpolitik-1542763629. [3] Owen Harries, “Power and Morals,” Prospect, April 17, 2005, 26, https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/powerandmorals. [4] Ari Fleischer, “What I Will Miss About President Bush,” New York Times, Nov. 4, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/opinion/02bush.html. [5] Joseph Nye, Jr., Soft Power (New York: Public Affairs, 2004). [6] Tom L. Beauchamp, Philosophical Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy (New York: McGraw Hill, 1982), 179. In his view, virtue ethicists emphasize intentions, deontologists focus more on means, and utilitarians are most concerned with consequences. [7] Caroline Daniel, “Hard Man Who Sits at the Heart of US Foreign Policy,” Financial Times, Dec. 19, 2002, 14. [8] Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York: Knopf, 1955), 9. [9] John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), 216. [10] Robert D. Kaplan, The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Random House, 2018), 146. [11] See, Michael Walzer, “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 2, no. 2 (1973): 160–80. See also, Gerald F. Gaus, “Dirty Hands,” in, A Companion to Applied Ethics, ed. R.G. Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman (Malden, MA, Blackwell, 2003), 167–79. [12] Cathal J. Nolan, “‘Bodyguard of Lies’: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Defensible Deceit in World War II,” in, Ethics and Statecraft: The Moral Dimensions of International Affairs, ed. Cathal J. Nolan, 2nd ed. (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 35–58. [13] “Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia,” The White House, Nov. 20, 2018, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-donald-j-trump-standing-saudi-arabia/. [14] Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York, Random House, 2012). [15] David Luban, “The Romance of the Nation State,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 9, no. 4 (Summer 1980): 392, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2265007. [16] Stanley Hoffmann, Duties Beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Politics (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1981), 155. [17] Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 125. [18]  See, Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books, 1984); Robert O. Keohane, “Reciprocity in International Relations,” International Organization 40, no. 1 (Winter, 1986): 1–27, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2706740. [19] John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971). [20] John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999). [21] Barbara Kellerman, Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004), chap. 9. [22] Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020). [23] Stephen M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018). [24] See, Daniel W. Drezner, “The Realist Tradition in American Public Opinion,” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 1 (March 2008): 63. See also, Benjamin I. Page and Marshall M. Bouton, The Foreign Policy Dis-connect: What Americans Want from Our Leaders but Don’t Get (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 241. [25] Michael Walzer, Arguing About War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004), 35–36. [26] Humanitarian intervention is not a new or uniquely American foreign policy problem. Victorian Britain had debates about using force to end slavery, Belgian atrocities in the Congo and Ottoman repression of Balkan minorities long before Woodrow Wilson became the American president. Gary J. Bass, Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention (New York, Random House, 2008), 4. [27] Deudney and Ikenberry, “Realism, Liberalism and the Iraq War.” [28] Stephen M. Walt, “What Would a Realist World Have Looked Like?” Foreign Policy, Jan. 8, 2016, https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/08/what-would-a-realist-world-have-looked-like-iraq-syria-iran-obama-bush-clinton/. [29] Quoted in, Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, “Syria Provokes an American Anxiety: Is U.S. Power Really So Special?” New York Times, Oct. 8, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/09/world/middleeast/syria-provokes-an-american-anxiety-is-us-power-really-so-special.html. See also, Sean Lynn-Jones, “Why the United States Should Spread Democracy,” Discussion Paper 98-07, Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, March 1998. [30] Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” in, Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, ed. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), 126. [31] Arnold Wolfers, Discord and Collaboration: Essays on International Politics (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962) 47–65. [32] See Michael Fullilove, Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America Into the War and Into the World (New York: Penguin, 2013), chap. 7. [33] Rawls, The Law of Peoples. [34] The masculine pronoun used in the list reflects presidential history, not preferences for the future. [35] Zbigniew Brzezinski, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower (New York: Basic Books, 2007). [36]  For a full discussion, see, Nye, Do Morals Matter? chap. 9. [37] The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, White House, September 2002, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/nsc/nss/2002/. [38] The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, The White House, March 2006, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/nsc/nss/2006/. [39] Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria, In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2005). See also, Joseph S. Nye Jr., The Powers to Lead (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), chap. 4. [40] Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” 126. [41] Henry Kissinger, World Order (New York: Penguin Press, 2014), 367. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1833 [post_author] => 296 [post_date] => 2019-09-03 05:00:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-03 09:00:10 [post_content] => At 00:50 on June 9, 2016, in the East China Sea, a frigate belonging to the Chinese navy[1] entered the contiguous zone surrounding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands on a course toward the islands’ territorial waters.[2] While ships belonging to various Chinese agencies had entered both the contiguous zone and the territorial waters around the islands in the past, this was a first for a Chinese naval vessel. A Japanese Self Defense Forces destroyer following the vessel’s movements hailed it, advising it to change course — to no avail. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, a team assembled inside the crisis management center of the prime minister’s office to monitor the situation. In the early hours of the morning, the Chinese ambassador was summoned to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, where Vice Minister Saiki Akitaka met him with a demand for the vessel’s immediate withdrawal. While declining to formally accept this demand, the ambassador conveyed that escalation was undesirable and that he would report back to Beijing. The Chinese naval vessel subsequently exited the contiguous zone at 03:10.[3] Unlike previous “white-on-white” engagements — a label denoting the color of the ships’ hulls — between the Japanese Coast Guard and non-military Chinese vessels, this incident held the potential of becoming a dangerous “gray-on-gray” military showdown. Had the Chinese naval ship entered the islands’ territorial waters, it is highly conceivable that the Japanese government would have authorized the Japanese Self Defense Forces to employ force. Saiki would later reflect that there was real concern at the time that the situation would escalate into a serious confrontation between the Chinese and the Japanese forces.[4] The tensions of that night reflect the stakes involved: Intentionally or unintentionally, actions by either side could have sparked a military escalation involving the world’s three largest economies. Consisting of five core islands and a number of other minor features, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are claimed by Japan, the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan.[5] Although Japan has administered the islands since 1972 — when the United States transferred control — and continues to maintain that no dispute exists, its position has increasingly been challenged by the presence of official Chinese vessels in the islands’ adjacent waters.[6] The United States, while not taking a stance on the sovereignty of the islands, nevertheless has committed itself to come to Japan’s defense should it be attacked in the exercise of its administrative control.[7] The islands thus constitute a potentially dangerous flashpoint in East Asia, highlighted by a number of analyses as a possible trigger for armed conflict — if not war — in the region.[8] My goal in this paper is to supply an evidence-based, theoretically informed account of recent developments in the contest over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. To do so, I draw upon primary and secondary source material in Japanese and Chinese, as well as extensive interviews in both countries. I argue that, objectively speaking — apart from the mere fact that the Senkaku/Diaoyu are tangible features in the East China Sea to which Tokyo and Beijing both lay claim — the particular details of the disputed islands in themselves are by and large irrelevant. Rather, to explain why the islands have become the flashpoint they are today, we must look at how their significance within Sino-Japanese relations has grown in ways that have little to do with their actual, inherent value. Specifically, there are three important dimensions to the increased significance of the islands. The first dimension is symbolic. Since late 2010, the islands have increasingly become a proxy for an array of latent and newly emerging intangible concerns, frustrations, resentments, and anxieties on both sides. These have given the islands import and salience by raising the perceived stakes involved. The second dimension is domestic. The emergence of an active contest over the islands generated both opportunities and vulnerabilities within the domestic political sphere of each state. At crucial moments, these domestic dynamics have raised the profile of the dispute and increased pressure on policymakers to take firmer action. The third dimension is competitive. The islands have become the concrete focus of an ongoing set of escalatory, interactive dynamics, in which actions taken by one side to improve its standing in the dispute elicit counter-measures from the other. These spiralling dynamics continue to play out across a variety of domains and remain a source of further potential conflict. In brief, since late 2010 the islands have increased in significance as a symbol, as a domestic political football, and as an object of ongoing, competitive jockeying. Existing work has highlighted certain aspects of these roles in isolation, but I argue that we must view them as the interwoven pieces of a whole. The islands became increasingly salient as a domestic political issue in no small part because of their growing symbolic significance. But at the same time, the symbolic import of the islands benefitted immensely from being championed by domestic politicians, activists, and others who latched onto the issue, whether opportunistically or out of sincere conviction. As the island’s symbolic and domestic political importance rose, so too did the respective pressures on the leaders managing the contest to take stronger action. This set in motion competitive spirals of move and counter-move between Tokyo and Beijing. The friction this generated has, in turn, helped to further feed into the islands’ symbolic and domestic political significance. The different facets of the islands’ increasing significance are therefore closely interconnected. This paper proceeds in six parts. First, it lays out why the escalation over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands since 2010 is so puzzling. Second, it investigates arguments concerning the material value of the islands. Third, it examines the potential non-material value attached to the islands before 2010. Fourth, it evaluates the possibility that leaders on either side actively sought to initiate the dispute for self-interested reasons. Fifth, it offers an alternative explanation, arguing that we need to examine the increasing significance of the islands within Sino-Japanese relations with a focus on three dimensions. Finally, it concludes by considering potential paths forward.

The Puzzle of Escalation

Prior to 2010, the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were a relatively peripheral issue in Sino-Japanese relations. On Sept. 7, 2010, however, a Chinese fishing trawler collided with Japanese Coast Guard ships in the waters surrounding the islands, resulting in the Japanese detention of the ship and crew and the arrest of the captain. This spiraled into a major diplomatic incident, as Beijing applied increasing pressure on Japan for their return. Japan first released the ship and crew, and then eventually also the captain, after which tensions subsided. But in 2012, tensions reignited when — despite Beijing’s objections — the Japanese government chose to preempt an initiative by the nationalist mayor of Tokyo to buy several of the islands from a private owner by purchasing the islands itself. This unleashed a new round of conflict involving popular protests and official tensions. As Sheila Smith has written, “Until 2010, what had largely been perceived as a manageable difference between Tokyo and Beijing, of interest only to small groups of nationalist activists in both countries, had blown up into a major confrontation between the two states.”[9] The 2010 collision and subsequent 2012 purchase were thus decisive turning points in the nature of the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This is evidenced by substantial shifts in the official and popular prominence of the dispute. Consider the attention the islands have received from the People’s Daily, the Chinese government’s official mouthpiece: Only 16 articles referenced the islands in the five years before the 2010 collision compared to 312 in the five years after.[10] In Japanese officialdom, that these events marked turning points in the dispute is evidenced by parliamentary references: As one study demonstrates, 2010 marked a watershed for the islands’ salience within parliamentary debates, with mentions increasing exponentially over previous years.[11] As for the popular prominence of the dispute, the Chinese search engine, Baidu, shows few online searches for the islands in the five years prior to 2010. In September 2010, there was a sudden burst in Chinese interest, which was subsequently dwarfed in 2012 with searches increasing nearly six-fold.[12] In Japan, Google Trends shows little interest in the islands in the years before the 2010 incident as well. Interest first shot up massively in 2010 and then again in 2012.[13] [quote id="1"] Seven years on, the prominence of the dispute has subsided somewhat; however, the situation in the waters around the islands remains a far cry from the status quo ante. Since 2012, official Chinese maritime vessels have conducted regular incursions into the islands’ territorial waters, and official Chinese aircraft have repeatedly appeared in the airspace above them.[14] In 2013, Beijing announced an Air Defense Identification Zone including the airspace over the islands, raising the risk of aerial confrontation. Though there has been progress since then — most notably a maritime communication mechanism between the Japanese Self Defense Forces and the People’s Liberation Army[15] — as well as a more general improvement in the tone of relations, the area around the islands has become more crowded and the possibility for serious conflict remains. The above broadly describes what happened, but not why. Looking to the existing literature on territorial disputes, one approach to seeking an explanation would be to ask what it is about the contested islands’ material value — be it strategic or economic — that has motivated such tensions. Another approach would be to examine the islands’ preexisting non-material value — religious, ethnic, or historical. A third approach would be to adopt a cynical perspective, investigating the potential of a “wag-the-dog” scenario in which the governments involved intentionally initiated the dispute to distract from domestic concerns or, alternately, to gain bargaining leverage in other areas. This paper examines each of these explanations in turn and finds them wanting. The material value of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands is, at best, questionable. Nor does it explain why tensions did not begin until 2010. If anything, estimates of the islands’ economic value have been repeatedly adjusted downward. Regarding non-material value, the islands are uninhabited and host no sites of major religious or ethnic meaning. If there have been revisions to their perceived historical significance, these have arguably occurred as a function of post-2010 developments. And lastly, all available evidence suggests neither side was initially seeking escalation. The following three sections lay out these findings in detail, leaving the developments in the years since 2010 a mystery.

The Question of Material Value

A number of existing approaches explain territorial disputes according to the tangible benefits possession of a disputed territory can supply. These include strategic advantage, natural resources, control of trade routes, an increased population or tax base, or extra land to settle.[16] Given that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are small and uninhabited, most material arguments have focused on their strategic or economic value. Strategic Value One argument for the strategic value of the islands is that possessing them would aid the Chinese military in breaking through the first island chain separating continental China from the Pacific Ocean. Alternately, were Japanese forces to possess them, it would help prevent a Chinese military breakthrough.[17] The first island chain stretches from the Korean peninsula southward across the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, and beyond to the Philippines.[18] The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are located inside this island chain, northeast of Taiwan on the western edge of the Okinawa Trough. But while nearer to the first island chain than the Chinese continental coastline, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are, at their closest, still at least 60 miles (100 km) away from any feature in the chain.[19] Consequently, even if the People’s Republic of China possessed the islands, penetrating Japanese-held sections of the chain would still require Chinese military vessels to transit a considerable distance and pass through one of several bottlenecks, most prominently the Miyako Strait, between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako. These islands already house formidable Japanese military capabilities, including mobile, surface-to-ship missiles covering the strait’s entrance, and a submarine sound-surveillance system extending along the Ryuku archipelago.[20] Apart from mobile, land-based missiles stationed across the chain, Japan can also deploy guided-missile patrol boats, submarines, and even mines to block critical passageways.[21] Correspondingly, Japan does not need control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands to obstruct the Chinese navy’s movement through its portion of the first island chain. Therefore, as one analyst has noted, to break through the chain the Chinese military would likely attempt capturing islands such as Miyako and Ishigaki for control of the strait that lies between them.[22] Certainly, Japan could do more to increase its defenses on these islands.[23] But taking them remains a daunting task involving the long-distance transport of an invasion force. Chinese possession of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would not markedly change that fact. A second argument for the strategic value of the islands is that they would provide a platform for placing strategically useful assets — such as radar installations or missiles — closer to either the island chain or the Chinese continental coastline, respectively, as well as nearby sea lines of communication.[24] And yet, such an advantage would be marginal at best. For one, anything placed on the islands would be highly vulnerable. Only one of the islands — Uotsuri/Diaoyu Island — has a surface area greater than half a square mile (or 1 sq km). But at less than 1.4 square miles (3.6 sq km.) it is just “a bit larger than New York City’s Central Park.”[25] Accordingly, the islands have scant space to hide assets or develop redundancies. In a conflict scenario, assets on the islands would offer easily identifiable targets unlikely to survive an opening salvo.[26] Moreover, the islands are relatively isolated: They are over 60 miles (100 km) from either the nearest Japanese islands or Taiwan and more than 180 miles (300 km) from the Chinese mainland. Resupply under combat conditions would pose major logistical difficulties.[27] What is more, such capabilities can be placed elsewhere. To cite a former Japanese defense official, “you could get the same result from putting radar on the Senkaku as from putting it nearby on a ship, or, alternately, by flying AWACS [Airborne Warning And Control Systems] you could get information from farther away.”[28] Not only do ship-mounted and airborne capabilities have the advantages of mobility, the latter also have the advantage of altitude, providing a much farther radar horizon.[29] So, while the strategic value of the islands is not zero, it is quite low. According to one former Japanese vice admiral, they are “just junk rocks, no strategic value.”[30] Still, one could argue that Beijing’s behavior in the South China Sea — including fortifying tiny features with military hardware despite international condemnation — demonstrates the value it places on such outposts. There are, however, several crucial differences. First, compared to the relatively isolated Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the outposts built by the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea sit within a crowded cluster of contested features, where other claimants have already competitively established military footholds to cement their position.[31] Second, while Chinese military assets on these small outposts are similarly vulnerable to U.S. attack, they nevertheless offer intimidating advantages against less well-equipped competitors in the South China Sea “whose navies barely rate as coast guards.”[32] Placing assets on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would not grant such advantages with regards to Japan, a more formidable adversary. Lastly, to date, the People’s Republic of China has only militarized features in the South China Sea that it has already controlled for decades. Militarizing the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, however, would require first expelling Japan and risking a wider conflagration with the United States. In this regard alone, the potential strategic value of the islands pales in contrast to the costs and dangers of such a confrontation, even assuming the Chinese military were to prevail. Nor would preventing Japan from militarizing the islands stop the latter from shifting capabilities westward. In fact, Japan has already moved assets westward by stationing a defense facility, complete with radar, to the south of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands on another island, Yonaguni.[33] All said, it is difficult to argue that the marginal strategic benefit the islands would offer either side justifies risking war to obtain them. Economic Value? But what of their economic value? A central factor is the potential 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone entitlements assumed to be conferred on the state with sovereign rights to these islands under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Given overlapping claims, one study has calculated that potentially 19,800 square nautical miles of exclusive economic zone entitlements are at stake.[34] These entitlements are seen as valuable primarily due to a 1969 U.N. Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East report, which suggested the area “may be one of the most prolific oil reserves in the world.”[35] Importantly, the report failed to confirm actual reserves, only hypothesizing their existence given the area’s geological structure. At the time of the report’s release, Taiwan and Japan (both claimants) entered into joint development negotiations; however, these ended in 1970 when the People’s Republic of China voiced objections.[36] Since then, there has been no exploratory drilling, due to the contested nature of the area, and thus the actual presence of oil and gas reserves remains unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, this has not stopped speculation. One figure for the fossil fuel prospects of the entire East China Sea that has frequently appeared in Chinese academic writings is 109.5 billion barrels.[37] This number, however, is of apparently dubious provenance, allegedly stemming from a 1969 New York Times article in which a Japanese official quotes findings from the U.N. report. The report, however, contains no such number.[38] Another common figure is 3 to 7 billion tons — purportedly put forward by official Chinese experts in 1982 without any hard evidence.[39] Other similarly high Chinese estimates exist, but as a U.S. Energy Information Administration report notes, they remain without corroboration and “do not take into account economic factors relevant to bring them to production.”[40] In fact, one source from a major Chinese oil company confided that “inside the [Chinese] oil industry, you do not hear anyone making big claims about oil and gas around the islands these days, especially given the limited findings in other parts of the East China Sea.”[41] [quote id="2"] Indeed, other recent estimates are more conservative. In 2006, one Japanese official estimated oil and gas reserves on Japan’s side of its self-proclaimed East China Sea median line — including potential Senkaku/Diaoyu entitlements — at approximately 500 million kilo-liters, equivalent to less than a year’s worth of Chinese consumption at 2015 levels.[42] The Energy Information Administration has estimated “proved and probable reserves” in the entire East China Sea at approximately “200 million barrels of oil” and “between 1 and 2 trillion cubic feet” of natural gas.[43] At China’s 2015 consumption levels, that equals just 16 days’ worth of oil and between 55 to 100 days of natural gas.[44] In short, although potential oil and gas resources may have initially generated an interest in the islands decades ago,  it currently remains unclear what resources actually lie in the surrounding seabed, and recent estimates have tended to decrease expectations significantly.[45] A second potential source of economic value is the fishing resources around the islands. At present, under a 1997 agreement, each side has agreed not to enforce its laws on the “nationals and fishing vessels” of the other in the waters 12 nautical miles beyond the islands. The friction, however, is within the narrow 12-nautical-mile bands of water surrounding the islands. The Japanese government claims these as territorial waters to which the 1997 agreement does not apply,[46] and Chinese fishing boats thus face being chased off by the Japanese Coast Guard when approaching.[47] These waters, however, constitute only a small fraction of the disputed East China Sea exclusive economic zone area. Moreover, due to over-fishing in the general area, the fishing stocks in these waters have declined precipitously in line with broader trends in the East China Sea.[48] This decline, together with factors including increasing fuel costs for travel to the islands, has put off many local Japanese fishers from traveling to the islands.[49] A third potential source of economic value is seabed mining, primarily of polymetallic manganese nodules or polymetallic sulfides.[50] But polymetallic sulfides and economically viable concentrations of manganese nodules are generally limited to deeper waters, the former around underwater vents.[51] In the East China Sea, the chief concentrations are in the depths of the Okinawa Trough, in the vicinity of undisputed Japanese islands in the Ryukyus.[52] The shallower waters of the continental shelf floor surrounding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would thus appear to offer considerably less of potential value, while sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would make only a relatively minor difference for claims in deeper waters.[53] There is a further issue concerning the economic value of the islands: Settling the question of sovereignty over them would still leave unresolved the problem of who is entitled to the resources in and below their surrounding waters. Granted, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the state with undisputed sovereignty over the islands would have claim to 12 nautical miles of territorial waters around each of the features above water at high tide. But as noted above, many of the resources under dispute lie outside these narrow confines and thus ownership would depend on further exclusive economic zone entitlements.[54] And yet, it is far from certain an international court or arbitral tribunal would grant the Senkaku/Diaoyu exclusive economic zone entitlements. Specifically, to qualify for an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf entitlement, the features in question need to be capable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of their own.[55] Given the stringency with which the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling applied this requirement to the South China Sea, it is questionable whether the small, uninhabited Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would qualify.[56] Let us assume, nevertheless, that one or more of the Senkaku/Diaoyu features were found to meet the legal requirements for generating an exclusive economic zone entitlement. In negotiations or judicial proceedings to allocate exclusive economic zones between claimants in the East China Sea, such an entitlement might still only receive reduced consideration or be wholly discounted due to a variety of factors.  These include the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands’ relatively small size, lack of population and economic activity, and distance from other features.[57] Even if the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands’ entitlements to an exclusive economic zone were granted full effect in the process of drawing borders, they would still need to be weighed against all the other potential exclusive economic zone and continental shelf entitlements that extend from Taiwan, continental China, and the Japanese archipelago and also require consideration. With all these overlapping entitlements, the final determination of the exclusive economic zone boundaries in the East China Sea is far from straightforward. Given that the processes of negotiation or third-party arbitration pertaining to maritime borders is highly complicated and unpredictable, the actual benefits to be reaped from having sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands when entering into such proceedings are very uncertain and possibly quite trivial. This also assumes such proceedings would even occur. As one legal scholar notes, “the unpredictability of litigation, the probable domestic illegitimacy of any adverse result, and the lack of any means short of force to enforce a judgment all work to discourage litigation or arbitration.”[58] Evaluating Material Motives Asked in 2016 if the islands have strategic or economic value, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda replied, “No, no, using all that petrol for patrols … I think it is a waste.”[59] Strategically, the islands are isolated and easily targeted, and attempting to militarize them would entail substantial risk for marginal advantage. The fishing stocks are in decline while potential oil and gas reserves remain unconfirmed and have repeatedly been re-estimated as lower than previously thought. Moreover, it remains uncertain what — if any — advantage sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would provide in negotiations or judicial proceedings over the delimitation of maritime resource entitlements, should these ever even occur. Nevertheless, one could argue it is perceptions, not the actual value, that matter. Policymakers may, after all, still be driven by perceived material aims. For instance, retired Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan claims the islands are “treasure islands” and have “great geostrategic significance.”[60] But we should be careful in taking such publicly presented rationales at face value, particularly when they come from Chinese military hawks who are active in public affairs.[61] In truth, if Beijing’s aim is installing stationary military outposts in the East China Sea, it has easier options. In fact, having already built several oil and gas rigs in the East China Sea further to the north, abutting the Japanese-demarcated median line, the Chinese government could erect more such structures to the south, along its side of the median line near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and adjacent important sea lanes. Such rigs can host radar and missile emplacements. Indeed, the Japanese side has already accused Beijing of installing military-use radar on its northerly rigs.[62] If Beijing desires a tripwire between Japan and Taiwan, these could serve the purpose. Alternately, if the driving motive is economic, joint development would offer considerable gains over the status quo without the risk of costly conflict. In actuality, this may be the only feasible option for Tokyo, as underwater topography is unfavorable to unilateral Japanese development of what is likely to be natural gas.[63] The Japanese government has itself admitted as much.[64] Ironically, running a pipeline to the Chinese coast is far more feasible.[65] One might argue it still makes sense for Japan to defend its claim in order to prevent China from taking all the spoils. But Beijing has already, on multiple occasions, proposed joint development while shelving the sovereignty issue.[66] Admittedly, such cooperation would require ironing out many details. And yet, there are successful precedents: In 1974, Japan and the Republic of Korea agreed to jointly develop highly anticipated petroleum deposits in waters where both shared overlapping claims, although they subsequently found little of value.[67] It is extraordinarily difficult to prove a negative. Yet, if the core motives for escalating the contest over the islands were material, we should have expected the protagonists to act in ways that maximize advantages or gains in these categories. That we have not, and the prominence of the dispute has increased even while the islands’ economic value now appears less than originally thought, suggests other things at work.

Non-material Value?

Another potential approach, also drawn from the literature on territorial disputes, would be to examine preexisting non-material factors, such as the historic or religious value of the contested space, or the ethnic heritage of its population.[68] The actual disagreement between Japan and the People’s Republic of China over the islands, however, is of relatively recent provenance, beginning when Beijing first publicly challenged Japanese sovereignty with its own claim in 1971.[69] Before that, the islands had a relatively trivial existence: They had no religious or historic meaning of note, no Chinese citizens had ever lived there, and a Japanese fish-processing factory that had been there before the war had long been abandoned. At the time Beijing raised its claim, the islands were uninhabited, with several of them leased to the United States for target practice. Strikingly, in 1972, when Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei brought up the islands with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during normalization negotiations, Zhou’s response was, “Because oil has emerged, that is why this is a problem.”[70] It is, therefore, difficult to argue the islands possess any distant historical lineage of value. Even today, the islands remain nothing more than small, isolated, uninhabited features without any population, meaningful infrastructure, or sites of major religious or historical consequence. Critics might simply retreat to saying that territory is an issue of national sovereignty, and that regardless of their history, once both sides laid claim to the islands they became a core national interest.[71] Additionally, critics could also point to the overlapping claims to the islands advanced by Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, thus linking the issue to the larger question of Chinese national unification. But even if one were to concede these points, they still do not explain the historic variation in how the dispute has unfolded within Sino-Japanese relations. General concerns over sovereignty fail to explain why certain territories might be valued more than others. Concerns over national sovereignty or unification are also longstanding and static and thus do little to explain how the willingness of both sides to risk conflict over the islands has changed over time. [quote id="3"] There remains important historic variation that needs explaining, particularly between the nature of the dispute in the pre- and post-2010 periods. Prior to 2010, both sides had adopted a delaying strategy regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.[72] Indeed, in 1972 Zhou stated he did not want to discuss the dispute,[73] and in 1978 Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping suggested shelving the issue for the next generation to solve.[74] Neither actively sought to raise the dispute and were responding to its having been brought up by the Japanese side. And while Tokyo never publicly acknowledged — and in fact repeatedly denied — shelving the dispute, in practice, both countries subsequently worked to minimize the issue while Japan continued to exercise administrative control.[75] Admittedly, there were points of friction. In 1978, when members of the ruling Japanese Liberal Democratic Party criticized their leadership for not leveraging Treaty of Peace and Friendship negotiations to get Beijing to cede its claim, hundreds of Chinese fishing ships appeared near the islands.[76] The Chinese central government, however, later described the incident as “accidental,” generating speculation that this was the result of internal divisions over the treaty.[77] In 1992, the People’s Republic of China passed the Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which explicitly names the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as its territory. This move was reportedly fiercely debated internally and done under pressure from the military.[78] But as both Beijing and Tokyo were more focused on the Japanese emperor’s upcoming visit to China, there was limited fallout.[79] In 2008, official Chinese ships entered the territorial waters around the islands for the first time.[80] In light of other high-level efforts to improve relations at the time, including a Sino-Japanese East China Sea joint development agreement — concluded despite internal Chinese opposition — some have attributed this to dissenting Chinese hardliners.[81] More prominently, however, it was small activist groups on both sides that generated problems. In the 1970s, the dispute had already galvanized “Protect the Diaoyu” groups in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States. In Japan, various nationalist groups also rallied to the cause, the most prominent being the Nihon Seinensha.[82] Attempts by these actors to land on the islands, or alternately, in the case of Nihon Seinensha, advance the cause by building and registering lighthouses, constituted an ongoing irritant, particularly in the 1990s.[83] Additionally, in 2004, after multiple failed attempts, members of the mainland China-based “Chinese Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands” landed on one of the islands for the first time. In response, the Japanese government simply repatriated the Chinese activists back to the Chinese mainland. The government in Beijing, for its part, prevented further attempts by the group to travel to the islands.[84] On the whole, both Tokyo and Beijing repeatedly worked to contain the impact of their activists: Beijing suppressed press coverage and prevented organized protests, while Tokyo refused to officially recognize the efforts of its nationalist groups and sought to limit their activities.[85] All in all, Japanese policy prior to 2010 could be summarized with the words of Japan’s foreign minister, Sonoda Sunao: “eschew provocative, propagandizing behavior … only carefully, calmly do what is necessary for domestic political needs.”[86] The policy of the People’s Republic of China, in turn, could, with few exceptions, be summed up in Chinese Vice Premier Gu Mu’s words: “[The Diaoyu Islands] have always been Chinese territory. … [W]e can temporarily shelve the sovereignty issue. Let the later generations resolve it.”[87] Erica Downs and Phillip Saunders argue that in the past this policy to contain the dispute was due to concerns about its possible impact on bilateral economic relations.[88] Given mainland China’s economic growth, one could suggest that economic relations with Japan are not currently as crucial to Beijing as they were when Downs and Saunders were writing. But the fact is that even now Japan still remains a major economic partner. As recently as 2017 Japan ranked as China’s third largest export destination and second largest import partner, as well as a key source of investment.[89] Moreover, Taylor Fravel, writing in 2010, also noted a number of other reasons we should have expected both sides to avoid conflict, including the deterrent effect of U.S. commitments, the desire by both to maintain a regional reputation as “constructive and benign powers,” and the prior ability of all sides to manage the dispute.[90] Given all these countervailing factors, an explanation is still needed for the substantial change that took place after the 2010 collision incident.

Intentional Conflict?

A third potential explanation would be that the 2010 confrontation was intentional. One conceivable reason for deliberately provoking an escalation of the dispute would be to distract from internal issues and improve the domestic popularity of each country’s respective leadership, a position commonly advanced under the rubric of “diversionary war theory.”[91] Another possibility is that the escalation demonstrates, as Krista Wiegand has argued, an intentional effort at “issue linkage” in which Beijing sought to use “the islands dispute as bargaining leverage to gain concessions from Japan on other disputed issues.”[92] All available evidence, however, suggests the initial incident in 2010 was neither planned nor welcomed by either side. The trawler’s captain was reportedly intoxicated when arrested, and thus was not likely a covert Chinese agent.[93] Though initially feted upon returning home to mainland China, he was subsequently forbidden to fish and subjected to a “soft” house arrest.[94] Additionally, the Chinese government’s response — far from seeking to immediately leverage the incident — was restrained at first. Although protesting to the Japanese ambassador and canceling visits and East China Sea joint-development negotiations, in the first week after the captain’s arrest, Beijing suppressed protests and conveyed to Tokyo through back channels, “Somehow, please just get this settled without a fuss.”[95] Only after the Japanese side decided to extend the detention of the fishing captain despite releasing the ship and crew did Beijing escalate its response. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao publicly pressed for the captain’s release, reports emerged of an alleged Chinese embargo on rare-earth exports to Japan, and Beijing detained four Japanese citizens.[96] Nothing here suggests an official Chinese conspiracy or reactive opportunism. In reality, Beijing was likely responding to an initially perceived loss: Tokyo had asserted its domestic law in the waters around the islands.[97] Neither would this seem to be a clever plot planned by the Japanese government. Maehara Seiji, the Japanese minister in charge of the Japanese Coast Guard at the time, subsequently claimed to be following an “arrest manual” inherited from a previous administration.[98] Even if Maehara did see a chance to assert Japanese jurisdiction, little preparation was made for what to do afterwards. The Kan Naoto administration was left scrambling for ways to contain the damage, fearful of being forced to pay the political price for intervening in the legal process in order to end the incident.[99] Facing increasing pressure from Beijing, a Japanese foreign ministry delegation gave a presentation to the local prosecutor’s office, ostensibly at the latter’s request.[100] The following day, the prosecutor announced the captain’s release. As Maehara himself admits, the handling of the situation was a “mishmash” (chūtohanpa).[101] Notably, both countries subsequently sought to mend the relationship. Kan met with Wen on the sidelines of a summit in October 2010, where both agreed to promote a mutually beneficial strategic relationship. When the triple disaster of March 11 struck Japan in 2011 — the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant — Beijing expressed condolences and provided aid in an effort to improve relations.[102] Preparations thus began to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sino-Japanese normalization. As Kan’s successor, Noda Yoshihiko, recalls, in 2011 he “had no premonition” that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would again become a problem.[103] [quote id="4"] Consequently, when in April 2012 the mayor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro, proposed purchasing the islands, it was a development unwelcome to both governments. Ishihara was well known as a right-wing nationalist and there were concerns he would provoke Beijing such that “Sino-Japanese relations would enter an extremely dangerous state.”[104] To contain the situation, the new Noda administration began quietly exploring the possibility of preemptively buying the islands. Behind the scenes, it also reached out to Chinese officials, arguing it was better for the Japanese government to hold title to the islands. Initially, the Japanese government thought it might be making headway in gaining tacit acceptance from Beijing of this point.[105] The hope was to surreptitiously transfer the islands’ ownership without any publicity. This plan failed, however, when in July 2012 a Japanese newspaper made the story front-page news and Noda was forced to publicly announce his plans to pursue a potential purchase.[106] Compounding the damage, this announcement also coincided with an important wartime anniversary, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 which had precipitated Imperial Japan’s full-scale military invasion of China. Even still, the Chinese government only began meaningfully escalating its response in mid-August, suggesting it, too, had initially wished to handle the issue quietly. But despite the apparent initial intentions of both sides, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands subsequently became a highly salient flashpoint. Yet it remains unclear why.

The Three Dimensions of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands’ Increased Significance

In examining the evidence, three dimensions of the islands’ increased significance emerge as important in explaining how the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands have developed into the flashpoint they are today. Those dimensions are symbolic, domestic, and competitive. The initial catalyst for the islands to begin growing in significance was the 2010 collision incident. The 2012 Japanese purchase of the islands exacerbated this even further. The Symbolic Dimension Surveying official statements, news reports, and comments from government officials regarding the islands, it becomes clear that the dispute over the islands rapidly came to implicate much more than their immediate, tangible value. Political scientists have long suggested that international relations are populated with a variety of intangible concerns. State actors care about reputation, status, prestige, and honor within the international community.[107] In some cases, these are ends in themselves, such as, for instance, when international prestige satisfies a need for national self-esteem or a certain international status constitutes an important element of a state’s national identity. In other cases, they can be a means to an end — for example, in order to increase the international deference a state enjoys and ease its ability to achieve its desired outcomes.[108] The pursuit of intangibles — such as reputation — may even stem from mistaken fears over how other states will evaluate a given state’s resolve.[109] Such concerns may be particularly salient for state actors who believe their international standing does not reflect what they are due, or alternately, perceive their status and prestige to be slipping away. Apart from global concerns, there may also exist intangible concerns that are particular to certain relationships between specific states. These include not only particular fixations with relative status and hierarchy vis-à-vis key counterparts, but also historical resentments and grievances, stories of unrectified humiliation and betrayal, and even mutual suspicion and prejudices.[110] Even before 2010, Sino-Japanese relations had experienced various episodes of contention over intangible issues. In the early 2000s, issues concerning the legacies of Japanese aggression against China — the “history problem” as it is called — loomed large. In particular, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro’s annual visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese Class A war criminals are enshrined, were an especial irritant — by the end of his administration the top Chinese leadership refused to even meet with him.[111] This was exacerbated, among other things, by disputes over textbook content and ongoing wartime compensation issues.[112] Beijing’s official position was that Japan was not taking the proper attitude toward its history, while for many on the Japanese side, the Chinese government was also responsible for cynically playing up history and exaggerating the threat of Japanese militarism.[113] Indeed, in a 2010 poll, the majority of Chinese respondents blamed a lack of Japanese historical consciousness for the history problem between the two countries, while Japanese respondents primarily blamed China’s anti-Japanese education.[114] Nevertheless, these controversies over history played out primarily in the realm of rhetoric and, occasionally, protests — not military planning. The flare-up of the dispute over the islands, however, supplied these struggles over history a concrete focal point.[115] The official Japanese position is that the islands were terra nullis when declared Japanese territory in 1895. In the decades that followed, China did not challenge Japanese use of the islands, and neither did it object to U.S. administration of the islands after World War II. From the Japanese perspective, the Chinese government’s 1971 claim thus appeared suspicious so close on the heels of the publication of the U.N. Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East report suggesting the existence of significant petroleum deposits.[116] In this view, by making a historical claim Beijing was duplicitously inserting itself into the game retroactively when it appeared there was material gain to be had, again twisting history to its own political ends.[117] The official Chinese position, however, is that China first discovered and administered the islands and that Japan only secretly incorporated them after gaining the upper hand in the 1894–1895 Sino-Japanese War. The islands were thus Japanese spoils of war, ceded with Taiwan, and therefore subject to return under the 1945 terms of the Japanese surrender. But they were not returned, and the People’s Republic of China was excluded from the 1951 peace treaty process. Therefore, in 1971, as the United States prepared to transfer the islands to Japan, Beijing made its position clear.[118] In this reading, Japan is again white-washing past aggression and distorting history, and has “rejected and challenged the outcomes of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.”[119] Granted, these diverging historical arguments existed prior to the 2010 incident, and were known to activists and specialists. With the dispute thrust into the limelight by the events of 2010 and 2012, however, the islands became implicated in the larger “history problem” for the domestic publics in both states, with all the perceptions of bad faith that entailed. The islands became more than just another vessel for historical disagreements, frustrations, and grievances, however. They also came to implicate higher matters of justice. In China, this is exemplified by a sudden uptick after the People’s Daily referred to Japan as “stealing” (qiequ) the islands in 2010.[120] The language of theft was also used in Japan, where, as one Japanese commentator noted, the logic took the following pattern: The events triggered a “[the islands] ‘may be stolen’ victimhood-consciousness,” resulting in “an instantaneous ‘we cannot let [them] be stolen’ reflexive response.”[121] Certainly, if, as each country insists, the islands are its “inherent” territory,[122] the other country cannot but have criminal intent and is acting unjustly. All the above erupted against the larger backdrop of Sino-Japanese relations, in which China was seen in both countries as increasingly overshadowing Japan politically, economically, and militarily.[123] Notably, 2010 was the year China’s gross domestic product surpassed Japan’s, becoming second only to the United States’.[124] Consequently, within Japan, Beijing’s conduct crystallized fears of how a stronger China might behave in the future: bullying and ignoring the rules and using its military and economic might to assert its prerogatives in the region and beyond.[125] Indeed, as Smith notes, in Japan the 2010 incident earned the title “Senkaku shokku [shock],” as it demonstrated how a “hostile” China might behave.[126] Some in Japan even began suggesting a domino logic — “If we give them Senkaku, next it will be giving over Yonaguni Island or even the main island of Okinawa.”[127] These concerns resonated with poll results revealing unfavorable popular perceptions of Chinese people more generally, likely influenced by recent negative press concerning poor behavior by mainland Chinese tourists in Japan as well as a high-profile scandal involving poisoned Chinese food imports, but also suggesting possible racist undertones of longer lineage within certain parts of the population.[128] On the eve of the 2010 collision, only a small percentage of Japanese people reported viewing mainland Chinese as peaceful, altruistic, or trustworthy, and a majority in earlier polls described mainland Chinese people as greedy, nationalistic, and rude.[129] All this further echoed and bled into larger anxieties over Japan’s place in the world given its declining population and internal malaise.[130] [quote id="5"] For Beijing, however, Japanese behavior belied the notion that other states would accord China greater respect in line with its growing strength. The inverse logic of the Chinese axiom “those who are backwards will be bullied”[131] is that great powers should receive greater deference. Yet, from the official Chinese perspective, Japan was showing no such deference: It obstinately refused to acknowledge the dispute, unilaterally abrogated the implicit agreement between the two countries to shelve the issue, and repeatedly and flagrantly disregarded Beijing’s warnings.[132] In the words of a general in the People’s Liberation Army, “Japan should view these warnings very clearly, today’s China is different from the China of the past.”[133] The China of the past may have been preyed upon due to its weakness, but the strong China of today deserved to have its wishes respected. That Japan did not do so spoke to larger suspicions in China that Japan “cannot acknowledge any other Asian country, cannot accept any other Asian country’s development, believes Japan should stand eternally at the head of the Asian powers.”[134]  This corresponded to more general views recorded in polls: Large majorities of Chinese respondents perceived the Japanese people as arrogant, nationalistic, and violent.[135] The islands thus became a symbol of something larger for both countries. In the words of a former high-ranking Japanese defense official, “it is not a struggle over economic interests … it is not something that would affect the military balance, and so what is left is honor—it is a nationalistic symbol.”[136] Similarly, a former Japanese vice admiral stated that the islands “are a kind of psychological symbol … politically and psychologically we cannot allow China to take them.”[137] Former Japanese ambassador Miyamoto Yūji framed the stakes even more poignantly: “We consider giving them up, what will they do next, does Japan really want to be a part of China, dominated by Chinese influence? … If Japanese lose the guts to defend the Senkaku, we become, ‘Yes, I follow your orders, China, king.’”[138] Alternately, multiple Chinese interviewees in academia and at think tanks also privately conveyed the islands’ value to be neither strategic nor economic, but primarily symbolic and political.[139] As one scholar noted, the islands are worthless, but one cannot say so because the issue is too emotional. He continued, “The islands are emotionally important. They are just a few rocks, but we cannot back down. Japan took the islands when China was weak.”[140] In sum, following the 2010 incident, the dispute over the islands quickly became about much more than the islands themselves — they became concrete proxies in larger morally and emotionally charged struggles over history, reputation, recognition, victimization, and status. There is, therefore, an important symbolic dimension to the significance of the islands within Sino-Japanese relations. Their increased symbolic meaning elevated the dispute’s salience and raised the perceived stakes involved. The Domestic Dimension In examining how the dispute developed after the 2010 incident, it is equally impossible to ignore the domestic dynamics that were set into motion in both countries. Domestically, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands became a major political football. Much has been made within the international relations literature of “outbidding,” whereby domestic political actors seek to raise their profile and political chances by taking hardline foreign policy positions.[141] The conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands supplied an opportunity par excellence for such outbidding. Advocating harsher measures, domestic politicians and political activists were able to differentiate themselves from their competitors by playing to popular hawkish biases.[142] That said, for the leaders managing the territorial contest, the dispute over the islands constituted a point of exposure that domestic opponents could leverage on a domestic playing field that was not fully level. Not holding power, political opponents were at liberty to criticize without offering solutions or, alternately, to propose tactics that play well domestically regardless of their international ramifications. Importantly, the conflict also erupted at a difficult time for the leadership in both countries. The Democratic Party of Japan, a relatively new party without previous ruling experience, had assumed power. In China, a leadership struggle was underway. The conflict thus was a potential source of vulnerability for those in power and a potential source of ammunition for their critics. Within Japan, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan quickly came under fire for giving the appearance that the captain had been released due to pressure from Beijing. Linus Hagström has chronicled how policymakers, elites, and the press in Japan viewed the episode: “a diplomatic defeat,” “caved in to pressure,” “a humiliating retreat,” “a fiasco.”[143] Above all, the Democratic Party of Japan was attacked as “spineless.”[144] Even the Japanese ambassador in Beijing was criticized for responding to late-night summonses from the Chinese government.[145] The opposition also called for the Democratic Party of Japan to release the coast guard footage of the incident to clarify who was at fault. Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito argued the video was evidence and could not be made public, but this was ridiculed as deferring to Chinese sensibilities while Beijing spread untruths, such as the claim that the captain was innocent.[146] Consequently, a coast guard official who had access to the video and was angry with the Japanese government’s behavior leaked the footage.[147] The leak, in turn, ignited a further controversy over the ruling party’s control of its own officials.[148] The overall effect was a blow to the Democratic Party of Japan. As one parliamentarian who belonged to that party relates, after 2010, “we were in a different political climate … much of the criticism, or even I would say hatred towards the DPJ [Democratic Party of Japan] stems from that, that we were seen as being weak … almost having a collusive relationship with the Chinese.”[149] This, in turn, set the stage for 2012. By announcing his plan to purchase the islands, Tokyo’s mayor, Ishihara, cast himself as defending the national interest where the Democratic Party of Japan had failed: “The government should buy them, but it doesn’t. Tokyo will defend the Senkaku.”[150] Ishihara was known for his antipathy toward the People’s Republic of China — frequently referring to it with the derogatory term shina.[151] But this was also a political opportunity. As Noda observed, “He was the mayor of Tokyo, but after that he founds a new party, and becoming ambitious towards national politics, he may have been looking for something with which to appeal to the public.”[152] In the wake of 2010, that is exactly what happened: One early poll showed 69 percent support for Ishihara’s plan.[153] The Liberal Democratic Party followed suit, adding the purchase of the islands to its manifesto.[154] Ishihara quickly amassed a large number of public donations worth 1.4 billion yen, both increasing his leverage and making it difficult to back down.[155] Ishihara was also quite cavalier about the risks. Speaking privately with Noda, he suggested that even if China were provoked to military action, things would be fine, because “if it involves conventional forces, the Japanese Self Defense Forces would win.”[156] Afraid of what would happen should Ishihara purchase the islands, the Noda government thus entered into a covert contest with him to buy them first.  Although the Japanese government may eventually have sought ownership of the islands regardless so as to control their use, Ishihara accelerated its timeline, limited its options, and brought unwanted publicity.[157] Complicating matters, the islands’ owner was slow and fickle, causing some drama as both sides sought to curry favor with him.[158] Even after securing the owner’s agreement to sell, the Japanese government worried he might change his mind. Initially, the Japanese government was hopeful that its counterparts in Beijing might be amenable to its efforts. As events progressed, however, Japan’s top officials came to believe that Beijing would object irrespective of the timing and thus it would be better to finish with buying the islands quickly before the upcoming transition in China’s leadership.[159] All the same, the forcefulness of the Chinese side’s response exceeded their expectations.[160] [quote id="6"] Even with the purchase completed, the islands remained a prominent domestic political issue in Japan. In the September 2012 leadership race within the Liberal Democratic Party — which was playing out against the backdrop of violent Chinese protests — all candidates but one advocated increasing Japan’s “effective control of the islands.[161] Chief among these was Abe Shinzō, the victor, who proposed solidifying Japanese control by building a small harbor or structure to house officials on the islands.[162] He continued a hawkish line going into the December lower-house elections, attacking the Democratic Party of Japan for “three years of diplomatic failure.”[163] The Liberal Democratic Party won, making Abe prime minister. In office, he has maintained a firm position, which arguably has played to his advantage as he has sought to increase Japanese defense spending and loosen legal restrictions on the Japanese Self Defense Forces.[164] Domestic dynamics within the People’s Republic of China are less clear, but internal political pressures also appear to have been at work. Scholars have long noted the importance of Sino-Japanese relations to the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, this being a domain of particularly strong perceived nationalist emotions.[165] Nevertheless, prior to the 2010 incident, the administration of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had been actively working to improve relations with Japan, reaching a controversial agreement to jointly develop oil and gas resources in the East China Sea. The agreement attracted internal domestic criticism and at the time was pushed through despite objections from members of various maritime security agencies.[166] The Japanese arrest of the fishing captain put Hu and Wen in a difficult position, as it suggested their concessions were for naught. Not surprisingly, the joint agreement was an early casualty of the 2010 confrontation.[167] Wen, in turn, became the face of China’s criticism of Japan, sharply attacking the arrest as “eliciting the anger of all Chinese at home and abroad.”[168] The incident also elicited domestic protests, although these were subject to official restraint.[169] Interestingly, in 2010, Chongqing was both one of the earliest sites of anti-Japanese protests and one of the last — the final demonstration occurred after the central government had begun officially discouraging protests.[170] This protest was apparently tolerated by local authorities, given that calls for the rally had “circulated days in advance and drawn international media coverage.”[171] Although it was unclear at the time, we now know the Chinese Communist Party secretary of Chongqing at the time, Bo Xilai, was engaged in a fierce political struggle for a top leadership position. One of his methods of gaining support was an unorthodox campaign to foster mass popularity. That Bo might have sought to leverage the conflict for political gain is not inconceivable — it would have helped bolster even further his populist credentials while putting pressure on the center. Bo eventually fell in 2012 — embroiled in a drama involving the murder of an expat. This scandal, along with the larger leadership succession struggle within the Chinese Communist Party prior to the 18th Party Congress, unfolded at the same time as Tokyo was moving closer to buying the islands. The Japanese purchase thus came at a very difficult time for Hu and Wen.[172] As the then-Japanese ambassador recounts, from July 2012 onward, Beijing repeatedly communicated to Tokyo that it should desist with efforts to purchase the islands, conveying the message: “The Party Congress is in November, this will be an extremely large problem.”[173] The exact details of the leadership struggle remain a mystery — including Xi Jinping’s sudden disappearance in September, officially due to a “back injury.”[174] What is clear, however, is that a considerable hardening of Beijing’s position vis-à-vis Tokyo occurred in mid-August 2012, following a Chinese Communist Party leadership conference in Beidaihe. Online censorship of nationalistic posts concerning the islands dropped precipitously starting August 18, and in mid-August Chinese authorities became more permissive toward nationalist activities, allowing demonstrations and attempts by Hong Kong activists to land on the islands, even providing media coverage.[175] Several Japanese scholars have argued that political adversaries used the dispute to attack Hu and gain leverage in the leadership struggle, with some even suggesting the demonstrations were part of a plot by the subsequently deposed security chief, Zhou Yongkang.[176] Even if this was not the case, Hu likely was politically on his heels, with a close aide under fire for corruption.[177] Consequently, it is doubtful he could have tolerated letting the contest with Japan become an additional source of vulnerability. Unsurprisingly, when Hu encountered Noda at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference on Sept. 9, 2012, he strongly conveyed Beijing’s objections. As Noda recalls, he approached Hu to give his condolences and offer support for a recent earthquake, but “not at all responding to that, what came back was ‘[we] absolutely cannot accept nationalization of the islands ….’”[178] Hu’s warning did not dissuade Noda. The following day he announced the purchase of the islands. As the then-Japanese ambassador has observed, the timing “was a bit diplomatically rude.”[179] For Hu, it was a clear attack on his authority. For Hu’s successor Xi, however, it presented an opportunity and a crucial trial. Xi was reportedly charged with heading a leading small group — a key policy body reporting to the Politburo — to respond to the Japanese purchase.[180] If true, this constituted an important test of his leadership abilities and offered Xi the chance to project strength in contrast to Hu. The safest course for him was arguably a harsh response, provided it did not escalate out of control. As there were already calls to increase patrols around the islands, Xi could prove his mettle by supporting them, which apparently he did.[181] Xi continued to take a hard line toward Japan in the years that followed, siding with the People’s Liberation Army in 2013 — over objections from the foreign ministry — on the plan to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone over the disputed islands.[182] The political logic makes sense: When he was first in office, Xi was embroiled in fierce domestic battles, most prominently the massive anti-corruption campaign that has become one of the defining elements of his rule. Taking a hardline stance prevented criticism, appealed to key constituencies in the military and security apparatuses, and bolstered his popularity as a strong leader. It would be two years before Xi would first meet Abe, and only after both sides had hammered out statements seemingly agreeing to disagree about the existence of a disagreement over the islands.[183] The combination of vulnerability and opportunity therefore pressured leaders in both countries to adopt a harder line. But numerous minor actors on both sides — too many to list here — also saw opportunity in the conflict. This extended beyond the many nationalist activists on both sides who mobilized for the cause — online and in the streets — and the tabloids supplying sensationalist reporting. The conflict also became the subject of pulpy books for the general public, ranging from the People’s Liberation Army Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong’s History of Disputed Islands to former Japanese Coast Guard official Isshiki Masaharu’s account of leaking the collision footage.[184] Conspiracy theorists also found an outlet, suggesting, for instance, that the 2010 collision was a Chinese plot or that the death of a Chinese panda on loan to Japan was deliberate.[185] Jiun Bang, in her excellent work on nationalist kitsch, has mapped the myriad ways private entrepreneurs in both Japan and China capitalized on the dispute.[186] Merchandise included stickers, keychains, shirts, food, and even alcohol — one example being the 106-proof “Diaoyudoa patriotic liquor” available in an artillery-shell-shaped flask. Private investors even sought to purchase the trawler from the 2010 collision to house a sarcastically named “Sino-Japanese Friendship Restaurant.”[187] In China, the conflict spawned videogames, from the cartoonishly racist “Protect Diaoyudao,”[188] to the more realistic “Glorious Mission,” which was designed by the People’s Liberation Army.[189] All served to further cement the dispute within the public sphere and raise its salience. In sum, there has been a clear domestic dimension to the significance of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Developments concerning the islands generated both opportunities for domestic political actors and private entrepreneurs and potential vulnerabilities for each country’s leadership. Those not in power had incentives to play up the drama and the intangible stakes of the contest for selfish ends — whether personal, ideological, or commercial. For those in power, the stakes of the contest — for better or worse — potentially included their own political fate. The overall impact domestically was to direct attention to the contest and exert pressure on policymakers to take ever stronger actions in response. The Competitive Dimension The 2010 incident — and the subsequent 2012 purchase even more so — sparked not just immediate retaliatory gestures but also a variety of concurrent forms of positional competition between the two countries. Akin to the security dilemma, in which actions by one side to improve its security render the other side less secure, here actions taken to improve one side’s position in the dispute were detrimental to the other’s, thus eliciting counter-measures. Such positional competition did not just take military form, it also unfolded within the domains of public diplomacy, legal contestation, and even historical research. Through move and counter-move, a set of interactive dynamics emerged that even now continue to propel escalation of the dispute forward. The islands are thus also significant in that they became a concrete, enduring target for all these positional struggles. Things began with the disagreements over the Japanese arrest of the trawler captain and the subsequent purchase of the islands, both of which generated strong reactions from both countries. In response to the latter, in particular, Beijing launched a “diplomacy of anger,”[190] expressing outrage, suspending meetings and exchanges, and taking various punitive measures. As one Chinese scholar writes, “to defend the sovereignty of the Chinese Diaoyu Islands, the Chinese government adopted a series of forceful countermeasures” ranging from sending maritime surveillance ships and aircraft into the area, to the official publication of basepoints and baselines around the islands, to even introducing daily televised weather forecasts for the islands.[191] Beijing also permitted protests in over 200 cities, some involving violence and the destruction of stores, restaurants, and property associated with Japan.[192] Japan, in turn, was host to various forms of activism, as well as protests and denunciations of China’s behavior.[193] Although the vehemence of these immediate reactions appears to have subsided, both states also took further measures to solidify their respective standing in the dispute, setting in motion various forms of positional competition that remain ongoing. Military Competition Perhaps the most prominent form of positional competition has been in the military — or paramilitary — domain, whereby each side seeks advantage through acquiring and deploying relevant capabilities. Most strikingly, official Chinese vessels and aircraft have become a regular presence around the disputed islands, challenging Japanese control. Following the 2010 arrest of the Chinese trawler captain, Beijing successively sent a number of official vessels into the contiguous zone surrounding the islands. After the 2012 purchase, these increased markedly: Sixty-six patrols entered the islands’ territorial waters over the subsequent year.[194] In the latter half of 2013, these stabilized into regular patrols two or three times per month,[195] and were accompanied by increasing Chinese air patrols as well.[196] The initial Japanese response was to shift half of its entire coast guard to the area surrounding the islands and keep up a constant pace of scrambling fighters to intercept approaching Chinese aircraft.[197] The longer-term response on both sides, however, has been a qualitative and quantitative increase in both the capabilities deployed in the immediate vicinity of the islands as well as the overall portfolio of capabilities that both sides possess. Beijing has steadily increased military spending and has also invested heavily in its paramilitary maritime forces.[198] Certainly, this is a trend that predates 2010 and involves a multitude of factors. But this spending includes capabilities that would be useful for a scenario involving the islands. Indeed, official Chinese ships appearing in adjacent waters have, of late, become larger and more militarily capable, with a number of Chinese navy vessels being repurposed as coast guard ships.[199] Correspondingly, Japan has increased its military spending and responded with a variety of measures, including the construction of new Japanese Self Defense Forces and Japanese Coast Guard facilities on nearby islands, the creation of a “dedicated Senkaku Territorial Waters Guard Unit” to maintain a “24/7 presence” around the islands, a 50 percent increase in coast guard tonnage, and the creation of an amphibious force capable of retaking remote islands.[200] Japan has also repeatedly sought U.S. support, receiving assurances that their defense agreement covers the islands and successfully seeking revisions to the bilateral defense guidelines so as to better respond to potential contingencies involving the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.[201] [quote id="7"] The overall consequence of the above developments is a much more crowded maritime environment coupled with a greater increase in the potential force both sides can bring to bear. As Adam Liff and Andrew Erikson note, “Despite … the fact neither Beijing nor Tokyo wants conflict, the post-2012 operational status quo has significantly increased the possibility of even an unintended miscalculation or incident.”[202] There have been close encounters, including incidents in which Chinese military vessels have locked onto Japanese counterparts with fire-control radar and episodes of “mock dogfighting” between both sides in the air.[203] As each state seeks to materially defend or improve its position, the potential danger of the situation increases. Public Diplomacy However, the ongoing, interactive material competition is not the only one in play. Positional jockeying has also unfolded in the realm of public diplomacy, with each country appealing for support internationally. As the conflict proceeded, Beijing became particularly active in broadcasting its position — mobilizing diplomats to author op-eds in foreign newspapers, encouraging demonstrations abroad, releasing a new white paper, and creating a multi-language pamphlet for international distribution.[204] Kitagami Keiro, an aide in Noda’s administration, recalled Noda presenting him the Japanese-language version of the pamphlet, saying, “one of my friends visited China for business purposes and they gave him this. … We have to give our side of the argument.”[205] Consequently, Japan began producing its own pamphlets and videos, and diplomats were given orders to respond where possible — at the United Nations, at international conferences, and in the opinion pages of major foreign newspapers.[206] At times, this bordered on the absurd, as when Chinese and Japanese diplomats in Britain traded public accusations as to which was more akin to Voldemort, the villain from the Harry Potter books.[207] The core message each country endeavored to convey, however, was more serious. Beijing sought to portray Japan as an unrepentant, militaristic challenger to the post-World War II order, while Tokyo sought to portray itself as upholding a rules-based order in the face of broad Chinese revisionism in both the East and South China Seas.[208] Legal and Historical Contestation The public diplomacy campaigns intersected with two other domains in which Sino-Japanese positional struggles were unfolding: those of legal contestation and historical scholarship. Legal imperatives, in particular, can have quite pernicious effects, motivating competitive “displays of sovereignty” to avoid any sign of acquiescence and to counter every move made by the other side.[209] In particular, this has driven contests between Chinese and Japanese vessels over jurisdictional control in the waters off the islands. Legal argumentation also incentivizes each side to promote self-serving interpretations while denying any legitimacy to the position of the other, reinforcing a sense of self-righteous victimization. As noted above, the Japanese legal claim contends the islands were terra nullis and that, for decades, it exercised effective control with Chinese consent, while Beijing argues its legal claim on the basis of prior discovery and the Japanese conditions of surrender in 1945.[210] Discrepancies between these justificatory histories feed the impression that each side’s national cause is just and the other’s is duplicitous. Thus, as both countries seek to legitimate their claims, they become cemented in positions ever less amenable to compromise. To supplement their legal claims, both countries have also resorted to competitive historical documentation and research. Each side has sought to support its position with historical maps, documents, and sympathetic scholarship.[211] History has also been marshalled to fortify domestic support through historical exhibitions and updated textbooks.[212] Historical argumentation can work in destabilizing ways, however. For example, in 2013, two Chinese scholars published a piece in the People’s Daily arguing not only that the Diaoyu Islands belonged to Taiwan, but that even Japanese claims to the Ryukyu Islands had a troubled history.[213] According to one of the authors, the goal was to point out, “If one says that the Ryukyus in early history were not part of Japan, what evidence does Japan have to prove that the Diaoyu Islands are Japanese territory[?]”[214] Ostensibly intended to discredit Japanese claims to the islands as “inherent territory,” in Japan, the essay was interpreted much more ominously, with conservative papers proclaiming, “not just the Senkaku, China’s blatant intention to seize all of Okinawa has become visible.”[215] The article only provided further confirmation of Chinese malevolence to hawks in Japan arguing that the islands were just the first domino. In short, the islands have also grown in significance as the focus of ongoing positional competition across a variety of domains. They act as a concrete object for both sides to continue to struggle over. As each side has mobilized its diplomats, soldiers, scholars, and lawyers for their respective efforts, the result has been ever hardening positions and more points of friction within Sino-Japanese relations. Even after the immediate tensions subsided, these various forms of competition have continued to unfold, shaping mutual perceptions and setting the stage for further tensions. Perhaps most crucially, these different forms of competition appear to be taking on lives of their own irrespective of the original value of the stakes involved. Indeed, it is, in general, not the place of those tasked with achieving positional advantage to question the aims — only to find the best way to execute their mandate. Thinking in Three Dimensions The recent increase in significance of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands has three key dimensions. The first is the symbolic dimension, which consists of the expanding, intangible stakes that were projected onto the islands and elevated their prominence. The second, the domestic dimension, encompasses the ways in which the islands became a political football, generating increased internal pressure on leaders on both sides to take firmer measures. And the third is the competitive dimension, which refers to the role the islands have played as an object of various positional struggles that continue to unfold. Even as the relationship has now taken an apparent turn for the better, various forms of positional competition are still operative and a collision at sea or in the air could easily set off a new round of tensions. Unquestionably, the three-dimensional account outlined here draws significant inspiration from existing, process-focused strands within the literature on territorial disputes. First, it echoes approaches that highlight the symbolic dimension of territorial disputes, including concerns about rivalry, reputation, and symbolic entrenchment.[216] But it does not promote any one concern — such as reputation — over the others, arguing that a multiplicity of intangible concerns have simultaneously been in play, including prejudices, moralized judgments, status issues, and resentment. Second, it builds on work that stresses the importance of the domestic dimension.[217] But it does not treat these dynamics as necessarily more pronounced in democracies,[218] nor does it focus only on the domestic coalitions that involvement in these disputes engenders.[219] It additionally highlights how a wide variety of actors — journalists, academics, activists, and even economic opportunists — participated in elevating the domestic salience of the dispute. Lastly, it resonates with work that explores the interactive nature of disputes in terms of positional competition — whether this involves argumentation or militarization — but broadens the focus to include the arenas of international public diplomacy, legal rationalization, and historical research.[220] Beyond this, however, it is crucial to note that none of the developments outlined above played out in isolation. Quite the contrary. At various times, when one facet of the islands’ significance increased, the other dimensions were affected as well. The island’s growing symbolic significance, for instance, rendered them more attractive for use as a domestic political football. Indeed, a variety of substate actors in the domestic realm — politicians, journalists, online commentators, demonstrators, even businesses producing nationalist kitsch such as “Diaoyu Beer,” sporting the exhortation to “drink the Diaoyu, strengthen your patriotism!”[221] — leveraged the symbolic import of the islands to their own ends. But at the same time, the symbolic meaning of the islands also grew in return as a result of their activism. Ishihara, in particular, was a key protagonist in this regard, stoking concerns that “before we know it, Japan could become the sixth star on China’s national flag.”[222] [quote id="8"] The rising symbolic and domestic stakes attached to the islands, in turn, increased the weight of demands on policymakers to take firmer measures, both in the waters around the islands and in the arena of international public opinion. These actions, however, set in motion their own escalatory, interactive dynamics, generating additional points of friction.  The People’s Daily article on the “unresolved” status of Okinawa mentioned above is a prime example of this — an escalation in the realm of historical argumentation that provided ammunition to Japanese hawks while exacerbating more general Japanese concerns over China’s intentions. Moves such as this only served to further heighten the symbolic and domestic import of the islands. Conversely, while counterfactuals are always problematic, there exists a strong logical argument that were one to have stripped away any one of these dimensions of the islands’ significance, events might have played out quite differently. Without the ineffable anxieties, frustrations, and resentments that became symbolically attached to the islands, the islands would arguably have been less salient a political issue for domestic opportunists to exploit. Here, too, Ishihara looms especially large. Had he not been able to leverage the issue for sizable donations and public support, his threat to purchase the islands would have lacked credibility. Without the domestic significance of the islands as a source of political vulnerability — whether for the beleaguered Democratic Party of Japan government or during the troubled leadership transition in Beijing — both governments would have perhaps had more room to delay, downplay the issue, or seek alternative courses of action. Lastly, without the significance of the islands as a concrete and enduring focal point of positional jockeying that continues even now on multiple fronts, the potential risk of new cycles of conflict involving the islands would be significantly reduced.

Conclusion

In many ways, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands have played the role of what the famous British film director Alfred Hitchcock labeled a “MacGuffin” — an object that the protagonists of a narrative find themselves struggling to obtain. For instance, “in crook stories it is always the necklace and spy stories it is always the papers.”[223] For Hitchcock, the attributes of the MacGuffin were more or less irrelevant. The MacGuffin was only important because it gave the main characters something to fight over, thus driving the plot forward and rendering the film compelling. In Hitchcock’s words, “the logicians are all wrong in trying to figure out the truth of a MacGuffin, since it’s beside the point. … To me, the narrator, [it is] of no importance whatever.”[224] Similarly, the argument here is that asking after the “truth” of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, in terms of their prior strategic, economic, or historic value, is not of much analytical use. Rather, we should look to the roles they play in the larger story. They are significant within Sino-Japanese relations as a symbol, a domestic political football, and an object of various forms of ongoing positional competition. The purpose of this article has been to provide an evidence-based, theoretically informed account of how and why the contest over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands has turned into what it is. The three-dimensional approach taken here may apply to other disputes to greater or lesser degrees as well, and this could offer an interesting avenue for future research. But it should also be noted that the contest over the islands is distinctly characterized by being initially unwelcome by both sides and seemingly detached from the actual, tangible stakes involved. Given the potential dangers implicated in this dispute, making sense of it is an important task in and of itself. Moreover, understanding the dynamics at work can help inform how we consider potential paths forward. That said, there is no erasing the past. The politicized nature of the dispute means the options available for reversing the developments of the past several years are quite limited. However, one could endeavor to call public attention to the limited tangible worth of the islands. Taking into account both the tremendous value of stable economic and political relations between Japan and the People’s Republic of China, not to mention the massive potential damage even a minor armed clash over the islands might produce, the concrete value of the islands pales in comparison, especially in light of their relative unimportance for individual citizens’ lives and livelihoods. Framing the dispute in this manner would create political incentives to contain or shelve the conflict and work to detach the islands from the intangible significance they have come to accrue. But at the same time, there are parties on either side who might strongly push back against such attempts — and indeed, a number of China hawks already have[225] — thus rendering this option decidedly difficult. And while recent efforts to set up crisis communication mechanisms are to be welcomed, more needs to be done to decrease the possibility of dangerous incidents in the vicinity of the islands. One avenue would be an agreement to mutually reduce or limit deployments to the area coupled with the explicit understanding that this would alter neither side’s legal position. Even better, declaring the islands and their territorial waters a mutually recognized nature sanctuary would offer good reason to keep ships out of the vicinity.[226] Currently, however, this option is unlikely to find much domestic support in either country. Whatever measures are taken, the eventual goal should be to return the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands to the periphery of Sino-Japanese relations. After all, despite the swirl of anxiety and resentment, political struggles and intrigue, and contests for military and diplomatic advantage, at the center of this dispute lies just a set of uninhabited rocks — rocks of questionable substantive value at that.   Acknowledgements: This paper is the result of much time, attention, and assistance from many individuals. I want to thank Andrea Bjorklund, Ja Ian Chong, Janina Dill, Reinhard Drifte, Sarah Eaton, Erik Gartzke, Chenchao Lian, David Leheny, Kate Sullivan de Estrada, and anonymous reviewers for this journal for their extraordinarily helpful feedback, as well participants in sessions at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Goettingen, the University of Tokyo, and the 2019 International Studies Association Annual Meeting in Toronto for their comments. Rosemary Foot deserves special thanks for suffering through multiple drafts and offering so many brilliant insights. I am very grateful to the Social Science Research Council’s Abe Fellowship for funding and supporting research for this project, and especially to Nicole Restrick Levit and Tak Ozaki — who went way beyond the call of duty — for all their support. I am also very indebted to the Institute for Social Studies at the University of Tokyo for hosting me, and Maeda Hiroko, Kawashima Shin, Matsuda Yasuhiro, Gregory Noble, Takahara Akio, and so many more (for whom I will err on the side of caution in leaving anonymous) for being so welcoming to me while I was in Tokyo. A similar debt of gratitude goes to all those in China who took the time to speak with me and who also, for obvious reasons, will remain anonymous. Megan Oprea provided excellent editing help in getting this article polished for publication. It goes without saying, the views and errors of this paper are mine.   Todd Hall is an associate professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations and tutor in politics at St Anne’s College. His research interests extend to the areas of international relations theory; the intersection of emotion, affect, and foreign policy; and Chinese foreign policy. Recent publications include articles on the dynamics of crises in East Asia, provocation in international relations, and the lessons of World War I for contemporary East Asian international politics. Professor Hall is also the author of Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage (Cornell University Press), which was named co-recipient of the International Studies Association's 2016 Diplomatic Studies Section Book Award.     Image: Al Jazeera English [post_title] => More Significance than Value: Explaining Developments in the Sino-Japanese Contest Over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => more-significance-than-value-explaining-developments-in-the-sino-japanese-contest-over-the-senkaku-diaoyu-islands [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-09 10:59:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-09 15:59:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?p=1833 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are presently the focus of a dangerous contest between the People’s Republic of China and Japan, one that even now has the potential to spark a military conflict that could draw in the United States. How has this come about? Whether seen from a strategic, economic, or historical perspective, the value of the islands does not appear to merit the risks of such a contest. Consequently, what has driven the escalation is not anything particular to the islands themselves, but rather the increasing symbolic stakes attached to them, their role within the domestic politics of both sides, and the measures each side has taken to shore up its respective claims. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 2, Iss 4 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Prior to 2010, the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were a relatively peripheral issue in Sino-Japanese relations.  ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => In short, although potential oil and gas resources may have initially generated an interest in the islands decades ago,  it currently remains unclear what resources actually lie in the surrounding seabed... ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Even today, the islands remain nothing more than small, isolated, uninhabited features without any population, meaningful infrastructure, or sites of major religious or historical consequence.  ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => But despite the apparent initial intentions of both sides, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands subsequently became a highly salient flashpoint.  ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => All the above erupted against the larger backdrop of Sino-Japanese relations, in which China was seen in both countries as increasingly overshadowing Japan politically, economically, and militarily. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Afraid of what would happen should Ishihara purchase the islands, the Noda government thus entered into a covert contest with him to buy them first. ) [6] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => As each state seeks to materially defend or improve its position, the potential danger of the situation increases. ) [7] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => At various times, when one facet of the islands’ significance increased, the other dimensions were affected as well. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 2437 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 296 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] For the purposes of this piece, uses of the term “China” post-1949 shall refer to the People’s Republic of China. [2] The Japanese name for the islands is “Senkakushotō,” while the People’s Republic of China uses “Diaoyudao”; for the purposes of neutrality, this piece uses “Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.” A “contiguous zone,” as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, consists of the waters extending not more than 24 nautical miles “from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured” in which states may “exercise the control necessary to (a) prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea; [and] (b) punish infringement of the above laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea.” See: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, accessed on July 9, 2019, https://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf. [3] This account is reconstructed from contemporary reporting and interviews with anonymous Japanese officials. For Japanese news reports, see: “Senkaku ni gunkan, mimei no kinpaku,” [Chinese warship near Senkaku, early morning tension], Asahi Shimbun, June 9, 2016, Morning Edition, 2; “Senkaku setsuzoku suiiki ni Chūgoku gunkan,” [Chinese warship in Senkaku contiguous zone], Yomiuri Shimbun, June 9, 2016, 1; “Senkaku setsuzoku suiiki ni Chūgoku gunkan,” [Chinese warship in Senkaku contiguous zone], Mainichi Shimbun, June 10, 2016. [4] Vice Minister Saiki Akitaka, author’s interview, Tokyo, July 14, 2017. Subsequent analysis suggested the People’s Liberation Army Navy was not engaged in a planned provocation, but rather reacting to Russian warships transiting the contiguous zone from the south, returning to Vladivostok. See, “Chūgoku gunkan ga Senkaku shūhen no setsuzoku suiiki-hairi…” [Chinese warship enters contiguous zone around Senkaku…], Reuters, June 9, 2016, https://jp.reuters.com/article/china-frigate-senkaku-idJPKCN0YU2NF; Some, however, suggested Sino-Russian collusion. See, “Senkaku setsuzoku suiiki ni Chūgoku gunkan,” [Chinese warship in Senkaku contiguous zone], Mainichi Shimbun, June 10, 2016. [5] This paper focuses primarily on relations between Japan and the People’s Republic of China concerning the islands. Relations between Japan and Taiwan and between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China concerning the islands are outside the purview of this article. [6] See, “Senkaku Islands Q&A,” Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 13, 2016, http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/senkaku/qa_1010.html. [7] Mark Manyin, Senkaku (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) Islands Dispute: US Treaty Obligations (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2016). [8] Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), 176–78; Michael McDevitt, Senkaku Islands Tabletop Exercise Report (Suffolk, Virginia: Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, 2017); Eric Heginbotham and Richard J. Samuels, "Active Denial: Redesigning Japan's Response to China's Military Challenge," International Security 42, no. 4 (Spring 2018): 148, https://doi.org/10.1162/isec_a_00313. [9] Sheila A. Smith, Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), 190. [10] Full-text search of People’s Daily articles for “钓鱼岛” comparing the period between Sept. 6, 2005, and Sept. 6, 2010, to the period between Sept. 7, 2010, and Sept. 7, 2015. For longer-term analysis showing a similar trend, see, Yasuhiro Matsuda, "How to Understand China's Assertiveness since 2009: Hypotheses and Policy Implications," Center for Strategic and International Studies, Strategic Japan, April 2014, 4. [11] Yasuo Nakauchi, "Ryōdo O Meguru Mondai to Nihon Gaikō ― 2010-Nen Ikō No Ugoki to Kokkai Rongi" [Territorial issues and Japanese diplomacy — Developments after 2010 and Parliamentary Debate], Rippō to chōsa, 342 (2017): 3. [12] Baidu Zhishu query for the personal computer search history data for “钓鱼岛,” using http://index.baidu.com/ (Baidu account necessary for use) accessed July 12, 2018. Interestingly, closely tracking this was searches for “钓鱼岛地图” (Diaoyu Islands map) suggesting many people were trying to locate the islands. [13] Google Trends query for “尖閣” search history in Japan, https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=JP&q=尖閣, accessed Aug. 7, 2018. Notably, the most interest appears in November 2010, ostensibly due to the video scandal discussed below. [14] See, “Trends in Chinese Government and Other Vessels in the Waters Surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and Japan's Response,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, June 8, 2018, https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/page23e_000021.html; “China’s Activities Surrounding Japan’s Airspace,” Ministry of Defense of Japan, accessed June 26, 2018, http://www.mod.go.jp/e/d_act/ryouku/. [15] “Japan, China Launch Maritime-Aerial Communication Mechanism,” Mainichi Shinbun, June 8, 2018, https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180608/p2a/00m/0na/002000c. [16] Paul Diehl and Gary Goertz, Territorial Changes and International Conflict (New York: Routledge, 2002), 14–18; Paul Diehl, A Road Map to War: Territorial Dimensions of International Conflict (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1999), x–xi; Monica Duffy Toft, "Territory and War," Journal of Peace Research 51, no. 2 (2014): 187–89, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022343313515695; Paul Hensel, "Contentious Issues and World Politics: The Management of Territorial Claims in the Americas, 1816–1992," International Studies Quarterly 45, no. 1 (March 2001): 81–109, https://doi.org/10.1111/0020-8833.00183. [17] Li Ran, “Zhuanjia cheng riben kanzhong wo guo diaoyudao zhanlue jiazhi,” [Experts claim Japan is focused on the strategic value of our country’s Diaoyu Islands], Renmin Wang, July 7, 2012, http://world.people.com.cn/n/2012/0717/c115361-18534590.html; Akimoto Kazumine, "The Strategic Value of Territorial Islands from the Perspective of National Security," Review of Island Studies, Oct. 9, 2013, https://www.spf.org/islandstudies/research/a00008/. [18] Toshi Yoshihara, "China's Vision of Its Seascape: The First Island Chain and Chinese Seapower," Asian Politics and Policy 4, no. 3 (July 2012): 293–314, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1943-0787.2012.01349.x. [19] Measured from Taisho-jima/Chiweiyu. [20] Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter, Tools of Owatatsumi: Japan's Ocean Surveillance and Costal Defence Capabilities (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2015), 11, 103. [21] Toshi Yoshihara, "Sino-Japanese Rivalry at Sea: How Tokyo Can Go Anti-Access on China," Orbis 59, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 69–71, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orbis.2014.11.006. [22] Yoshihara, "China's Vision of Its Seascape," 306–07. [23] Heginbotham and Samuels, "Active Denial." [24] Taylor Fravel and Alexander Liebman, "Beyond the Moat: The Plan’s Evolving Interests and Potential Influence," in The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles, ed. Saunders, et al. (Washington, DC: CreateSpace, 2011), 53–54; Zhu Fenglan, "21 Shijichu De Riben Haiyang Zhanlue," in Yatai Diqu Fazhan Baogao, ed. Zhang Yunling and Sun Shihai (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2006), 249. [25] For the dimensions, see, “The Senkaku Islands: Location, Area, and Other Geographical Data,” Review of Island Studies, Feb. 17, 2015, https://www.spf.org/islandstudies/info_library/senkaku-islands/02-geography/02_geo001.html; for the quote, see Manyin, "Senkaku (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) Islands Dispute," 1. [26] Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich, "Future Warfare in the Western Pacific: Chinese Antiaccess/Area Denial, US Airsea Battle, and Command of the Commons in East Asia," International Security 41, no. 1 (Summer 2016): 7–48, https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00249. [27] Anonymous interviews, Japanese Self Defense Force officials, Tokyo, April–May 2017. [28] Anonymous interview, former Japanese Defense Ministry official, May 2017. [29] Biddle and Oelrich, "Future Warfare in the Western Pacific," 23–24. [30] Retired Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, author’s interview, Tokyo, April 19, 2017. [31] "Occupation and Island Building," Center for Strategic and International Studies, Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative, https://amti.csis.org/island-tracker/. [32] James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, "Five Shades of Chinese Gray-Zone Strategy," National Interest, May 2, 2017, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/five-shades-chinese-gray-zone-strategy-20450. [33] Ball and Tanter, Tools of Owatatsumi, 22–27. [34] Victor Prescott and Clive Schofield, The Maritime Political Boundaries of the World (Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005), 436­–39. [35] Cited in James Manicom, Bridging Troubled Waters: China, Japan, and Maritime Order in the East China Sea (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014), 43. [36] Manicom, Bridging Troubled Waters, 44. [37] See, for instance, Caihua Ma et al., "Diaoyudao Ziyuan Jiazhi Tanjiu " [Study of the resource value of the Diaoyu Islands], Zhongguo Yuye JIngji, no. 6 (2012): 126. [38] See Lengcui Fei, "Diaoyudao Daodi Cangle Duoshao Shiyou?" [How much oil do the Diaoyu Islands really contain?], Qingnian yu Shehui, no. 11 (2012): 34; for the original, see, "Japan Will Press Efforts to Exploit Major Oil Find," New York Times, Sept. 1, 1969, 2. [39] Qian Song, "Haiyang Shiyou--Shiyou Shengchan Zengzhang De Qianli Suozai " [Offshore oil- the potential for growth in oil production], Zhongguo shiyou he huagong jingji fenxi, no. 2 (2006): 46. [40] "East China Sea," U.S. Energy Information Administration, Sept. 17, 2014, https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/regions-topics.php?RegionTopicID=ECS. [41] Anonymous interview, Beijing, July 2018. [42] Diet Session 164, Sangiin gyōsei kanshi iinkai, April 24, 2006. Calculated based on consumption figures provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “International Energy Statistics,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed Feb. 12, 2018, https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/. [43] "East China Sea." [44] Calculated based on consumption figures provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “International Energy Statistics,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed Feb. 12, 2018, https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/. [45] Paul O’Shea, "How Economic, Strategic, and Domestic Factors Shape Patterns of Conflict and Cooperation in the East China Sea Dispute," Asian Survey 55, no. 3 (May/June 2015): 555–56, https://doi.org/10.1525/as.2015.55.3.548. [46] Nobukatsu Kanehara and Yutaka Arima, "New Fishing Order-Japan's New Agreement on Fisheries with the Republic of Korea and with the People's Republic of China," Japanese Annual of International Law, no. 42 (1999): 27–28, https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/jpyintl42&div=4&g_sent=1&casa_token=&collection=journals. [47] Hirose Hajime, "Kaijōhoanchō Ni Yoru Senkaku Keibi No Rekishi" [A history of Japanese Coast Guard policing of the Senkaku], Sōsa kenkyū 65, no. 9 (2016). [48] Makomo Kuniyoshi, "Senkakushotō Ni Okeru Gyogyō No Rekishi to Genjō" [History and current state of Senkaku fisheries], Nippon Suisan Gakkasishi 77, no. 4 (2011): 707; Tseng Katherine Hui-yi, Lessons from the Disturbed Waters: The Diaoyu/Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands Disputes (Singapore: World Scientific, 2015), 75–78. Given that fish generally do not pay attention to borders, this is not surprising. [49] “Fuon'na ryōba/Senkaku” [Turbulent fishing grounds/Senkaku], Ryuku Shimpo, March 1, 2013, 3. [50] Thomas Peacock and Matthew H. Alford, "Is Deep-Sea Mining Worth It?" Scientific American 318, no. 5 (May 2018): 72–77, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-race-is-on-to-mine-and-protect-the-deep-seafloor/; G.P. Glasby, "Deep Seabed Mining: Past Failures and Future Prospects," Marine Georesources and Geotechnology 20, no. 2 (2002): 165, https://doi.org/10.1080/03608860290051859. [51] Nobuyuki Okamoto et al., "Current Status of Japan's Activities for Deep-Sea Commercial Mining Campaign," paper presented at the 2018 OCEANS-MTS/IEEE Kobe Techno-Oceans (OTO), 2018. [52] Satoshi Ueda and Nobuyuki Okamoto, "Nihon Shūhen Kaiiki Ni Bunpu Suru Kaiteinessuikōshō No Kaihatsu Purojekuto No Gaiyō," [The Overview of Project for Developing Seafloor Massive Sulfides in the EEZ of Japan (sic)], Journal of MMIJ no. 131 (2015). [53] And this would depend on the People’s Republic of China asserting an exclusive economic zone on the basis of sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which it has not yet done. Such a claim on these resources, particularly those more northerly, would more likely be based on continental shelf entitlements. See, Mark J. Valencia, "The East China Sea Dispute: Context, Claims, Issues, and Possible Solutions," Asian Perspective 31, no. 1 (2007): 139, https://www.jstor.org/stable/42704579. For the Chinese claim, see, “Submission by the People’s Republic of China Concerning the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf Beyond 200 Nautical Miles in Part of the East China Sea,” United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Dec. 14, 2012, https://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/submissions_files/chn63_12/executive summary_EN.pdf. [54] Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky, "International Law's Unhelpful Role in the Senkaku Islands," University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, no. 29 (2007): 931, https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/upjiel29&div=27&g_sent=1&casa_token=&collection=journals. [55] See, Article 121, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, accessed on July 9, 2019, https://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf. [56] The requirement was clarified as, “the objective capacity of a feature, in its natural condition, to sustain either a stable community of people or economic activity that is not dependent on outside resources or purely extractive in nature.” See, “The South China Sea Arbitration (the Republic of the Philippines V. The People’s Republic of China),” Permanent Court of Arbitration Press Release, The Hague, July 12, 2016, https://pca-cpa.org/en/news/pca-press-release-the-south-china-sea-arbitration-the-republic-of-the-philippines-v-the-peoples-republic-of-china/; Manyin, "Senkaku (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) Islands Dispute," 1. [57] Clive Schofield, "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? Progress and Challenges in the Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries since the Drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," in 30 Years of UNCLOS (1982-2012): Progress and Prospects, Guifang Xue and Ashley White (Beijing: China Universtiy of Political Science and Law Press, 2013). [58] Ramos-Mrosovsky, "International Law's Unhelpful Role in the Senkaku Islands," 907. [59] Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, author’s interview, Tokyo, July 10, 2017. [60] Yuan Luo, "Diaoyudao Bu Shi Wuzuqingzhong De 'Huangdao,'" Huanqui Shibao, Sept. 4, 2012. [61] Andrew Chubb, "Propaganda, Not Policy: Explaining the PLA's Hawkish Faction (Part One)," China Brief 13, no. 15 (2013), https://jamestown.org/program/propaganda-not-policy-explaining-the-plas-hawkish-faction-part-one/. [62] Ankit Panda, "A New Chinese Threat in the East China Sea? Not So Fast," The Diplomat, July 23, 2015, https://thediplomat.com/2015/07/a-new-chinese-threat-in-the-east-china-sea-not-so-fast/. [63] Rongxing Guo, Territorial Disputes and Seabed Petroleum Exploitation: Some Options for the East China Sea (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, September 2010), 9, 19, https://www.brookings.edu/research/territorial-disputes-and-seabed-petroleum-exploitation-some-options-for-the-east-china-sea/; Manicom, Bridging Troubled Waters, 154. [64] “Sekō keizai sangyō daijin no kakugigo kishakaiken no gaiyō” [Press conference with METI Minister Sekō after Cabinet Meeting], Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Sept. 13, 2016, http://www.meti.go.jp/speeches/kaiken/2016/20160913001.html. [65] Guo, Territorial Disputes and Seabed Petroleum Exploitation, 19; Manicom, Bridging Troubled Waters, 154. [66] Reinhard Drifte, "The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Territorial Dispute Between Japan and China: Between the Materialization of the "China Threat,” UNISCI Discussion Papers 32, no. 32 (May 2013): 26, http://dx.doi.org/10.5209/rev_UNIS.2013.n32.44789; “Sangiin gyōsei kanshi iinkai,” Diet Session 164, April 24, 2006. [67] Clive Schofield and Ian Townsend-Gault, "Choppy Waters Ahead in 'a Sea of Peace Cooperation and Friendship'?: Slow Progress Towards the Application of Maritime Joint Development to the East China Sea," Marine Policy 35, no. 1 (2011): 28–29, https://econpapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:marpol:v:35:y:2011:i:1:p:25-33. [68] Diehl and Goertz, Territorial Changes and International Conflict, 19–20; Toft, "Territory and War," 189. [69] “Zhonghua renmin gongheguo waijiaobu shengming (1971 nian 12 yue 30 ri)” [Chinese People’s Republic Foreign Ministry Statement (1971 December 30)],” Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China, accessed April 5, 2018, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/diaoyudao/chn/flfg/zcfg/t1304543.htm. [70] Akira Ishi et al., Nitchu Kokkou Seijouka, Nitchu Heiwa Yuukou Jouyaku Teiketsu Koushou [Concluding Negotiations for Sino-Japanese Normalization, the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship] (Tokyo: Iwanami, 2010), 68. [71] Alessio Patalano, "Seapower and Sino-Japanese Relations in the East China Sea," Asian Affairs 45, no. 1 (2014): 37, https://doi.org/10.1080/03068374.2013.876809. [72] Taylor Fravel, Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China's Territorial Disputes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008). [73] Ishi et al., Nitchu Kokkou Seijouka, Nitchu Heiwa Yuukou Jouyaku Teiketsu Koushou, 68. [74] Masato Tomebachi, Senkaku Wo Meguru “Gokai” Wo Toku [Resolving misunderstandings surrounding the Senkakus] (Tokyo: Nihon Kyōhōsha, 2016), 92; Lili Zhang, Xin Zhongguo He Riben Guanxi Shi [History of Relations between Japan and the new China] (Shanghai: Renmin Chubanshe, 2016), 146. [75] Tomebachi, Senkaku Wo Meguru “Gokai” Wo Toku, 16–17, 79–97; Taylor Fravel, "Explaining Stability in the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Dispute," in Getting the Triangle Straight: Managing China-Japan-US Relations, ed. Gerald L. Curtis, Ryosei Kokuburn, and Jisi Wang (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2010). [76] Daniel Tretiak, "The Sino-Japanese Treaty of 1978: The Senkaku Incident Prelude," Asian Survey 18, no. 12 (December 1978): 1235–49, https://doi.org/10.2307/2643610. [77]  Tretiak, "The Sino-Japanese Treaty of 1978, 1243; Hajime, "Kaijōhoanchō Ni Yoru Senkaku Keibi No Rekishi," 114–16; Ryosei Kokubun et al., Nitchūkankeishi [History of Sino-Japanese Relations] (Tokyo: Yuhikaku Aruma, 2014), 133. [78] Mori Kazuko, Nitchū Hyōryū [Sino-Japanese Drift] (Tokyo: Iwatami Shinsho, 2017), 89, 215. [79] Kazuko, Nitchū Hyōryū, 90; Kokubun et al., Nitchūkankeishi, 179–80. [80] Richard C. Bush, The Perils of Proximity: China-Japan Security Relations (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2010), 74–75. [81] Mori Kazuko, Nitchū Hyōryū, 208–11. Miyamoto Yūji, former Japanese ambassador to the People’s Republic of China (2006–2010), author’s interview, Tokyo, May 12, 2017. Importantly, this also resulted in a strengthening of the Japanese security operations around the islands. See, Bush, The Perils of Proximity, 74–75. [82] Jinxing Chen, "Radicalization of the Protect Diaoyutai Movement in 1970s-America," Journal of Chinese Overseas 5, no. 2 (2009); Smith, Intimate Rivals, 127–34, 212–17, https://doi.org/10.1163/179303909X12489373183055. [83] Erica Strecker Downs and Phillip C. Saunders, "Legitimacy and the Limits of Nationalism: China and the Diaoyu Islands," International Security 23, no. 3 (Winter 1998/1999), https://www.jstor.org/stable/2539340; Smith, Intimate Rivals, 127–34; Jessica Chen Weiss, Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China's Foreign Relations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 116–18. [84] Shi Jiangtao, “Protesters Barred from Diaoyu Mission,” South China Morning Post, July 20, 2004, 5. [85] Weiss, Powerful Patriots, 120–25; Downs and Saunders, "Legitimacy and the Limits of Nationalism." [86] Tomebachi, Senkaku Wo Meguru “Gokai” Wo Toku, 81. [87] Zhang, Xin Zhongguo He Riben Guanxi Shi, 153. [88] Downs and Saunders, "Legitimacy and the Limits of Nationalism." [89] “The World Factbook, East and Southeast Asia: China, 2017,” Central Intelligence Agency, accessed on March 13, 2018, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html. [90] Fravel, "Explaining Stability in the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands Dispute,"159. [91] Tir, "Territorial Diversion." [92] Krista Wiegand, Enduring Territorial Disputes: Strategies of Bargaining, Coercive Diplomacy, and Settlement (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011), 98. [93] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 190. [94] “Senkaku oki shōtotsu jiken no chūgokujin senchō ga “jitaku nankin” jōtai, shutsugyo mo kinshi” [The Chinese captain from the Senkaku sea collision under ‘house arrest,’ also forbidden to fish], Searchina, May 24, 2011. [95] Citing a Japanese official, Tsuyoshi Sunohara, Antō: Senkaku Kokuyū-Ka [Secret Battle: The Senkaku Nationalization] (Tokyo: Shinchō bunko, 2013), 23. [96] Alastair Iain Johnston, "How New and Assertive Is China's New Assertiveness?" International Security 37, no. 4 (Spring 2013): 23–26, https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00115; Linus Hagström, "‘Power Shift’ in East Asia? A Critical Reappraisal of Narratives on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Incident in 2010," Chinese Journal of International Politics 5, no. 3 (Autumn 2012): 282–83, https://doi.org/10.1093/cjip/pos011. Johnston disputes the embargo using Japanese import data. This, however, overlooks the pervasive “quasi-smuggling” on the People’s Republic of China side — many 2010 rare earth exports were not classified as such when leaving the People’s Republic of China but registered in Japanese import data upon arrival. See, Nabeel A. Mancheri and Marukawa Tomoo, Rare Earth Elements: China and Japan in Industry, Trade and Value Chain (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Institute of Social Science, 2016), 159–60. At the time, multiple Japanese firms did report sudden stoppages, and officials from the People’s Republic of China reportedly confirmed the embargo to U.S. counterparts privately. See, Richard McGregor, Asia's Reckoning: The Struggle for Global Dominance (London: Penguin UK, 2017), 265. The evidence, however, remains inconclusive at best. Michael Green et al., Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia: The Theory and Practice of Gray Zone Deterrence, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 9, 2017, 85–90, https://www.csis.org/analysis/countering-coercion-maritime-asia. On the detention of Japanese nationals, see: Smith, Intimate Rivals, 191; Hagström, "‘Power Shift’ in East Asia?" 281. Hagström suggests the timing could be coincidental. [97] M. Taylor Fravel, "Explaining China’s Escalation over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands," Global Summitry 2, no. 1 (2016): 24–37, https://doi.org/10.1093/global/guw010. [98] Maehara, author’s interview. [99] Sunohara, Antō, 16–17, 36. [100] Sunohara, Antō, 39–43. [101] Maehara, author’s interview. [102] Sunohara, Antō, 49; Zhang, Xin Zhongguo He Riben Guanxi Shi, 299. [103] Noda Yoshihiko, former prime minister, author’s interview, Tokyo, Sept. 5, 2017. [104] Yoshihiko, author’s interview. [105] Sunohara, Antō, 173–83, 253–55. [106] Sunohara, Antō, 189–91. [107] Allan Dafoe, Jonathan Renshon, and Paul Huth, "Reputation and Status as Motives for War," Annual Review of Political Science no. 17 (May 2014): 371–93, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-071112-213421; T. V. Paul, Deborah Welch Larson, and William C. Wolhlforth, eds., Status in World Politics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Deborah Welch Larson and Alexei Shevchenko, "Status Seekers: Chinese and Russian Responses to US Primacy," International Security 34, no. 4 (Spring 2010): 63–95, https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2010.34.4.63; Barry O'Neill, Honor, Symbols, and War (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001); Richard Ned Lebow, A Cultural Theory of International Relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Reinhard Wolf, "Respect and Disrespect in International Politics: The Significance of Status Recognition," International Theory 3, no. 1 (2011): 105–42, https://doi.org/10.1017/S1752971910000308. [108] Dafoe et al., "Reputation and Status as Motives for War," 382–83. [109] Shiping Tang, "Reputation, Cult of Reputation, and International Conflict," Security Studies 14, no. 1 (2005): 34–62, https://doi.org/10.1080/09636410591001474; Jonathan Mercer, Reputation and International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010); Daryl Press, "The Credibility of Power: Assessing Threats During the 'Appeasement' Crises of the 1930s," International Security 29, no. 3 (Winter 2004/2005): 136–69, https://doi.org/10.1162/0162288043467478. [110] Reinhard Wolf, "Resentment in International Relations," paper presented at the European Consortium for Political Research Workshop on Status Claims, Recognition, and Emotions in International Relations, Mainz, March, 2013; Khaled Fattah and K.M. Fierke, "A Clash of Emotions: The Politics of Humiliation and Political Violence in the Middle East," European Journal of International Relations 15, no. 1 (2009), https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1354066108100053; Paul Saurette, "You Dissin Me? Humiliation and Post 9/11 Global Politics," Review of International Studies 32, no. 3 (2006): 495–522, https://www.jstor.org/stable/40072200; Richard Herrmann et al., "Images in International Relations: An Experimental Test of Cognitive Schemata," International Studies Quarterly 41, no. 3 (September 1997): 403–33, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2600790. [111] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 59; Ming Wan, Sino-Japanese Relations: Interaction, Logic, and Transformation (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), 260. [112] Caroline Rose, Sino-Japanese Relations: Facing the Past, Looking to the Future? (New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004). [113] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 95–96; Karl Gustafsson, "Recognising Recognition through Thick and Thin: Insights from Sino-Japanese Relations," Cooperation and Conflict 51, no. 3 (2016): 255–71, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0010836715610594. [114] “Dai 6-kai nitchū kyōdō seronchōsa” [The Sixth Japan-China Joint Attitude Survey], Tokyo-Beijing Fōramu,  Aug. 12, 2010, http://tokyo-beijingforum.net/index.php/survey/6th-survey. [115] For detailed analysis, see, Reinhard Drifte, "The Japan-China Confrontation Over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands–Between 'Shelving' and 'Dispute Escalation,'" Asia-Pacific Journal 12, no. 30 (2014), https://apjjf.org/2014/12/30/Reinhard-Drifte/4154/article.html. [116] “Senkaku Islands Q&A.” [117] The common Japanese term is ato dashi janken — entering a game of paper-rock-scissors after the other side has shown its hand. See, Tomebachi, Senkaku Wo Meguru “Gokai” Wo Toku, 6. [118] “Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China,” The State Council of the People’s Republic of China, September 2012, http://english.gov.cn/archive/white_paper/2014/08/23/content_281474983043212.htm. [119] “Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China.” [120] Chisako Masuo, "Lun Zhongguo Zhengfu Guanyu 'Diaoyudao' Zhuzhang De Fazhan Guocheng " [The Development Process of Chinese Official Discourse on Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands], Contemporary Japan and East-Asia Studies 2, no. 2 (2018): 17. [121] Takashi Okada, Senkaku Shotō Mondai: Ryōdo Nashyonarizumu No Miryoku [Senkaku Islands Problem: The Attraction of Territorial Nationalism] (Tokyo: Sososha, 2010), 3. [122] Both even use the same word, 固有 (Japanese: koyū, Chinese: guyou). [123] Giulio Pugliese and Aurelio Insisa, Sino-Japanese Power Politics: Might, Money and Minds (Springer, 2016); Michael Yahuda, Sino-Japanese Relations after the Cold War: Two Tigers Sharing a Mountain (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), 39–63. [124] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 21. This was mentioned repeatedly in interviews on both sides. [125]  Smith, Intimate Rivals, 189–236; Shogo Suzuki, "The Rise of the Chinese ‘Other’ in Japan's Construction of Identity: Is China a Focal Point of Japanese Nationalism?" Pacific Review 28, no. 1 (2014), https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2014.970049; Hagström, "‘Power Shift’ in East Asia?" 275–80. [126] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 189. [127] Okada, Senkaku Shotō Mondai, 3. [128] Yuko Kawai, "Deracialised Race, Obscured Racism: Japaneseness, Western and Japanese Concepts of Race, and Modalities of Racism," Japanese Studies 35, no. 1 (2015): 23–47, https://doi.org/10.1080/10371397.2015.1006598. [129] “Dai 6-kai nitchū kyōdō seronchōsa” [The Sixth Japan-China Joint Attitude Survey], Tokyo-Beijing Fōramu, 2006, http://tokyo-beijingforum.net/index.php/survey/6th-survey; "China’s Neighbors Worry About Its Growing Military Strength," Pew Research Center, Sept. 21, 2006, 4, https://www.pewresearch.org/global/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2006/09/GAP-Asia-report-final-9-21-06.pdf. [130] Hagström, "'Power Shift' in East Asia?" 292. [131] “Luohou jiu yao ai da.” See, Peter Hays Gries, China's New Nationalism: Pride, Politics, and Diplomacy (Oakland: University of California Press, 2004), 50–51. [132] Guo Jiping, “Diaoyudao shi zhongguo lingtu, tiezheng rushan” [The Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory, the mountain-high evidence is ironclad], Renmin Ribao, Oct. 12, 2012, 3. (Guo Jiping being the pseudonym for authoritative foreign affairs commentaries.) [133] Jin Yinan, Shijie Dageju Zhongguo You Taidu [The grand international setup, China has an attitude] (Beijing: Beijing Lianhe Chuban Gongsi, 2017), 66. [134] See, Wang Fan, Daguo Waijiao [Great Power Diplomacy] (Beijing: Beijing Lianhe Chuban Gongsi, 2016), 279. [135] "China’s Neighbors Worry About Its Growing Military Strength," 4. [136] Yanigisawa Kyōji, former assistant chief cabinet secretary for national security (2004–2009), author’s interview, May 24, 2017. [137] Koda, author’s interview. [138] Miyamoto, author’s interview. [139] Anonymous interviews, Beijing, June 18–July 5, 2017. [140] Anonymous interview, Beijing, June 2017. [141] Michael Colaresi, Scare Tactics: The Politics of International Rivalry (Syracuse University Press, 2005), 20, 29–35 [142] Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon, "Hawkish Biases," in American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation since 9/11, ed. A. Trevor Thrall and Jane K. Cramer (New York: Routledge, 2009). [143] Hagström and Jerdén, "Understanding Fluctuations in Sino-Japanese Relations," 276–79. [144] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 208. [145] Niwa Uichiro, Pekin Retsujistu [Scorching Beijing Days] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, 2013), 15. [146] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 206. [147] Masaharu Isshiki, Nani Ka No Tame Ni [For something] (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun Chuban, 2011), 87. [148] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 207–09. [149] Kitagami Keiro, Japanese Parliamentarian, author’s interview, Tokyo, June 6, 2017. [150] Sunohara, Antō, 78. [151] “Shina” was a term used by Imperial Japan. [152] Noda, author’s interview. On Ishihara’s political ambitions, see also, Okada, Senkaku Shotō Mondai 16–20, 104. [153] “Gaikō, kiki kanri' seronchōsa kekka” [Diplomacy, crisis management poll results], Shizuoka Shinbun, June 18, 2012, 2. [154] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 224. [155] Approximately $15,000,000. “Senkaku kifu-kin jōto” [Transfer of Senkaku donation money], Sankei Shinbun, 7 September 2012, 1. [156] Noda, author’s interview. [157] Nagashima Akihisa, special advisor to Noda for foreign affairs and national security (2011–2012), author’s interview, Tokyo, July 19, 2017. [158] Sunohara, Antō. [159] Noda, author’s interview. [160] Noda, Nagashima, author’s interviews. [161] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 234. [162] “Jimintōsōsaisen - shin sōsai ni Abe moto shushō” [LDP presidential election – new president, former PM Abe], Mainichi Shinbun, Sept. 27, 2012. [163] “Shūin-sen kōyaku bunseki - gaikō TPP” [Lower house election analysis – diplomacy, TPP], Yomiuri Shinbun, Dec. 14, 2012, 11. [164] Adam P. Liff, "Japan’s Security Policy in the “Abe Era”: Radical Transformation or Evolutionary Shift?" Texas National Security Review 1, no. 3 (May 2018), https://doi.org/10.15781/T29S1M35C. [165] Susan Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); William Callahan, China: The Pessoptimist Nation (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Gries, China's New Nationalism. [166] Anonymous interviews, Beijing, June 18–July 5, 2017; Manicom, Bridging Troubled Waters, 151; Bush, The Perils of Proximity, 79–80; Weiss, Powerful Patriots, 162–64. [167] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 191. [168] “Wenjiabao zongli zai niuyue qianglie duncu rifang liji wutiaojian fang ren” [Premier Wen Jiabao in New York strongly presses the Japanese side for an immediate and unconditional release], Zhongyang Zhengfu Menhu Wangzhan, Sept. 22, 2010, http://www.gov.cn/ldhd/2010-09/22/content_1707863.htm. [169] Weiss, Powerful Patriots, 160–88. [170] Weiss, Powerful Patriots, 182. [171] Weiss, Powerful Patriots. [172] McGregor, Asia's Reckoning, 272–74; "Report 245/Asia: Dangerous Waters: China-Japan Relations on the Rocks," International Crisis Group, April 8, 2013, 7–8, https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/north-east-asia/china/dangerous-waters-china-japan-relations-rocks. [173] Uichiro Niwa, Chūgoku No Dai Mondai [China’s Major Issues] (Tokyo: PHP Shinsho, 2014), 143. [174] McGregor, Asia's Reckoning, 279. [175] Christopher Cairns and Allen Carlson, "Real-World Islands in a Social Media Sea: Nationalism and Censorship on Weibo During the 2012 Diaoyu/Senkaku Crisis," China Quarterly no. 225 (March 2016): 23–49, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305741015001708; Weiss, Powerful Patriots, 198–205. [176] Kokubun et al., Nitchūkankeishi, 245–46; Kokubun Ryosei, Chū Kuni Seiji Kara Mita Nitchūkankei [Sino-Japanese relations from the perspective of Chinese politics] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2017), 223–24. [177] Li, Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era, 23–24. [178] Noda, author’s interview; see also, McGregor, Asia's Reckoning, 267–69. [179] Niwa, author’s interview. [180] McGregor, Asia's Reckoning, 270–71; International Crisis Group, "Dangerous Waters," 7. Linda Jakobson, “How Involved Is Xi Jinping in the Diaoyu Crisis?” The Diplomat, Feb. 8, 2013, https://thediplomat.com/2013/02/how-involved-is-xi-jinping-in-the-diaoyu-crisis-3/. Michael Swaine, “Chinese Views Regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Dispute,” Chinese Leadership Monitor, 41 (Spring 2013), 9-11, https://www.hoover.org/research/chinese-views-regarding-senkakudiaoyu-islands-dispute The group is potentially the “Leading Small Group for the Protection of Maritime Rights and Interests,” whose full membership is unclear, but it first appears in September of 2012 on the CV of at least one People’s Republic of China cadre; see, “Liu Cigui, Jianli,” Difanglingdao ziliaoku, accessed on Sept. 5, 2018, http://ldzl.people.com.cn/dfzlk/front/personPage11962.htm. [181] Andrew Chubb, "Assessing Public Opinion’s Influence on Foreign Policy: The Case of China’s Assertive Maritime Behavior," Asian Security 15, no. 2 (2019): 14, https://doi.org/10.1080/14799855.2018.1437723. [182] Anonymous interviews, Beijing, June 18– July 5, 2017. See also, Feng Zhang, “Should Beijing Establish an Air Defense Identification Zone Over the South China Sea?” Foreign Policy, June 4, 2015, https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/04/should-beijing-establish-an-air-defense-identification-zone-over-the-south-china-sea/. [183] Adam P. Liff, "Principles Without Consensus: Setting the Record Straight on the 2014 Sino-Japanese ‘Agreement to Improve Bilateral Relations,'" Working Paper, Nov. 8, 2014, http://www.adamphailliff.com/documents/Liff2014_PrinciplesWithoutConsensus.pdf. [184] Zhang Zhaogong, Shishuo Daozheng [History of Disputed Islands] (Beijing: Beijing Chubanshe, 2014); Isshiki, Nani Ka No Tame Ni. [185] Nani Ka No Tame Ni, 49–50. McGregor, Asia's Reckoning, 264. [186] Jiun Bang, "“Commodification of Nationalism,” Unpublished Manuscript, (2017). [187] This was thwarted by the government. “Senkaku shōtotsu no Chūgoku gyosen wo nitchūyūkō no resutoran-sen ni?” [The Chinese ship from the Senkaku collision to be a Japan-China friendship restaurant?], Searchina, May 24, 2011. [188] “‘Baowei diaoyudao’ youxi xiajiahou, yansheng duoge shanzaiban” [After the ‘Protect Diaoyudao’ videogame took off, it spawned many imitations], Renminwang, July 12, 2012, http://world.people.com.cn/n/2012/0712/c1002-18499038.html. [189] J. T. Quigley, “Diaoyu Island Assault,” The Diplomat, Aug. 2, 2013, https://thediplomat.com/2013/08/diaoyu-island-assault-pla-designed-video-game-simulates-sino-japanese-conflict/. [190] Todd Hall, Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015), 39–79. [191] Zhang, Xin Zhongguo He Riben Guanxi Shi, 300–01. [192] International Crisis Group, "Dangerous Waters," 10–11; Weiss, Powerful Patriots, 160–218. [193] Smith, Intimate Rivals, 224–28. [194] Green et al., Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia, 75,142–44; Fravel, "Explaining China’s Escalation Over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands," 32–33; Adam Liff, "China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations in the East China Sea and Japan’s Response," in China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations, ed. Andrew S. Erickson and Ryan D. Martinson (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019); “Trends in Chinese Government and Other Vessels.” [195] Liff, "China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations," 9. [196] “China’s Activities Surrounding Japan’s Airspace.” [197] Green et al., Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia, 143. [198] Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2018, (Washington, DC: United States Department of Defense, 2018). [199] Liff, "China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations," 13. [200] Adam P. Liff and G. John Ikenberry, "Racing Toward Tragedy?: China's Rise, Military Competition in the Asia Pacific, and the Security Dilemma," International Security 39, no. 2 (Fall 2014): 73–78, https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00176; Liff, "China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations," 17–21; Christopher Hughes, "Japan’s ‘Resentful Realism’and Balancing China’s Rise," Chinese Journal of International Politics 9, no. 2 (Summer 2016): 144–45, https://doi.org/10.1093/cjip/pow004. [201] Manyin, "Senkaku (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) Islands Dispute," 6–8. [202] Adam P. Liff and Andrew S. Erickson, "From Management Crisis to Crisis Management? Japan’s Post-2012 Institutional Reforms and Sino-Japanese Crisis (In)stability," Journal of Strategic Studies 40, no. 5 (2017): 604, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2017.1293530. [203] Liff and Erickson, "From Management Crisis to Crisis Management?" 605. Although the Chinese government denies the radar incidents. [204] “Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China”; “China Publishes Pamphlet on Diaoyu Islands,” Beijing Review, Sept. 21, 2012, http://www.bjreview.com.cn/special/2012-09/21/content_485502.htm. [205] Kitagami, author’s interview. [206] Kitagami, author’s interview; Linus Hagström, "The Sino-Japanese Battle for Soft Power: Pitfalls and Promises," Global Affairs 1, no. 2 (2015): 129–37, https://doi.org/10.1080/23340460.2015.990798; Pugliese and Insisa, Sino-Japanese Power Politics, 103–27. “Japanese Territory: Reference Room,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, accessed Sept. 10, 2018 at: https://www.mofa.go.jp/a_o/c_m1/senkaku/page1we_000012.html. [207] Tyler Roney, “The Sino-Japanese Voldemort Wars,” The Diplomat, Jan. 9, 2014, https://thediplomat.com/2014/01/the-sino-japanese-voldemort-wars-chinas-doomed-pr-battle/. [208] Hagström, "The Sino-Japanese Battle for Soft Power"; Pugliese and Insisa, Sino-Japanese Power Politics, 103–27. [209] Ramos-Mrosovsky, "International Law's Unhelpful Role in the Senkaku Islands," 906;  Paul O’Shea, "Sovereignty and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Territorial Dispute, Working Paper 240," (Stockholm: EJIS Stockholm School of Economics, 2012). [210] “Senkaku Islands Q&A”; “Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China.” [211] “Commissioned Research Report on Archives of Senkaku Islands,” Office of Planning and Coordination on Territory and Sovereignty, Cabinet Office, Japan, accessed Sept. 10, 2018, https://www.cas.go.jp/jp/ryodo_eg/report/senkaku.html; “Diaoyu Dao: The Inherent Territory of China,” National Marine Data and Information Service, accessed Sept. 10, 2018, http://www.diaoyudao.org.cn/en/. [212] “Shenyang ‘9-18’ lishibowuguan: jiang zengjia diaoyudao shishi zhanlan neirong” [Shenyang 9-18 history museum: will increase content of Diaoyu Island historical exhibit], Renminwang, Sept. 15, 2012, http://japan.people.com.cn/35467/7949966.html; “Ryōdo shuken tenji-kan hōmupēji” [National Museum of Territory and History Homepage], Japan, accessed Sept. 11, 2018, https://www.cas.go.jp/jp/ryodo/tenjikan/; “New Chinese Textbook Lays Claim to Senkakus, Dates Start of War with Japan to 1931,” Japan Times, Sept. 1, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/01/national/new-chinese-textbook-lays-claim-senkakus-dates-start-war-japan-1931/; “Japanese Textbooks Toe Government Line on Disputed Islands,” Nikkei Asian Review, April 7, 2015, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Japanese-textbooks-toe-government-line-on-disputed-islands. [213] Zhang Haipeng and Li Guoqiang, “Lun maguantiaoyue and diaoyudao wenti” [Discussing the Treaty of Shimonoseki and the Diaoyu Islands Question], Renmin Ribao, May 8, 2013, 9. [214] “Renminribao kan wen zhiyi liuqiu guishu” [The People’s Daily publishes an essay questioning the ownership of the Ryukyus], Zhongguo guangbowang, accessed Sept. 11, 2018, http://china.cnr.cn/xwwgf/201305/t20130510_512557847.shtml. [215] “Chūgoku no Okinawa ronbun” [China’s Okinawa essay], Sankei Shinbun, May 10, 2013, 2. [216] Hassner, "The Path to Intractability"; Barbara Walter, "Explaining the Intractability of Territorial Conflict," International Studies Review 5, no. 4 (December 2003): 137–53, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3186399; Colaresi et al., Strategic Rivalries in World Politics; Monica Toft, "Indivisible Territory, Geographic Concentration, and Ethnic War," Security Studies 12, no. 2 (2002): 82–119, https://doi.org/10.1080/09636410212120010. [217] Sumit Ganguly and William Thompson, Asian Rivalries: Conflict, Escalation, and Limitations on Two-Level Games (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011). [218] Paul K. Huth and Todd L. Allee, "Domestic Political Accountability and the Escalation and Settlement of International Disputes," Journal of Conflict Resolution 46, no. 6 (2002), https://doi.org/10.1177%2F002200202237928. [219] Stacie Goddard, "Uncommon Ground: Indivisible Territory and the Politics of Legitimacy," International Organization 60, no. 1 (January 2006): 35–68, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818306060024. [220] Goddard, "Uncommon Ground"; Hassner, "The Path to Intractability"; Vasquez, The War Puzzle Revisited, 110, 424–25. [221] “Diaoyudao pijiu,”[Diaoyu Islands Beer] Lecuntao.com, https://www.lecuntao.com/shop/item-362723.html. [222] Yuka Hayashi, “Ishihara Unplugged,” Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2012, http://on.wsj.com/19sZwZI. [223] Fred R. Shapiro, The Yale Book of Quotations (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006), 360–61. [224] François Truffaut, Hitchcock (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985), 192. [225] Jin, Shijie Dageju Zhongguo You Taidu, 62–63. [226] Reinhard Drifte, "Moving Forward on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Issue: Policy Context and Policy Options," Kokusai-hō gaikō zasshi [International Law Diplomacy Journal] 113, no. 2 (2014): 67–68. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1383 [post_author] => 271 [post_date] => 2019-02-24 05:00:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-24 10:00:33 [post_content] => Editor's note: This essay is adapted from a speech delivered at the Fifth Annual Texas National Security Forum held in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 30, 2018.   America is facing a crisis in its foreign policy imagination. This is not just a crisis among academics, although they are obviously a vital part of the conversation. Nor is this crisis restricted to career foreign policy hands. And it is definitely not limited to politicians. This is a crisis among the American people. The American people do not have a shared sense of what America is trying to accomplish in the world with its foreign policy. And if U.S. politicians and practitioners don’t recognize that reality here at home, then the United States cannot effectively advance its agenda abroad. Properly diagnosing this crisis — and locating a solution — means making some strong criticisms of recent American foreign policymaking. The goal is not to lay blame. Rather, it is to answer an urgent question: How did the United States get to a place where so many Americans seem open to taking an isolationist posture toward the world? Why is there such a strong impulse to disengage? One of the clear lessons of 2016 is that the public hasn’t wholly embraced America’s major foreign-policy decisions over the last several years — and perhaps even the last few decades. Many Americans believe that, since the end of the Cold War, the United States has failed to articulate a shared foreign-policy vision that’s bigger than this or that administration’s re-election plan. In fact, most Americans have come to treat foreign policy as just another Republican-versus-Democrat issue. In fairness, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the American people have had some luxury to do so. In this respect, America is a victim of its own success. It takes a big foreign-policy vision to draw 320 million people spread across a continental nation together into a common, enduring commitment. If America is going to send its children into harm’s way, it has to have a shared reservoir of ideas, a shared vision, a shared imagination of what its role on the global stage should look like. That’s a big challenge, especially at a time of intense disagreements in domestic policymaking, stoked by a media that profits from polarization. But in spite of that — or perhaps because of it — America needs a vision that is big enough to hold across election cycles. I am an unstinting advocate for American engagement in the world, and I think the impulse to withdraw from America’s important, longstanding commitments is a very bad thing. U.S. global leadership is indispensable, not only for the security of America’s friends and partners, but for protecting America’s own interests. When hell breaks loose on the other side of the world, it inevitably boomerangs home. When the United States doesn’t lead, chaos inevitably follows. If America continues to drift toward global disengagement, it will be sucked into all sorts of troubles that it can’t envision right now. The lesson of the two World Wars and of the Cold War is that the United States cannot avoid the world. America ultimately must lead a system of alliances. When it does otherwise, the consequences for the United States and its partners are much worse than policymakers are liable to anticipate in the short term, when disengagement can seem appealing. I have four objectives in this essay. First, I want to examine why so many Americans, on both sides of the political aisle, seem to be open to a U.S. policy of retreat. [quote id="1"] Second, I want to begin the work of “translating” the next era of U.S. engagement. Every acronym-agency report that has come out over the last 18 months has talked about the “return of great-power conflict,” and they are right. But there has been a failure to communicate that reality in terms that will persuade and build the support of millions of Americans. For example, America is clearly in a long-term tech race with China. But it’s just as clear that the American people either don’t realize it or are not convinced that it matters. Third, I want to suggest a few concrete steps that America can pursue as it continues to think about how to modernize U.S. intelligence, defense, and diplomacy for the digital era. Lastly, I want to offer some encouragement, because despite the fact that the United States faces big challenges, I’m confident that America can rise to meet them. There is a lot of talk about the “unprecedented” nature of the threats America faces today. Human beings tend to emphasize the discontinuity between historical periods, because we’re narcissists and we think, “We’re here, so this must be the inflection point of all history!” But it’s usually not true, and it’s the job of the historian to step in and say, “Sorry, everyone, but in fact there’s far more continuity than discontinuity at this moment.” However, there’s a case to be made that this is, in fact, one of the turning points in 230 years of American history, akin to America’s opening to global engagement at the beginning of the 20th century, or to the emergence of the Cold War. America’s complex security considerations are downstream of the digital revolution that the world is living through right now, which truly is changing everything. For all of human history, economics has been about atoms; looking forward, economics is going to be largely about bytes. And that change has all sorts of implications for intelligence, defense, and diplomacy. There is as much opportunity as chaos in this revolution. But only if America leads.

The Rush to Retreat

To begin, it’s important to look sympathetically at the position of the many American citizens who are increasingly skeptical of the post–World War II consensus position on U.S. global engagement and leadership. Many U.S. citizens aren’t exactly sure what they get out of America’s continued global engagement or what America’s goals are in the world. And perhaps it’s not so hard to see why they feel that way. America has endured nearly two decades of war, and there’s little end in sight to its involvement in the Middle East, the president’s recent announcements of troop withdrawal notwithstanding.[1] In Afghanistan, the Taliban is so bold that late last year they attacked the head of the American forces.[2] Three American soldiers were wounded in that ambush. A few weeks later, in a separate attack, four American servicemen were killed.[3] Some have hailed the ongoing negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, but given the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate directly with the government in Kabul, they are unlikely to be fruitful in the long term. American allies increasingly choose to free-ride under America’s security umbrella, instead of contributing meaningfully to their collective defense. American troops are currently stationed in more than three-quarters of the countries on the planet — more than 160 out of 195 — including many nations that have very significant economic and military resources.[4] Many of my constituents ask, “Why are we there? Why aren’t they paying their fair share?” In the eyes of many American citizens, the global financial system that the United States built increasingly seems not to be working in their favor. Again, that system is regularly exploited by free-riders, but especially — and more importantly — by bad actors like China. Outsourcing has upended longstanding job paths, and many American workers think that the financial system benefits a class of elites — a top 1 percent, or 10 percent, or 25 percent — whose interests are not those of the median worker. America has a broken immigration system and weak border security. The inability to assimilate new immigrants in a lawful, orderly way is undermining America’s national cohesion. I am a defender of America’s immigration tradition, but it’s important to recognize that there is a higher percentage of foreign-born residents living in the United States than at almost any time in American history — about 13 percent. The high-water mark was 14.5 percent between 1890 and 1920, a period of massive economic, political, and social disruption. America needs to have a national conversation about whether it’s making it possible for millions and millions of newcomers to become a part of the single American community. Moreover, the refusal to secure the U.S. border is a refusal to take seriously the national-security implications of a porous border. America’s adversaries around the world know that the U.S. border is penetrable. People in Washington tend to exaggerate particular threats, but the United States has plenty of adversaries that are well aware that its unsecured northern and southern borders and its shrugging approach to visa overstays are weaknesses to be exploited. This is just a sampling, but the takeaway is plain to see: The dissatisfaction of so many millions of Americans is a result of a failure by American leaders to persuade them that the United States has a coherent, long-term foreign-policy vision that gathers all the different parts of its national-security apparatus into one clear, definable whole. To understand how this has come about, take a look at recent history. Since the end of the Cold War and the fall of America’s last great adversary, the American people have seen their country’s foreign policy upended in important ways every time one party takes over from the other. When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, it was heralded as the “end of history” — the final triumph of liberal democracy over other political and economic systems and the vindication of the American way of life. [quote id="2"] The 1990s enjoyed the peace dividend of the Cold War: economic growth, worldwide stability, and a military drawdown. Under President George H.W. Bush, the United States waged a quick and relatively painless war to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, and over the following decade America’s most significant military engagements were in places like Bosnia and Serbia — tiny, perennially dysfunctional corners of Eastern Europe. There were individual tragedies and hardships, to be sure, but overall — and against the backdrop of a bloody 20th century — this was an unbelievable decade of peace and prosperity, and many American policymakers began to talk as if (and perhaps believe that) the happiness of the post–Cold War peace dividend would last forever. A single event ended that fantasy. On Sept. 11, 2001, America found it had a new enemy: not a great power, but pockets of fanatics associated with no state, wearing no uniform, willing to kill in the name of religion, and dedicated to the death of ordinary Americans. Quite understandably, American foreign policy was reoriented toward this real and urgent threat. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and, later, the Islamic State posed a unique concern to American security, and to U.S. friends and allies. Political, national-security, and intelligence-community conversations turned to the challenge of non-state actors. But, as became apparent, this reorientation was done to the exclusion of almost everything else, and it took for granted that the American people were committed to this new mission. The public broadly supported more engagement, it’s true. Unfortunately, however, that effort to combat non-state actors was never integrated into any long-term vision of America’s role in the world, or of America’s responsibilities for managing the international system as a whole. The public lost the thread, and the United States took its eye off the threat posed by rising powers like China and resurgent powers like Russia. So now, America, as a nation, finds itself caught off guard yet again. America has been surprised by Russia’s aggressive expansionism, not only in its own neighborhood but across Europe and the Atlantic. It is also surprised by China’s heavy hand over not only its Pacific neighbors but far afield — in places like Africa, where an increasing number of countries could be considered Chinese vassal states, and even in Central and South America. Who, in recent years, predicted the need for an updated Monroe Doctrine? America has been distracted with its own political short-termism. The country stumbles from agenda to agenda, seized by candidates’ and officials’ short-term political interests. There isn’t a shared sense of what America is doing in the long term, and why. On the whole, there are only those in power and those trying to displace those in power, and that’s not enough reason for Americans to support larger outlays or send their kids into harm’s way. America has lost any sense of a shared vision of its role on the global stage. Ultimately, this is unsustainable, and the American people are right to say that the inchoate status quo is not working. To his credit, President Donald Trump has intuited some of these problems. Because he thinks his mandate is, in part, to disrupt, he has been willing to call out the tendency of some foreign-policy experts to recycle old, tired rhetoric and ideas, and to pretend that old framings of problems are eternally valid — that the same appeals can be used in 2018 that were used in 1988. Candidate Trump sensed that a lot of Americans wanted someone to stand up to a foreign-policy establishment that, in their eyes, had grown lazy and distant. Unfortunately, I don’t think President Trump has solutions to the problems he has identified. He wants to disrupt, but toward no clear end. The suggestion that the United States should return to isolationism should prompt Americans to ask: “What has happened when we’ve tried isolationism in the past?” The plain answer is that it has never been good for the American people, let alone for America’s allies and neighbors. “America First” is a 1920s slogan for a 1920s policy. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work today. The great lesson of America’s interwar isolationism 100 years ago — when the United States won the “Great War” and then retreated, failing to secure the peace — is that it left the country woefully unprepared when another war broke out. America has a better historical example to guide its path today: the period following World War II. In the 1940s, America won a war, but then decided to “win the peace” as well. Instead of retreating after victory, America set out to build a new global order designed to prevent yet another catastrophic war. It established and led institutions, such as the United Nations, that were dedicated to securing diplomatic solutions to simmering conflicts. It established new financial institutions and trading regimes to secure the global financial order. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ensured a rules-based trading order that endures to this day in the form of the World Trade Organization. Most importantly, America formed security alliances such as NATO — arguably the most important and significant military alliance in two millennia — with friends who were dedicated not just to shared interests but to shared principles. At the heart of all these efforts was the recognition that a peaceful and prosperous world would redound to the benefit of Middle America. If the United States had not created that world, no one would have created it, and all nations would have suffered — including America. Everyone involved in American foreign policymaking needs to think again about how to persuade the American people of the value of an American-led, American-powered global order.

The Return to Great Power Competition

The contours of the era in which America now finds itself become clearer by the day. The “end of history” has come to an end.[5] The world is returning to the great power competition that for so long defined international relations. The United States needs to prepare for another long contest of nation-versus-nation, and the only way to prepare for a contest of that kind is by persuading Americans that it’s necessary. But America’s leaders have not been doing that. It is clear that Russia is on the move. President Vladimir Putin is hard at work trying to make his country great again. He and his circle of kleptocrats are looking for opportunities to reassert Russia’s traditional role as the hegemon that can dictate the fate of Europe and the Far East. Over the past decade, Putin has proven himself willing to take big risks to make that happen: annexing Crimea, invading Ukraine, facilitating the Assad regime’s atrocities in Syria (and committing some of Russia’s own atrocities), launching cyber attacks across Europe, and of course deploying the campaign of disinformation and hacking that disrupted the 2016 elections in America — something that will surely be resurrected for the 2020 elections. Putin is an evil man. But let’s not overstate his powers. He presides over a shrinking, aging population and a collapsing economy that is built largely around a single resource. But he is playing his bad hand very well, and he will be able to increase his winnings if the United States forgoes its role in Europe. America can no longer afford to be reactive to Putin’s aggressions — the time has come to be proactive. That said, U.S. leaders need to turn the attention of the American people to the coming long-term struggle with China. Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party leaders have created a hybrid system of communism and techno-mercantilism that brings together almost absolute state control and enormous economic power. It has been said that present-day China is what Stalin always intended to create, but was never able to manage. [quote id="3"] China is already making increasingly expansive territorial claims. Its navy is taking control of strategically important sea lanes and trade routes, in an effort to exercise control over more than $5 trillion of global annual trade, as well as military routes used by neighboring countries and the U.S. Navy. Beijing is making massive investments in the developing world, especially across Asia and Africa, but — as mentioned above — increasingly also in Central and South America, in an effort to crowd out American economic power.[6] China wants to make itself the partner of choice in the developing world, especially in those parts of the world that have historically been understood as falling within America’s sphere of influence. The massive Belt and Road Initiative is not only a project to expand Chinese economic power, but a way of fracturing the sovereignty of nearby states and turning them into outposts of Chinese interests. In the Western world, China uses its Confucius Institutes as propaganda outlets for party interests. In the United States, these institutes are present on a number of university campuses, and many academic leaders have been very naïve about the strings that are attached to them. China has dedicated itself to being the world’s go-to high-tech manufacturer by 2025, and its leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. If China can gain an edge in artificial intelligence research, as many experts believe it can, it will hold the whip hand over the next-generation tools that will be necessary for America’s national economic growth, as well as for its military and national security. China doesn’t want to end up in an open competition with the United States. Its goal is rather to win the battles of the future before they reach the battlefield. China is willing to play a decades-long, maybe even century-long, game to reclaim what it sees as its historic position as the “Middle Kingdom” — that is, to make itself once again the center of the world. Right now, most countries don’t want to be on “team China.” They know that it is bad for them. But many of them are telling American leaders that they can’t hold out for long. They know that the future in the Pacific — as well as globally — is going to be either America-led or China-led, and they’re beginning to place their bets. When the United States abandons the world stage, it strengthens China’s hand. It’s worth pointing out that China is not doing this alone. It’s getting a leg up from many American companies in Silicon Valley. These companies have shown a willingness to help the Chinese Communist Party perfect its security state in exchange for access to Chinese markets. This should be stated clearly: There are American companies that are tacitly undermining America’s national-security community at precisely the time when public-private, digital-technology partnerships are becoming essential for America’s economy, security, and politics. I don’t want to paint a picture of doom and gloom — and I’ll explain why below — but I do think America is in a critical period, and it doesn’t have a vision to guide it through the challenges that it is about to face. The United States has an adversary that is willing to move quickly, quietly, and cleverly, as well as operate on a very long timeline. China knows what it wants the world to look like in 25 and 50 years. Does America? The answer is clear: No. The American people have not been brought into a conversation about what the world might look like, for good or for ill, in 25 or 50 years. China has no such problem. The last century of American engagement in the world led to an extraordinary period of peace and prosperity. America’s refusal to continue to lead will threaten those achievements. A world in which America withdraws is a world in which America and its allies are in ever-present and increasing danger. Every alternative to American leadership will put U.S. interests in jeopardy, threaten U.S. security, and endanger America’s freedom to live by and promote its values. A world where the United States sits on its hands is a world where China, Russia, and others will exploit its weaknesses. That will be bad for America. Eventually, hell abroad will find its way to America’s shores.

The Need for Imagination

America needs a new way forward. It can’t retreat, but the above-mentioned problems people sense are real and can’t be ignored. U.S. policymakers can’t pretend the American voters will go along with a program of vigorous engagement without being persuaded, courted, and wooed. The challenge, then, is for policymakers to be honest about American foreign-policy failures — and also to make clear the opportunities available to America, as a nation, if together it is clear-eyed. In short, American foreign policy is suffering from a failure of imagination. The policymaking class has failed to get the American people to really imagine the possibilities of American leadership — or to imagine a world without it. The United States need a foreign-policy imagination that is broader, more adaptive, and more creative — an imagination suited to the digital age and to an era in which threats are more complex than they were in 1941, 1950, 1963, 1988, or 2001. America needs a foreign-policy imagination that can comprehend the new era of challenges it faces. I’m a rookie in politics. I’ve only been in my office for three and a half years, and I’m one of only eight people in the Senate who has never been a politician before. So I want to suggest a few ideas, although I don’t pretend that this is a sufficient menu. Nevertheless, I think these are examples of creative, concrete ways that those of us specially tasked with thinking carefully about America’s role in the world might move forward, and my hope is that they will spark other ideas and further discussion. Hybrid Warfare In an age of hybrid warfare, more and more of America’s contests will take place on servers and digital networks, rather than on traditional battlefields. This means the United States needs to rethink and reorient on multiple fronts. There is not one single place to start. Often, the debates about bureaucratic reorganization in the intelligence community (which I support) incapacitate substantive policy discussion, and prevent any forward progress. What the entire national-security apparatus should be able to do is take steps across different domains at the same time, rather than first figure out the exact proper sequence of every incremental change. It’s clear that the American intelligence community is not adequately equipped to meet the challenges of the next century’s great power competition. One potential step toward readiness would be to establish a Hybrid Threat Center, perhaps housed within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (although those specifics are best left for a future bureaucratic tussle). Like the National Counterterrorism Center, the Hybrid Threat Center would bring together experts from across different domains in the intelligence community — cyber, finance, info-ops, and more — to provide policymakers with an aggregated view of how China and Russia in particular, but also North Korea and Iran, are using asymmetric tools to influence the United States and undercut U.S. interests — including in domains that typically are not seen as political. This center would not replace the work being done at China and Russia desks. Rather, it would concentrate dispersed resources in an urgent direction. The Hybrid Threat Center would emphasize open-source analysis and technological trends like the spread of “deepfake” technology. It won’t be long before hackers with relatively simple tools will be able to fabricate convincing audio or video of things that were never said or didn’t happen. This is going to cause enormous chaos. It’s going to destroy lives and roil financial markets — and it might well spur military conflicts. America will need the resources to assess and react urgently. It will also need people who retain some public trust, who can say with authority what is real and what isn’t. Some of them will have to come from the national-security world. It will be important to think about what that entails for how these institutions operate day-to-day, amid so much political polarization. The center would be a key intelligence resource to help policymakers address the challenges America faces more swiftly. There are many areas right now where America is superior to China in theory but not in operational effectiveness, because America’s bureaucratic and legal cultures are messy and slow. [quote id="4"] Additionally, given that there is no widespread agreement in U.S. intelligence and national-security communities about the security and military implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, America needs a National Intelligence Estimate that can shape that kind of consensus. During the Cold War, these estimates about the Soviet Union were hardly perfect, nor wholly immune from politicization, but they performed the crucial task of helping thoroughly inform policymaking conversations, and so they became a launch-point for meaningful debate. A National Intelligence Estimate on the Chinese initiative could be a valuable tool to spur and inform debates that have so far been avoided, or conducted largely as political point-scoring exercises. Cyber Warfare The Hybrid Threat Center would, of course, touch deeply on cyber security policy, but much more than that is needed. We are a quarter-century into the era of cyber war, and America has only just begun to think about what this means for its long-term strategic interests and how that will guide America’s current operational and tactical posture. Russia’s exploits in the 2016 election demonstrated how vulnerable America’s critical infrastructure is to attack. No one in the U.S. government was thinking about election systems as part of critical infrastructure even just a few years ago. There are many more failures of imagination like that. America faces the prospect of modes of information warfare that it has not taken the time even to attempt to imagine. The United States needs to be able not just to parry but to go on the offense against China and other sophisticated actors who won’t just be posting Facebook ads, but will use their capabilities to undermine America’s defense capabilities and to (quite literally) change numbers inside U.S. financial institutions. Imagine the chaos when middle-class Americans’ checkbooks stop balancing — even by just a few dollars. That kind of attack is not at all hard to imagine, but what the resulting turmoil would look like and how to address it is not part of any public discussion. The most recent National Defense Authorization Act established a Cyberspace Solarium Commission modeled after President Dwight Eisenhower’s Solarium Commission, which brought together public- and private-sector experts to formulate defense policy for the nuclear age.[7] America needs that kind of initiative for the cyber age, and it’s my hope that the new commission will be just that. The current administration’s new National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, which replaces Presidential Policy Directive 20, delegates authority to the military and other agencies to conduct cyber operations, allowing quicker responses to cyber threats.[8] The Cyberspace Solarium Commission will hopefully forge consensus about taking more steps like this that can empower the people doing the frontline fighting in cyberspace. It’s clear that efficient lines of communication to inform the president about cyber issues have not yet been established. This president and future presidents need to have ready, regular access to cyber intelligence. How to fix this problem ought to be part of a broader delayering inside the intelligence community as a whole — where, again, a clumsy bureaucracy limits operational effectiveness. China is extorting intellectual property from American companies, especially in the tech sector. The U.S. Government Accountability Office should assess all collaborative technology initiatives between the United States and China to better understand what America is losing and how rapidly, and where the biggest exposures are. Lawmakers should direct the chief information security officer at the Office of Management and Budget to provide annual reports on where China is intentionally causing vulnerabilities in U.S. supply chains. Political Warfare For years, the United States has only reacted to a combination of cyber and information operations. That is unsustainable. America must be on defense and on offense. To that end, the U.S. government should make better, more robust use of organizations like the U.S. Agency for Global Media and establish some sort of political-warfare agency that can serve as a coordinating hub for American offensive activities and information operations across the globe. If there’s anything America’s adversaries hate, it’s transparency. The United States should make Xi’s and Putin’s finances unmistakably clear to their people and to the world. It should use government agencies’ social-media reach to amplify the work of non-governmental organizations and other groups and actors that expose the corruption of authoritarian regimes. America has a giant bully pulpit — it should use it. The U.S. government should fast-track asylum claims by whistleblowers who expose corruption in authoritarian regimes, and it should figure out ways to reward more of that work by America’s friends abroad. The National Counterintelligence and Security Center should produce an unclassified report on China’s influence and propaganda activities in the United States, especially on American campuses. And it should be publicized far and wide, so the American people know.  Alliances, Old and New Finally, policymakers need to communicate more thoughtfully with U.S. citizens about the value of alliances. In the last couple years, there has been a lot of talk about the costs of alliances. Yes, it’s true, they are expensive. But, to invoke former Defense Secretary James Mattis, the only thing more costly than having alliances is not having them.[9] The United States needs to rebuild the institutions that support these alliances. When America pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it ceded economic influence to China. It should re-engage. Nobody was happier about America’s retreat from that trade agreement than Beijing. Despite some technical concerns about the BUILD Act, America should continue to find creative ways for the U.S. public sector to encourage private-sector investment across Asia, as a counterweight to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. [quote id="5"] America needs to rethink its Pacific engagement in terms of multilateral institutional relationships, rather than the default hub-and-spoke configuration. China and Russia are flexing their muscles in the Pacific and the United States needs something more like a “NATO for Asia” that could turn America’s bilateral alliances into multi-party partnerships. The bottom line is that many of the institutions America helped to create or has used to safeguard its interests abroad, such as the U.N. Security Council, have grown sclerotic. That’s undeniable. But the solution is not to scrap institutional solutions altogether. The conversation that ought to take place is about what kinds of new institutions can be built in the present circumstances to serve America’s long-term goals. The word “reset” has become a bad word, but America does, in fact, need a sort of institutional “reset,” because right now many Americans think the choice is between retreating or clinging to every existing institution with a death grip. That’s a false choice. If they’re smart, America’s leaders ought to do three things at the same time, and as part of one coherent strategy: stop investing in any institutions that are obsolete or counterproductive, revamp institutions that are useful but need an update, and create new institutions where they are needed. It’s not necessary to embrace the idea that the only two choices are a reflexive defense of every jot and tittle of the current order, or global retreat. These are just a handful of possibilities. None of them is a silver bullet. Many of them would likely require serious tweaking, and some of them may sound good in theory but would prove impractical. That’s okay. What the country needs is more debate about new institutions that can support global engagement. It needs to start imagining new ways of seeing and organizing the world that are conducive to advancing U.S. interests.

America: Imagination as a Resource

I have spilled a lot of ink pointing out the failures of imagination in the U.S. foreign-policy establishment — how it has grown beholden to stale approaches and has defended confusion and incoherence and therefore ended up unprepared. It has not done anything to build a consensus about America’s role in the world over the next 25, 50, and 100 years. Nonetheless, I am very confident in the American imagination, because it’s an inexhaustible resource. In very practical, down-to-earth ways, America has unquestionably the greatest entrepreneurs, innovators, and creative thinkers on the earth. People who grow up in America grow up in an environment where they’re supposed to challenge the received wisdom — where they’re supposed to build the new mousetrap, the revolutionary app. People across the world — the 96 percent of the world that doesn’t live in the United States — know that if you’re an entrepreneurial, innovative thinker, America is the place to be. If the U.S. government can apply that cultural and economic power to the challenges America faces, it can win — just as it won the industrial race and the space race against the Soviet Union. But the American imagination is extraordinary in another way. America is the only modern nation founded on the idea that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. The country hasn’t always lived up to that belief, but over 230 years it has managed to steward it pretty well. And in the process, it has helped millions upon millions of people around the world realize that they don’t have to live under the thumb of tyrants. Continually striving to meet U.S. commitments to liberty and justice under changing circumstances has been a source of promise to the world. That’s still true today. That is why people suffering under repression still look to the United States as a beacon — and not to Russia or China. It isn’t a coincidence that just before the tanks rolled in, that group of students in Tiananmen Square in 1989 had built their own Statue of Liberty in the middle of the square. They didn’t do that because they wanted to go to Silicon Valley to build a new company. They did that because they knew that American principles hold not just for 320 million Americans, but for every person across the globe. There are important debates to be had about where American foreign policy ought to be situated along the idealist/realist continuum, but when the rubber meets the road, the single greatest asset for deploying a realist foreign policy continues to be the idealist commitment America has to universal human dignity. The American moral imagination elevates every human being. When America chooses to lead, peace, prosperity, liberty, and dignity follow — maybe not immediately, and maybe not easily, but eventually. But U.S. leadership is not an inherent law of the world. U.S. leadership isn’t guaranteed by fate or destiny. We the people — Americans at every level — are tasked with renewing that leadership in each generation. And so, the questions Americans should be wrestling with today are: Will we hand the reins to someone else? Will we retreat? Or will we do the hard work of re-envisioning American leadership for the 21st century and beyond?   Ben Sasse is a Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska.   [post_title] => The End of the End of History: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-end-of-the-end-of-history-reimagining-u-s-foreign-policy-for-the-21st-century [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-24 11:48:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-24 15:48:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?p=1383 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => Americans lack a shared vision of what the role of the United States ought to be in the world. It's time for America to start asking itself some tough questions about the future of American leadership and for U.S. leaders to rethink how to persuade the American people of the value of an American-led, American-powered global order. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 2, Iss 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The lesson of the two World Wars and of the Cold War is that the United States cannot avoid the world. America ultimately must lead a system of alliances. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => America has lost any sense of a shared vision of its role on the global stage. Ultimately, this is unsustainable, and the American people are right to say that the inchoate status quo is not working. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The United States needs to prepare for another long contest of nation-versus-nation, and the only way to prepare for a contest of that kind is by persuading Americans that it’s necessary. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => It’s clear that the American intelligence community is not adequately equipped to meet the challenges of the next century’s great power competition. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The bottom line is that many of the institutions America helped to create or has used to safeguard its interests abroad, such as the U.N. Security Council, have grown sclerotic. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 1471 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 271 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey, “Trump Wanted a Big Cut in Troops in Afghanistan. New U.S. Military Plans Fall Short,” Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-plans-for-afghanistan-would-have-trump-withdrawing-fewer-troops/2019/01/08/ddf2858e-12a0-11e9-a896-f104373c7ffd_story.html?utm_term=.bb2d0a11731f. [2] Pamela Constable and Sayed Salahuddin, “U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Survives Deadly Attack at Governor’s Compound that Kills Top Afghan Police General,” Washington Post, Oct. 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/gunfire-erupts-in-afghan-governors-compound-after-meeting-with-us-commander/2018/10/18/109fc5e0-d2ce-11e8-b2d2-f397227b43f0_story.html?utm_term=.c7984c5eca35. [3] Ryan Browne, “Fourth U.S. Service Members Dies After November IED Attack in Afghanistan,” CNN, Dec. 3, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/03/politics/pentagon-afghanistan-ied-explosion-fourth-death/index.html. [4] “Our Story,” Department of Defense, accessed April 23, 2019, https://www.defense.gov/our-story/. [5] See, Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992). [6] Kartik Jayaram, Omid Kassiri, and Irene Yuan Sun, “The Closest Look Yet at Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa,” McKinsey & Company, June 2017, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/middle-east-and-africa/the-closest-look-yet-at-chinese-economic-engagement-in-africa. [7] “H.R. 5515 – John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” 115th Congress (2017–2018), https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5515/text - toc-HEDF86C877B1B46F49F2D9039A895923D. [8] Ellen Nakashima, “White House Authorizes ‘Offensive Cyber Operations’ to Deter Foreign Adversaries,” Washington Post, Sept. 20, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-authorizes-offensive-cyber-operations-to-deter-foreign-adversaries-bolton-says/2018/09/20/b5880578-bd0b-11e8-b7d2-0773aa1e33da_story.html. [9] “Remarks by Secretary Mattis on the National Defense Strategy,” U.S. Department of Defense, Jan. 19, 2018, https://dod.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1420042/remarks-by-secretary-mattis-on-the-national-defense-strategy/. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [post_count] => 5 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2301 [post_author] => 341 [post_date] => 2019-12-18 13:08:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-18 18:08:55 [post_content] =>

The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world — and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.

 –Harry Truman, 1947[1]

 

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

 –Donald Trump, 2017[2]

 

I. Introduction

While there has been ample scholarly debate on the Trump administration’s grand strategy, there is one factor that deserves far more attention than it has received: Donald Trump’s rejection of American exceptionalism.[3] Trump breaks with all U.S. presidents since 1945 not just because he challenges the postwar “liberal international order,” as many scholars have argued,[4] but because he rejects its underlying master narrative. A master narrative is the enduring narrative of a nation, which, according to Ronald Krebs, constitutes the discursive playing field upon which voters and policymakers debate more discrete national security narratives.[5] Whether it was to promote “the four freedoms,” to be “a shining city on a hill,” or to be an “indispensable nation,” presidents of both parties have based their arguments for U.S. leadership on a belief in American exceptionalism.[6] Significantly, this master narrative has influenced not only presidential statements and rhetoric, but also actual foreign policy. Constructivist and liberal scholars of U.S. foreign policy argue that there exists a powerful national agreement on what role the United States is supposed to play in world history because of what kind of nation the United States is believed to be.[7] This is not to say there has not been disagreement over U.S. foreign policy since 1945 — take, for example, the profound disagreement over the Vietnam War. But there has been a fundamental agreement that the United States should have a leading role in the international institutions it set up in the 1940s. One important reason for this was the powerful meta-narrative of American exceptionalism. Ironically, realist scholars have repeatedly confirmed the importance of exceptionalism by lamenting its effect on American politics.[8] Unlike the disagreement over how ideas of American exceptionalism influenced earlier U.S. foreign policy, then, scholars actually agree that, since World War II, the makers of U.S. foreign policy have operated under the assumption that the world needs U.S. leadership not just because of American military might or the dollar, but because the United States is exceptional.[9] This elite agreement deepened, rather than weakened, after the end of the Cold War. In fact, Barack Obama invoked American exceptionalism in 31 percent more speeches than the average of all other presidents combined since 1945.[10] The contrast with Obama’s successor is stark. While Trump’s attack on the “liberal world order” has received ample attention from scholars of U.S. foreign policy,[11] the analysis of Trump’s puzzling rejection of American exceptionalism has only just begun.[12] Perhaps this is because Trump is often incoherent and self-contradictory and frequently tells lies and falsehoods,[13] making an analysis of his statements and policies challenging.[14] Yet, as Charlie Laderman and Brandon Simms show, there are important consistencies in Trump’s worldview, such as his critiques of NATO and China, as well as the general critique of U.S. leaders as fools taken advantage of by “wily foreigners.”[15] Another such consistency is the glaring absence of the narrative of American exceptionalism from his worldview. Indeed, Trump’s rate of invoking American exceptionalism in his first year as president was less than half of the overall average across all presidents since World War II.[16] Of course, in arguing that putting “America First” would make America “great again,” one might think that Trump, in fact, is promoting American exceptionalism. The idea of American exceptionalism is certainly connected to “greatness.” Republican voters might think Trump is embracing exceptionalism — understood as American superiority and even a sense of national mission — because the “America First” agenda is, to some degree, reminiscent of the Republican Party’s foreign policy agenda.[17] This article argues against this view. Trump’s grand strategy is different in kind, and not just in degree, from U.S. postwar foreign policy because it rejects the underlying master narrative of American exceptionalism.[18] The competing narrative Trump has adopted underscores this: The United States is not morally or ideationally superior to other countries — it is not an “exemplar.”[19] In fact, according to Trump’s worldview, it is remarkably similar to countries that define themselves by materialist national interests and an ethnic national identity. Specifically, Trump’s embrace of an “America First” foreign policy entails a rejection of the moral mission that has been central to modern U.S. foreign policy: promoting (in theory, anyway) liberal internationalism through democratization, free-market economics, and human rights.[20] Trump’s master narrative views the world somewhat similarly to realists: as a competitive, anarchic place where it is every state for itself, where alliances are temporary, and only the fittest survive.[21] In this worldview, making America “great” means making America economically wealthy, militarily powerful, and safeguarding the white, Christian cultural heritage of the United States. In other words, Trump’s America First foreign policy platform is grounded in a master narrative perhaps best thought of as what Walter Russell Mead calls “Jacksonian” nationalism.[22] [quote id="1"] At the heart of Trump’s rejection of the U.S. post-World War II grand strategy of international leadership, therefore, is a confrontation between two master narratives: that of American exceptionalism and Jacksonian nationalism. American exceptionalism is an ideational master narrative. It is a story about an ethnically and religiously diverse nation united in adherence to liberal ideas and institutions both at home and abroad. In contrast, the Trump administration’s story of America is ascriptive: It is the story of a white, Christian race with materialist interests to pursue abroad.[23] To be clear: In labeling the two narratives ideational and ascriptive (or even materialist), I am not making an ontological distinction between the world of ideas and the world of matter. Rather, I am analyzing two different narratives that stress different ideas. It is, as such, an analysis based in constructivist theory. Furthermore, I am not arguing that the exceptionalist narrative has only led to good foreign policy outcomes and that America therefore ought to return to the pre-Trump era. In fact, the sense of moral superiority inherent in the exceptionalist narrative has demonstrably led the United States astray numerous times.[24] Rather than endorse one narrative over the other, this article analyzes the current foreign policy debate as a conflict between two master narratives, and contributes to a better understanding of what is at stake at this pivotal moment in American history: the meaning of “America” in the world.[25] This article is structured as follows: In section two, I define American exceptionalism and discuss its influence throughout U.S. history. In section three, I examine the political history of America First and Jacksonian nationalism, and compare each to Trump’s own version of America First. I argue that Trump’s America First platform is closely related to its historical predecessors in the 1940s and the 1990s, especially its focus on economic and cultural protectionism. However, Trump’s America First breaks with the historic focus on non-interventionism as Trump’s version is more militaristic and interventionist. In the final section, I conclude by posing two questions: Can the United States simply “snap back” after Trump, and, if not, have we finally arrived at the “end of American exceptionalism”?

II. American Exceptionalism and U.S. Foreign Policy: Superiority, Mission, and Resisting the Laws of History

American exceptionalism is a set of ideas, not a set of observable facts.[26] As Richard Hofstadter famously observed, the United States does not have an ideology, rather, it is one.[27] These ideas define the United States as “an extraordinary nation with a special role to play in human history; not only unique but also superior among nations.”[28] The belief in American exceptionalism is an “enduring identity narrative” in the United States,[29] and sets the parameters for how political leaders can and will narrate the story of “America” and its place in the world.[30] It is a narrative with a long pedigree. In the colonial era, British ideas of exceptionalism, which included a religious as well as a racial component, contributed to what would later become American exceptionalism, with specific claims to political exceptionalism made during the founding era.[31] Today, this narrative defines the United States not as a country like many others, built on a blood-and-soil identity, but rather as an exceptional Enlightenment invention built on liberal ideas and ideals.[32] It is a narrative so strong and so pervasive it would be fitting to argue, as Anatol Lieven does, that “‘American exceptionalism’ is just another way of saying American civic nationalism without using the word nationalism.”[33] Significantly, historians as well as constructivist and liberal scholars of international relations see this narrative as not only influencing rhetoric, but also having played an important role in influencing U.S. foreign policy throughout U.S. history.[34] American exceptionalism, however, is a malleable concept and has been taken to mean different things throughout its history.[35] This is especially clear when considering the role race has played in the definitional struggle over the meaning of “America.” There are three ideas that contribute to the master narrative of American exceptionalism.[36] The first is that the United States is superior to the rest of the world. The second is that, because of this superiority, the United States has a special role to play in world history — it has a moral mission to pursue abroad. The third is that where other great nations and indeed empires have risen to power only to fall, the United States will not — it will resist this law of history. American Exceptionalism: Superiority and Mission Below, I discuss how superiority and mission have manifested themselves throughout U.S. history. I will show, among other things, that American exceptionalism has been a rather malleable concept, used to advocate for almost opposite foreign policy approaches. Superiority “America” has a long tradition of being seen as “superior” by its own people. This idea does not connote mere difference or uniqueness. Rather, the distinction is hierarchical: It classifies the United States as superior in both ideas and institutions and therefore it promotes an idea that America has a mission to fulfill.[37] This is different from patriotism,[38] as it implies more than just love of country. The belief that America is superior has had a first-order effect on how the United States views itself and its role in the world: Because it is superior, it has a mission to pursue, and in this mission, it shall not fail because its superiority enables the circumventing of the laws of history. The idea of superiority has also influenced the framing of American foreign policy. U.S. presidents often use exceptionalist rhetoric in their speeches both at home and abroad, setting the country apart from or above its international counterparts.[39] This indicates a broad and deep acceptance of the idea of American exceptionalism among the American public.[40] A typical expression of this broad acceptance can be found in an article by commentators Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru, who write that the United States “is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth.” This they attribute to “our Founding and our cultural heritage.”[41] This is, of course, not something that one can ascertain objectively. If one tried to measure levels of freedom and dynamism, one might find that the United States did not, in fact, top these rankings.[42] This is immaterial, however. What matters are not the rankings, but rather the belief Lowry and Ponnuru (and most Americans with them) hold. American exceptionalism is the master narrative of the United States, not a fact to be measured. The belief that the United States is superior to the rest of the world because of its ideals and institutions has been powerful, persistent, and pervasive throughout U.S. history. In fact, this self-perception is so well established in U.S. political discourse that American polling firms such as Gallup and the Pew Research Center actually poll Americans on their belief in American exceptionalism. Defined in various manners in such polls, American exceptionalism can be operationalized as a belief that the United States is the “greatest country in the world because of its history and Constitution” or that “American culture is superior to others.” In 2010, Gallup reported that a huge majority of Americans (80 percent) agreed with the statement, “The United States has a unique character because of its history and Constitution that sets it apart from other nations as the greatest in the world.” The fact that U.S. polling bureaus regularly ask Americans such questions speaks volumes about the pervasive belief in American exceptionalism (and, relatedly, the persistent fear that it is dwindling).[43] While the poll numbers vary, the exceptionalist master narrative has held for over two centuries.[44] If one questions American exceptionalism, and the idea that it connotes superiority rather than simply difference, one’s Americanness may itself be questioned. It means one does not sufficiently believe in the idea of “America,” which is inherently suspicious. This became clear amid the harsh criticism of Obama’s answer to a question posed to him in Strasbourg, France in 2009 on whether he believed in American exceptionalism or not. Obama’s answer seemed to convey an understanding of American exceptionalism as a relative phenomenon — a narrative, if you will. Contrasting American exceptionalism with narratives found in other nations such as Britain and Greece, Obama’s answer — “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism” — was seen as rejecting the idea that American exceptionalism implies moral superiority. It set off a heated debate in the American media,[45] possibly because reports ignored the rest of Obama’s answer. Obama, in the tradition of previous presidents, went on to say that he was enormously proud of his country “and its role and history in the world.”[46] [quote id="2"] Research on social and national identity indicates why Obama’s initial qualifier would upset many Americans. As Jason Gilmore and Charles M. Rowling argue, messages that enhance the “standing of one’s own national group” feed citizens’ self-esteem and pride “because their own personal identity is tied to the image of that national group.”[47] Messages that counter this source of self-esteem naturally meet with resistance, as Obama’s comments did.[48] Constantly invoking American exceptionalism is therefore not only a proven way that American presidents can bolster their community’s feelings of self-esteem, but in fact is a vital part of nation-building in a country made up of many different ethnicities and religions. Of course, the idea that America is exceptional because of its superior civic ideals rather than its ascriptive characteristics is not something there has been agreement about in American history. If seen as a battle between civic and ethnic nationalism, American exceptionalism has represented both at various times, again testifying to the malleability of the concept itself.[49] Originally, American exceptionalism stemmed from British exceptionalism, which entailed the promotion of a white, Protestant civilizational mission against the Catholic colonialism of the Spanish empire, as they competed over territory and influence in the “New World.”[50] Up until the American Civil War and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, it was not clear whether a racialized definition of American exceptionalism or a civic kind of nationalism would prevail. While the civic nationalism of the “last, best hope on earth” won the Civil War, what civic nationalism actually meant was still under development. Theodore Roosevelt, for instance, allowed for a kind of melting-pot definition of the nation, but one that only included “races” from Europe, entirely excluding black Americans.[51] Liberal ideals have been an important — yet contested — part of modern, post-Civil War, U.S. nation-building, but they have not been the only ones.[52] Rogers Smith divides American identity into three equal strands: a “liberal” strand composed of classical liberal rights and liberties; a “democratic republican” strand composed of civic-minded participation by citizens who are motivated by a defense of the common good; and an “ascriptive inegalitarian” strand composed of nativist, xenophobic, and racial hierarchies. The contestation between ascriptive and civic definitions of “America” is why the narrative of American exceptionalism has been useful in the ongoing effort to create a nation out of an ethnically and religiously diverse population.[53] The Mission In addition to being viewed as a “superior” republic, the United States is also on a world historic “mission” according to the narrative of American exceptionalism. What this mission consists of has been the source of constant and fierce debate throughout U.S. history, and has evolved over time.[54] What is clear is that this belief in a mission has influenced not just the framing, but also the content of U.S. foreign policy. Throughout American history, prominent groups have used exceptionalism to argue for both an interventionist foreign policy (i.e., a “missionary” version of exceptionalism) and a non-interventionist foreign policy (i.e., an “exemplarist” version of exceptionalism), attesting to how ideas of exceptionalism can be used for different — indeed contravening — political purposes.[55] Proponents of an exemplarist worldview have often defined the United States’ role as “standing apart from the world and serving merely as a model of social and political possibility.”[56] Creating a “more perfect union” is the meaning of the United States, which is why “meddling in the affairs of other states could cause irreparable harm to the U.S. body politic.”[57] Summarizing the exemplarist sentiment, H. W. Brands warned, “in attempting to save the world, and probably failing, America could risk losing its democratic soul.”[58] For a long time, most historians of U.S. foreign policy argued that as American exceptionalism cycled between exemplarism and missionary expressions, U.S. foreign policy was concomitantly isolationist or internationalist.[59] But this view was highly problematic, as it required categorizing U.S. foreign policy before World War II — or at least up until 1898 — as isolationist.[60] Viewing early U.S. foreign policy up through the 1800s as an expression of exemplarism required categorizing “manifest destiny” as a form of domestic politics. The manifest destiny of the United States, as journalist John O’Sullivan wrote in 1845, was “to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”[61] Testifying to the strength of the American self-conception as superior to the Old World, historians did not begin to compare “westward expansion” to European colonialism until the early 20th century.[62] And yet, much like European great powers, U.S. foreign policy in the 19th century often consisted of wars of aggression and “civilizing” “inferior” races. Indeed, a constant feature of the U.S. debate over expansion and territorial conquest — whether on the continent or across the seas — was marked by the problem of race: who could be part of “America” and whether non-whites could truly become Americans.[63] For example, Thomas Jefferson associated Native Americans with the “earliest stages of civilization” and expected them to civilize or perish. This was certainly a “self-serving logic” that “provided the ideological rationale for an expansive republican empire,” as Peter Onuf writes.[64] Later, Andrew Jackson engineered the forcible removal of Native Americans from their lands southeast of the Mississippi River in order to make way for white settlers. While the tensions leading up to the Civil War slowed down U.S. settlement of the western part of the continent,[65] its potential as a civilizing power was finally reached when the United States entered the Spanish-American War in order to, in the words of President William McKinley, “uplift and civilize” the savages languishing in the Spanish empire in Cuba and the Philippines.”[66] William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt made similar arguments for the superiority of the nation, encouraging it to take upon itself the “white man’s burden” of civilizing “backwards” peoples.[67] The mission in U.S. foreign policy — whether directed at Mexicans, Native Americans, the Spanish Empire, or Prussian militarism — historically mixed elements of ethno-nationalism with Enlightenment ideals of democracy and capitalism, executed with religious zeal. Various presidents as different as Jefferson, Jackson, James Polk, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson have endeavored to teach the world what to do and how to do it — to execute the “white man’s burden.”[68] [quote id="3"] While it is correct to divide the narrative of American exceptionalism into two foreign policy articulations — one missionary and one exemplarist — it is wholly inaccurate to argue these two articulations have been reflected in actual U.S. foreign policy history. In fact, while the missionary foreign policy — which is active, international, and sometimes aggressive — appears throughout U.S. history, there is very little evidence of an exemplarist foreign policy being employed. This is a common misconception, and, one might add, a consequence of having bought into the manifest destiny narrative of U.S. expansion in the 19th century, which argues that the United States was simply taking control of territory God always meant for them.[69] Arguing that the United States was exemplarist during its first century because it was “geographically isolated,”[70] when it competed with European imperial powers for territory, ethnically cleansed Native Americans, and indeed fought a war of aggression against Mexico, renders the term “isolationist” meaningless.[71] In fact, as revisionist historians of the Wisconsin School, led by William Appleman Williams, began arguing in the mid-20th century, rather than a cyclical U.S. foreign policy (where U.S. foreign policy was seen as “cycling” between internationalism and isolationism), the United States has always been interventionist.[72] The territories not already owned by the United States in 1783 were not some mythical region waiting to be “civilized” by the United States. Rather, “westward expansion” was itself a settler colonial project.[73] Indeed, how could a supposedly isolationist country go from 13 colonies to controlling an entire continent without an interventionist foreign policy? Unfortunately, the isolationist thesis is still argued today.[74] As the United States grew in size and diversity, its impending great power status led to fierce debates over the white, Christian emphasis of its foreign policy mission. The racial aspect of “America” was toned down. Following World War II, U.S. presidents focused on the liberal ideas of exceptionalism, rather than the civilizational aspect of the “white man’s burden,” as the source of America’s uniqueness and the reason for its mission in the world. Thus, American exceptionalism separated out its earlier racial components. Obama’s understanding of American exceptionalism can be seen as the culmination of this evolving civic version of the concept: “Obama offered an inclusive vision of patriotism,” writes Greg Gardin, “using his own success to celebrate the country’s meritocracy and as proof that racial division could be overcome through the gradual extension of liberal political equality.”[75] As Obama said in 2007 as a presidential candidate, “Our exceptionalism must be based on our Constitution, our principles, our values, and our ideals.”[76] It is with this modern, post-World War II master narrative that Trump has broken. Resisting the Laws of History: Exceptionalism and Modern Foreign Policy from 1945 to 2015 With each historical era, the United States has proven itself resistant to the laws of history. Rather than rise and fall, it has only risen — vanquishing powerful enemies along the way.[77] After conquering an entire continent, the United States went about conquering the seas, and ultimately defeated two iterations of the worst the Old World had to offer: German militarism and fascism. Significantly, upon defining itself in contravention to Soviet Communism, the promotion of American exceptionalism became an important tool for U.S. presidents, especially in the era of what Jeffrey Tulis has labeled the “rhetorical presidency.”[78] Against these ideologies American exceptionalism, understood as the adherence to liberal ideals, flourished. In foreign policy, the narrative of American exceptionalism has been used by presidents to communicate the purpose of U.S. foreign policy and therein garner support for their preferred policies, because what “America” means conditions what it can and should do in the world. In fact, argue Gilmore and Rowling, “The concept of American exceptionalism has become one of the most common features in U.S. political discourse.”[79] The assumption that the United States has a “uniquely moral national mission has shaped debates over foreign affairs since the nation’s founding.”[80] The narratives American presidents communicate about foreign policy exist on different levels: Any discrete national security narrative — such as that of “primacy” in the 1990s or the “Global War on Terror” in the 2000s — must operate within and adhere to the discursive landscape of the master narrative of exceptionalism.[81] Over the years, presidents and political parties have disagreed on discrete national security narratives but not on the exceptionalist master narrative that has underpinned U.S. foreign policy since 1945, and which builds on a story about an exceptional America that dates to before the founding. Until Trump became president, this story constrained not only how U.S. presidential candidates and presidents framed the discourse on the United States and its role in the world, but policies themselves. All U.S. presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have taken pains to narrate foreign policy as a moral mission based in American exceptionalism, understood as an adherence to “superior” liberal ideals.[82] Since then, the United States has presented itself as a beacon to the world, standing for “a vibrant, forward-looking Americanism that presented itself as the highest expression of liberal universalism.”[83] Many studies show how and why the idea of American exceptionalism has come to be so prominent in American politics, whether from the field of communications,[84] presidential studies,[85] or, more recently, international relations.[86] By promoting the idea of American exceptionalism, U.S. presidents have justified why the United States should play such an active role in international politics: because the world needs this exceptional nation and its benevolent influence. From this perspective, it was quite natural to conclude that what was right for America was right for the world. An eloquent example of how presidents have framed U.S. foreign policy as a moral mission comes from John F. Kennedy, whose rhetoric frequently played on American exceptionalism. Indeed, as president-elect he gave a speech simply referred to as the “city upon a hill” speech:
I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. “We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill — the eyes of all people are upon us.” Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us — and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.[87]
Using American exceptionalism to frame U.S. grand strategy has not been a partisan phenomenon, even though the Republican Party associates itself more with overt statements of patriotic sentiment.[88] In fact, Gilmore and Rowling find that Democratic presidents have been more fervent in their invocation of American exceptionalism in global contexts (44 percent of speeches given by Democrats versus 17 percent given by Republicans).[89] This is not to say that presidents have agreed on how the United States should best advance its moral mission, but there has been a post-World War II consensus on whether the United States is so obligated. There has also been bipartisan agreement on the reason why — namely that the United States has a special role to play in world history.[90] As scholars have shown, U.S. presidents since 1945 have repeatedly turned to the reliable rhetorical strategy of emphasizing American exceptionalism to “reinforce mythic notions of America as the unquestioned leader of a stable world order.”[91] Indeed, the superiority of the United States and the special role it is supposed to play as a leader of other nations has been ubiquitous in modern presidential rhetoric. A quantitative content analysis of State of the Union addresses from 1934 to 2008 found only three mentions of other countries as worthy of serving as examples for the United States to follow.[92] The United States has always been the shining city on the hill, as no other country can be. Post-Cold War Triumphalism The influence of American exceptionalism on the framing and content of U.S. foreign policy took on a new force after the Cold War ended.[93] Indeed, Americans interpreted the Cold War’s end as a reaffirmation of American exceptionalism: “By the grace of God,” President George H. W. Bush said in his State of the Union speech in 1992, “we have won the Cold War.”[94] Whatever the questions had been — what were the best political systems, economic theories, or civic ideals? — the only answer left in international politics was the United States and its example to the world. The end of ideological history was here, comfortably parked in an oversized American driveway.[95] This exceptionalist interpretation of why the Cold War had ended set the stage for a triumphalist decade, or a “holiday from history,” as George Will called it.[96] In arguing for why the United States should continue its deep involvement in world affairs even without a clear enemy, President Bill Clinton and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, looked inward to the peculiar genius of the American body politic for the answer. The United States was “the indispensable nation,” Clinton stated in 1996 while defending the U.S. intervention in Bosnia.[97] That became the Clinton administration’s go-to phrase for conveying American exceptionalism in an age of primacy. In making the case for a possible strike against Saddam Hussein in 1998 on “The Today Show” Albright said,
[I]f we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us. I know that the American men and women in uniform are always prepared to sacrifice for freedom, democracy and the American way of life.[98]
And yet, Republicans viewed Clinton’s vision as too timid. In 2000, future George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen wrote in the Weekly Standard that there were two competing visions of internationalism in the 21st century: the “‘global multilateralism’ of the Clinton-Gore Democrats” versus the “‘American exceptionalism’ of the Reagan-Bush Republicans.”[99] Nevertheless, this disagreement belied a fundamental foreign policy agreement: All post-Cold War presidents have promoted a strategy of primacy, which essentially argued that the United States should seek world hegemony because of its exceptional mission.[100] Although they all used the rhetoric of American exceptionalism, this was not merely a discursive tactic. There was strong bipartisan belief in American exceptionalism and America’s mission: to convince the rest of the world to join in the “end of history” with the one nation that had already reached history’s destination. The Republican and Democratic views on the international order in the 1990s — and America’s role in it — were more similar than perhaps many recognized at the time. Indeed, Hans Morgenthau’s description of Wilsonian liberals at the beginning of the 20th century applies equally to neoconservatives and liberal internationalists at its end — they all believed that a new world order of peace would eventually “end” history once all countries adopted liberal democracy.[101] [quote id="4"] After 9/11, President George W. Bush’s communication of a clear, black-and-white story of good versus evil was a natural extension of the triumphalism of the 1990s and fit perfectly within the master narrative of American exceptionalism. This became what Krebs calls “the national security narrative” of the post-9/11 era — the “Global War on Terror.”[102] This narrative organized how the administration promoted its policies, how the media framed these policies, and how the American public thought about the new “war” they were now in.[103] As Krebs writes, “The War on Terror was more than a slogan: it was shorthand for a post-9/11 narrative that not only placed that day’s horrific events in a meaningful context, but also set the terms of national security debate in the United States for the next decade.”[104] This narrative would not have resonated or received such widespread bipartisan acceptance from the American public had it not overlapped with the master narrative of U.S. foreign policy: that the United States is an exceptional nation with moral intentions, bound to make the world a better place. The Bush administration’s story of what had happened and why cast the United States as the innocent victim, attacked out of the blue not for its policies in the Middle East, but for its very exceptional nature: “Why do they hate us? They hate us because of what they see in this very Chamber,” Bush told Congress on Sept. 20, 2001. “They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”[105] In his second inaugural, Bush essentially argued that fighting the “war on terror” was a continuation of the eternal American mission:
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation.[106]
Returning to the question of whether Obama rejected American exceptionalism, as his critics charged, this article builds on the theoretical assumption that there is a meaningful and important distinction between a nation’s master narrative and its various foreign policies. One can have a variety of grand strategies all based in the exceptionalist master narrative, but one must distinguish, as Krebs does, between master narratives and discrete national security narratives. One could argue about whether Obama’s counter-terrorism policies diverged more in rhetoric than in practice from his predecessor, or about whether Obama actually moved in a non-interventionist direction. However, his discrete national security narrative of modest retrenchment did not reject the master narrative of American exceptionalism. Indeed, at Strasbourg, Obama said,
If you think about the site of this summit [Strasbourg] and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that… . And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality that, though imperfect, are exceptional.[107]
Lest one think this was pandering to the press, this was a belief Obama had long held. As he said in his speech to the Democratic national convention in 2004,
I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.[108]

III. Donald Trump, American Exceptionalism, and America First

Prior to Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination, the Republican Party promoted a grand strategy of leading the liberal international order, grounded in the master narrative of American exceptionalism. This had been the case since Dwight D. Eisenhower won the foreign policy battle inside the Republican Party in 1952, defeating non-interventionist proponent Robert Taft. With Eisenhower, the GOP embraced the view “that America had a moral obligation as well as a national interest in transforming the victory of World War II into a lasting global peace by building strong alliances and expanding military readiness around the world to counter the Communist threat.”[109] It was, in David Farber’s words, the “Willkie-Dewey-Eisenhower — and then Goldwater-Reagan-Bush-Bush — wing of the Republican Party” that won out in the GOP in the post-World War II era.[110] The American exceptionalist narrative constituted the foundation of U.S. foreign policy debate in both political parties, influencing their views on foreign policy and constraining presidential candidates’ rhetorical choices.[111] The 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney arguably built its foreign policy platform on this very idea.[112] That same year, the Republican Party included the concept in its party platform, stating that American exceptionalism is “the conviction that our country holds a unique place in human history.”[113] In 2016, all Republican presidential candidates save one took pains to use exceptionalist rhetoric.[114] In April 2015, two months before he announced his candidacy for president, Trump broke with the Republican Party and stated that he did “not like” the term American exceptionalism.[115] He ironically said this at an event called “Celebrating the American Dream,” hosted in Houston by the Texas Patriots PAC. At the event, Trump was asked to define American exceptionalism, whether it still existed, and what should be done to help grow it. Trump answered,
Look, if I’m a Russian, or I’m a German, or I’m a person we do business with, why, you know, I don’t think it’s a very nice term. We’re exceptional; you’re not. First of all, Germany is eating our lunch. So they say, ‘Why are you exceptional. We’re doing a lot better than you.’[116]
Trump stated that those who refer to American exceptionalism were “insulting the world” and offending people in other countries, such as Russia, China, Germany, and Japan.  Contravening common talking points for any presidential candidate regardless of party, Trump said, rather, that it is “not a nice term,” showing unusual foreign policy flair. He did suggest that were he to become president, he would make the United States exceptional, but even then Trump said he would not use the term because he would not want to “rub it in.”[117] But Trump has not only rejected American exceptionalism in his rhetoric — that is, when he talks about it at all — he has also rejected it in his policies.[118] His America First platform shows that he rejects American exceptionalism on two fronts: He does not view the United States as morally superior to other countries and, therefore, he does not view the United States as having a mission to pursue abroad. Trump’s definition of American “greatness” is ascriptive and material, rather than ideational and aspirational. In this section, I examine Trump’s views on American exceptionalism along with his grand strategy in order to show how Trump rejects both the American exceptionalism master narrative and its policy implications. In so doing, I argue that Trump relies on a competing master narrative, Jacksonian nationalism. Trump’s grounding in Jacksonian nationalism leads him to embrace parts of the traditional America First platform, which in its two previous iterations has promoted ethnic nationalism and economic protectionism. However, Trump rejects non-interventionism, opting instead for unilateral militarism abroad. Here, Trump is more in line with original Jacksonianism than with America First. America First in U.S. History What does “America First” mean? Is it a concept, a slogan, or a foreign policy agenda? Or perhaps just a refreshingly honest brand of realism?[119] “America First” is in fact several things. It was most famously the name of an organization founded in 1940 in order to lobby against U.S. intervention in World War II. As historian Melvyn P. Leffler writes, “For me, America First was associated with the insularity, isolationism, unilateralism, nativism, anti-Semitism, and appeasement policies that President Franklin D. Roosevelt struggled to overcome in 1940 and 1941.”[120] It was also a slogan used by Pat Buchanan in the 1990s to argue against free trade, immigration, military alliances, and interventions.[121] Today, it is the shorthand for Trump’s foreign policy platform. Let us examine each in turn, their connections, and the master narrative on which they all rely. America First Before World War II The phrase “America First” is most strongly associated with its use during World War II. According to Susan Dunn, America First was the name of the “isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.”[122] This summary is somewhat unfair to the organization’s varied membership. The interwar America First was composed of all kinds of people who were skeptical of America entering into another European war. They included future president Gerald Ford, future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter, and Sargent Shriver, who would go on to lead the U.S. Peace Corps. Ford and Potter, students at Yale at the time, founded the “Committee to Defend America First.” Its establishment in 1940 was “in direct opposition to progressive journalist William Allen White’s Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.”[123] It grew quickly from a group started by anti-war students to a large movement with hundreds of chapters and almost a million members. Some notable members were Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gore Vidal. The committee would come to be associated with fascists and anti-Semites, and most famously, Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh argued in 1940, during the blitzkrieg in Europe, that the United States should not interfere because “the white race” was not under threat.[124] Lindbergh joined America First in April 1941, drawing big crowds at its rallies. Despite the varied membership and commendable aim of avoiding yet another war, the committee’s main historical legacy has been that of a disgraced organization that was on the wrong side of history both in terms of advocating against intervention in World War II and in terms of anti-Semitism. [quote id="5"] The phrase “America First” predates 1940, however. It was a Republican campaign slogan in the 1880s.[125] As Christopher McKnight Nichols writes, “the cry of America First emerged in the nineteenth century’s era of rapid industrialization, modernization, and urbanization,” and its foreign policy agenda was “non-entanglement, nonintervention, neutrality, and unilateralism.”[126] It was the latest discussion in a historic debate on why, how much, and in what ways the United States should be involved outside its borders.[127] The slogan did not quite catch on until Wilson popularized it in a speech in 1915, however, declaring, “Our whole duty for the present, at any rate, is summed up in the motto: America First.”[128] Although he was arguing for U.S. neutrality in the Great War, not isolationism, the phrase nonetheless became the motto of those who wanted the United States to stay out of European politics and indeed stay isolated from it. Wilson’s goal was to keep a diverse nation with people whose heritage stemmed from all over the world firmly pro-American. This topic would become tense as the patriotism of “hyphenated” Americans of Irish, German, and Italian descent became increasingly questioned. Indeed, at this time, the U.S. Bureau of Education was mounting an America First campaign in order to promote the assimilation of immigrants. The purpose was to encourage immigrants to put America first, before their old countries, all the while signaling that immigrants did not need to reject their culture, language, or history of origin.[129] After Wilson, the motto caught on. As presidential candidates in 1916, both Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes used America First as part of their election slogans.[130] After the debate over the League of Nations and the future role of the United States in the world, Warren G. Harding, the Republican presidential nominee of 1920, similarly thought it useful to employ America First as part of his campaign:
Call it the selfishness of nationality if you will, I think it an inspiration to patriotic devotion — To safeguard America first, to stabilize America first, to prosper America first, to think of America first, to exalt America first, to live for and revere America first.[131]
The second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan, which reasserted itself in the early 20th century, taking aim at Catholics and Jews in addition to African-Americans, also used “America First” as a motto.[132] In evidence submitted to Congress, at a hearing on the activities on the Klan in 1921, the Klan’s “Imperial Proclamation” was entered into the record. Here, it said: “[The Klan] stands for America first – first in thought, first in affections, and first in the galaxy of nations.”[133] With the attack on Pearl Harbor and eventual Allied victory in World War II, “America First” became synonymous with having been on the wrong side of history. The disbandment of the Committee to Defend America First four days after Pearl Harbor conceded the point. The 1990s: Pat Buchanan’s Revival of “America First” When Pat Buchanan resurrected the motto “America First” in the 1990s, the New York Times labeled his agenda “fearful isolationism, nativism and protectionism.”[134] His version of America First was focused on the economy and culture. In the post-Cold War era, this meant making “America first again in manufacturing,” including proposing deep tax cuts in order to prevent U.S. industries from moving abroad.[135] Buchanan’s economic platform was nationalist and protectionist, as was his cultural platform: He wanted to keep the United States a white, Christian country. Arguing against the effects of globalization, Buchanan said that “our Western heritage is going to be handed down to future generations, not dumped onto some landfill called multiculturalism.” He argued for “a new patriotism, where Americans begin to put the needs of Americans first.”[136] This was “a new nationalism” meant to divide and conquer.[137] Campaigning in Georgia in 1992, Buchanan argued that the Voting Rights Act was “an act of regional discrimination against the South,” and told unemployed (presumably white) Georgians that, “anti-discrimination laws caused their jobs to be given to blacks.”[138] In his famous “culture war” speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, Buchanan said, “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.” He labeled Bill Clinton’s agenda “radical feminism,” and accused the Democratic Party of not respecting the “Judeo-Christian values” the country was founded upon.[139] His speech ended by recounting his visit to the Army compound in south Los Angeles, from which law enforcement had been dispatched to quell the riots. “And as they took back the streets of LA, block by block, so we must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country.”[140] Buchanan ran for the Republican nomination again in 1996, this time against Bob Dole, then for the Reform Party nomination in 2000. In 2000, he revived “America First” as a campaign slogan. Interestingly, Trump, who was also seeking the Reform Party nomination at the time, called Buchanan “a Hitler lover,” alluding to the controversy about Buchanan’s view that Adolf Hitler had initially presented no serious threat to the United States, a view that was consistent with the original America First Committee’s stance in 1940.[141] Jacksonian Nationalism “America First” is a slogan that would resonate with what Walter Russell Mead calls the “Jacksonian tradition” in U.S. foreign policy. This populist tradition is one of four traditions found in U.S. history, according to Mead: the “American realist” or Hamiltonian tradition; the exemplary Jeffersonian tradition; and missionary Wilsonianism.[142] Named after President Andrew Jackson (1829–1837) the Jacksonian tradition refers to a populist foreign policy outlook originating in the era of white, male mass politics that Jackson brought forth. Prior to the era of Jackson, politics — whether foreign or domestic — belonged to “silk stocking”-wearing statesmen like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.[143] Jackson, however, was a Revolutionary War veteran and the heroic victor of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.[144] When the “elite establishment” — in the form of John Quincy Adams, son of second president John Adams — entered into a “corrupt bargain” and stole the election from Jackson in 1824, Jackson’s persona as a man of the people standing up to the entitled elite was cemented.[145] His revanche over Adams in the 1828 presidential election inaugurated the era of “the people’s president” where Jackson “spoke in plain and powerful language to the people at large.”[146] Jacksonian political philosophy is an instinct, rather than an ideology.[147] Because it is “less an intellectual movement than it is an expression of the social, cultural, and religious values of a large portion of the American public,” Mead argues Jacksonianism is “obscure” to academics and the media.[148] In other words: In true populist fashion, Jacksonians and the elite have mutual disregard for one another.[149] Jacksonians are suspicious of what the elites might do with their tax money both at home and abroad. They worry about “untrammeled federal power” and are “skeptical about the prospects of domestic and foreign do-gooding.”[150] When it comes to the military, though, Jacksonians are looser with the purse strings and are more trusting of the military establishment. “For Jacksonians, spending money on the military is one of the best things government can do,” Mead argues.[151] So far, Jacksonians and America Firsters can agree — elites should not be trusted with one’s tax dollars, but military preparedness is important and is worth paying for. Were Jacksonians an early expression of the non-interventionism of America First, then? Not at all, according to Mead. Indeed, Jacksonians were consistently the most hawkish during the Cold War. Mead argues the Jacksonian tradition does not embrace isolationism. Rather, it is an interest-based foreign policy.[152] Jacksonians are not eager to sit at home if there is a worthy fight to be fought. But for what cause are Jacksonians willing to go abroad and fight? According to Mead, Jacksonians are not that concerned with defending American values across the globe, but rather are focused on “national honor” on behalf of their community:
Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens.[153]
How does the Jacksonian tradition define the American community, on whose behalf it conducts foreign policy? Is it defined by adherence to liberal ideals, or by ethno-cultural boundaries? In fact, the answer to the question, “who counts as American citizens” in the quote above unites Jacksonians, traditional America Firsters, and Trump. Jacksonians are historically associated with “white Protestant males of the lower and middle classes”[154] whom Mead refers to as making up a “folk community.” This is a “folk” that is “Christian in religious background, if not always in practice. They are European in origin — but largely without strong ties to a specific country other than the United States — and self-identify with American society from the colonial era until today.”[155] Mead contrasts this group with “believers in a multicultural United States” who define the United States as a “nation based on ideology rather than ethnicity.”[156] These are two very different things: Jacksonianism is based on the community values and sense of identity that stem from the British colonizers, specifically a subgroup whom historian David Hacket Fischer defined as the Scotch-Irish settlers.[157] The Scotch-Irish Americans were “formed by centuries of bitter warfare before they came to the United States,” an experience that informed their warrior ethos and non-isolationist attitudes in foreign policy.[158] This ethno-cultural definition of the American nation is distinctly different from the other three foreign policy traditions Mead identifies — Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, and Wilsonian — as they all identify the United States as built on an idea, not a people.[159] Thus, ethnic nationalism is where Jacksonianism diverges fundamentally from the other three foreign policy traditions. [quote id="6"] Jackson was the first populist president, commencing a tradition carried on by presidential candidates in both political parties such as William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt.[160] Mead identifies Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan as modern presidents who managed to connect with Jacksonian voters. He also lists George Wallace, Ross Perot, Jesse Ventura, Pat Buchanan, and John McCain as political figures that have successfully tapped into this populist energy.[161] Of course, these politicians advocated quite different grand strategies, with Buchanan overtly promoting non-interventionism. Further complicating the picture, the Jacksonian “folk community” is no longer ethnically homogeneous. Rather, Jacksonianism is a tradition with a long, bipartisan pedigree in U.S. history that attracts those Americans who feel unrepresented by the “elites.” Because Jacksonianism is more of an “instinct” than a political ideology, and no longer exclusively represents a specific ethno-cultural group in U.S. society, general arguments and comparisons — such as the one I am making in this article — are inherently imperfect.[162] The point is not to argue that Trump is a perfect replica of Andrew Jackson the president, but rather that there are important similarities between the Jacksonian tradition and Trump’s worldview. Donald Trump’s America First Economic Protectionism In Trump’s first inaugural speech, he accused the world of having swindled the United States: “We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”[164] Trump added, “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”[165] The speech was, as Jim Goldgeier has noted, “a far cry from Morgenthau’s articulation of the purpose of Bretton Woods.”[166] Upon entering office, Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that had taken seven years to negotiate, in favor of bilateral deals that he argued would “promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages.”[167] He also renegotiated the North America Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, an agreement he had repeatedly criticized on the campaign trail.[168] The hallmark of Trump’s protectionist agenda, however, has been commencing a trade war with China. Many economic experts share his complaints — that China engages in unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property.[169] Trump’s remedy is highly controversial, however: Trump has increased tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States in several rounds since 2018.[170] Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has argued that the trade war with China threatens to undermine global economic growth, causing a “great stagnation.”[171] In wanting to “protect” American consumers, Trump is echoing one of the most familiar aspects of the nationalism of the 1920s and 1930s (on which America First relied)  — economic protectionism.[172] This motto resonated with the protectionist Republicans in Congress after the Great War, who in the 1920s passed “two of the most protectionist tariff bills in history,” the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930. Although, as Thomas W. Zeiler writes, the United States should have learned from the “Smoot-Hawley debacle” in the 1930s what “America First demagoguery” can lead to,[173] Trump has revived economic protectionism. During the presidential campaign of 2016, he presented trade as a zero-sum game. Trump, argues Zeiler, “went Hoover.”[174] Here, Trump is in line with the original America First Committee, which also questioned whether foreign trade was all that important to the United States.[175] Since World War II, both the Republican and Democratic parties have argued that being a responsible leader of the liberal world order involves not only enforcing the rules of an open international economy but also participating fully in it.[176] Trump essentially rejects the economic pillar of the “liberal world order” and has repeatedly argued for a much more conditional role for America, insisting that the United States is being taken advantage of by other countries.[177] This assumes that being the leader of the liberal international order is not currently economically beneficial to the United States, and leaves out entirely the ideational aspect. Returning to Trump’s discussion of what makes America exceptional, the United States is not exceptional as long as it is losing money to trading competitors such as China and Germany. It can only regain its exceptional status by renegotiating its trade deals to give the United States a higher return.[178] In other words, there is nothing about the United States that is inherently exceptional, rather, exceptionalism is a function of being the richest country in the world. In 2015, according to Trump, the United States was less exceptional than other countries because other countries were “eating” its “lunch.”[179] To be sure, past presidents have communicated the idea of American exceptionalism in different ways, sometimes taking pains to be sensitive to the interests and identities of foreign actors. Indeed, American presidents face a dilemma when speaking to foreign audiences. According to Gilmore and Rowling, “[T]hey must be ever mindful of a domestic audience that expects its leaders to champion American exceptionalism on the world stage but also sensitive to the interests and identities of other global actors.”[180] As a result, some presidents have framed American exceptionalism in a more diplomatic manner when speaking in different foreign contexts. Perhaps this is what Obama was attempting to do in Strasbourg in 2009, and what Trump has been doing — taking pains not to insult foreign leaders, as he hinted at in his 2015 interview. However, Trump’s comments were not made on foreign soil or directed at a foreign audience. Rather, they were made in a domestic, even local, context. The absence of a values-based definition of American exceptionalism in Trump’s rhetoric is as striking as it is unprecedented.[181] To be clear, Trump does believe in some kind of American superiority — that is what his slogan “Make America Great Again” seems to be all about. However, he does not define greatness in terms of exceptional ideals and values, but in terms of economic wealth, military strength, and cultural identity. Echoing Buchanan, who started his 2000 presidential run for the Reform Party by championing West Virginia steel workers, Trump’s economic definition of what would make America great entails a revival of the U.S. industrial economy: “buy American; hire American.”[182] Ethnic Nationalism The second important component of Trump’s America First platform is ethnic nationalism. This worldview builds on the tradition Smith and Gerstle have documented extensively in their work.[183] This kind of ethnic nationalism represents a commonality between the Jacksonian tradition and the America First Committee, as well as Buchanan’s revival of the America First political brand. Ethnic nationalism is foundational to Trump’s worldview, and that of his administration. Trump has called for fewer immigrants from “shithole countries”[184] and a ban on Muslims entering the United States[185] in order to preserve its white, Christian culture. From promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory (which accused the first black president of not being American partly because he was accused of not being Christian),[186] to launching his presidential campaign by accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists and drug-dealers,[187] to telling members of the House of Representatives to “go back” to their supposed homelands,[188] the list of exclusionary rhetoric based on race, ethnicity, and religion is long. [quote id="7"] Implicitly endorsing the thesis that Trump’s campaign was built on ethnic nationalism, some observers argued in 2016 that his appeal to non-white voters would be historically low, thereby dooming his chances at the ballot box.[189] When Trump did win, some assumed his presidency would pivot to more inclusive rhetoric (and perhaps even policies) in order to bring on board more voters.[190] Rather than broaden his appeal in an increasingly diverse country, Trump has continued to promote his ascriptive vision of the United States.[191] The first prominent policy example of this was the “travel ban” (called the “Muslim Ban” by political opponents), the third iteration of which was found legal by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018.[192] It excludes immigrants from seven countries, five of them Muslim-majority countries.[193] The second notable signal was when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency responsible for issuing visas and green cards and for naturalizing immigrants as U.S. citizens, released its new mission statement. As of February 2018 that statement no longer contains references to immigrants themselves — including taking out a line that called the United States a “nation of immigrants.”[194] In fact, the Trump administration has racialized the issue of immigration.[195] Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting director of USCIS, has argued that the famous Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus,” which appears on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, refers to “people coming from Europe,”[196] while Trump himself has expressed hope of more immigrants from countries like Norway.[197] Trump’s comment, which included the “shithole” remark, prompted U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Rupert Colville, to call Trump’s remarks “racist.”[198] Most prominently, however, might be the symbolism — presumably intended — of wanting to build a physical wall along the southern border of the United States, but not along its northern border.[199] The public announcement by Trump in the fall of 2018 — just before the midterm elections — that he would seek to end birthright citizenship (as defined in the 14th amendment) showed that rather than pivot toward inclusion, Trump would embrace ethnic nationalism, which was indeed an important part of his political platform. This is why it is not quite right when Abram van Engen writes,
Trump never talks about Americans as descendants from those who came here long ago. He offers no story. There is no rise from immigration, no fleeing from oppression in the American past, no historical movement from one land to another. There is only the present day, only sovereignty and self-interest here and now.[200]
On the contrary, Trump does offer a narrative of the United States, but it is not the familiar story of a “nation of immigrants.” Rather, it is that of white, Christian America, a narrative compatible with Gerstle’s “racial nationalism,” Smith’s ascriptive tradition, and Mead’s Jacksonian nationalism.[201] It explicitly rejects the inclusive narrative of a diverse nation unified by civic ideals. It builds, as this article has shown, on an important competing strand in American political history in which Americans have identified membership in their political community not with adherence to a set of classically liberal ideas and ideals, but rather with ethno-cultural origins and customs “strongly linked to North European ancestry, Protestantism, belief in the superiority of the ‘white race,’ and patriarchal familial leadership.”[202] Mead, writing in 2002, acknowledged the “deeply regrettable Jacksonian record of racism,” but argued that Jacksonian America was evolving rapidly.[203] Here, Mead might have been mistaken. In November 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center published leaked emails from Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s most important advisers on immigration, showing his support for and utilization of white nationalist literature and websites.[204] Non-Intervention Abroad? Does Trump’s “America First” imply a resurrection of an older U.S. foreign policy tradition labeled non-interventionism, exemplarism, or even “isolationism”? Or, is he simply a more extreme version of previous Republican presidents, many of whom were strong critics of the constraints emanating from international alliances, institutions, and traditions? I argue that when it comes to military intervention abroad, Trump differs from both historic America First positions as well as Republican presidents since World War II. Previous America Firsters argued for non-intervention on exceptionalist grounds. Trump, however, rejects the non-interventionist view that the United States is too special to get involved in the “corrupt old world.” Rather, Trump’s grand strategy is more similar to the classical realist tradition in international relations, in sharp contrast to the ideational tradition of exceptionalism.[205] Indeed, in the 2017 National Security Strategy, the administration labels its strategy one “of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.”[206] Trump’s version of America First strips out all the focus on ideals and norms, something realists often argue U.S. foreign policy focuses too much on. Nor is Trump simply a more extreme version of existing Republican foreign policy. Previous Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush argued that the United States was too exceptional to be constrained by the rules of the liberal world order.[207] Rather than principled exemplarism (America First) or exceptional unilateralism (Reagan and George W. Bush), then, Trump’s grand strategy is a “contradictory combination of hawkish militarism and strategic retrenchment,”[208] relying on unilateralism, militarism, aggressive threats, and the strategic support from authoritarian leaders abroad. Trump’s record is evidence that he is an interventionist.[209] After promising to end the war in Afghanistan on the campaign trail, Trump increased the number of U.S. troops on the ground as president.[210] President Trump dramatically increased the number of lethal drone strikes compared to the number launched during the Obama administration.[211] He also sanctioned cruise missile strikes against targets controlled by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria in April 2017 as a response to a chemical weapons attack against the inhabitants of Idlib province earlier that month.[212] Similarly, in April 2017, Trump declared he had ordered an aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan to serve as a deterrent to North Korean aggression. “We’re sending an armada,” Trump told Fox News.[213] A year later, the United States, in cooperation with Great Britain and France, again carried out strikes against Syrian government targets in response to a chemical weapons attack in Douma.[214] Former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, sees Trump’s national security policy as not one of retrenchment, but rather as “revisionist and interventionist” because it seeks regime change in Syria, Iran, and Venezuela.[215] Scholars such as Charles A. Kupchan and Graham Allison therefore gravely misunderstand not just the history of U.S. foreign relations but Trump’s foreign policy when they assert that Trump’s America First is a revival of isolationism. Prior to World War II, Kupchan argues,
American exceptionalism meant insulating the American experiment from foreign threats, shunning international entanglements, spreading democracy through example rather than intrusion, embracing protectionism and fair (not free) trade, and preserving a relatively homogeneous citizenry through racist and anti-immigrant policies. In short, it was about America first.[216]
Not only is Kupchan wrong that Trump is embracing isolationism, he is also mistaken in thinking that America has a history of isolationism to revive.[217] As this article has shown, isolationism as a 19th century U.S. foreign policy tradition is a myth.[218] It certainly does not have anything in common with Mead’s Jacksonianism, as seen earlier. [quote id="8"] Historical accuracy aside, Kupchan’s argument also gets Trump’s contemporary policies wrong when he argues that, “Trump has cloaked himself in isolationist garb, repeatedly questioning the value of core U.S. alliances in Europe and Asia.”[219] Trump did seemingly promise retrenchment — if not isolationism — on the campaign trail.[220] Rather than retrench however, President Trump has increased troop deployments in Afghanistan, threatened war with North Korea, supported the Saudi-led war in Yemen, threatened war with Iran, and consistently promoted a military power build-up including the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the launching of a “Space Force.”[221] While Trump’s strategy for the use of U.S. military power is unilateral — e.g., his strike against Syria in 2017 and his general approach to North Korea and Iran — it is not isolationist nor a strategy of retrenchment.[222] What separates Trump from those in U.S. history who are often labeled isolationists is the same thing that separates him from the foreign policy establishment in general: his material, as opposed to ideational, definition of “American exceptionalism.”[223] As Trump put it on Twitter, “I will make our Military so big, powerful & strong that no one will mess with us.”[224] Trump’s foreign policy represents the Jacksonian skepticism “about the United States’ policy of global engagement and liberal order building,” a skepticism that comes “more from a lack of trust in the people shaping foreign policy than from a desire for a specific alternative vision.”[225] It is not principled non-interventionism, rather it is a rejection of the liberal part of the world order. It is a materialist, militarist, unilateral kind of internationalism, not isolationism.

IV. Conclusion: “The End of American Exceptionalism”?

Trump’s foreign policy approach raises important questions about the future of American exceptionalism as a national narrative and its role in U.S. foreign policy. First, regarding foreign policy: Does the Trump era really matter all that much, if the next president can simply reverse course? In other words, is it possible for the next U.S. administration to snap back to a pre-Trump era when there was bipartisan consensus that the United States should play a leadership role in the liberal international order, even if there were disagreements about what that leadership style should look like? Second, regarding the American national narrative: If a snap-back is not possible, does that mean we have finally arrived at the “end of American exceptionalism”?[226] I argue that a snap-back is unlikely because it is increasingly unwanted by important voices in both parties. Ultimately, the future of U.S. foreign policy depends on how thoughtfully American politicians approach this fork in the road. Rethinking U.S. grand strategy in the post-Trump era will require a more nuanced reflection about what American exceptionalism means than has been the norm in American political history up until this point. Trump and the Liberal International Order: Can the United States Snap Back? Is it possible for the first post-Trump president to “‘snap back’ to the status quo ante” and pretend that the Trump presidency never happened?[227] Given all of the benefits the United States has accrued from its hegemonic position in the world, it would be natural to assume American elites in both parties will try. In terms of the Republican Party, I argue that Trump’s wholesale rejection of the master narrative underlying the U.S. commitment to the liberal international order makes this a difficult task. Having embraced America First — despite some important policy disagreements on issues such as Syria[228] — any attempt at a snap back from the Trump presidency by the GOP faces the risk of being seen as non-credible by both domestic and foreign audiences.[229] Furthermore, because of the growing dissatisfaction in both parties with the prior foreign policy consensus,[230] it is entirely possible that another populist nationalist — perhaps next time from the left — will win an election in the future and further remove the United States from its leadership role abroad. For allies, therefore, the United States is a less reliable partner, and will continue to be so unless it produces a new and credible internationalist foreign policy alternative to Trumpism that appeals to important actors in both parties.[231] This alternative must be rooted in a credible and unifying national narrative. Trump vs. American Exceptionalism: A Republican Walk-Over? According to Leffler, America First means
minimizing obligations to allies, treating everyone as a competitor, freeing the United States from the restrictions imposed by multilateral institutions, seeking trade advantages through bilateral negotiations, building up military power, befriending dictators if they support him, and acting unilaterally in a zero-sum framework of international politics.[232]
The goal is to get ahead, and getting ahead means leaving others behind. This means America First is, in important respects, a significant departure from neoconservatism, the heretofore paradigmatic Republican ideals-based foreign policy as defined in the post-Cold War years, particularly those of George W. Bush. More than anything else, the America First agenda and its rejection of American exceptionalism was why neoconservatives rebelled against the Trump candidacy and formed the NeverTrump movement.[233] Given what we know of Bush’s faith and his strong belief in American exceptionalism, his view of the missionary role the United States could and should play in world history arguably influenced how he viewed Iraq and the “Global War on Terror.”[234] As the invasion of Iraq was underway, in a televised address, Bush said, “To all the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you.”[235] That is not to say that material factors such as oil have not been an important goal of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East since before World War II, or that such concerns have not eclipsed liberal democratic goals on many occasions. But, allowing for a complex interplay of material interests and liberal ideals guiding U.S. foreign policy, there is still quite a distance between the rhetoric and policy of Bush, and Trump’s statement that “we want to keep the oil” in Iraq “to reimburse ourselves.”[236] Rex Tillerson made explicit the divorcing of ideals from interests in his second speech as secretary of state: “I think it is really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values… . Our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated — those are our values. Those are not our policies.”[237] The late Sen. John McCain immediately criticized the speech in an op-ed, defending the traditional bipartisan consensus on U.S. foreign policy: “Our values are our strength and greatest treasure. We are distinguished from other countries because we are not made from a land or tribe or particular race or creed, but from an ideal that liberty is the inalienable right of mankind and in accord with nature and nature’s Creator.”[238] Allies appreciated McCain’s efforts.[239] Indeed, McCain seemed at times to serve as “shadow secretary of state” when he disagreed with the president’s foreign policies.[240] Yet although there are Republican Party members who disagree with Trump’s foreign policy,[241] McCain’s vocal opposition to Trump was rather unique in his party. Those Republican lawmakers who disagree with Trumpism either stay quiet and vote with the party, or find themselves retiring — whether willingly or not.[242] Thus, despite a few internationalist voices, allies are having a hard time recognizing the Republican Party they thought they knew.[243] The explanation for all this might be that the Republican Party itself has changed. Indeed, despite many Republicans disagreeing with Trump, he has still managed to successfully take over the party: First, by attaining its nomination, and second by winning over many important conservatives who initially were skeptical.[244] The Republican journey from condemning Buchanan’s radical rhetoric in the 1990s to first, tacitly accepting and then, mainstreaming Trump is an important part of this development. “Over the last two and a half decades,” write Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, “the GOP has mutated from a traditional conservative party into an insurgent force that threatens the norms and institutions of American democracy.”[245] Trump did not cause this populist, nationalist moment as much as reap the benefits of the long-term trajectory of the GOP and its narrowing voter base. As Lilliana Mason shows, the Republican Party has increasingly come to represent “the white, Christian, male and rural elements of the U.S. electorate.”[246] Trump’s version of “America First” is devoid of historic mission or religious election, but it is not “primacy without a purpose,” as Barry Posen has labeled it.[247] Rather, it has a nationalist, protectionist, and populist purpose, rooted in an ascriptive master narrative. Future paeans to American exceptionalism of the sort that Marco Rubio made in the 2016 campaign would ironically be a rebuke of Trump’s presidency.[248] At best, the current Republican Party is unsure of what “America” should mean at home and abroad. At worst, it has changed its mind entirely. In short, while the GOP may try to return to the status quo ante in a post-Trump future, they still have to fill a significant credibility gap in order to do so successfully. Bipartisan Re-evaluation of “The Blob” Significantly, both political parties are rethinking what the United States’ role in the world should be, which is why it is unlikely that there will be a wholesale return to the previous bipartisan consensus regarding U.S. primacy and leadership in the international order, no matter who wins the next presidential election.[249] Trump is not the only person who is severely dissatisfied with America’s post-Cold War foreign policy.[250] Nor is he the only one who thinks “exceptionalism is not a nice term.”[251] Obama’s answer to the Strasbourg question in 2009 was a clear rebuke of his predecessor’s moralistic exceptionalism. Trump’s less eloquent response in April 2015 was, in a way, communicating the same idea as Obama: It is offensive to say to the world, “we are superior to you.” [quote id="9"] Obama’s struggle with American power and ideals was an early sign of the re-evaluation and recalibration of U.S. grand strategy that was underway. Obama consciously distanced himself from the D.C. foreign-policy elites his adviser Ben Rhodes derisively nicknamed “the Blob.”[252] In the end, many liberals were disappointed in the limited amount of “change,” but the Obama era was a sign of a dissolving foreign policy consensus.[253] This was especially evident in the complex and tragic case of Syria, where reasonable people could disagree on whether and how much the United States should have intervened. After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on the people of Ghouta in August 2013, Obama stated,
America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer in the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.[254]
To many European allies, this was refreshingly different from the perceived moralism and arrogance of the George W. Bush administration. Obama’s more constrained view of what the United States should represent in the world signaled a growing internal debate in the Democratic Party that somewhat mirrors the one found in the Republican Party:[255] Does American exceptionalism entail endless U.S. military engagement around the world? Americans — and many others — are understandably skeptical about such a proposition. According to a national survey by the Eurasia Group Foundation,
A plurality of Republicans and Independents believe America’s focus should be on building a healthy democracy at home and avoiding foreign conflicts. Democrats believe peace is best achieved through economic integration and free trade. “Peace through military strength,” associated with neoconservative hawks, and the “democracy promotion” approach associated with liberal interventionism received significantly less support.[256]
There is an important generational profile to this debate. In the 2017 Chicago Council Survey on generational attitudes toward U.S. foreign policy, Millennials were less inclined than Generation X-ers, Boomers, and the Silent Generation to embrace the idea that the United States is “the greatest country in the world.” Only one-quarter of Millenials saw the need for the United States to be “the dominant world leader.”[257] In other words, no matter who wins the presidency in 2020, an attempt at a snap-back might be unwanted by significant groups of voters in both parties. Does This Mean the End of American Exceptionalism? When Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell argued for the “end” of American exceptionalism after the Watergate scandal and Vietnam War in 1975, he did so because he found that the “belief in American exceptionalism has vanished with the end of empire, the weakening of power, the loss of faith in the nation’s future.”[258] As it happens, this sentiment is strikingly similar to the disillusionment Peter Beinart finds when reviewing the memoirs of three Obama-era foreign policy officials. Indeed, writes Beinart, “it’s possible to read their books not only as tales of tempered idealism but also as chronicles of America’s declining exceptionalism.”[259] Could it be that after several exaggerated reports of its death, the end of American exceptionalism is here? Let us look at what happened last time: Bell failed to predict the rise of Reagan and the strong comeback of American exceptionalism. If history is any guide, perhaps the next president will restore America’s sense of exceptionalism and purpose in the world like Reagan did in the 1980s. The counterpoint is that this time it might actually be different — and that it should be different. Jimmy Carter — the president Reagan was reacting to — never negated American exceptionalism. He instead rebuked previous American foreign policy from the viewpoint of exceptionalism itself: “we can be better, if we try.” It was a familiar American rhetorical tradition — the lament of having fallen short of American exceptional ideals. No president or presidential candidate between 1945 and 2012 argued that the United States is unexceptional and has no role to play in the fight for liberal values around the globe. That powerful national agreement on what role the United States is supposed to play in world history because of what kind of nation the United States is believed to be held, in the end, for a rather short American century. The United States has thus arrived at a fork in the road. There is still strong support for continued international engagement among Americans,[260] but there is also an undeniable weakening of the U.S. foreign policy consensus. This dissolving 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.”[261] At the heart of this moment of confusion and dismay is the confrontation between two master narratives: that of American exceptionalism and Jacksonian nationalism. American exceptionalism is an ideational master narrative. It is a story about an ethnically and religiously diverse nation united in adherence to liberal ideas and institutions both at home and abroad. In contrast, the Trump administration’s story of America is ascriptive: It is the story of a white, Christian folk community with materialist interests to pursue abroad. Yet, Trump did not create this moment. Before Trump’s presidential campaign, in 2014, the American National Election Study found that only 45 percent of Millennials “consider their American identity as extremely important.”[262] The narrative contestation currently underway must be addressed properly because the United States — and its foreign policy — needs a master narrative. Americans need a story about who they are, where they come from, and where they are going. American exceptionalism has proven to be a very useful civic narrative for a nation that cannot unite around shared ethnicity or religion. Indeed, it might be the only possible narrative going forward for a country whose ethnic and cultural identities are increasingly diverse, yet increasingly divided along party lines.[263] Leadership based on liberal ideals and institutions — rather than ascriptive characteristics — is also still the most attractive vision any great power in history has had to offer. According to Bell, American exceptionalism in foreign policy was supposed to be about the belief that the United States would be different from previous world empires in the exercise of power because it was democratic.[264] Given the imperfect execution of the liberal part of the order in the past,[265] however, if the United States wants to reclaim the leadership position Trump is currently forfeiting, it will need more than formulaic invocations of America as a “city on a Hill” or nostalgic paeans to a liberal world order that never quite was.[266] It will need an updated story of “America” in the world, a story that acknowledges the problems with the “liberal world order” to address the concerns of the next generation of Americans, allies, and adversaries.[267] A fresh discussion of what the United States can contribute to the world would entail leaving behind exceptionalist ideas of U.S. superiority and rather focus on securing a future that global advocates of liberal democracy can work together to achieve.[268] After Trump comes a moment of opportunity: not to simply put the U.S. ship in reverse, but rather, to plot out a new course.   Hilde Eliassen Restad is associate professor of international studies at Bjørknes University College in Oslo, Norway. A Fulbright alumna, she has a Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and is the author of American Exceptionalism: An Idea that Made a Nation and Remade the World (Routledge, 2015).   Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the following colleagues for their valuable feedback on the various stages of this manuscript: Melvyn P. Leffler, Nadim Khoury, Stephen Pampinella, panelists at the 2018 ISSS-IS conference, panelists at the 2018 BISA U.S. Foreign Policy Working Group Conference, Chris White and my colleagues at Bjørknes University College. A sincere thank you to the thorough and highly efficient editors Galen Jackson, Doyle Hodges, and Megan Oprea at TNSR as well as to the anonymous reviewers.   Image: Patrick Kelley [post_title] => Whither the “City Upon a Hill”? Donald Trump, America First, and American Exceptionalism [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => whither-the-city-upon-a-hill-donald-trump-america-first-and-american-exceptionalism [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-12-18 13:09:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-12-18 18:09:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=2301 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In order to understand Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda, we must examine the master narrative that underpins it. Trump breaks with all modern presidents not just because he challenges the postwar “liberal international order,” but because he rejects its underlying master narrative — American exceptionalism. America First relies instead on the narrative of Jacksonian nationalism. What makes America great, according to this narrative, is not a diverse nation unified in its adherence to certain liberal ideals, but rather ethnocultural homogeneity, material wealth, and military prowess. In this view, the United States is unexceptional, and therefore has no mission to pursue abroad. By shedding light on this alternative master narrative, we can better understand Trump’s presidency, his grand strategy, and why a return to the status quo ante after Trump is unlikely. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 3, Iss 1 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Trump’s grand strategy is different in kind, and not just in degree, from U.S. postwar foreign policy because it rejects the underlying master narrative of American exceptionalism. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => If one questions American exceptionalism, and the idea that it connotes superiority rather than simply difference, one’s Americanness may itself be questioned.  ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => In addition to being viewed as a “superior” republic, the United States is also on a world historic “mission” according to the narrative of American exceptionalism. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The influence of American exceptionalism on the framing and content of U.S. foreign policy took on a new force after the Cold War ended. Indeed, Americans interpreted the Cold War’s end as a reaffirmation of American exceptionalism. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => With the attack on Pearl Harbor and eventual Allied victory in World War II, “America First” became synonymous with having been on the wrong side of history. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => When it comes to the military, though, Jacksonians are looser with the purse strings and are more trusting of the military establishment. ) [6] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => This kind of ethnic nationalism represents a commonality between the Jacksonian tradition and the America First Committee, as well as Buchanan’s revival of the America First political brand. ) [7] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => While Trump’s strategy for the use of U.S. military power is unilateral — e.g., his strike against Syria in 2017 and his general approach to North Korea and Iran — it is not isolationist nor a strategy of retrenchment. ) [8] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => In short, while the GOP may try to return to the status quo ante in a post-Trump future, they still have to fill a significant credibility gap in order to do so successfully. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 341 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] “President Harry S. Truman’s Address before a Joint Session of Congress, March 12, 1947,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/trudoc.asp; also known as the “Truman Doctrine.” [2] Donald J. Trump “The Inaugural Address,” The White House, Jan. 20, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address/. [3] Peter Feaver, “What Is Grand Strategy and Why Do We Need It?” Foreign Policy, April 8, 2009, https://foreignpolicy.com/2009/04/08/what-is-grand-strategy-and-why-do-we-need-it/. [4] See, e.g., the special issue on the liberal order by Foreign Affairs: “Out of Order? The Future of the International System,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 1 (January/February 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2017/96/1; Doug Stokes, “Trump, American Hegemony, and the Future of the Liberal International Order,” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (January 2018): 133–50, https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix238; and Robert L. Jervis, Francis Gavin, Joshua Rovner, and Diane Labrosse, eds., Chaos in the Liberal Order: The Trump Presidency and International Politics in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018). [5] See, Ronald R. Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 13–15. [6] Jason A. Edwards and David Weiss, eds., The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2011). [7] See, e.g., John Gerard Ruggie, “The Past as Prologue? Interests, Identity, and American Foreign Policy,” International Security 21, no. 4 (Spring 1997): 89–125, https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.21.4.89; G. John Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Henry R. Nau, At Home Abroad: Identity and Power in American Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002); Jeffrey W. Legro, Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Karl K. Schonberg, Constructing 21st Century U.S. Foreign Policy: Identity, Ideology, and America's World Role in a New Era (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Michael C. Desch, “America’s Liberal Illiberalism: The Ideological Origins of Overreaction in U.S. Foreign Policy,” International Security 32 no. 3 (Winter 2007/08): 7–43,https://www.jstor.org/stable/30130517; Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security; and Hilde Eliassen Restad, American Exceptionalism: An Idea that Made a Nation and Remade the World (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2015). [8] See, for instance, Robert Osgood, Ideals and Self-Interest in America’s Foreign Relations (Chicago: Phoenix Books, 1953/1964); Stephen M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America's Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2018); John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018). [9] For the ongoing debate over the scope and nature of the “liberal international order,” see, for example, James Goldgeier, “The Misunderstood Roots of International Order — and Why They Matter Again,” Washington Quarterly 41, no. 3 (2018): 7–20, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2018.1519339; Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry, “Liberal World: The Resilient Order,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 4 (July/August 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-06-14/liberal-world; Patrick Porter, “A World Imagined: Nostalgia and Liberal Order,” CATO Institute, Policy Analysis No. 843, June 5, 2018, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/world-imagined-nostalgia-liberal-order. [10] Jason Gilmore, Penelope Sheets, and Charles Rowling, “Make No Exception, Save One: American Exceptionalism, the American Presidency, and the Age of Obama,” Communication Monographs 83, no. 4 (2016): 10, https://doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2016.1182638. [11] Walter Russell Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt: American Populism and the Liberal Order,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 2 (March/April 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-01-20/jacksonian-revolt. For a counterargument, see, Elliot Abrams, “Trump the Traditionalist: A Surprisingly Standard Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 4 (July/August 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-06-13/trump-traditionalist. [12] Media attention has so far been more attuned to this than scholars have. Some journalists laud this development, such as Janan Ganesh, who argues Trump has merely dropped the “pretense” in favor of “interest-driven statecraft.” See, “Donald Trump Drops the Pretense on American Exceptionalism,” Financial Times, Nov. 28, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/e292150a-f270-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d. Daniel Sargent, on the other hand, laments that Trump has ended American exceptionalism by suggesting it is no better than Russia. See, “RIP American Exceptionalism, 1776-2018,” Foreign Policy, July 23, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/23/rip-american-exceptionalism-1776-2018/. Scholarship on how American exceptionalism, understood as a narrative, influences Trump’s foreign policy approach has so far been scarce, but see, Stephen Wertheim, “Trump and American Exceptionalism: Why a Crippled America Is Something New,” Foreign Affairs, Jan. 3, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-01-03/trump-and-american-exceptionalism; Stephen Wertheim “Policy Series: Donald Trump Versus American Exceptionalism: Toward the Sources of Trumpian Conduct,” H-Diplo | ISSF POLICY Series America and the World – 2017 and Beyond, Feb. 1, 2017, https://issforum.org/roundtables/policy/1-5k-trump-exceptionalism. For an early article, published before the presidential election, see, Anatol Lieven, “Clinton and Trump: Two Faces of American Nationalism,” Survival 58, no. 5 (2016): 7­–22, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2016.1231526. For scholarly work examining Trump’s rhetoric on American exceptionalism, see, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Doron Taussig, “Disruption, Demonization, Deliverance, and Norm Destruction: The Rhetorical Signature of Donald J. Trump,” Political Science Quarterly 132, no. 4 (Winter 2017-2018): 619–50; Jason A. Edwards, “Make America Great Again: Donald Trump and Redefining the U.S. Role in the World,” Communication Quarterly 66, no. 2 (2018): 176–95, https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2018.1438485. [13] Pete Vernon, “Lie? Falsehood? What to Call the President’s Words,” Columbia Journalism Review May 29, 2018, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/trump-lie-falsehood.php. [14]  Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, “President Trump Has Made 10, 796 False or Misleading Claims Over 869 Days,” Washington Post, June 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/10/president-trump-has-made-false-or-misleading-claims-over-days/. [15] Charlie Laderman and Brendan Simms, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View, rev. ed. (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017), 98–99. See also, Colin Kahl and Hal Brands, “Trump’s Grand Strategic Train Wreck,” Foreign Policy, Jan. 31, 2017, https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/31/trumps-grand-strategic-train-wreck/. [16] See, Jason Gilmore and Charles M. Rowling, “Partisan Patriotism in the American Presidency: American Exceptionalism, Issue Ownership, and the Age of Trump,” Mass Communication and Society 22, no. 3 (2019): 389–416, https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2018.1559334. [17] I thank Reviewer 1 for pointing this out. General skepticism of international institutions and multilateralism is as American as apple pie in both parties, but has been more pronounced in the Republican party since Woodrow Wilson. However, economic protectionism has never before in the post-World War II era been promoted by a Republican president to the extent seen with Trump. See also Part III of this article. [18] David Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism,’” Mother Jones, June 7, 2016, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/donald-trump-american-exceptionalism/. For a different view, see, Edwards, “Make America Great Again,” 177. [19] See Part II for a discussion of what “exemplar” means in regard to U.S. foreign policy and American exceptionalism. [20] Donald Trump, “The Inaugural Address.” [21] I am indebted to Melvyn P. Leffler for discussing this with me. [22] See Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt.” See also, Taesuh Cha, “The Return of Jacksonianism: The International Implications of the Trump Phenomenon,” Washington Quarterly 39, no. 4 (2016): 83–97, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2016.1261562. [23] For a discussion of the ascriptive tradition, see, Rogers M. Smith, Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999); and see also, Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century, rev. ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2017). [24] Restad, American Exceptionalism. [25] A note on terminology: Any study of national identity in the United States has to deal with the issue of what to call the United States of America. Americans themselves often refer to their country as “America.” This terminology is problematic, however, especially to inhabitants of other countries located in the Americas. When writing on American exceptionalism, however, the term “America” has specific meaning. It is an expression of the national tendency to elevate the United States above others (such as those neighboring countries in the Americas). I thank Trevor McCrisken for these insights. [26] See, Hilde Eliassen Restad, “American Exceptionalism,” in, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior, ed. Fathali M. Moghaddam (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2017), 24–27. For a contrary view, see, Seymour Martin Lipset, American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996). [27] Quoted in, Hans Kohn, American Nationalism: An Interpretative Essay (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1957), 13. [28] Trevor McCrisken, American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam: U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1974 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003), 1. [29] See, Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security, 13–15. [30] Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security. See also, Michael H. Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987); Deborah Madsen, American Exceptionalism (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1998); and Nadim Khoury, “Plotting Stories After War: Toward a Methodology for Negotiating Identity,” European Journal of International Relations 24, no. 2 (2018), 367–90, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1354066117711743. [31] See, for instance, Jack P. Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993). [32] Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1955). [33] Lieven, “Clinton and Trump,” 11. [34] Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy; Madsen, American Exceptionalism; McCrisken, American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam; Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997); Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right (New York: Hill & Wang, 1995); Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World (New York: Routledge, 2002); Restad, American Exceptionalism. [35] The Puritans are often credited with an early version of an exceptionalist narrative. See, for instance, Stephanson, Manifest Destiny; and Sacvan Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission, American Quarterly 30, no. 2 (Summer 1978): 135–55, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2712320. That is not to say they created a kind of homogeneous, constant national identity seamlessly kept through history. See, Richard M. Gamble, In Search for the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth (New York: Continuum Books, 2012). The exceptionalist narrative was, however, present throughout the 1800s. When Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, “[t]he position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one,” he pointed back to their “strictly Puritanical origin,” as the first factor explaining this exceptionalism. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, volume II, chapter IX, “The Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That A Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and No Taste for Science, Literature, Or Art.” Access at, http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/toc_indx.html. See also, Rahul Sharma, American Civil Religion and the Puritan Antecedents of American Foreign Policy, PhD Thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (2019). [36] This definition builds on McCrisken, “Exceptionalism,” in, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy Vol. 2, 2nd ed., ed. Alexander DeConde et al. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002), 64–65. I develop this more in detail in, Restad, American Exceptionalism. [37] McCrisken, American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam; Daniel T. Rodgers, “American Exceptionalism Revisited,” Raritan Review 24, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 21–47; Restad, American Exceptionalism. [38] See, Tom W. Smith and Seokho Kim, “National Pride in Comparative Perspective: 1995/96 and 2003/04,” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 18, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 127–36, https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edk007. [39] Jason A. Edwards, Navigating the Post-Cold War World: President Clinton’s Foreign Policy Rhetoric (Washington, DC: Lexington Books, 2008); Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon”; Rico Neumann and Kevin Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency: A Quantitative Assessment,” 11–31, in, The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism. [40] Jason Gilmore, “American Exceptionalism in the American Mind: Presidential Discourse, National Identity, and U.S. Public Opinion,” Communication Studies 66, no. 3 (2015): 301–20, https://doi.org/10.1080/10510974.2014.991044. [41] Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry, “An Exceptional Debate: The Obama Administration’s Assault on American identity,” National Review, March 8, 2010, https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2010/03/08/exceptional-debate/. [42] See, for example, Ian Vásquez and Tania Porčnik, “The Human Freedom Index 2017: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom,” Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf. [43] See Restad, “Conclusion,” in, American Exceptionalism. [44] Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America. [45] Monica Crowley, “American Exceptionalism…” Washington Times, July 1, 2009, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/1/american-exceptionalism/. [46] Robert Schlesinger, “Obama Has Mentioned ‘American Exceptionalism’ More than Bush,” U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 31, 2011, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2011/01/31/obama-has-mentioned-american-exceptionalism-more-than-bush. [47] From, Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 275. Also see, Henri Tajfel, Social Identity and Intergroup Relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982). [48] Crowley, “American Exceptionalism”; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 1. [49] The seminal work here is Gerstle’s American Crucible. [50] Robert Kagan, Dangerous Nation: America’s Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century (New York: Knopf, 2006), 12. [51] Because of Roosevelt’s understanding of European nations as themselves mixed, and of (white) Americans as a result of this mix, Gerstle did not label Roosevelt’s view “ethnic nationalism,” because Gerstle defined this as a European-style ethnic nationalism viewing a Volk as “pure biological entities” as with the Ku Klux Klan. Gerstle, American Crucible, 14–43; 44–45. [52] See, Rogers Brubaker, “The Manichean Myth: Rethinking the Distinction Between ‘Civic’ and ‘Ethnic’ Nationalism,” in, Nation and National Identity: The European Experience in Perspective, ed. Hanspeter Kriesl et al. (Zurich: Ruegger, 1999), 55–73. [53] Smith, Civic Ideals; Gerstle, American Crucible, 59. [54] For a detailed discussion of this debate in various eras in U.S. history, see, Restad, American Exceptionalism. For an overview of the debates at the turn of the century, when the United States is widely seen as becoming a world power, see, Christopher McKnight Nichols, Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). [55] Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [56] Paul T. McCartney, “Power and Progress: American National Identity, the War of 1898, and the Rise of American Imperialism” Communication Quarterly, no. 191 (2006): 401, quoted in, Jason A. Edwards, “Make America Great Again: Donald Trump and Redefining the U.S. Role in the World,” Communication Quarterly 66, no. 2, (2018): 178, https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2018.1438485. [57] Edwards, “Make America Great Again,” 178. [58] H. W. Brands, What America Owes the World: The Struggle for the Soul of American Foreign Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), viii, quoted in, Edwards, “Make America Great Again,” 178. [59] See, Dexter Perkins, The American Approach to Foreign Policy rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962); Stanley Hoffmann, Gulliver’s Troubles, Or the Setting of American Foreign Policy (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968); Frank L. Klingberg, Cyclical Trends in American Foreign Policy Moods (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983); Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994); Ruggie, “The Past as Prologue?” [60] Some scholars might ask why use the term at all in this article. I agree that it is an unfortunate term that serves to confuse rather than enlighten debates over U.S. foreign policy. Because it is still — despite much scholarly effort — ubiquitous in popular and scholarly works on U.S. foreign policy, and has been used specifically about Trump, however, I use it in this article. Substituting it for other terms like “nationalism” does not quite work, since nationalism is an ideology and isolationism is a (mythical) foreign policy tradition. I thank Reviewer 1 for asking me to address this. Michael Hunt, “Isolationism: Behind the myth, a usable past,” UNC Press Blog, June 29, 2011, https://uncpressblog.com/2011/06/29/michael-h-hunt-isolationism-behind-the-myth-a-usable-past/. But see also, Nichols, Promise and Peril. [61] Albert Katz Weinberg, Manifest Destiny. A Study in Nationalist Expansionism in American History, 6th ed. (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1935), 122. [62] William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (Cleveland, Ohio: World Pub. Co., 1959); Alexander DeConde, Entangling Alliance: Politics and Diplomacy Under George Washington (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1958). For more recent works, see, Peter Onuf and Nicholas G. Onuf, Federal Union, Modern World: The Law of Nations in an Age of Revolutions, 1776-1814 (Indianapolis, IN: Madison House: 1993); McDougall, Promised land, Crusader State; Manfred Jonas, “Isolationism,” in, Alexander DeConde et al., eds., Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, Vol. II, 2nd ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002). [63] See, for example, Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981); and, Matthew Karp, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). [64] Peter S. Onuf, Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 2000), 13–14; also chap. 1. [65] Thomas R. Hietala, Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003); Ernest N. Paolino, The Foundations of the American Empire: William Henry Seward and U.S. Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973); William Earl Weeks, John Quincy Adams and American Global Empire (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1992); and William Earl Weeks, Building the Continental Empire: American Expansion from the Revolution to the Civil War (Chicago, Ill.: Ivan R. Dee, 1996). [66] Thomas A. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People (New York: F. S. Crofts and Co., 1950), 520, cited in, Edward McNall Burns, America’s Idea of Mission: Concepts of National Purpose and Destiny (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1957), 8. [67] “The White Man’s Burden” was a poem written by Rudyard Kipling originally published in the popular magazine McClure’s in 1899, with the subtitle “The United States and the Philippine Islands.[68] See, Weinberg, Manifest Destiny, esp. chaps. 1, 2, and 4. [69] Stephanson, Manifest Destiny. [70] Charles A. Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms: A New Fight Over an Old Idea,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 2 (March/April 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-02-13/clash-exceptionalisms. [71] Bear F. Braumoeller, “The Myth of American Isolationism,” Foreign Policy Analysis 6, no. 4 (October 2010): 349–71, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-8594.2010.00117.x; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [72] Williams, The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy; DeConde, Entangling Alliance. [73] In addition to the classic revisionist historians, see also, Richard W. Van Alstyne, The Rising American Empire (Chicago, Ill: Quadrangle Books, 1965); Paolino, The Foundations of the American Empire; Hietala, Manifest Design. [74] See, for example, Charles Kupchan, who argues that the only exception to the isolationism of the 1800s was 1898, when the United States “did experiment” with “broader imperialism,” which then supposedly caused an isolationist backlash. Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms.” [75] Greg Grandin, “The Strange Career of American Exceptionalism,” The Nation, Dec. 6, 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/the-strange-career-of-american-exceptionalism/. [76] Roger Cohen, “Obama’s American Idea,” New York Times, Dec. 10, 2007, https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/10/opinion/10cohen.html. [77] Restad, American Exceptionalism, 6. [78] Jeffrey K. Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Rob P. Saldin, “William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 41, no. 1 (March 2011): 119–34, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5705.2010.03833.x. [79] Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 273. [80] Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security, 14. [81] Krebs, Narratives and the Making of US National Security. [82] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 18. [83] Gardin, “The Strange Career of American Exceptionalism.” [84] Edwards, Navigating the Post-Cold War World; Edwards and Weiss, The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism; Pease, The New American Exceptionalism; Megan D. McFarlane, “Visualizing the Rhetorical Presidency: Barack Obama in the Situation Room,” Visual Communication Quarterly 23, no. 1 (2016): 3–13, https://doi.org/10.1080/15551393.2015.1105105; Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon.” [85] James W. Ceaser, Glen E. Thuerow, Jeffrey K. Tulis, and Joseph M. Bessette, “The Rise of the Rhetorical Presidency,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 11, no. 2 (Spring 1981): 158–71; Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency; Saldin, “William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency.” [86] McCrisken, American Exceptionalism; Nau, At Home Abroad; Legro, Rethinking the World; Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security; Restad, American Exceptionalism. [87] “The City Upon a Hill Speech,” Address of President-Elect John F. Kennedy Delivered to a Joint Convention of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The State House, Boston, Jan. 9, 1961, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/OYhUZE2Qo0-ogdV7ok900A.aspx. [88] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 18. [89] Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 288. [90] Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security, 14. [91] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 26. [92] Neumann and Coe, “The Rhetoric in Modern Presidency,” 23. [93] See, for example, Heather Hulbert, “More Diplomacy, Less Intervention, But for What? Making Sense of the Grand Strategy Debate,” Lawfare, June 7, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/more-diplomacy-less-intervention-what-making-sense-grand-strategy-debate. [94] George Bush, “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” Jan. 28, 1992, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-before-joint-session-the-congress-the-state-the-union-0, emphasis mine. [95] Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” National Interest, no. 16 (Summer 1989): 3–18, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24027184. [96] George F. Will, “The End of Our Holiday from History,” Washington Post, Sept. 12, 2001, https://wapo.st/2BkTVIb. [97] Uri Friedman, “Democratic Platform Swaps ‘American Exceptionalism’ for ‘Indispensable Nation,’” Sept. 4, 2012, https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/09/04/democratic-platform-swaps-american-exceptionalism-for-indispensable-nation/. [98] Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, “Interview on NBC-TV ‘The Today Show’ with Matt Lauer, Columbus, Ohio,” U.S. Department of State, Feb. 19, 1998, https://1997-2001.state.gov/statements/1998/980219a.html. [99] Quoted in, Uri Friedman, “‘American Exceptionalism’: A Short History,” Foreign Policy, June 18, 2012, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/18/american_exceptionalism. [100] Hal Brands, “Choosing Primacy: U.S. Strategy and Global Order at the Dawn of the Post-Cold War Era,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 2 (February 2018): 8–33, http://hdl.handle.net/2152/63941; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 7. [101] Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946), cited in, Lloyd E. Ambrosius, Wilsonianism: Woodrow Wilson and His Legacy in American Foreign Relations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 16. [102] Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security, 13. [103] Goddard and Krebs, “Rhetoric, Legitimation, and Grand Strategy.” [104] Krebs, Narrative and the Making of US National Security, 3. [105] “President George W. Bush Addressed a Joint Session of Congress on the Subject of the War on Terrorism,” Sept. 20, 2001, https://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/2000-/President-George-W--Bush-addressed-a-Joint-Session-of-Congress-on-the-subject-of-the-war-on-terrorism/. [106] “President George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address,” Jan. 20, 2005, emphasis added, quoted in, Daniel W. Drezner, “The Realist Tradition in American Public Opinion,” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 1 (March 2008): 53, https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592708080067. [107] Quoted in, Schlesinger, “Obama Has Mentioned ‘American Exceptionalism’ More than Bush.” See, for example, Trevor McCrisken, “Obama’s Drone War,” Survival 55, no. 2 (2013): 97–122, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2013.784469. [108] “Barack Obama's Remarks to the Democratic National Convention,” New York Times, July 27, 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/politics/campaign/barack-obamas-remarks-to-the-democratic-national.html, emphasis mine. [109] William I. Hitchcock, “How the GOP Embraced the World — and then Turned Away,” Politico Magazine, July 13, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/07/13/gop-isolationism-trump-eisenhower-219003; David Farber, “America First and International Trade Policy in the Cold War Era,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and William Hitchcock, Passport (September 2018): 39–41, https://shafr.org/sites/default/files/passport-09-2018-america-first-essays.pdf. [110] Farber, “America First and International Trade Policy in the Cold War Era,” 40. [111] I would like to thank Reviewer 1 for pointing this out. [112] See, Mitt Romney, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010); Ashley Parker, “Romney Makes His Pitch to Social Conservatives and Attacks Obama,” New York Times, March 31, 2012, https://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/romney-makes-his-pitch-to-social-conservatives-and-attacks-obama/. [113] “2012 Republican Party Platform,” Aug. 27, 2012, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/2012-republican-party-platform#american. [114] For more on this, and how Trump diverges, see, Gilmore and Rowling, “Partisan Patriotism in the American Presidency.” [115] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [116] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [117] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [118] According to Stewart M. Patrick, Trump “has undermined Western solidarity with repeated assaults on NATO and the G-7 and repudiation of the international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He has threatened to leave the World Trade Organization and blocked judicial appointments to its appellate body. He has repudiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, forced the renegotiation of NAFTA into a more closed deal, slapped aluminum and steel tariffs on U.S. allies on dubious national security grounds, and launched an all-out trade war with China… . Most disconcerting, the president himself has embraced a rogues’ gallery of authoritarian thugs, from Kim Jong Un to Xi Jinping, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte.” In other words, by going much further than previous presidents in his critiques of NATO (not simply stating that allies must raise their defense budgets, but embracing NATO’s main adversary — Putin’s Russia — while aggressively attacking NATO allies such as Germany) and by embracing authoritarian leaders instead of liberal democratic allies, Trump has rejected the values underpinning the liberal world order. See, Patrick, “The Liberal World Order Is Dying. What Comes Next?” World Politics Review, Jan. 15, 2019, https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/insights/27192/the-liberal-world-order-is-dying-what-comes-next. [119] Thanks to my colleague Chris White for this phrase. [120] Leffler, “America First: Introduction,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Leffler and Hitchcock, 33. [121] See, Nicole Hemmer, “America First, a Second Time,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Leffler and Hitchcock, 47. [122] Susan Dunn, “Trump’s ‘America First’ Has Ugly Echoes from American History,” CNN, April 28, 2016, https://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/27/opinions/trump-america-first-ugly-echoes-dunn/. [123] Christopher Nichols, “America First, American Isolationism, and the Coming of World War II,” in, “America First: The Past and Future of an Idea,” ed. Leffler and Hitchcock, 35. [124] Sarah Churchwell, Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 258. [125] Sean Illing, “How ‘America First’ Ruined the ‘American Dream,’” Vox, Oct. 22, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/10/22/17940964/america-first-trump-sarah-churchwell-american-dream. [126] Nichols, “America First, American Isolationism, and the Coming of World War II,” 35. [127] Nichols, Promise and Peril, chap. 1. See also, Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [128] Churchwell, Behold, America, 43. [129] Churchwell, Behold, America, 45. [130] Churchwell, Behold, America, 48. [131] Quoted in, Churchwell, Behold, America, 84. See also, Laderman and Simms, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View, 10–11. [132] Churchwell, Behold, America, 91. [133] “The Ku-Klux Klan,” Committee on Rules, House of Representatives, Oct. 11, 1921, 120, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.hj1i8v. See also, Churchwell, Behold, America, 288–89. [134] “Bush, Buchanan, and No One at All,” New York Times, March 4, 1992, https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/04/opinion/bush-buchanan-and-no-one-at-all.html [135] “Pat Buchanan in 1992: Make America First Again,” Face the Nation (1992), available on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBm7SZ_WjYY. The appearance on Face the Nation was prior to the New Hampshire primary. [136] Jeff Greenfield, “Trump Is Pat Buchanan with Better Timing,” Politico Magazine (September/October 2016), https://politi.co/2S7NFx1. [137] Greenfield, “Trump Is Pat Buchanan with Better Timing.” [138] Greenfield, “Trump Is Pat Buchanan with Better Timing.” [139] Patrick J. Buchanan, “1992 Republican National Convention Speech,” Patrick J. Buchanan Official Website, Aug. 17, 1992, http://buchanan.org/blog/1992-republican-national-convention-speech-148. [140] Buchanan, “1992 Republican National Convention Speech.” [141] Krishnadev Calamur, “A Short History of ‘America First,’” The Atlantic, Jan. 21, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/trump-america-first/514037/. [142] Mead, Special Providence. [143] Mead, Special Providence, 223. [144] The battle of New Orleans took place after the war was formally over, but the participants in New Orleans were unaware. The battle nevertheless cemented the image of Jackson as a heroic warrior. From the Jackson presidential library: “Jackson’s string of military success, despite the obstacles he faced, the poor results of other military leaders during the War of 1812 and his stunning victory at New Orleans made him a celebrated national hero, revered above all others except George Washington.” See, “War Hero,” Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, https://thehermitage.com/learn/andrew-jackson/general/war-hero/. [145] Daniel Fellner, “Andrew Jackson: Campaigns and Elections,” Miller Center, https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/campaigns-and-elections. [146] Daniel Fellner, “Andrew Jackson: Impact and Legacy,” Miller Center, https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/impact-and-legacy. [147] Mead, Special Providence, 244. [148] Mead, Special Providence, 226. [149] Rogers Brubaker, “Populism and Nationalism,” Nations and Nationalism, April 29, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12522. [150] Brubaker, “Populism and Nationalism,” 224. [151] Mead, Special Providence, 240. [152] Mead, Special Providence, 246. [153] Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt.” [154] Mead, Special Providence, 244. [155] Mead, Special Providence, 226. [156] Mead, Special Providence, 227. [157] Mead, Special Providence, 227. See, David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). [158] Michael Clarke and Anthony Ricketts, “Donald Trump and American Foreign Policy: The Return of the Jacksonian Tradition,” Comparative Strategy, 36, no. 4 (2017): 368, https://doi.org/10.1080/01495933.2017.1361210. [159] Mead, Special Providence, 226–27. [160] Terri Bimes and Quinn Mulroy, “The Rise and Decline of Presidential Populism,” Studies in American Political Development, 18, no. 2 (October 2004): 136–59, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0898588X04000082. [161] Mead, Special Providence, 230. [162] Mark R. Cheathem, “Donald Trump Is Not a Twenty-First Century Andrew Jackson,” The American Historian (2017), https://www.oah.org/tah/issues/2017/february/donald-trump-is-not-a-twenty-first-century-andrew-jackson/. [163] John Torpey, “The End of the World as We Know It? American Exceptionalism in an Age of Disruption,” Sociological Forum 32, no. 4 (December 2017): 25, https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12372. [164] Trump, “Inaugural Address.” [165] Trump, “Inaugural Address.” [166] Goldgeier, “The Misunderstood Roots of International Order,” 11. [167] Hasan Dudar and Deirdre Shesgreen, “Trump’s Long List of Global Trade Deals, Agreements Exited or Renegotiated,” USA Today, Nov. 21, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/11/21/donald-trump-foreign-policy-iran-nafta-russia-mexico-canada-trade/1732952002/. [168] Patrick Gillespie, “Trump Hammers ‘America’s Worst Trade Deal,’” CNN Money, Sept. 27, 2016, https://money.cnn.com/2016/09/27/news/economy/donald-trump-nafta-hillary-clinton-debate/. [169] Ryan Hass, “Trump’s Focus on China Trade: Right Target, Wrong Approach,” Order from Chaos Blog, June 14, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/06/14/trumps-focus-on-china-trade-right-target-wrong-approach/. [170] Martha C. White, “Top Economists Blame Trump’s Protectionist Policies for Global ‘Stagnation,’” NBC News, Oct. 22, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/top-economists-blame-trump-s-protectionist-policies-global-stagnation-n1070036. [171] White, “Top Economists Blame Trump’s Protectionist Policies.” [172] Indeed, as Frank Ninkovich points out, it is similar to President William McKinley’s 1896 campaign slogan, “Patriotism, protection, and prosperity.” Ninkovich, “Trumpism, History, and the Future of US Foreign Relations,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 396. [173] Zeiler, “This Is What Nationalism Looks Like,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 143. [174] Zeiler, “This Is What Nationalism Looks Like,” 143. [175] Zeiler, “This Is What Nationalism Looks Like,” 146. [176] Robert C. Hilderbrand, Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1990). [177] Indeed, his protectionism has been one of his most consistently held policy positions. See, Laderman and Simms, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View. [178] In a campaign speech on trade in Pennsylvania on June 28, 2016, Trump said, “Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export. We can’t continue to do that. This is not some natural disaster, it’s a political and politician-made disaster. … It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism. This is a direct affront to our founding fathers, who — America wanted to be strong. They wanted this country to be strong. They wanted to be independent and they wanted it to be free.” “Read Donald Trump’s Speech on Trade,” Time, June 28, 2016, https://time.com/4386335/donald-trump-trade-speech-transcript/. See also, Dudar and Shesgreen, “Trump’s Long List of Global Trade Deals.” [179] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.” [180] Gilmore and Rowling, “Lighting the Beacon,” 272. [181] Barry R. Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony: Trump’s Surprising Grand Strategy,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 2 (March/April, 2018), https://fam.ag/2FYj1QY. [182] I thank Melvyn P. Leffler for pointing this out. [183] See Smith, Civic Ideals; and Gerstle, American Crucible. [184] Josh Dawsey, “Trump Derides Protections for Immigrants from ‘Shithole Countries,’” Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-shithole-countries-in-oval-office-meeting/2018/01/11/bfc0725c-f711-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html. [185] In December 2015, Trump issued a statement saying, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Jenna Johnson and Abigail Hauslohner, “’I Think Islam Hates Us’: A Timeline of Trump’s Comments About Islam and Muslims,” Washington Post, May 20, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/20/i-think-islam-hates-us-a-timeline-of-trumps-comments-about-islam-and-muslims/. [186] Chris Moody and Kristen Holmes, “Donald Trump's History of Suggesting Obama Is a Muslim,” CNN, Sept. 19, 2015, https://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/18/politics/trump-obama-muslim-birther/index.html. [187] “Donald Trump Presidential Announcement,” C-Span, June 16, 2015, https://www.c-span.org/video/?326473-1/donald-trump-presidential-campaign-announcement. [188] Donald Trump (@realdonaldtrump), “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Twitter, June 14, 2019, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1150381394234941448?s=20. [189] Stuart Rothenberg, “Will There Be Enough White Voters to Elect Donald Trump?” Washington Post, July 7, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/06/07/will-there-be-enough-white-voters-to-elect-donald-trump/. [190] Mike Allen, “Trump’s Next Move: Stick It to Immigration Hardliners,” Axios, Sept. 8, 2017, https://www.axios.com/trumps-next-move-stick-it-to-immigration-hardliners-1513305364-d0631aae-f7bc-4cef-880a-62db9fe42091.html [191] Despite a few exceptions, such as his first inaugural address containing the phrase, “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots,” Trump has largely continued his exclusionary rhetoric while in office. See, Trump, “Inaugural Address,” (2017). [192] Tucker Higgins, “Supreme Court Rules that Trump’s Travel Ban Is Constitutional,” CNBC, June 26, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/26/supreme-court-rules-in-trump-muslim-travel-ban-case.html. [193] The countries are Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, along with North Korea and Venezuela. Vahid Niayesh, “Trump’s Travel Ban Really Was a Muslim Ban, Data Suggests,” Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/26/trumps-muslim-ban-really-was-muslim-ban-thats-what-data-suggest/. [194] Dara Lind, “America’s Immigration Agency Removes ‘Nation of Immigrants’ from Its Mission Statement,” Vox, Feb. 22, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/2/22/17041862/uscis-removes-nation-of-immigrants-from-mission-statement. [195] Jayashri Srikantiah and Shirin Sinnar, “White Nationalism as Immigration Policy,” Stanford Law Review, no. 71 (March 2019), https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/white-nationalism-as-immigration-policy/. [196] Michael Luo, “America’s Exclusionary Past and Present and the Judgment of History,” New Yorker, Aug. 17, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/americas-exclusionary-past-and-present-and-the-judgment-of-history. [197] Norway is generally viewed as a white, Christian country. This is largely correct, although the demographics are changing. As of 2018, Norway consisted of 85.9 percent native Norwegians (this includes a small Sami population as well as 3.2 percent born to non-native parents). The largest immigrant community in Norway is Polish. See, “Fjorten present av befolkningen er innvandrere,” Statistics Norway (SSB), March 5, 2018, https://www.ssb.no/befolkning/artikler-og-publikasjoner/14-prosent-av-befolkningen-er-innvandrere. [198] Robin Wright, “The ‘Shithole Countries’ — and the Rest of the World — Respond to President Trump,” New Yorker, Jan. 12, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-shithole-countriesand-the-rest-of-the-worldrespond-to-president-trump. [199] Susannah Crockford, “Why Building a Wall on the US-Mexico Border Is a Symbolic Monument, not Sensible Immigration Policy,” London School of Economics UC Centre Blog, Feb. 21, 2017, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2017/02/21/why-building-a-wall-on-the-us-mexico-border-is-a-symbolic-monument-not-sensible-immigration-policy/h. [200] Abram Van Engen, “American Exceptionalism and America First,” Religion and Politics, Jan. 9, 2018, http://religionandpolitics.org/2018/01/09/american-exceptionalism-and-america-first. [201] See, Gerstle, American Crucible, 418–26. [202] Clarke and Ricketts, “Donald Trump and American Foreign Policy,” 368. [203] Mead, Special Providence, 260–61. [204] Michael Edison Hayden, “Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails,” Southern Poverty Law Center, Nov. 12, 2019, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/11/12/stephen-millers-affinity-white-nationalism-revealed-leaked-emails. [205] Robert Kagan argues that Trump’s grand strategy is classically realist. Personal conversation, April 26, 2018. Robert Jervis argues Trump’s foreign policy does not quite square with realism, whereas Randall Schweller argues that it does. See, Jervis, “President Trump and International Relations Theory,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 5; Schweller, “Why Trump Now,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 23, 35. [206] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, The White House (December, 2017), 1, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. To be sure, it is not clear that the National Security Strategy reflects Trump’s personal foreign policy vision. Mostly, it reads like the national security strategy of any Republican administration, or, as Barry R. Posen calls it, “a word salad of a document.” One might even question whether Trump has read it. This is why this article mostly focuses on Trump’s own statements and foreign policy actions. See, Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony.” [207] See, Restad, American Exceptionalism, chaps. 7 and 8. [208] Micah Zenko, “Trump Is America’s First Contradiction-in-Chief,” Foreign Policy, Feb. 12, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/12/trump-is-americas-first-narcissist-in-chief/. [209] Paul K. MacDonald and Joseph M. Parent, “Trump Didn’t Shrink U.S. Military Commitments Abroad—He Expanded Them,” Foreign Affairs, Dec. 3, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-12-03/trump-didnt-shrink-us-military-commitments-abroad-he-expanded-them. [210] Daniel Byman and Steve Simon, “Trump’s Surge in Afghanistan: Why We Can’t Seem to End the War,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 18, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2017-09-18/trumps-surge-afghanistan. [211] Micah Zenko, “The (Not-So) Peaceful Transition of Power: Trump’s Drone Strikes Outpace Obama,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 2, 2017, https://www.cfr.org/blog/not-so-peaceful-transition-power-trumps-drone-strikes-outpace-obama. [212] Michael R. Gordon, Helene Cooper, and Michael D. Shear, “Dozens of U.S. Missiles Hit Air Base in Syria,” New York Times, April 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/world/middleeast/us-said-to-weigh-military-responses-to-syrian-chemical-attack.html. [213] This later turned out to be incorrect, as the aircraft carrier was sailing in the opposite direction to take part in joint exercises with the Australian navy. Of course, the original diplomatic signal sent by this statement by the U.S. president was still significant. Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt, “Aircraft Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea, as U.S. Suggested,” New York Times, April 18, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/world/asia/aircraft-carrier-north-korea-carl-vinson.html. [214] W. J. Hennigan, “Trump Orders Strikes on Syria Over Chemical Weapons,” Time Magazine, April 13, 2018, https://time.com/5240164/syria-missile-strikes-donald-trump-chemical-weapons/. [215] Brett McGurk, “American Foreign Policy Adrift,” Foreign Affairs, June 5, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2019-06-05/american-foreign-policy-adrift. [216] Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms.” [217] Diplomatic historians realized this was an outdated paradigm long before political scientists. See, Emily S. Rosenberg, “A Call to Revolution: A Roundtable on Early U.S. Foreign Relations,” Diplomatic History 22, no. 1 (January 1998): 63–70, https://doi.org/10.1111/0145-2096.00101. [218] Braumoeller, “The Myth of American Isolationism”; Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. [219] Kupchan, “The Clash of Exceptionalisms.” [220] Yochi Dreazen, “Candidate Trump Promised to Stay Out of Foreign Wars. President Trump Is Escalating Them,” Vox, Aug. 25, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/8/25/16185936/trump-america-first-afghanistan-war-troops-iraq-generals. [221] MacDonald and Parent, “Trump Didn’t Shrink U.S. Military Commitments Abroad”; Scot Paltrow, “Special Report: In Modernizing Nuclear Arsenal, U.S. Stokes New Arms Race,” Reuters, Nov. 21, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-modernize-specialreport/special-report-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal-u-s-stokes-new-arms-race-idUSKBN1DL1AH; Lara Seligman, “One Small Step for Trump’s Space Force,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 29, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/29/one-small-step-for-trump-space-force-space-command/h. [222] On this, see, Braumoeller, “The Myth of American Isolationism;” Restad, American Exceptionalism, chap. 3. John A. Thompson, “The Appeal of ‘America First,’” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 153. Frank Ninkovich disagrees, labeling it isolationist. See, Ninkovich, “Trumpism, History, and the Future of US Foreign Relations,” in, Chaos in the Liberal Order, ed. Jervis et al., 396. [223] On Trump’s non-isolationism, see also, Wertheim, “Donald Trump Versus American Exceptionalism.” [224] Quoted in, Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony.” [225] Mead, “The Jacksonian Revolt.” [226] Daniel Bell, “The End of American Exceptionalism,” National Affairs, 41 (Fall 1975): 197, https://www.nationalaffairs.com/public_interest/detail/the-end-of-american-exceptionalism. [227] Doug Stokes, “Trump, American Hegemony and the Future of the Liberal International Order,” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (January 2018): 134, https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix238. [228] Patricia Zengerle and Makini Brice, “Breaking with Trump, U.S. Republicans Press for Response to Turkey Over Syria,” Reuters, Oct. 9, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-turkey-usa-graham/breaking-with-trump-u-s-republicans-press-for-response-to-turkey-over-syria-idUSKBN1WO1ZK. [229] Not to say there have not been internal disagreements, for instance, over Trump’s policy toward Kurdish allies in Syria. See, Catie Edmondson, “In Bipartisan Rebuke, House Majority Condemns Trump for Syria Withdrawal,” New York Times, Oct. 16, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/us/politics/house-vote-trump-syria.html. [230] Van Jackson, Heather HurlburtAdam MountLoren DeJonge Schulman, and Thomas Wright, “Policy Roundtable: The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy,” Texas National Security Review, Dec. 4, 2018, https://tnsr.org/roundtable/policy-roundtable-the-future-of-progressive-foreign-policy/. [231] Megan Trimble, “America Perceived Less Trustworthy in Trump Era,” U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 23, 2019, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2019-01-23/america-falls-in-trustworthy-countries-ranking-under-trump. [232] Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Strategic Thinking that Made America Great,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 10, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-08-10/strategic-thinking-made-america-great. [233] Which is, admittedly, not a movement so much as a few political advisers and writers (a group that has dwindled in numbers since Trump’s election). Contrast the special edition of the National Review — “Conservatives Against Trump,” National Review, January 22, 2016, https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/01/donald-trump-conservatives-oppose-nomination/ — with where its contributors are today on the president. See, Jeremy W. Peters, “The ‘Never Trump’ Coalition that Decided Eh, Never Mind, He’s Fine, New York Times, Oct. 5, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/us/politics/never-trumper-republicans.html. [234] I am not arguing that Bush’s highly ideological approach to counter-terrorism was an example to follow. I am merely pointing out the radical differences between neoconservatism and Trump’s America First. [235] George W. Bush, “President Bush Addresses the Nation,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March 19, 2003, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030319-17.html. [236] James G. Stewart, “Trump Keeps Talking About ‘Keeping’ Middle East Oil. That Would Be Illegal,” Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/11/05/trump-keeps-talking-about-keeping-middle-east-oil-that-would-be-illegal/. [237] Julian Borger, “Rex Tillerson: ‘America First’ Means Divorcing Our Policies from Our Values,” The Guardian (May 3, 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/03/rex-tillerson-america-first-speech-trump-policy. [238] John McCain, “John McCain: Why We Must Support Human Rights,” New York Times May 8, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/opinion/john-mccain-rex-tillerson-human-rights.html. For more on this, see also the leaked memo Tillerson’s adviser Brian Hook wrote on Trump’s “realist” foreign policy: “Balancing Interests and Values,” Politico, May 17, 2017, https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000160-6c37-da3c-a371-ec3f13380001. [239] Indeed, after McCain’s passing, NATO reportedly considered naming its new headquarters after him. Amanda Macias, “NATO Is Considering Naming Its Headquarters After Sen. John McCain,” CNBC, Aug. 29, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/29/nato-considers-naming-headquarters-after-sen-john-mccain.html. [240] Tina Nguyen, “John McCain Takes Over as Shadow Secretary of State,” Vanity Fair, Feb. 2, 2017, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/02/donald-trump-australia-call-john-mccain. [241] Peter Baker, “A Growing Chorus of Republican Critics for Trump’s Foreign Policy,” New York Times, Jan. 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/us/politics/trump-foreign-policy.html. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has stated that Trump’s requests to Ukraine and China to investigate Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are “wrong and appalling.” This issue could be seen as both a domestic and a foreign policy issue. See, Carl Hulse, “For Once, Republicans Break with Trump, but Not on Impeachment,” New York Times, Oct. 8, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/us/politics/republicans-trump-syria.html. [242] Rachael Bade, “Trump’s Takeover of GOP Forces Many House Republicans to Head for the Exits,” Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-takeover-of-gop-forces-many-house-republicans-to-head-for-the-exits/2019/09/22/d89f99fc-d4bd-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html. [243] Henry Farrell, “Thanks to Trump, Germany Says It Can’t Rely on the United States. What Does that Mean?” Washington Post, May 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/05/28/thanks-to-trump-germany-says-it-cant-rely-on-america-what-does-that-mean/; Steven Erlanger, “Macron Says NATO Is Experiencing ‘Brain Death’ Because of Trump,” New York Times, Nov. 7, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/world/europe/macron-nato-brain-death.html. [244] Rich Lowry, “The Fantasy of Republicans Ditching Trump,” Politico Magazine, Oct. 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/10/24/the-fantasy-of-republicans-ditching-trump-229879. [245] Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, “The Republican Devolution: Partisanship and the Decline of American Governance,” Foreign Affairs 98, no. 4 (July/August 2019), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-06-11/republican-devolution. [246] “Both the Democrats and Republicans Were Once White Majority Parties. Now, Race Divides Them,” Washington Post, Dec. 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/02/both-democrats-republicans-were-once-white-majority-parties-now-race-divides-them/. [247] Posen, “The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony.” [248] Benjamin Hardy, “In Little Rock, Marco Rubio Sells American Exceptionalism,” Arkansas Times, Feb. 22, 2016, https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2016/02/22/in-little-rock-marco-rubio-sells-american-exceptionalism. For an analysis of what Republican rhetoric on American exceptionalism looked like right before Trump, see, Jason A. Edwards, “Contemporary Conservative Constructions of American Exceptionalism,” Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 1, no. 2 (2011): 40–54, http://contemporaryrhetoric.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/edwards1_5.pdf. [249] Chris Murphy, “How to Make a Progressive Foreign Policy Actually Work,” The Atlantic, Oct. 7, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/senator-chris-murphy-progressive-foreign-policy/599470/. [250] A rather remarkable sign of the times is that the conservative Charles Koch Foundation has teamed up with the liberal Open Society Foundation in order to fund a bipartisan foreign policy think tank aiming to end the “forever wars” called the Quincy Institute. See, Bryan Bender, “George Soros and Charles Koch Take On the ‘Endless Wars,’” Politico, Dec. 2, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/02/george-soros-and-charles-koch-take-on-the-endless-wars-074737. [251] Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism.’” [252] David Samuels, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru,” New York Times, May 5, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/magazine/the-aspiring-novelist-who-became-obamas-foreign-policy-guru.html; Trevor McCrisken, “Ten Years On: Obama’s War on Terrorism in Rhetoric and Practice,” International Affairs 87, no. 4 (July 2011): 781–801, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2011.01004.x. [253] Nicholas Kitchen, “Ending ‘Permanent War’: Security and Economy Under Obama,” in, The Obama Doctrine: A Legacy of Continuity in US Foreign Policy? ed. Michelle Bentley and Jack Holland (Oxon: Routledge 2016), 9–25. [254] “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Syria,” White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Sept. 10, 2013, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/09/10/remarks-president-address-nation-syria. [255] For the current debate in the Democratic party, see, for example, Thomas Wright, “The Problem at the Core of Progressive Foreign Policy,” The Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/progressives-foreign-policy-dilemma/597823/. [256] Mark Hannah and Caroline Gray, “Indispensable No More? How the American Public Sees U.S. Foreign Policy,” Eurasia Group Foundation (November 2019), https://egfound.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Indispensable-no-more.pdf. [257] Bruce Jentleson, “Millennials Are So Over U.S. Domination of World Affairs,” The Conversation, July 26, 2018, http://theconversation.com/millennials-are-so-over-us-domination-of-world-affairs-99167. [258] Daniel Bell, “The End of American Exceptionalism,” 197. [259] Peter Beinart, “Obama’s Idealists: American Power in Theory and Practice,” Foreign Affairs 98, no. 6 (November/December 2019), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2019-10-07/obamas-idealists. [260] Dina Smeltz, et al., “Rejecting Retreat,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Sept. 6, 2019, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/rejecting-retreat. [261] Kathleen Hicks, “Now What? The American Citizen, World Order, and Building a New Foreign Policy Consensus,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1 (November 2017): 109, http://hdl.handle.net/2152/63936. [262] See Jentleson, “Millennials Are So Over U.S. Domination of World Affairs.” [263] Michael Tesler, Post-Racial or Most-Racial? Race and Politics in the Obama Era (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2016); Lilliana Mason, Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2018). [264] Bell, “The End of American Exceptionalism.” [265] Paul Staniland, “Misreading the ‘Liberal Order’: Why We Need New Thinking in American Foreign Policy,” Lawfare, July 29, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/misreading-liberal-order-why-we-need-new-thinking-american-foreign-policy. [266] Porter, “A World Imagined. Nostalgia and the Liberal Order.” [267] Jentleson, “Millennials Are So Over U.S. Domination of World Affairs.” [268] Rebecca Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Day After Trump: American Strategy for a New International Order,”  Washington Quarterly 41, no. 1 (2018): 7–25, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2018.1445353. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 5 [max_num_pages] => 1 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => 1 [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => c8bcfdaacd8ac5d7b6a945ed7f3b26bc [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 ) )