Policy Roundtable: Does Reagan’s Foreign Policy Legacy Live On?

Policy Roundtable: Does Reagan’s Foreign Policy Legacy Live On?

We convened a roundtable to discuss Reagan's foreign policy legacy, its place in the Trump doctrine, and its future in the GOP.

America’s Relation to World Order: Two Indictments, Two Thought Experiments, and a Misquotation

America’s Relation to World Order: Two Indictments, Two Thought Experiments, and a Misquotation

The State is undergoing a crisis of legitimacy owing to its inability to cope with novel problems of weapons proliferation, transnational threats including climate change, a fragile global financial infrastructure, cultural influences carried by electronic…

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1. Introduction: Revisiting Reagan’s Pride of Place in Republican Foreign Policy

By Evan D. McCormick In the nearly thirty years since he departed the White House, Ronald Reagan has been ubiquitous in the spirit and image of the Republican Party. At every turn, the GOP has sought to recapture the energy that Reagan fomented around the conservative ideals of small government and American exceptionalism. Reagan’s vision for America’s role in the world has been central to this enduring mythos. Reagan sought to project American strength abroad through military spending, unsparing rhetoric about the deficiencies of communism and the threat it posed to American security, and a commitment to use force — covertly or overtly — in the name of American interests and ideals. To his admirers, it was this strategy that made possible the diplomatic breakthrough in his second term that helped end the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Though some of his adherents may be loathe to admit it, Reagan’s foreign policy was a key referent in Donald Trump’s successful 2016 campaign. With a slogan cribbed from Reagan (“Make America Great Again”), Trump promised to reverse the naïve diplomacy and missteps of his predecessors, Democrat and Republican alike, just as the Gipper fashioned a critique of détente policies advanced by both the Carter and Nixon administrations. Much as Trump made straw men out of the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal (“This deal was a disaster”[1]) and vowed to “cancel” the Paris Climate Accords, Reagan came to office railing against the 1978 Panama Canal treaties (“fatally flawed”[2]) and vowed to withdraw from the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (“a flawed treaty”[3]). Beyond pillorying particular aspects of the status quo, both politicians fashioned these efforts as part of a broader restoration of America’s standing in the world. For Reagan, it was an attempt to reverse the uncertainty and self-doubt wrought by the Vietnam War; for Trump, a vaguer, but no less powerful, determination to reverse some Americans’ insecurities in the face of globalization by putting “America first.” Since taking office, however, the Trump administration’s foreign policies have, for the first time, cast the GOP’s idolatry of Reagan into limbo. First, under the America First brand, Trump has deliberately pulled the United States back from its leadership role in the international system, most notably by questioning the value of U.S. participation in NATO. Trump has bemoaned the disparity in financial commitments between the United States and other NATO members and equivocated when given the opportunity to affirm the North Atlantic Treaty’s Article 5, which guarantees mutual defense.[4] Reagan left no such uncertainty, calling NATO “[t]he bedrock of European security,” in one 1983 speech. Portraying the U.S. commitment to NATO as central to U.S. defense against Soviet foreign policy, Reagan lauded it as “not just a military alliance,” but
a voluntary political community of free men and women based on shared principles and a common history. The ties that bind us to our European allies are not the brittle ties of expediency or the weighty shackles of compulsion. They resemble what Abraham Lincoln called the “mystic chords of memory” uniting peoples who share a common vision. So, let there be no doubt on either side of the Atlantic: the freedom and independence of America’s allies remain as dear to us as our own.[5]
Second, the Trump administration has repeatedly sworn off any foreign policy based on spreading U.S values. Although many of Reagan’s policies were guided by the logic of national security, he vocally embraced universal liberal democratic ideals as the central thrust of U.S. Cold War foreign policy. “While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change,” Reagan stated in his famous Westminster address in 1982, “we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward them.” Those objectives were “to foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.”[6] Under Reagan, Republicans co-opted the language of human rights, albeit an instrumentalized version that they used to highlight Soviet misdeeds in the international arena while typically remaining silent about the abuses of authoritarian regimes in allied countries.[7] The Trump team has forsaken even that semblance of human rights leverage, however, withdrawing in June 2018 from the United Nations Human Rights Council,[8] while the president has touted his warm relations with dictators in the Philippines,[9] North Korea,[10] and Russia.[11] The Trump administration’s strategy of principled realism, set forth in the 2017 National Security Strategy, places the operative emphasis on realism, a fact that Trump emphasized when he promised, in a presidential address on Afghanistan, that “[w]e are not nation-building again; we are killing terrorists.”[12] Finally, there is the Trump administration’s nationalistic approach to trade. In 1988, Reagan warned that protectionism was being used as a “cheap form of nationalism, a fig leaf for those unwilling to maintain America's military strength and who lack the resolve to stand up to real enemies.” Trump, meanwhile, seems to relish the prospect of trade wars, directly contradicting Reagan’s vision that “expansion of the international economy is not a foreign invasion; it is an American triumph, one we worked hard to achieve, and something central to our vision of a peaceful and prosperous world of freedom.”[13] It is worth remembering that NAFTA, the trade deal that Trump has spent the most energy disparaging, was originally proposed by Reagan himself. And yet, at the same time, there has been enough incoherence in the administration’s policies — and in its relations with congressional Republicans — to suggest a deeper continuity with the Reagan worldview. While the White House distances itself from NATO, for example, officials like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have sought to reassure allies of U.S. commitment to its European alliances.[14] While swearing off nation-building, criticism of Venezuela by Vice President Mike Pence and leading Republicans in the Senate make clear that this abandonment of idealism is hardly clear-cut or unanimous in the GOP.[15] And while the president has trumpeted the demise of NAFTA, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — who served as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative during the Reagan administration — effectively reinforced the importance of free trade by negotiating a U.S.- Mexico-Canada Agreement that improves upon its predecessor.[16] What then is to be made of Reagan’s legacy at a time when that legacy is being pulled at by fracturing impulses within the Republican Party and debated anew by scholars?[17] Does the Republican worldview, forged during the age of Reagan, still serve as a map for this administration and its congressional counterparts? If so, are the policies of the Trump administration continuing that legacy, or deviating from it? Texas National Security Review has asked four scholars to examine these questions from different perspectives. Andrew Natsios, former Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, also finds salience in Reagan’s legacy in the Republican Party’s approach to development and human rights. Highlighting the way that Reagan linked democracy promotion to development, and greatly expanded humanitarian aid policy, Natsios argues that Reagan came from a tradition of conservative internationalism, with more in common with Woodrow Wilson than Richard Nixon. According to Natsios, Trump’s “warmed over isolationism, protectionism, and aggressive unilateralism” has thrown Reagan’s legacy into flux. Nevertheless, he still argues that the Republican development vision remains strong among members of Congress. Gail Yoshitani, Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, turns next to the area of national security policy. She finds precedent for Trump’s National Security Strategy, and its doctrine of “principled realism,” in the writings of Reagan’s first ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick’s writings in the years leading up to her appointment critiqued the assumptions regarding American power that underlay détente, and skewered the “vague, abstract universalism” of the “global approach” embodied by the Carter administration. If Kirkpatrick helped give form to the Reagan motto “peace through strength,” Yoshitani argues, Republican foreign policymakers are now drawing on similar ideas as they seek to maximize U.S. power in a competitive world. Jayita Sarkar, Assistant Professor at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, examines the role of the nuclear industry in shaping GOP policy toward nonproliferation dating back to the Eisenhower era. She draws similarities between the dynamics that confronted Reagan in the 1980s — “proliferation risks are high, adversaries are confrontational, and Washington’s economic prowess is uncertain” — and those facing Republicans today. According to Sarkar, the crisis currently facing the nuclear industry, together with Trump’s disregard for international institutions, puts the traditional GOP “grand strategy” for nonproliferation at risk. She argues that it is unclear whether the Trump administration will be able to do what Reagan did: “walk the fine line between trade and controls, and economics and security.” Brian Muzas, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, explores the impact of religion on Trump’s and Reagan’s approaches to major foreign policy crises: Reagan’s competition with the Soviet Union and Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea. While arguing that religion’s influence on the two individual leaders is quite different, Muzas uses the concept of Religious Cultural Heritage (RCH) to explore a more structural dimension of religion in diplomacy. Comparing the impact of RCH on the decision-making of Reagan and Trump — along with the role of RCH in both Soviet and North Korean political cultures — Muzas suggests that attention to RCH questions can “provide unexpected avenues to apply lessons from Reagan’s Soviet policies to Trump’s North Korean policies.” The multivalent approach in this roundtable reflects at once the enduring importance of Reagan to understanding American conservatism and the shifting judgment of Reagan underway as an increasing number of scholars turn their attention to the Reagan years. The unclear nature of Reagan’s legacy owes in part to Reagan’s enigmatic nature while in the White House. Policy disagreements in the administration were common, factionalism was bitter, and turnover of key foreign policy officials was frequent. For scholars of the Reagan years, discerning Reagan’s guiding hand in policy and process — and determining those achievements and failures that most bear his imprint — remain central tasks. Fresh approaches to national security and international politics that go beyond Cold War frameworks, along with newly available declassified documents, should help scholars to demystify Reagan. In the Republican mind, however, he is likely to be remembered, above all, for placing foreign policy at the service of the political-cultural cause of renewing America’s purpose. For this reason, even as Trump steers the Republican party into unfamiliar policy and ideological directions in coming years, the shadow of Reagan is likely only to grow. Evan D. McCormick is the Robert P. Smith Scholar-in-Residence at the Roxbury Latin School, where he teaches on borders in history, and an adjunct professor at Simmons University, where he teaches courses on leadership and human rights. His first book project, Beyond Revolution and Repression: U.S. Foreign Policy and Latin American Democracy, 1980-1989, is under contract with Cornell University Press.  

2. Reagan’s Legacy Today: Development Policy and Human Rights

By Andrew S. Natsios Ronald Reagan remains a controversial, but also enigmatic, figure in American political history among scholars and policymakers alike. For those on the ideological Left, he protected the American plutocratic elite, cut programs for the poor, crusaded against Soviet communism as a zealot, and increased income inequality through his tax cuts. Internationally, they argue, he imposed Reaganite-Thatcherite free market classical economics (also called neo-liberalism) on the developing world through the Washington consensus — economic policy reforms designed by western hemisphere finance ministers in Washington in 1982 to rescue Latin American countries from bankruptcy and default — which forced social service cuts for the poor at home.[18] For those on the ideological Right, Reagan remains the greatest conservative president of the 20th century. He marshalled the resources of the federal government to defend freedom and roll back government’s size and scope, defeated Soviet communism, reasserted American power in the world, saved American capitalism (and the developing world) from creeping socialism, and renewed the American dream.[19] These two ideologically-tainted views of the man distort the historical reality of his presidency: Reagan was more complex and yet also more consistent than critics and supporters understood. This article focuses on one aspect of Reagan’s legacy — international development policy and human rights — and the status of that legacy in the Republican party today. I argue that Reagan was a conservative internationalist in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson, rather than a realpolitik president in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles, and later Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. Newt Gingrich once called Reagan a “Conservative Wilsonian,” an accurate observation. On foreign policy at least, Reagan is the antithesis of Donald Trump — in rhetoric, policy, and budgeting. Traditional foreign policy realists who dominated the Republican Party after World War II argued that moral principle and democratic norms should not drive foreign policy because they would lead the United States into quagmires and other unwinnable battles in an attempt to save the world from a host of evils and ills. Reagan disagreed. He believed if America fought the Cold War solely on the basis of national interest, and devoid of moral purpose and democratic idealism, it would ignore the Eastern Block’s greatest weakness: that it operated without the consent of its own people. The Cold War, Reagan believed, was not only a clash of conflicting national interests, but, even more importantly, of ideas. Ultimately, western democratic ideals were superior to Lenin’s dictatorship of the proletariat, which led to some of the most horrific atrocities of the 20th century. Reagan’s vision of conservative internationalism, free and open markets, and democracy and human rights has dominated the Republican Party since his presidency. But that has begun to change as Donald Trump makes a 180-degree turn to an odd mixture of warmed-over isolationism, protectionism, and aggressive unilateralism. Reagan’s Approach to Foreign Aid, Human Rights, and Democracy Promotion During his tenure in office, Reagan signed budgets that increased foreign aid spending dramatically. Sam Butterfield published one of the few political histories of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the principal federal agency responsible for carrying out the U.S. government’s foreign aid programs. Butterfield reports that, in the first term of the Reagan administration, development assistance increased from $7 billion in 1980, the final year of the Carter presidency, to $12 billion in 1985 — a 58 percent increase.[20] At the same time, the Economic Security Fund — the diplomatically allocated, State Department-controlled foreign aid account dedicated to short-term diplomatic purposes, increased from 50 percent of all aid spending to 65 percent. It then dropped to 50 percent again during the second term of the Reagan presidency, as Cold War tensions diminished. Reagan raised development assistance to its highest level as a percent of GDP (0.6 percent) in decades, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an advocacy group for the 150 Account.[21] In 2015, the percentage was 0.18 percent of GDP. Thus, arguably the most conservative Republican president since Calvin Coolidge increased foreign aid, at least in his first term, more than any previous Republican president. Certainly, some of this funding increase was used to fight the Soviet Union’s influence in the developing world, which had become a Cold War battleground. But all foreign aid programs since their creation have furthered U.S. foreign policy objectives, broadly defined, including the Marshall Plan, so that, in and of itself, does not distinguish Reagan from previous American presidents. The Reagan administration initiated several new aid programs, one of which was the Development Fund for Africa, with initial funding in 1987 of $500 million, a precursor of the Millennium Challenge Account of the George W. Bush administration.[22] Both programs sought to reward good performers (as opposed to need-based aid): They distributed aid if the country undertook economic reforms (among other things), governed justly, and treated their people decently. The Reagan administration also introduced democracy and good governance programs into the U.S. foreign aid portfolio by creating the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and other initiatives to institutionalize democracy programs, all with federal funding. Funding for these accounts has grown steadily in both the State Department and USAID budgets in every presidency since then. Until the Reagan democracy program, most development was focused on economic growth, transportation and electricity infrastructure, or social service programs in education, clean water, and health. At the inauguration of the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983, Reagan made an important statement about U.S. policy on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, which is an eloquent summary of his conservative internationalist vision:
…In my lifetime, my adult lifetime, the world has been beset by “-isms”. And we remember one of those -isms that plunged us into a war. And it suddenly dawned on me that we, with this system that so apparently works and is successful, have just assumed that the people would look at it and see that it was the way to go. And then I realized, but all those -isms, they also are missionaries for their cause, and they’re out worldwide trying to sell it. And I just decided that this nation, with its heritage of Yankee traders, we ought to do a little selling of the principles of democracy.   Speaking out for human rights and individual liberty and for the rule of law and the peaceful reconciliation of differences, for democratic values and principles, is good and right. But it’s not just good enough. We must work hard for democracy and freedom, and that means putting our resources — organizations, sweat, and dollars — behind a long-term program.   Well, the hope is now a reality. The National Endowment for Democracy, a private, nonprofit corporation funded by the Congress, will be the centerpiece of this effort. All Americans can be proud of this initiative and the congressional action which made it possible…   This program will not be hidden in shadows. It’ll stand proudly in the spotlight, and that’s where it belongs. We can and should be proud of our message of democracy. Democracies respect individual liberties and human rights. They respect freedom of expression, political participation, and peaceful cooperation. Governments which serve their citizens encourage spiritual and economic vitality. And we will not be shy in offering this message of hope.[23]
The Reagan administration USAID administrator, M. Peter McPherson (who many career officers regard as the greatest administrator since the agency’s founding by John F. Kennedy, in 1961), institutionalized the democracy initiative by quietly creating the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, better known as IFES, as a private institution. Since its establishment in 1987, IFES has become the most prominent and respected international non-governmental organization focused exclusively on providing technical assistance to countries establishing the permanent institutional mechanisms needed to hold free, fair, and transparent elections. McPherson chose to create IFES discretely because he did not wish it to be regarded as a quasi-American government institution. It has since developed a deserved international reputation for integrity and independence, and for non-partisanship in its work. The Reagan democracy agenda has had another unstudied consequence in international development policy in the 35 years since Reagan gave his celebrated speech. Democracy and governance programs have become a major sector of foreign aid investment by bilateral and multilateral aid agencies. USAID has an Office of Democracy and Governance and the State Department has the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which together fund hundreds of democracy programs around the world through support for the development of local civil society, think tanks, and research centers. These programs also fund election monitoring to ensure integrity in voting, judicial reform to ensure an independent judiciary and thus the rule of law, the creation of political parties that support democracy, an independent news media, and legislative branches that are better staffed with a stronger capacity to do research and policy analysis. Prior to Reagan’s initiative, limited aid dollars were spent on democracy and governance programs. This change has been accompanied by considerable resistance from dictatorships in the developing world, which have opposed adding democracy programs to U.N. agencies, such as the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank. This opposition has been led for several decades by China, and more recently, by Russia. The most recent scholarship on development has identified the failure of governance as the single most important factor in state failure and state fragility. Democracy was thought to reduce economic growth in poor countries: Samuel Huntington and Joan Nelson argued famously that one-party states are more stable and have higher growth rates than democracies.[24] However, the more recent work of Steve Radelet and Joseph Siegle, Michael Weinstein, and Morton Halperin, has shown that democracies in poor countries have a better record on economic growth than dictatorships.[25] The Reagan bully pulpit put the prestige and power of the United States government behind democracy and development. Reagan’s democracy agenda and its programmatic manifestation programmatically and rhetorically connected his presidency with that of Wilson, rather than the traditional Republican realist school of foreign policy. In his speech before the U.S. Congress on April 2, 1917, Wilson argued that he was bringing America into World War I to “make the world safe for democracy,” which may be the most famous summary formulation of Wilsonian idealism. Less than a year later, Wilson presented his 14 points plan for world peace, in an address once again to the U.S. Congress. While his 14 points go well beyond democracy promotion and human rights, his call for self-determination for oppressed people certainly advanced his principle of making the world safe for democracy and is expressed in his proposal to break up the colonial empires in points five through 13. While Wilson did not propose any democracy and governance aid programs per se, he did recruit one of the most celebrated American humanitarian figures of the first three decades of the 20th century, Herbert Hoover, to run a massive food aid program to feed starving Europeans caught in the bloodshed and economic devastation of World War I, a program that saved millions of European lives. Wilson initiated this program days after the U.S. entrance into the war. It was the largest aid program in U.S. history until the Marshall Plan following World War II. Because of his food aid programs during and following the war, Hoover was among the most popular and respected Americans of his generation in Europe, until his humanitarian reputation became a casualty of the Great Depression. During the great Sahelian drought of the mid-1980s, Reagan asked for a $1 billion supplemental appropriation for humanitarian assistance for the dozen African countries severely affected by the drought, an initiative very much in keeping with Woodrow Wilson’s food aid programs during World War I.[26] That drought had the most devastating impact in Ethiopia and led to a famine in 1984 and 1985. Because of infighting between USAID and the National Security Council over whether to send food aid to Ethiopia, the U.S. humanitarian response was delayed and between 500,000 and one million Ethiopians died. The dispute was over whether or not to provide aid to people in a country governed by a U.S. Cold War-adversary, in this case Ethiopia, which was a Soviet client-state led by Haile Mariam Mengistu, called the Stalin of Africa for his brutality. After a BBC broadcast described people’s suffering during the famine, a political storm erupted in the United States and other western nations. Reagan settled the dispute by siding with USAID and announced at a press briefing what is now known as the Reagan Doctrine of humanitarianism, that “a hungry child knows no politics.” Since food aid does not go to governments, but is delivered through neutral U.N. humanitarian agencies, such as the World Food Program and UNICEF, the Red Cross, and international NGOs, to be distributed to people based on need, the assistance would benefit the people, not the abusive government of their country. Reagan’s view was that politics should not impede humanitarian programs during disasters. In 1987, USAID administrator Alan Woods issued what subsequently became known as the Woods Report, advocating a much more aggressive and forthcoming use of U.S. aid resources to support policy reforms aimed at promoting economic growth, which the Reagan administration argued was the best way to reduce poverty. Reagan was a strong advocate of free trade and open markets, as was Wilson (reflected in point three of his 14 points). The massive reduction in poverty in the developing world since 1980 in part is a function of the free trade regime put in place during the Reagan administration. Steve Radelet, who served as USAID’s chief economist during the Obama administration, argues in his book, The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World, that the opening of western markets (and to a lesser degree foreign aid) since 1980 has led to the largest proportionate reduction in poverty in world history, the highest rates of literacy, and the lowest levels of infant and maternal mortality.[27] Alex de Waal similarly argues in Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine that the years since 1980 have seen the largest reduction in mass starvation and famine deaths in the past 150 years both because of economic growth stimulated by the reduction of trade barriers and food aid programs run by donor governments.[28] One of Reagan’s other foreign aid initiatives was focused on Central America.[29] This aid program was based on recommendations made by the 1984 Kissinger Commission, which he appointed to review U.S. policy in that troubled region. The Commission proposed an $8 billion aid program for the region to be spent between 1985 and 1989 to reduce social and economic inequities. Despite the failure of the administration to appropriate all of the proposed funding, USAID initiated a robust aid program in the region. Thus, during his time in the White House, Reagan used foreign aid as an instrument of national power to advance American national security interests, but, at the same time, he also advanced the interests of developing countries, which benefited from the economic assistance, and put in place the U.S. government doctrine of humanitarian neutrality during disaster responses. Reagan’s Humanitarian Legacy Today Both President Trump’s rhetoric and his actions have been an attempt to move the Republican Party (and the country) in the opposite direction of Reagan when it comes to development policy, democracy programs, and human rights. This has put the entire Reagan legacy in doubt, though Republicans in the Congress have resisted Trump’s lack of interest in developing countries, his hostility to democracy promotion, and his seeming indifference to human rights. The Trump administration, in contrast to the Reagan administration, proposed a 28 percent reduction in foreign aid in its first budget, and an even higher cut in its second budget. However, Congress ignored the proposed administration budget cuts and instead appropriated more funding (this includes supplemental funding) than had been spent in the last Obama administration budget. According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, when Sen. Rand Paul proposed a nearly 50 percent cut in foreign aid in 2015, the Senate vote against the amendment was 4-96. In 2017, Paul attempted to fund aid to Hurricane Harvey survivors by proposing a nearly 50 percent cut in foreign aid — he was defeated by a motion to table the amendment in which he garnered 10 votes. Thus the Republican senators themselves appear to be protecting the U.S. foreign aid program from Trump administration cuts. The Trump administration also contemplated merging USAID and the State Department, which would have effectively ended the U.S. government’s long-term development program. The administration only later backed down because of sustained bipartisan opposition in the U.S. Congress and from civil society organizations. Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s reputation for being hostile to democracy and human rights did not extend to who the president appointed to lead USAID: Mark Green, who had previously served with distinction as president of the International Republican Institute, a Reagan democracy initiative creation. While Reagan supported democracy and human rights both in his rhetoric, but, more importantly, in his budgets, Trump has embraced political leaders abroad who have undermined democracy and the rule of law in their countries — including Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, among others. While Reagan became the greatest champion of free trade among post-World War II presidents — which helped to reduce poverty in developing countries — Trump has become its greatest opponent, initiating open trade wars with both U.S. allies and adversaries alike. Donald Trump has reconstituted the Republican Party’s governing coalition and its political principles, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs (which is where presidents exercise the greatest influence and face the fewest institutional constraints). The robust conservative internationalism that all post-World War II Republican presidents have shared, whether they have been realists or idealists, has been replaced with a hostility to refugee resettlement in the United States, aggressive protectionism on trade, dramatic cuts in foreign assistance, an insensitivity to human rights, and a hostility to democracy promotion. Only time will tell whether these changes in the Republican Party’s worldview are permanent or whether they are a historical anomaly driven by a peculiar populist figure. If it’s the former, then it constitutes a seismic shift that will put an end to the American-led post-World War II international order. Radelet argues that the past few decades have been the greatest period for development in world history, a virtual Golden Age of Development.[30] But perhaps more of that credit belongs to Ronald Reagan than many critics have been willing to admit. While it appears the rule- and institution-based world order created by the United States after World War II, and strengthened and sustained by Reagan and later George H.W. Bush, is coming to an end, it is not at all clear what international system will take its place and whether that new system will advance democracy and human rights — or undermine them. America has been historically conflicted on whether and how to interact with the world beyond its borders. Isolationist sentiments have always churned below the surface, and risen to influence policy depending on election results and perceived foreign threats. In a democracy, no foreign policy prescription is ever final. No alliance and no allies are ever permanent. Reagan’s vision of democratic idealism may yet rise again. It all depends on where the voters take the country. Andrew S. Natsios has served as Executive Professor at the George H.W. Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University since 2012, and since 2013 has been Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs. He was Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University from 2006 to 2012 and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2001 to 2006, U.S. Presidential Envoy to Sudan from 2006 to 2007, and served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 22 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Natsios served as Vice President of World Vision, the international faith-based NGO from 1993 to 1998. He is the author of three books and 28 journal articles and has contributed to 13 other books.  

3. Principled Realism in the Reagan Administration

By Gail Yoshitani  

Champion nations design the world by building world systems that work for them. There are four pillars that support these world systems: a global economic system, a global framework of thought, a global military system, and a global system of rules.[31]    

Col. Liu Mingfu

  In his 2010 work, The China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era, Col. Liu Mingfu laid out a plan for China to replace the United States as the “champion nation” in the 21st century.[32] Victorious in World War II, the United States served as the architect for the last major revision of the international system, shaping each pillar — economic, thought, military, and rules — to best suit the security and prosperity of America and its allies. Presented with a bipolar world at the time, the United States shaped the four pillars within that context. When a unipolar world emerged at the end of the Cold War, the United States again adapted the pillars accordingly. Within different contexts, the United States has possessed the requisite power — soft, hard, and smart — to design the international system it desired and to attract or pressure other powers to participate within that system.[33] Today, most agree that the context facing the United States is that of a multipolar world. The National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) Global Trends: Paradox of Progress reports that “Between States, the post-Cold War unipolar moment has passed and the post-1945 rules based international order may be fading too.”[34] In addition, the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy, while never using the word “multipolar,” describes “a competitive world” and identifies China and Russia as “revisionist powers” that “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”[35] Assuming the United States wishes to continue to serve as a “champion nation,” how should its leaders reengineer each of the key pillars — economic, thought, military, and rules — so that American interests are well-served in the multipolar world that is unfolding in the 21st century? One answer to that question is found in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy which provides strategic prescriptions meant to help the United States grapple with the increasingly multipolar world. This essay will focus on the parallels that exist between the ideas articulated under the banner of “principled realism” in the 2017 National Security Strategy and several of the core foreign policy concepts laid out by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick to guide the Reagan administration’s foreign policy in the more bipolar 1980s. Realism Redux At the conclusion of the Cold War, Henry Kissinger wrote Diplomacy with the expressed purpose of helping contemporary statesmen make wise decisions during the transition to the multipolar world he saw arising.[36] Kissinger presumed that the United States would attempt to decisively shape the international system in accordance with its own values. He said America could not “change the way it has perceived its role throughout its history, nor should it want to.”[37] As a warning, Kissinger cautioned that “[n]ever before has a new world order had to be assembled from so many different perceptions, or on so global of a scale,”[38] and that, “[f]or America, reconciling differing values and different historical experiences among countries of comparable significance will be a novel experience and a major departure from either the isolation of the last century or the de facto hegemony of the Cold War.”[39] Kissinger’s optimistic view in the mid-1990s, that leaders could make decisions to impose global order, differs from those in the NIC Global Trends report and from the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy. The NIC report forewarns, “It will be tempting to impose order on this apparent chaos but that ultimately would be too costly in the short term and fail in the long run.”[40] The authors of the National Security Strategy, rather than assume an overly chaotic world, as the NIC does, instead describe a “competitive world” and advise that the United States promotes a balance of power favorable to the nation, its allies, and its partners.[41] And, in answer to Kissinger’s concerns about “reconciling differing values and different historical experiences,” the National Security Strategy makes two suggestions: first, tailor the U.S. approach by region, and second, limit the role America plays in the formation of a global system of thought.[42] Regarding the former, the security strategy notes,
The United States must tailor our approaches to different regions of the world to protect U.S. national interests. We require integrated regional strategies that appreciate the nature and magnitude of threats, the intensity of competitions, and the promise of available opportunities, all in the context of local political, economic, social, and historic realities.[43]
Regarding the latter, the strategy document explains, “An America First National Security Strategy… is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.”[44] Although the tag line, “America First,” in capital letters, is striking and not typical of U.S. pronouncements, the authors of the 2017 National Security Strategy are not the first realists to provide foreign policy prescriptions for the United States. Parallel Visions of America’s Role in the World In 1980, as Ronald Reagan campaigned for the presidency, Americans were introduced to the realism of Kirkpatrick. A life-long Democrat and a professor at Georgetown University, Kirkpatrick came to Reagan’s attention through her essay, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” published in Commentary.[45] She subsequently served as a foreign policy advisor to Reagan during the campaign and on the president-elect’s transition team, and was one of the very first officials that he selected for his Cabinet. Her position as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and her service on the National Security Council ensured Kirkpatrick a place at the table whenever American foreign policy was considered, from January 1981 to April 1985. The full scope of Kirkpatrick’s thinking, taken from her essays and speeches, is reflective of the “principled realism” described in the 2017 National Security Strategy. First, Kirkpatrick constructed a case against the theories that underlay the American policy of détente, which had long served as the basis of American East-West policy toward the Soviet Union. She also objected to the theories that motivated the American move toward taking a global approach to international affairs, which served as the basis of American policies in the Third World. Finally, she possessed resolute faith in the American principles of liberal democracy. Doing Away with Détente Kirkpatrick believed that “détente,” which had been followed by the nation’s leaders from the late 1960s until the election in 1980, was not working and needed to be discarded. As evidence, she pointed to the expansion of Soviet power both via its proxies in Latin America and Africa throughout the 1970s, and via direct use of Soviet forces in Afghanistan in 1979. Kirkpatrick explained that détente rested upon several popular theories that had proven to be untrue. The first incorrect theory held that “the proliferation of economic and cultural ties and rewards would function as incentives to restrain Soviet expansion” and that “deliberately building networks of relations between the West and the Soviet bloc would lead to the liberalization of the Soviet Union.”[46] The second theory of “weaker is stronger” suggested that “U.S. military superiority constitutes a provocation, which stimulates countermeasures and overreaction.”[47] Lastly, a third theory of “the stimulus-response, frustration-aggression” surmised that, “The Soviet Union behaved aggressively because it was frustrated by a sense of insecurity deriving from its relative weakness…[T]he solution to aggressive behavior…lay in creating a feeling of security by eliminating the impotence.”[48] Kirkpatrick believed that these three theories had gained so much traction because they aligned with rationalism and with “popular conceptions of human psychology and behavior.”[49] Thus, the 2017 National Security Strategy’s attempt to temper U.S. expectations that China will liberalize is not without precedent. The document notes, “For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.”[50] Such thinking aligns well with the conclusions Kirkpatrick reached regarding the Soviet Union. Reagan campaigned on a foreign policy strategy entitled “Peace Through Strength.” In 1981, the administration’s answer to the Soviet challenge was to restore the American economy and rebuild the military. Kirkpatrick explains: “The fact that giant increases in defense spending have been undertaken by a president bent on economy should make the message all the clearer” that the United States was determined “to defend its legitimate interests.”[51] The 2017 National Security Strategy follows a similar course, with two of its four pillars entitled “Promote American Prosperity” and “Preserve Peace Through Strength.” Curbing the Global Approach In addition to her critiques of the premises that underpinned détente, Kirkpatrick also spoke out against America’s pursuit of a “global approach” in the late 1970s. In her essay, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” she provided a detailed critique of the global approach’s ideology, which rested on what she called “a new optimistic theory of historical development” composed of “declining ideological competition, declining nationalism, increased global interdependence, and rising Third World expectations.”[52] In response to those trends, the global approach promoted the U.S. abandonment of the regionally focused Monroe Doctrine, trusting that hemispheric continuity was no longer needed for American security.[53] The United States should assume a “disinterested internationalist spirit” because, “What was good for the world was good for the United States,” and, “Power was to be used to advance moral goals, not strategic or economic ones.”[54] Kirkpatrick found this redefinition of national interest troubling and called for the United States to “abandon the globalist approach which denies the realities of culture, character, geography, economics, and history in favor of a vague, abstract universalism.”[55] Such refrains appear again in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy recommendation that the “United States must tailor [its] approaches to different regions of the world to protect U.S. national interests.”[56] Identifying sovereignty rather than universalism as the key component to order and stability, the strategy document explains, “Peace, security, and prosperity depend on strong, sovereign nations that respect their citizens at home and cooperate to advance peace abroad.”[57] Remaining Faithful to the Liberal Democratic Tradition Finally, Kirkpatrick and the authors of the National Security Strategy share an allegiance to the principles of the American liberal democratic tradition. Both link legitimacy of government to consent, believe men and women possess fundamental individual liberties, and warn that, while American principles are good for the world, foreign policy should not be conceived of as a crusade nor should history be thought of as unfolding in a preordained fashion. While it was unusual for Kirkpatrick to praise the Carter administration, in her essay, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” she noted her appreciation for Carter’s emphasis on human rights as a reminder for America and the rest of the world that the “nation’s identity and purposes are deeply involved with the assertion of universal human rights.”[58] Kirkpatrick was fond of explaining that “there are universal moral rights that men as men (and women as women) are entitled to and that these ought to be respected by governments.”[59] In agreement, the National Security Strategy states:
We will continue to champion American values and offer encouragement to those struggling for human dignity in their societies. There can be no moral equivalency between nations that uphold the rule of law, empower women, and respect individual rights and those that brutalize and suppress their people.[60]
Kirkpatrick saw Reagan’s 1980 election as a sign of “a returned confidence concerning the relevance of our [America’s] basic principles to the contemporary world.”[61] Nevertheless, her writings suggest that she would agree with the authors of the 2017 strategy document that, “The American way of life cannot be imposed upon others, nor is it the inevitable culmination of progress.”[62] For instance, in her “Dictatorships and Double Standards” essay, she explained that the “assumption that one can easily locate and impose democratic alternatives to incumbent autocracies” had been detrimental to American security interests.[63] Kirkpatrick wrote:
No ideas hold greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances… Many of the wisest political scientists of this and previous centuries agree that democratic institutions are especially difficult to establish and maintain — because they depend on complex social, cultural, and economic conditions.[64]
In her essay, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” she also asked, “Why was the President [Carter] ‘confident that democracies’ examples will be compelling,’ when history so clearly establishes that democratic governments are both rare and difficult to establish?”[65] This familiar sentiment is captured in the National Security Strategy: “And we prize our national heritage, for the rare and fragile institutions of republican government can only endure if they are sustained by a culture that cherishes those institutions.”[66] According to Kirkpatrick, the principles of the liberal tradition were foundational to Reagan and key leaders of his administration. She explained, “The president and many of his principal advisers see themselves as purveyors and defenders of the classical liberal tradition in politics, economics, and society.”[67] Such a dutiful adherence to these principles compelled her to remind audiences that individuals, not forces, shape history. She advised against imagining “events [as] manifestations of deep historical forces,” which could not be controlled, or to presume that “the best any government can do is to serve as a ‘midwife’ to history, helping events to move where they are already headed.”[68] The Trump administration’s strategy document provides similar counsel: “There is no arc of history that ensures that America’s free political and economic system will automatically prevail.”[69] Conclusion When the Cold War ended, the United States followed Kissinger’s urgings and sought ways to decisively shape the international system in accordance with American values. In contrast, Kirkpatrick in the 1990s urged the United States to prepare for a multipolar world by disbanding NATO, pulling most of its forces from Europe, and slashing the defense budget. She believed America lacked the money, will, and wisdom for global dominance and that conversion of the world to America’s political ideology was beyond America’s capacity.[70] For Kirkpatrick, to be a champion nation, the United States must preserve its freedom and well-being, support the spread and vitality of democratic governments consistent with the nation’s resources, and prevent the violent expansionist control of major states.[71] Faced with a competitive international system, the 2017 National Security Strategy and its “principled realism” parallels Kirkpatrick’s foreign policy pronouncements in the 1980s and her recommendations for a champion nation in a multipolar world.[72] *The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of USMA, the Department of the Army, DOD, or the U.S. Government. Col. Gail E. S. Yoshitani is the Professor and Deputy Department Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. She holds a Ph.D. in Military History from Duke University. Her publications include Reagan on War: A Reappraisal of the Weinberger Doctrine, 1980-1984 and The West Point History of Warfare, vol 4. (Warfare since 1945), co-edited with Clifford J. Rogers.  

4. The Reagonomics of Nonproliferation in GOP Behavior

By Jayita Sarkar American nuclear nonproliferation policy is a combination of economic and security imperatives. Since the early Cold War years, the GOP’s policy response to the international threat of nuclear proliferation has been pro-business/pro-market marked by the intrinsic struggle to strike the right balance between trade and controls. While the Trump administration’s nonproliferation policy might seem unique, I argue that it is far from it. In fact, there are more similarities than differences between the current Republican administration and that of Ronald Reagan when it comes to nonproliferation. Although the second decade of the 21st century is comprised of political and economic realities that are distinct from the new Cold War and the stagflation of the Gipper’s era, a look back at the Reagan administration’s policies may help identify key converging patterns that unite Ronald Reagan with Donald Trump and shed light, at least in part, on the Republican “nuclear” grand strategy. In the era of Trump, however, the balance between trade and controls, and economics and security, is harder to attain since the incentives driving such balance are not abundant. President Dwight Eisenhower initiated the nonproliferation regime with his 1953 “Atoms for Peace” proposal and the subsequent formation of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This nonproliferation regime, as it expanded with new institutions and mechanisms, such as the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, offered innovative possibilities both in terms of spreading nuclear technologies for economic gains and controlling them for security. Even though the NPT was negotiated by the Johnson administration, when it entered into force in 1970, the Nixon administration was willing to sell reactors in the Middle East as a means to implement a “partial NPT.”[73] The complex matrix of economics and security imperatives that constitutes U.S. nonproliferation policy leaned toward business interests during the GOP years, a trend that continues under the Trump presidency. Nearly three decades after Ike, the Reagan administration faced a very different international economic and political context. Reagan’s public legacy on economics, politics, and diplomacy is well known. The Gipper fought hard the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union, and won the Cold War for Americans. Melvyn Leffler, in a recent essay in the Texas National Security Review, calls upon scholars to embrace Reagan’s complex legacy — he was a president who “won” the Cold War perhaps but provided little actual direction for his staff and advisors.[74] During Reagan’s presidency, American capitalism entered a new stage — late 20th century finance capitalism — characterized by consolidation of the financial sector and the rise of institutional investors. The stagflation that plagued the U.S. economy for most of the 1970s was treated through extensive deregulation of the market and massive reduction in government expenditures. The celebration of the free market and faith in its “invisible hand” led to serious restructuring of the industrial landscape in the United States, so much so that, in some quarters, the Reagan years came to be known as the era of mergers.[75] Between 1980 and 1988, 25,000 deals were concluded worth $2 trillion. And by the end of that period, merger filings had soared to 320 percent of what they had been in fiscal year 1980. Before entering politics, Ronald Reagan, the actor, spent about a decade as the national spokesperson of General Electric (GE) through the American television series, General Electric Theater (1953–62) that was broadcast on CBS radio and television at a time when GE was fast expanding into nuclear reactor technologies.[76] This was the era of the U.S. nuclear industry successfully expanding by selling light water reactors abroad: GE and Westinghouse were the top U.S. firms constructing reactors at home and overseas. During his GE years, the Reagan family house showcased cutting edge GE home appliances, and was meant to push the company slogan, “Live Better Electrically.”[77] Reagan was also GE’s goodwill ambassador, spending several weeks per year on the road touring the company’s myriad facilities scattered throughout the country. He was fiercely pro-business and anti-regulation by the time he became California governor, a position he held for two consecutive terms (1967–75). As U.S. President, Reagan reduced government spending in a host of areas like public housing and food stamps. However, his administration was a staunch supporter of the nuclear industry. Instead of spending cuts, the Reagan administration increased the budget for nuclear energy by 36 percent to $1.6 billion in 1981.[78] This was unique because every other Department of Energy program at that time experienced a slash in their budgetary allocation. The U.S. nuclear industry was in dire straits. Between 1977 and 1983, there were no new orders for domestic nuclear power plants, and a large number of existing orders were cancelled. American companies — large corporations like Bechtel as well as smaller and lesser known firms — appealed to the Reagan transition team in late 1980 to help save the industry, and the president and his administration tried to oblige for the better part of the decade. Reagan inherited a U.S. nuclear industry that had been under such economic duress since the mid-1970s that, by the end of that decade, the United States had lost its monopoly as the supplier of civilian nuclear technologies in the non-Communist world. The global atomic marketplace had new contenders such as the French, the West Germans, and others. The formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 1975 was not merely a response to India’s first nuclear explosion the previous year, but was also in reaction to the economic reality of decline in U.S. global market share in nonmilitary nuclear technologies.[79] The Carter administration’s heavy-handed policies in favor of nonproliferation hurt the industry further by terminating lucrative programs such as commercial reprocessing. Even before the 1979 accident in Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, the profitability and cost-effectiveness of the civilian nuclear sector were becoming suspect. The Reagan administration’s efforts to aid the nuclear industry included two main components: promoting pro-business policies at home and opening new markets abroad. First, in terms of pro-business policies, Reagan undertook deregulation of the nuclear industry by easing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process and overturning major Carter-era policies. In his statement in October 1981, he announced, “Nuclear power has become entangled in a morass of regulations that do not enhance safety but that do cause extensive licensing delays and economic uncertainty.”[80] Hence, he put forward a series of business-friendly measures that included lifting the ban on commercial reprocessing, and encouraging the construction of plutonium-fueled breeder reactors. The Reagan administration even gave the go-ahead on the Clinch River breeder reactor in Tennessee, despite questions over whether the reactor and the technology itself were economically viable.[81] Second, the Reagan administration sought out new, and perhaps proliferation-risky, markets abroad for the U.S. nuclear industry, namely, the People’s Republic of China. In December 1982, the Reagan White House commissioned a study on “U.S. Relations with China and Taiwan,” which examined, among other things, “What are the problems in reaching a satisfactory agreement with the Chinese which will advance U.S. non-proliferation goals and at the same time permit the U.S. to sell the PRC nuclear power equipment?” and, “How can we encourage China to join the IAEA?”[82] A little over a month later, Reagan gave the green light for a 123 agreement with Beijing.[83] In October 1983, a CIA report noted that Chinese entry into the IAEA would serve the twin purposes of restraining China as a nuclear exporter (possibly, vis-à-vis Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program), as well as opening China up to nuclear cooperation with advanced industrial nations like the United States.[84] China entered the IAEA in 1984, and in July 1985, Reagan submitted the U.S.-China 123 agreement for congressional approval.[85] Reagan’s approach was not a departure from the pro-market initiatives inaugurated under the Eisenhower administration, but rather a return to them. The Gipper’s policies were a strong reaction against the Carter-era controls that hurt the U.S. nuclear industry, not to mention U.S. relations with allies and friends abroad regarding nonproliferation. The policies of the Reagan era, by undoing a host of nonproliferation controls put in place by Jimmy Carter, only solidified the GOP strategy on nonproliferation, namely, that nonproliferation was an important international commitment of the U.S. government — but that it would not come at the expense of U.S. financial interests and those of its nuclear industry. Nonproliferation in the Trump Era A closer look at Donald Trump’s presidency reveals similar pro-business, pro-market policies in the nuclear domain. The revelation earlier this summer that Trump had directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to bail out unprofitable nuclear and coal plants was uncannily similar to the Gipper’s call for “efficient utilization of our abundant, economical resources of coal and uranium.”[86] The current discussions on whether to build a mixed oxide fuel plant in South Carolina and the Trump administration’s early support for it are similarly reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s initial backing of the Clinch River breeder reactor project.[87] The U.S. nuclear industry is worse off now than it was in the Reagan years. Westinghouse Electric’s bankruptcy filing in 2017 is a major case in point.[88] While the fate of the U.S. civilian nuclear enterprise remains uncertain, Westinghouse’s first next-generation nuclear reactor AP1000 will soon begin producing electricity in Zhejiang, China.[89] New and proliferation-risky markets are being explored as well. Take, for example, the proposed 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, a country already at odds with its regional rival, Iran, and its nuclear program.[90] With Westinghouse’s recent acquisition and reorganization, there are arguably economic incentives to ignore nonproliferation priorities.[91] Saudi Arabia has expressed its desire to keep the uranium enrichment option open — a direct pathway to developing nuclear weapons — in future civilian nuclear cooperation. If the enrichment option is indeed kept open to “sweeten” the nuclear cooperation agreement for the Saudis, it would stand in opposition to U.S. nonproliferation goals. In that scenario, the Trump administration would have failed to strike the right balance between economics and security, unlike its Republican predecessors. When Nixon offered U.S. power reactors to Israel and Egypt, he and Henry Kissinger hoped the offers could function as a “partial NPT” in the Middle East.[92] In Reagan’s offer of power reactors to Beijing, the key issue was selling U.S. reactors in a way to both serve the interests of U.S. nuclear industry as well as bind the recipient country (i.e., China) into new nonproliferation controls. If the Trump administration moves forward with an enrichment-permissive 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, it would be representative of both the current administration’s disdain for international commitments as well as the unique position of the U.S. nuclear industry. The United States’ transformation from a monopoly nuclear supplier in the Eisenhower years, to one of several suppliers in the Reagan era, to a very weak supplier in contemporary times, has implications for the effectiveness of U.S. nonproliferation policy. From the late 1950s onward, economic clout enabled Washington to push for safeguards on its reactors, luring recipients with generous loan offers. That was harder to do in the 1970s, and became even harder in the 1980s because of the economic downturn. The current situation is even tougher. The economic imperative of selling nuclear facilities abroad is high — after all, it could save the U.S. nuclear industry — while the security imperative of preventing proliferation is low. The current administration’s neglect of international institutions, like the IAEA, and its disdain for U.S. commitments to global governance structures raise doubts whether there might be many nonproliferation accolades to hand out to the contemporary GOP. Today, three decades since the end of Reagan’s presidency, the United States finds itself in a world similar to that of the 1980s — proliferation risks are high, adversaries are confrontational, and Washington’s economic prowess is uncertain. Uniquely, this time under the Trump presidency, the U.S. nuclear industry is in a crisis that is far more serious than it was under Reagan. The Reagan administration was mostly able to walk the fine line between trade and controls, and economics and security.[93] It is far from certain, however, whether the Trump administration can adhere to what has been, up to this point, the GOP’s “grand strategy” on nonproliferation. The outcome could unravel the longstanding U.S. position in favor of nuclear nonproliferation. Jayita Sarkar is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University, a U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security Fellow at Dartmouth College for 2018–19, and a nonresident fellow with the Stimson Center’s South Asia Program.  

5. O Kings (Presidents?), Show Discernment: Religious Cultural Heritage and Foreign Policy in the Reagan and Trump Eras 

By Brian K. Muzas There is a rich literature on U.S. presidential religion in general, with many presidential biographies treating the religion of individual presidents specifically. Although these inquiries sometimes connect religious background to presidential outlooks and decision-making, most do not offer rigorous social-scientific analysis of the connection between religion and policy. Nevertheless, even a casual examination of these works indicates that religious cultural heritage (RCH) is a factor in presidential decision-making. Ronald Reagan drew from his religious cultural heritage as a means of expression and used it as a tool for communicating his policy ideas, both domestic as well as foreign. But does religious cultural heritage continue to influence current Republican foreign policy in ways that are similar to those of the Reagan era? Endeavoring to understand how religious cultural heritage influenced Reagan’s foreign policy, in particular with regard to the Soviet threat, may illuminate how the current administration could apply lessons learned from the Reagan era to the national security threats it faces today. When considering how religious cultural heritage can wield influence on a president’s foreign policy, the first thing that comes to mind is the nature of RCH influence upon individual leaders — influence that arises either because of exposure to a religious tradition, adherence to a religious tradition, or both. However, religious cultural heritage can also exert influence at a collective level: Interacting states or peoples may have a common religious history, due either to sharing a religion or adhering to conflicting religions. In both individual and collective cases, religious cultural heritage can provide a vocabulary and framework for expressing and evaluating ideas concerning the best way to live. As a result, both individual and collective decision-making frameworks may show the fingerprints of religious cultural heritage in terms of philosophical anthropology (i.e., the theory of human nature), philosophical ethics (i.e., a theory of good and bad, right and wrong), or philosophy of government (i.e., what governments should and can do well, and what they cannot). Because current Republican foreign policy is inextricably linked to President Donald Trump, I will begin by making individual-level comparisons between Presidents Reagan and Trump, before going on to compare the role of religion in the major foreign policy crises of the two administrations. First, however, it is important to briefly review the foreign policy doctrines of both men before considering how RCH has manifested in the foreign policies of each president. The Reagan and Trump Doctrines The Reagan Doctrine can be summed up as a strategy to overwhelm the Soviet Union so as to diminish its global influence and end the Cold War. To achieve that aim, the Reagan administration pursued policies including continuing a military buildup and providing aid to anti-communist movements throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In short, U.S. policies of containment and détente were superseded by a policy of rolling back the Soviets. In contrast, the Trump Doctrine has been pithily, if somewhat cheekily, characterized as “No Friends, No Enemies.” Those struck by the seemingly chaotic nature of Trump’s statements and actions have described the emerging Trump Doctrine as “Don’t Follow Doctrine.” Others, explaining how the Obama Doctrine has been superseded, have described the Trump Doctrine as the “[expletive deleted] Obama Doctrine.” These characterizations are consistent with Trump’s first foreign policy speech in April of 2016. In that speech, Trump said, “America is going to be ... a great and reliable ally again,” yet he also said, “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must ... let these countries defend themselves.” Again, Trump said, “We need to be clear-sighted about the groups that will never be anything other than enemies,” and yet added, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends and when old friends become allies.”[94]  Christianity in America To properly understand the role religious cultural heritage has played in the foreign policies of both Reagan and Trump, it is necessary to understand the different Christian approaches to war and use of force. Philosophies of anthropology, ethics, and government often come together in important ways when religious traditions grapple with questions of war and force. Concerning such questions, Roland Bainton divided Christian thought on war into the following three categories: crusade, just war, and pacifism.[95] Additionally, Reinhold Niebuhr defined good as “the harmony of the whole on various levels” and evil as “the assertion of some self-interest without regard to the whole.”[96] These definitions parallel the classical and Christian understandings of bellum versus duellum (recourse to force on public authority for public interest versus recourse to force on private authority for private interest), and caritas versus cupiditas (charity versus selfishness), as explained by James Turner Johnson.[97] If one adopts Bainton’s terminology, Niebuhr’s approach to self-interest, and Johnson’s definition of Christian charity, a sensible comparison can be made between crusade, just war, and pacifism, and realism, selective engagement, and isolationism. This is supported by the fact that classical Christianity stressed the idea of sovereignty as responsibility for the common good (including the good of those not of one’s own political unit), with the common good understood in terms of tranquillitas ordinis (the tranquility of order, meaning a well-ordered peace).[98] In terms of propensity to use force, one could characterize realism and crusade as militant, selective engagement and just war as moderate, and isolationism and pacifism as restrained. However, when it comes to interest, the approaches of realism, selective engagement, and isolationism come from self-centered points of view, whereas crusade, just war, and pacifism arise from other-centered points of view. Granted, all six of these categories are ideal types, and there are ranges of predispositions towards the use of force just as there are mixed motivations. Nevertheless, the noted differences afford one way to distinguish the influence of religious cultural heritage from conventional analyses of self-interest, power, and opportunity. Reagan and Religious Cultural Heritage The above big-picture take on Christian thought on war and force can be fleshed out for specific leaders. In the case of Reagan, his RCH experience was varied. His chosen denomination was that of his mother, namely the Christian Church (also known as the Disciples of Christ or DOC). Although the DOC is a mainline Protestant denomination in the Reformed tradition, Reagan often used evangelical language, such as referencing “born again” to express himself both in speaking and in writing. Catholicism was also part of his RCH experience, both because of the Catholic heritage of his father and because of the conversion of his first wife to Catholicism (their children were baptized Catholic as well). Overall, Reagan’s Christianity was a practical or applied Christianity. Nevertheless, he was capable of maintaining distinctions when using words which could have different meanings in the pulpit and the public square. For example, Reagan’s use of the equivocal term “spirit” is strikingly consistent across the speeches he gave during his career: He used the term “renewal” when speaking about American spirit but the term “revival” when talking about religious spirit.[99] Likewise, his general policy of peace through strength and his specific nuclear policies and goals — the Strategic Defense Initiative was defensively oriented, and, in an ideal world, Reagan would have preferred nuclear abolition[100] — fall at an intermediate position between just war and pacifism that might be characterized as just nuclear defense.[101] The way that Reagan’s religious cultural heritage came into play can be seen by exploring how his approach to arms control, arms reduction, and nuclear abolition are instances of Reagan’s philosophical ethics, philosophy of government, and philosophical anthropology. Reagan saw the world in terms of universal ideas. Through them, he understood the Soviet Union to be an evil force that must be fought. Reagan did so with a strong military, but he avoided direct provocation in order to foster arms reductions. His approach was consistent across two presidential terms, and religious cultural heritage was a foundation of Reagan’s worldview and decision-making, a source of language and expressions when articulating his ideas and policy goals, and a tool to achieve his aims. Although Reagan was perhaps more defensive or restrained in orientation than some of his predecessors (for example, President Harry Truman’s decision-making framework proved to be fairly permissive concerning what he considered to be just means for wartime use), Reagan’s “quiet diplomacy,” with “features of détente,”[102] falls within the just war framework expected of the broad contours of American Christianity. Because Reagan did not face the same kind of nuclear brinksmanship that some of his predecessors did, it is more profitable to focus on the philosophies of ethics, government, and human nature which underlie just war thought, rather than on the just war framework itself. Reagan’s conception of the Soviet Union expressed his ethics and theory of human nature and implied an other-centered vision of sovereignty as responsibility for the common good, even the good of one’s adversaries. Moreover, Reagan’s approach to peace through strength implicitly differentiated between force and violence, while proportionately and prudently relating ends to means. Finally, Reagan expressed his ideas, which he believed to be universal in scope, not only through secular illustrations and terminology derived from the Enlightenment, but from imagery and literary allusions originating from Christian religious cultural heritage. It is misguided to wonder whether Reagan was a hawk or a dove because those binary categories do not capture the RCH characteristics pertinent to Reagan’s worldview and nuclear decisions. Trump and Religious Cultural Heritage It is harder to judge the influence of religious cultural heritage on Trump, both because his presidency is still in progress and because present-day commentary lacks historical distance. Nevertheless, it is possible to say a few words about Trump’s RCH experience and to connect that experience to his attitudes, policies, and worldview. Trump’s father was a Lutheran and his mother was a Presbyterian. His parents were married in the Presbyterian Church, and Trump attended and was confirmed in the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, Queens. However, the family began to attend Marble Collegiate Church because of author and minister Norman Vincent Peale. Peale, perhaps most famous for publishing The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952, mentored Trump until his death in 1993, and Trump has cited Peale and Peale’s works.[103] More recently, Trump has associated with prosperity theology proponent and Pentecostal televangelist Paula White. It has been claimed that White brought Trump to Christianity,[104] and it is certain that Trump engaged her for private Bible study. White has also hosted him on her television show, and it was White who gave the invocation at Trump’s inauguration. The way that religious cultural heritage manifests itself in Trump’s presidency is perhaps less full-featured than in Reagan’s case. Nevertheless, the influence of RCH cannot be discounted. Trump would have learned from his mainline Protestant upbringing that work and service go together. Many, although not all, of his policies and guidelines are compatible with traditional Judeo-Christian principles, yet, paradoxically, Trump’s worldview seems to encompass patriotic, God-and-country, Judeo-Christian values in a manner that nevertheless disregards certain conventions of language intended to avoid offending or disadvantaging members of particular societal groups. Moreover, Trump has spoken about a God-given right to self-defense.[105] Although the setting of that remark was an address to the National Rifle Association, the December 2017 National Security Strategy references both defense and God-given rights in the context of international politics.[106] Add in Trump’s stated preference for nuclear abolition and the strategy document’s references to peace through strength,[107] and Trump’s and Reagan’s positions may be closer in certain respects than some realize. As a result, it is possible that select characteristics of mainline, religious cultural heritage may present themselves in the two men’s presidencies and policies, including foreign, defense, and nuclear policies. However, I expect that the direct effect of religious cultural heritage will manifest itself less strongly in the Trump administration’s policies than it did in those of the Reagan administration. Whereas Reagan exhibited a vocabulary, conceptual toolbox, and imagination that was suffused with RCH references, in this respect, Trump’s expressions, framework, and notions seem impoverished by comparison. Nevertheless, consider Trump’s decision-making framework in light of what he said about the missile strike against Syria in the wake of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in April 2017. According to Johnson,
Aquinas’ conception of just war places the resort to armed force squarely in the frame of the sovereign’s responsibility for the good of the public order. His three conditions necessary for a just resort to force — sovereign authority, just cause, and right intention — correspond directly to the three goods of the political community as defined in Augustinian political theory: order, justice, and peace.[108]
Concerning order, Trump acted on his presidential authority as commander-in-chief. Concerning justice, Trump called the death of the victims “brutal” and continued, “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” Concerning peace, Trump said,
Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.[109]
RCH references are clearly included in these quotations which correspond to Augustinian political goods. Thus, while it is convenient to explore RCH influence on Reagan through the lenses of government, ethics, and human nature, it is easier to explore such influence on Trump through the different, but related, Augustinian categories of order, justice, and peace. Religious Cultural Heritage at the Collective Level: Two Case Studies As useful as it is to consider how RCH experience at the individual level can affect foreign policy, it is also valuable to think about religious cultural heritage in the context of the interactions between U.S. culture and the culture of America’s adversary in a given era. For Reagan, that means examining the shared religious backgrounds of the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States was and is a secular state that makes room for religion. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was a secular state that did not. Nevertheless, historically, Russia was influenced by Orthodox Christianity. Although there are differences between Western and Eastern Christian thought on war — Western Christianity speaks of just wars and stresses caritas or charity (love) while Eastern Christianity speaks of justifiable wars and stresses justice[110] — nevertheless, at some level, there was common RCH currency between the two sides in the Cold War. At first glance, the current U.S.-North Korean situation in which Trump finds himself appears to be altogether different from Reagan’s Soviet dilemma. To begin with, Asian religions such as Korean shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism (which was at one time the state religion) are strikingly different from the various sects of Christianity. Moreover, North Korean juche ideology now holds important sway in that country. However, there is some evidence to indicate that the two cases are more similar than they first appear. Juche (self-reliance) is a system of ideas and ideals that forms the basis of economic and political theory and policy for North Korea and provides some of the same grist for the mill that RCH does. Statements like “man is the master of his destiny” express a philosophical anthropology.[111] Likewise, historical materialism can provide the basis of philosophical ethics, while socialism, in addition to its economic aspects, can fill out a philosophy of government. Additional concepts like jaju (political independence), jarip (economic independence or self-sustainability), and jawi (defensive self-reliance) flesh out these philosophies in more detail. In addition to these similarities between juche- and RCH-influenced philosophies, there is also a literature which characterizes juche as a national religion.[112] Thus, perhaps there is a parallel to the Soviet Union after all. Perhaps the atheist Soviet Marxist-Leninist ideology overlaid upon an Eastern Christian RCH substratum could be compared to the atheist North Korean juche ideology overlaid upon an East Asian RCH substratum. A thorough exploration of this parallel could prove useful, if one were to apply the lessons of the Reagan-era foreign policy challenges to those of the Trump era. Indeed, there were legions of Sovietologists during the Cold War who were dedicated to solving the problems that arose in U.S.-Soviet relations. Today, there is a clear need for North Koreanologists to develop comparable expertise to address U.S.-North Korean relations — relations that may be influenced by RCH-like realities including juche. Despite the fact that the Soviet Union was officially atheist, the 1000-year history of Christianity in Russia was important to Reagan’s approach to the communist country. In the contest between democracy and communism, having a common RCH made Reagan’s language, imagery, and decision-making intelligible to the other side. For the United States and North Korea, however, the differences between Christianity and juche influence both the field of play and the players on the field, and I suspect this salient difference in the playing field will limit the direct applicability of Reagan’s RCH legacy. Nevertheless, insights gained by exploring the Reagan era could indicate how to avoid certain contemporary pitfalls precisely because those pitfalls were not present during the Cold War. Finally, treating juche as a state religion may provide unexpected avenues to apply lessons from Reagan’s Soviet policies to Trump’s North Korean policies. Brian Keenan Muzas graduated summa cum laude with a B.S.E. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1996. Supported by an NSF Fellowship, he obtained an M.S. in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1998. He then entered seminary and received an M.Div. in pastoral ministry, an M.A. in systematic theology, and two John Paul II Medals for academic accomplishment at Seton Hall University (SHU). Ordained a Catholic priest in 2003, Father Muzas used his days off to teach computer science or international relations at SHU or to work in the NGO community at the United Nations where he co-chaired several committees for several NGO annual conferences. Supported by a Harrington Doctoral Fellowship, Father Muzas received a Ph.D. in public policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of The University of Texas at Austin in 2013. His dissertation explored the influence of religious cultural heritage on the nuclear decisions of presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan. Now Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies at SHU’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Father Muzas’ research interests include international security, human security, and ethics. He also serves as Secretary of the NGO-DPI Executive Committee, the liaison between civil society and the United Nation’s Department of Public Information.   Image: White House [post_title] => Policy Roundtable: Does Reagan's Foreign Policy Legacy Live On? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => policy-roundtable-does-reagans-foreign-policy-legacy-live-on [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-09 08:52:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-09 12:52:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=735 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => We convened a roundtable to discuss Reagan's foreign policy legacy, its place in the Trump doctrine, and its future in the GOP. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Policy [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 219 [1] => 221 [2] => 220 [3] => 218 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] “Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views,” New York Times, March 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/us/politics/donald-trump-transcript.html. [2] “The Canal Debate,” Washington Post, Jan. 24, 1978, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1978/01/24/the-canal-debate/43b772f5-beab-48ba-bb43-25aa5782302a/?utm_term=.674df2354124. [3] Hedrick Smith, “Reagan: What Kind of World Leader?” New York Times, November 16, 1980. [4] “Remarks by President Trump at Press Conference After NATO Summit,” The White House, July 12, 2018, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-press-conference-nato-summit-brussels-belgium/; Rosie Gray, “Trump Declines to Affirm NATO’s Article 5,” Atlantic, May 25, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/05/trump-declines-to-affirm-natos-article-5/528129/. [5] Ronald Reagan, “Excerpts from Reagan’s Speech to Legionnaires,”New York Times, Feb. 23, 1983, https://www.nytimes.com/1983/02/23/world/excerpts-from-reagan-s-speech-to-legionaires.html. [6] Ronald Reagan, "Address to Members of the British Parliament," June 8, 1982, online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “The American Presidency Project,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=42614. [7] See, for example, Ronald Reagan, "Statement on the 44th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights," Jan. 30, 1988, online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “The American Presidency Project.” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=36334. [8] Colin Dwyer, “U.S. Announces Its Withdrawal From U.N. Human Rights Council,” NPR, June 19, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621435225/u-s-announces-its-withdrawal-from-u-n-s-human-rights-council. [9] Noah Bierman, “Trump Praises His 'Great Relationship' with Duterte, Ignores Questions About Human Rights,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 13, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-pol-essential-washington-updates-trump-meeting-with-duterte-praises-1510551368-htmlstory.html. [10] Max Greenwood, “Trump Lavishes Kim with Compliments After Historic Summit,” Hill, June 12, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/391770-trump-lavishes-kim-with-compliments-after-historic-summit. [11] “Trump Says Putin Summit 'Even Better' than NATO Meeting,” Reuters, July 17, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-nato/trump-says-putin-summit-even-better-than-nato-meeting-idUSKBN1K71PW. [12] The White House, The National Security Strategy of the United States, December 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf; “Remarks by President Trump on the Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia,” The White House, Aug. 21, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-strategy-afghanistan-south-asia/ [13] Ronald Reagan, “Radio Address to the Nation on the Canadian Elections and Free Trade," Nov. 26, 1988, online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “The American Presidency Project,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=35207. [14] “US Commitment to NATO 'Iron-Clad': Mattis,” France24, Oct. 2, 2018, https://www.france24.com/en/20181002-us-commitment-nato-iron-clad-mattis; John Bowden, “Pompeo: NATO 'More Indispensable than Ever' in Light of Russia Threat,” Hill, April 27, 2018, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/385211-pompeo-nato-more-indispensable-than-ever-in-light-of-russia-threat. [15] Alexandra Valencia, “Pence Urges Latin American Countries to Isolate Venezuela,” Reuters, June 18, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-pence/pence-urges-latin-america-to-isolate-venezuela-idUSKBN1JO2NO; “Senate Passes Rubio, Menendez Bill Extending Venezuela Sanctions,” Office of Marco Rubio, April 28, 2016, https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=C4D049EC-4D0F-4D23-830C-E18BFC1E6DF3. [16] Justin Worland, “Trump's NAFTA Replacement Largely Maintains the Status Quo on Free Trade,” Time, Oct. 1, 2018, http://time.com/5411444/nafta-trump-deal-usmca/. [17] Melvyn P. Leffler, “Ronald Reagan and the Cold War: What Mattered Most?” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 3, http://hdl.handle.net/2152/65636. [18] See Paul Krugman, “The Political Failure of Trickle-Down Economics,” New York Times, Aug. 20, 2017 https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/the-political-failure-of-trickle-down-economics/; Peter Dreier, “Reagan’s Real Legacy,” Nation, Feb. 4, 2011, https://www.thenation.com/article/reagans-real-legacy/; Nate Jones and J. Peter Scoblic, “The Week the World Almost Ended,” Slate, April 13, 2017, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/able-archer-almost-started-a-nuclear-war-with-russia-in-1983.html. [19] See Paul Kengor, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006); John Fund, “The Triumph of Optimism,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 3, 2009; Lee Edwards, “The Reagan Legacy,” Heritage Foundation, June 3, 2005, https://www.heritage.org/commentary/the-reagan-legacy. [20] Samuel Hale Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid: An Historic First. Achievements and Failures in the Twentieth Century (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 199–202. [21] “President Reagan on Foreign Assistance,” U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, http://www.usglc.org/media/2017/04/USGLC-President-Reagan-on-Foreign-Assistance.pdf. [22] Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid, 199–201. [23] Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at a White House Ceremony Inaugurating the National Endowment for Democracy,” Dec. 16, 1983, online by John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, “The American Presidency Project,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=40874. [24] See Samuel Huntington and Joan Nelson, No Easy Choice:  Political Participation in Developing Countries (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976). [25] Steve Radelet, Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way, (Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development Books, 2010); Morton H. Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle, and Michael M. Weinstein, The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace, (New York: Routledge, 2005). [26] See Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid. [27] Steve Radelet, The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015). [28] Alex de Waal, Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine, (Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018). [29] See Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid. [30] Radelet, Great Surge. [31] Liu Mingfu, The China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era (New York: Beijing Mediatime Books, 2015), 31. [32] Mingfu, The China Dream. Liu’s book was originally published in 2010 but not translated into English for publication until 2015. For more background and insights regarding Liu’s work, see Jared McKinney, “The China Dream of Liu Mingfu,” China-U.S. Focus, Apr. 12, 2016, https://www.chinausfocus.com/culture-history/the-china-dream-of-liu-mingfu. [33] Joseph Nye argues, “Power is the ability to attain the outcomes one wants, and the resources that produce it vary in different contexts.” Joseph Nye, “The Future of American Power: Dominance and Decline in Perspective,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 6 (November/December 2010): 2, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20788711. Also see William Inboden, “What is Power?: A Bold New Design for a Master Metric of National Power,” National Interest 5, no. 2 (Nov. 1, 2016), http://www.the-american-interest.com/2009/11/01/what-is-power/. In “What is Power?” Inboden writes, “The applicability of power depends on context; if the context changes, so does the value of prior investments in military force, intelligence methods, alliances, and other traditional instruments of power.” [34] National Intelligence Council, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, January 2017, www.dni.gov/nic/globaltrends. Traditionally, the National Intelligence Council publishes a Global Trends report every four years and specifically times its publication to be after the November presidential election and before the inauguration in January. The intent is to have the report be viewed as nonpartisan as possible. The 2017 report is the sixth in the series of reports that have sought to look 20 years into the future. [35] The National Security Strategy of the United States, The White House, December 2017, 2, 25, 3, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. By law, presidential administrations are required to provide Congress with a national security strategy that describes national security concerns and plans for dealing with those concerns. [36] Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 27–28. Kissinger explained the importance of making correct choices early on in the transition period. “In retrospect, all international systems appear to have an inevitable symmetry. Once they are established, it is difficult to imagine how history might have evolved had other choices been made, or indeed whether any other choices had been possible. When an international order first comes into being, many choices may be open to it. But each choice constricts the universe of remaining options. Because complexity inhibits flexibility, early choices are especially crucial. Whether an international order is relatively stable, like the one that emerged from the Congress of Vienna, or highly volatile, like those that emerged from the Peace of Westphalia and the Treaty of Versailles, depends on the degree to which they reconcile what makes the constituent societies feel secure with what they consider just.” Kissinger, Diplomacy, 26–27. [37] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 19. [38] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 26. Kissinger explained: “The two international systems that were the most stable – that of the Congress of Vienna and the one dominated by the United States after the Second World War – had the advantage of uniform perceptions. The statesmen at Vienna were aristocrats who saw intangibles in the same way, and agreed on fundamentals; the American leaders who shaped the postwar world emerged from an intellectual tradition of extraordinary coherence and vitality. The order that is now emerging will have to be built by statesmen who represent vastly different cultures.” Kissinger, Diplomacy, 27. [39] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 24. It is worth bearing in mind that Kissinger was an American statesman who is widely associated with adhering to the Realist tradition. His association with the policy of détente discredited him with leaders in the Reagan administration. [40] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 27; National Intelligence Council, Global Trends, ix. [41] National Security Strategy, 2, ii. [42] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 24; National Security Strategy, 45, 1, 4, 37. [43] Emphasis added. National Security Strategy, 45. [44] Emphasis added. National Security Strategy, 1. [45] Robert Nisbet, “Foreword,” in Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, The Reagan Phenomenon – and other Speeches on Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, 1983), xi. [46] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” in The Reagan Phenomenon (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1983), 33, 13. [47] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Reagan Reassertion of Western Values,” in The Reagan Phenomenon (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1983), 33. [48] Kirkpatrick, “Reagan Reassertion of Western Values,” in The Reagan Phenomenon, 34. [49] Kirkpatrick, “Reagan Reassertion of Western Values,” in The Reagan Phenomenon, 34. She explained rationalism in this way: “Failure to distinguish between the domains of thought and experience, of rhetoric and politics, is, of course, the very essence of rationalism. Rationalism encourages us to believe that anything that can be conceived can be brought into being. The rationalist perversion in modern politics consists in the determined effort to understand and shape people and societies on the basis of inadequate, oversimplified theories of human behavior….Rationalist theories are speculative rather than empirical and historical; rationalist reforms seek to conform human behavior to oversimplified, unrealistic models.  Rationalism not only encourages utopianism, but utopianism is a form of rationalism.  Utopianism shares the characteristic features of rationalism: both are concerned more with the abstract than the concrete, with the possible than the probable, both are less concerned with people as they are than as they might be (at least as rationalists think they might be).” Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Introduction,” in Dictatorships and Double Standards: Rationalism and Reason in Politics (New York: American Enterprise Institute, 1982), 11. [50] National Security Strategy, 25. Also: “These competitions [with Russia and China] require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades – policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.” National Security Strategy, 3. [51] Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” 14. [52] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 56. [53] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 56. Kirkpatrick is quoting from Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (New York: The Viking Press, 1970), 288. [54] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 58. [55] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 56. [56] Emphasis added. National Security Strategy, 45. [57] National Security Strategy, 1. [58] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” 91. [59] Kirkpatrick, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” 92. [60] National Security Strategy, 38. [61] Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” 12. [62] National Security Strategy, 1, 4. [63] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” 34–35. [64] Kirkpatrick, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” 30. [65] Kirkpatrick, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” 92. [66] National Security Strategy, 1. [67] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” 7–8. Continuing: “In this regard let me mention a fact about the Reagan administration that has generally escaped notice: it is how relatively many academics are present in that administration at relatively high policy-making levels. The presence of intellectuals in politics almost always, I think, constitutes a signal that there is something more ideological self-conscious going on than is usual in American politics. There are more people in the Reagan administration thinking about fundamental questions than our highly pragmatic political tradition usually features.” [68] Kirkpatrick, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” 37. [69] National Security Strategy, 37. [70] Peter Beinart, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (New York: Harper Perennial, 2010), 295–96. For the thinkers and ideas who challenged Kirkpartick see Beinart, 296–311. [71] Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Making War To Keep Peace (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 2. Kirkpatrick asked that this work be published posthumously. [72] While President Ronald Reagan shared Kirkpatrick’s deep and abiding respect for the principles of the liberal democratic tradition and agreed that the nation’s identity and purpose were deeply involved with the vindication of liberty, he did not share Kirkpatrick’s moral realism. [73] Or Rabinowitz and Jayita Sarkar, “‘It Isn’t Over Until the Fuel Cell Sings’:  A Reassessment of U.S. and French Pledges of Nuclear Assistance in the 1970s,” Journal of Strategic Studies 41, no. 1-2 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2017.1328355. [74] Melvyn Leffler, “Ronald Reagan and the Cold War: What Mattered Most,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 3 (2018), https://tnsr.org/2018/06/ronald-reagan-and-the-cold-war-what-mattered-most/ [75] Peter Bahr, “Wave of Mergers, Takeovers is a part of Reagan Legacy,” Washington Post, Oct. 30, 1988, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1988/10/30/wave-of-mergers-takeovers-is-a-part-of-reagan-legacy/e90598c2-628d-40fe-b9c6-a621e298671d/. [76] Tomas Kellner, “Lights, Electricity, Action: When Ronald Reagan Hosted ‘General Electric Theater,’” GE Reports, Feb. 19, 2018, https://www.ge.com/reports/ronald-reagan-ge/. [77] Jacob Weisberg, “The Road to Reagandom,” Slate, Jan. 8, 2016, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/01/ronald_reagan_s_conservative_conversion_as_spokesman_for_general_electric.html. [78] Mark Hertsgaard, “Nuclear Reaganomics,” New York Times, Oct. 9, 1981, https://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/09/opinion/nuclear-reaganomics.html. [79] William Burr, “A Scheme of ‘Control’: The United States and the Origins of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, 1974–1976,” International History Review 36, no. 2 (2014), https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2013.864690. [80] “Ronald Reagan’s Statement Announcing a Series of Policy Initiatives on Nuclear Energy,” Oct. 8, 1981, Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=44353. [81] Michael Camp, “‘Wandering in the Desert’: The Clinch River Breeder Reactor Debate in the U.S. Congress, 1972–1983,” Technology and Culture 59, no. 1 (2018), http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/tech.2018.0005. [82] National Security Study Directive 12-82, “U.S. Relations with China and Taiwan,”  Dec. 7, 1982, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/reference/scanned-nssds/nssd12-82.pdf. [83] National Security Decision Directive 76, “Peaceful Cooperation with China,” Jan. 18, 1983, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/reference/scanned-nsdds/nsdd76.pdf. [84] CIA Report GI M-83 10237, “China’s Entry Into the IAEA,”  Oct. 6, 1983, CIA CREST Database, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP85T00287R000600940001-4.pdf. [85] The Reagan administration’s brief suspension of U.S. membership of the IAEA in September 1982, therefore, was not a reduced commitment to nonproliferation. Instead, it must be understood in the context of the U.S. position on Israel’s counterproliferation. [86] “Statement from the Press Secretary on Fuel-Secure Power Facilities,” June 1, 2018, The White House Briefings & Statements, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-fuel-secure-power-facilities/. See also: Brad Plumer, “Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants,” New York Times, June 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/01/climate/trump-coal-nuclear-power.html. [87] Timothy Gardner, “Trump Administration Axes Project to Generate Power from Plutonium,” Reuters, May 13, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-plutonium-mox/trump-administration-axes-project-to-generate-power-from-plutonium-idUSKCN1IE0LH. [88] Diane Cardwell and Jonathan Soble, “Westinghouse Files for Bankruptcy, in Blow to Nuclear Power,” New York Times, Mar. 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/westinghouse-toshiba-nuclear-bankruptcy.html. [89] “Westinghouse’s Marquee Reactor in China Begins Fuel Loading,” Bloomberg News, Apr. 25, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-25/westinghouse-s-marquee-reactor-in-china-begins-fuel-loading. [90] “Trump Considers Easing Nuclear Rules for Saudi Project,” Bloomberg News, Dec. 12, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/trump-is-said-to-consider-easing-nuclear-rules-for-saudi-project. [91] Anya Litvak, “Westinghouse Emerges from Bankruptcy with New Owner,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 1, 2018, http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2018/08/01/Westinghouse-emerges-from-bankruptcy-with-new-owner/stories/201808010162. [92] Rabinowitz and Sarkar, “‘It Isn’t Over Until the Fuel Cell Sings.’” See also: Or Rabinowitz, “Signed, Sealed but Never Delivered: Why Israel Did not Receive Nixon's Promised Nuclear Power Plants,” International History Review 40, no. 5 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2018.1436581. [93] The Reagan administration’s nonproliferation efforts toward China were closely associated with Beijing’s nuclear weapons assistance to Islamabad — a frontline ally at the time against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. [94] “Read Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ Foreign Policy Speech,” Time, April 27, 2016, http://time.com/4309786/read-donald-trumps-america-first-foreign-policy-speech/. [95] Roland H. Bainton, Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-Evaluation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1960). [96] Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1944), 9. [97] James Turner Johnson, “Just War, As It Was and Is,” First Things (January 2005), http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/just-waras-it-was-and-is-2. [98] See Joachim von Elbe, “The Evolution of the Concept of the Just War in International Law,” American Journal of International Law 33, no. 4 (October 1939): 665–688. The whole article is worth reading, but pages 668 and 669 are particularly relevant to the tranquillitas ordinis. [99] Paul Kengor, God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (New York: ReganBooks, 2004), 166. I hypothesize that this consistency could be explained by the 19th-centure historical ties between the Disciples of Christ and the Restoration Movement rooted in the Second Great Awakening. [100] “Reagan’s nuclear abolitionism was visionary, even utopian.” Paul Lettow, Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (New York: Random House, 2005), xi. [101] See, for example, James W. Walters, ed., War No More? Options in Nuclear Ethics (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989). Faced with Cold War arms race escalation, this intermediate position between pacifism and just war gave, under the circumstances, provisional moral sanction to nuclear deterrence while holding pacifist ideals. [102] Ronald Reagan, “Interview with Representatives of Western European Publications,” The American Presidency Project, May 21, 1982, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=42572. [103] See, for example, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President (New York: Scribner 2016), 81. [104] Samuel Smith, “James Dobson Says Paula White Led Donald Trump to Jesus Christ,” Christian Post, June 29, 2016, https://www.christianpost.com/news/james-dobson-says-paula-white-led-donald-trump-to-jesus-christ-165844/. [105] Donald J. Trump, “Remarks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Dallas, Texas,” The American Presidency Project, May 4, 2018, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=129655. [106] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, White House, December 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. [107] “What would be the ultimate? Let’s see. No more nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, no more wars, no more problems, no more conflicts ... That would be my ultimate.” Reuters staff, “Trump Says ‘Ultimate Deal’ with Putin Would Be World Without Nuclear Weapons,” Reuters, July 12, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nato-summit-trump-nuclear/trump-says-ultimate-deal-with-putin-would-be-world-without-nuclear-weapons-idUSKBN1K21ME?il=0. [108] James Turner Johnson, “Just War, As It Was and Is,” First Things (January 2005), http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/just-waras-it-was-and-is-2. [109] “What Trump Said About the Missile Strike Against Syria, Boston Globe, April 7, 2017, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2017/04/06/read-full-text-trump-syria-speech/goi36mkYFMRQy8cJORGL9H/story.html. [110] Alexander F.C. Webster and Darrell Cole, The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West (Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2004). [111] “Juche Ideology,” Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Official webpage of the DPR of Korea, http://www.korea-dpr.com/juche_ideology.html. [112] For example, see Philo Kim, “An Analysis of Religious Forms of Juche Ideology in Comparison with Christianity,” International Journal of Korean Unification Studies 11, no. 1 (2002): 127–144, http://www.dbpia.co.kr/Journal/ArticleDetail/NODE01386087. Juche is treated as an “ersatz religion” in Christopher Hale, “Multifunctional Juche: A Study of the Changing Dynamic between Juche and the State Constitution in North Korea,” Korea Journal (Autumn 2002): 283–308, https://www.ekoreajournal.net/issue/view_pop.htm?Idx=3206. Comparisons to Confucianism and shamanism are found in Hyang Jin Jung, “Jucheism as an Apotheosis of the Family: The Case of the Arirang Festival,” Journal of Korean Religions 4, no. 2 North Korea and Religion (October 2013): 93–122, https://www.jstor.org/stable/23943356. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Roundtable Contents [contents] => 1. Introduction: Revisiting Reagan’s Pride of Place in Republican Foreign Policy, by Evan D. McCormick 2. Reagan’s Legacy Today: Development Policy and Human Rights, by Andrew S. Natsios 3. Principled Realism in the Reagan Administration, by Gail Yoshitani 4. The Reagonomics of Nonproliferation in GOP Behavior, by Jayita Sarkar 5. O Kings (Presidents?), Show Discernment: Religious Cultural Heritage and Foreign Policy in the Reagan and Trump Eras, by Brian K. Muzas ) ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 676 [post_author] => 144 [post_date] => 2018-08-21 12:13:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-21 16:13:58 [post_content] => Within states, the rise of populist, illiberal movements in the democracies of the West[1] and the increasing authoritarianism of China[2] at first appear to be unrelated developments. In the West, governments are losing their prestige, while the stature of China’s government has never been higher. The condition of Russia’s autocracy, meanwhile, continues to plunge. Its economy is growing weakly, and for the fourth year in a row life expectancy has declined. Yet the self-confidence and public approval of the Russian regime appear high. Surely these developments are so various that they could not be related to one another. Internationally, too, things seem to be moving in different directions. For the first time since the founding of the institutions of the current, post-World War II order, a European state has invaded a member of the United Nations and annexed its territory.[3] An East Asian state has relentlessly developed nuclear weapons in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions[4] and has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile[5] in a campaign to expand its territory through the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. In contrast to these centralizing acts of aggression, a leading state has defected from the European Union[6] and secessionist movements are active in several other E.U. member states.[7] To complicate matters, the unity and cohesion of the North Atlantic Alliance is in crisis.[8] Surely these upheavals are so contradictory that their causes could not be similar. Many thoughtful commentators have observed that the apparent retrenchment of the liberal world order is a consequence of developments in the international system: the end of bipolarity,[9] the abandonment of Bretton Woods,[10] the weakening of U.N. Charter rules against intervention,[11] the rise of global terror groups,[12] the upsurge in the number of economic and political refugees,[13] and the novel policies of the Trump administration.[14] These writers are not wrong, exactly, but they have gotten the origins and dynamics of the breakdown of the liberal world order wrong: It’s not that these changes in the international order have prompted reactions in the countries that have commenced trade wars, weakened security alliances, and the rest. Rather, it’s that changes in the constitutional order of the constituent states of the international system have led to decisions and actions that are dismantling the world order that has been in place since 1949.[15] All these developments are, in fact, related to the deep change in the State that is underway. Nowhere is this more evident than in the United States, the leading industrial nation-state and the chief architect and defender of the current world order. It is no coincidence that the United States is not alone in experiencing the traumatic unsettling of its constitutional order, but it is difficult to understand the steady weakening of the international order without grasping first what is happening within America.

I. American Exceptionalism

American exceptionalism is usually defined as the rather preening claim that the United States is uniquely virtuous or wise. This is the inference doubtless intended by Ronald Reagan's speechwriter who bowdlerized John Winthrop’s address to his fellow pilgrims about “a shining city on a hill.”[16] This is also probably what President Barack Obama had in mind when he stated that all countries are exceptional[17] — that is, he didn’t mean that they are all paragons but, rather, he wanted to avoid offense by giving out a trophy to every team member who showed up. If the United States is exceptional, what is it an exception to? “The exception provides the rule” because it delimits the boundaries of the rule’s application. To what rule does America’s exception then provide a boundary?[18] The most famous remark in the study of the State and the exceptions to its rules was made by Carl Schmitt, who wrote, “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.”[19] That, presumably, is because determining the exception provides the limit of the application of the rule and determining rules and their application is the prerogative of the sovereign. That brings us to the first step in the analysis of “American exceptionalism.” By this hackneyed phrase I do not mean what makes the United States so much better than other states but rather what makes America so American, as opposed to Japanese or South African, and thus the answer must be a cultural, contingent one. If it is true that he who is sovereign determines what is exceptional, then it is striking that it is the United States’ innovative ideas about sovereignty that define the American state and what makes the United States a constitutional outlier among states. The U.S. Constitution reflects the idea that the State is a limited sovereign: There are certain inalienable powers that are reserved to the People and cannot be delegated to the State. Therefore, the State’s power rests on a compact with the empowering people, a contract whose terms limit the scope of the state’s potential as well as its actual authority. As a rule of sovereignty, it might be thought oxymoronic to proclaim a limited sovereign that cannot determine the extent of its own powers. Yet this is precisely what makes the government of the United States exceptional: It cannot determine the boundaries of its authority — these are set by the U.S. Constitution — beyond recognizing that there are some boundaries it cannot cross. This explains the unusual powers given to lawyers and courts in the American system: The rule of law is not merely an instrument of the State but the basis for determining its scope. It is all too common to neglect this remarkably innovative feature of the American state. Louis Hartz, among others, once argued that American constitutional ideas derived from those of John Locke.[20] For Locke,
equality is natural to human beings because at a minimum all people own the same property: their labor. Freedom is preferable to authoritarianism because the best governments are those that win the consent of the people. Religious toleration is a good idea because faiths that are free will be stronger than those that are coerced. [21]
Well, not exactly. Precisely because all people do not own the same property, or rather the property they do own, their labor, has value that varies enormously from person to person, from time to time, from place to place, it is hard to ground equality in the material endowments of human beings. Rather, what made equality seem “natural” in the Western liberal tradition is that all peoples’ natures were held equally subject to divine judgment, redemption, and salvation, a concept that would be nonsensical if every person were not endowed with the freedom of conscience, on the basis of which he or she is to be judged. One might say “all men are created equal because they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” The equality enshrined in the Declaration of Independence — a document that provides the basis for the U.S. Constitution — is said to be “self-evident,”[22] the Creator of mankind having determined that it is to be so. [quote id="1"] Freedom is not preferable to authoritarianism because the “best” governments win the consent of the people. The term “best” is too vague to support this assertion and can be easily manipulated to prove the opposite proposition (as it often has been). Rather, freedom is preferable to authoritarianism because coercion is incompatible with the exercise of the conscience, which is the ultimate basis for constitutional decision-making in America. Religious toleration is a good idea not because faiths that are free will be stronger than those that are coerced. Much of the history of Christianity and Islam seems to prove just the opposite. Rather, religious toleration is preferable to intolerance because intolerance suppresses the ability to determine facts and also suppresses the faculties of reflection and reconsideration, all of which are essential attributes of the individual conscience if it must make judgments for which it will be held accountable. A recent essay on the U.S. Constitution concluded,
Far from [being] a blueprint for democracy, the Constitution kept real power away from ordinary people while protecting wealthy investors and slave-owners. It had nothing to do with human rights or social equality.[23]
In reality, the U.S. Constitution explicitly provides a blueprint for democracy by creating republican structures far more democratic than anything else at the time and that were designed to protect democracy by enabling it to defend itself against imperial opponents and to keep it from decaying into license and anarchy. Unlike the laws in other states of the late 18th century, the U.S. Constitution does not exempt aristocrats from taxation. To observe that it has “nothing to do with human rights” or equality reveals how little the writer understands the complexity of his subject, in which rights are often inferred from affirmative grants of power — that is, when the rule provides its exception. Such assertions as the one I have quoted, which would have been trite in Charles Beard’s day, are today part of a more general war on the legacy of America’s constitutional history. That war — and that legacy — will be discussed presently. For now, I will take up briefly just why the Constitution, in fact, has everything to do with human rights and equality. To do this will require going beyond the customary claims that the historiography of America’s founding pits liberalism and human rights against republicanism and state power. As I have suggested, the liberal, human rights consensus in America regarding the constitutional status of property rights, social mobility, individual freedom, and popular democracy arose from shared commitments to the decisive role of the conscience in determining the individual’s fate. This might more aptly be called the “Protestant ethic,”[24] which is incompatible with insecure property rights and promises, rigid and inherited class boundaries, and coercive rules that suppress individual expression. It is similarly incompatible with the derivation of legitimate governmental authority from traditions and processes that privilege the few while denying the many equality before the law. In a review tracing the historiography of America’s founding, Michael Millerman described this founding as “Lockean Liberalism versus Republicanism.” According to Millerman, Lockean liberalism
insists that America was founded on principles that recognize an abstract, natural right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of one’s private happiness. These natural rights are liberties that define a private sphere, to be protected from government interference. By contrast, [some argue that] Republicanism informed the Founders’ vision of what America is and should be. Republicanism elevates such notions as, ‘the common good,’ and ‘the public sphere’ above those of, ‘individual liberties’ and, ‘private happiness.’ Indeed, it can justify infringing on the latter for the sake of the former. Hence it is in conflict with Lockean liberalism.[25]
To anchor this in sacred American texts, it is often claimed that the liberal (Lockean) Declaration of Independence conflicts with the Republican (Machiavellian) Constitution.[26] This antinomy between liberalism and republicanism may indeed be relevant to British thought, where popular sovereignty is fully vested in the State and human rights are expressly granted, as in Magna Carta. But it gets wrong the American constitutional settlement and its most important element: that the purpose of putting the State under law is to protect human rights, and that the protection of human rights requires that the State treat its citizens equally. America’s peculiar constitutional innovation is to create a partial sovereign, removing from the State and irrevocably vesting in the People the power to determine the exception to the rules that govern the State. This constitutional structure implies an infinite list of human rights — actions that cannot be taken by the State — that can be inferred from the limited grant of governmental powers. A structure of enumerated powers, where any power not permitted is prohibited, necessarily implies a complement of unenumerated rights. This means the republic enlists Americans’ energies and its collective efforts and mutual obligations on behalf of individual rights. America is neither a conservative nor a liberal state but a state that seeks to conserve a liberal tradition. This is the American constitutional ethos. To understand this, we must see the Constitution as the embodiment, the instantiation, of the Declaration of Independence. Like most law students of my generation, I used to think that the Declaration of Independence had no legal status because it was not ratified like the Constitution. On this, as in so many things, the late Charles Black turned me around. I came to realize that the 1787 Constitution sought to create a state that was based on the Declaration, a state structure that could more perfectly execute the ideas of the Declaration than could the Articles of Confederation. Thus, the ratification of the Constitution also amounted to the ratification of the Declaration, nunc pro tunc. Indeed, this is why Abraham Lincoln alludes to the Declaration of Independence (“Four score and seven years ago”) when he makes the constitutional argument to refute secession. This also explains why the Declaration is a rich source for ethical argument — one of the six fundamental modalities of constitutional argument that collectively form the standard model taught today in first-year law classes[27] — just as the Federalist Papers are an abundant source for historical argument or the U.S. Reports for doctrinal argument. Ethical argument — the argument from the American constitutional ethos — is sometimes called “the argument from tradition.” This fits with my thesis that it is a liberal, human rights tradition that is conserved by the bulwarks and bastions, the watchtowers, moats, and high walls of America’s constitutional architecture. Indeed, you might say that the oath “to preserve, protect, and defend” is a pretty good metonym for “to fortify.” The American constitutional ethos is the United States’ unique paradigm of the liberal tradition that flows from the Reformation and the decisive role the liberal tradition gives to the individual conscience. If this tradition is prefigured in the late Renaissance[28] and the early Reformation,[29] then one might say that communism, with its focus on scientific orthodoxy and prediction, is a child of the Enlightenment two centuries later and that fascism, with its focus on the genetic basis for nationalism and collective behavior, is a child (if an illegitimate one) of Darwinian biology a century after that. The materialism of both these legacies is fundamentally incompatible with human consciousness (as Thomas Nagel has recently argued[30]) and thus with the role assigned to the conscience by parliamentarianism. The imperial state nations[31] that dominated the 19th century were the first modern states to unite the State and the nation. The industrial nation-states that came to dominate the 20th century also fused the constitutional order with nationalism. Thus, Americans whose state descends from a late-18th-century founding tend to forget that what is meant by a nation is a cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious, and historic group — not a state. Indeed, there are some nations — like the Kurds, the Palestinians, or the Cherokee — that don’t have states. In the Bible, when Jonah’s fellow seafarers asked him, “Of what nation are you?” they were not inquiring about his citizenship.[32] Americans forget this because, in the United States, we make precisely this inquiry. In America, it is citizenship and not national origin that forms the basis for the nation. This is one important divergence from the constitutional traditions of Europe and one reason why fascism has never had much of a toehold in America. [quote id="2"] Marxism and fascism embrace progress, whether it be the progress of science or the steady winnowing of the survival of the best adapted. Both ideologies claim to rely on science and the social sciences, which are themselves thought to be indicia and drivers of progress. The Anglo-American liberal tradition, by contrast, embraces pluralism, the idea that we can never be too sure of any orthodoxy and must perforce tolerate dissent. It is skeptical of progress but always open to incremental change. This ideology has its roots in tolerance — that we conserve competing values over time by giving them a chance at their turn of Fortuna’s wheel. The liberal tradition assumes that, at any one moment, one not only can be wrong but, to some degree, almost certainly is. Certain progress, however, demands certainty. Thus, Marxism and fascism were illiberal in the sense that they wished to destroy the impediments to progress, which, it was said, included dissent and free debate. The liberal tradition not only had different sources than its enemies in the Long War that began in 1914 and ended in 1990 — it had different constitutional methods and assumptions as well.

II. The Outer Critique

This description of the American constitutional ethos has lately been under attack, both as to its outer manifestations abroad and its inner legacy for the American people. These critics deny that America’s values, political system, and history — the American constitutional ethos — are really unique and worthy of admiration. While conceding that the United States possesses certain exceptional traits — some dubious, it is said, like gun ownership; some mystifying and inexplicable (to their critics), like high levels of religiosity — this critique asserts that U.S. action abroad has nothing to do with this ethos. Instead, America’s international history, like that of every other state, has been determined primarily by power and the competitive context of the international system. This is the “outer” assault. (The “inner” assault will be dealt with in the next section.) The indictment has six counts. First, it is said that while Americans claim they are exceptional and indispensable — two different points, by the way — many states and many nations have made this claim. In fact, according to one such critic, “Among great powers, thinking you’re special is the norm, not the exception,”[33] and it is true that American “exceptionalism” is rarely carefully defined beyond the most general and anodyne terms. Second, although Americans like to think their country behaves better than other states, and certainly better than other great powers, this is false. The United States has an expansionist history that began with its conquest of the North American continent. The Allied strategic bombing campaigns in World War II killed 353,000 Germans,[34] and approximately 330,000 Japanese civilians were killed by American bombs.[35] The United States dropped more than seven million tons of explosives during the war in Indochina[36] and should be held responsible for the more than 600,000 civilian deaths in that war.[37] In the past three decades, U.S. military action has been directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of 250,000 Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans.[38] U.S. drones tracking terrorists in at least five countries have killed an unknown number of innocent civilians. Third, while the United States proclaims its devotion to human rights and international law, it has refused to sign most human rights treaties, including the Ottawa Landmines Treaty,[39] and is not a party to the International Criminal Court.[40] Nor has the United States energetically moved in the direction of decommissioning its vast nuclear arsenal, as it committed to do, in principle, when it acceded to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). In the face of such facts, how dare the United States claim to be devoted to the rule of law. Fourth, the United States has often made common cause with some of the worst dictators and human-rights-abusing regimes. Nor has its own record been without blemish: The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the Bush administration’s reliance on torture and preventive detention are well-known. President Obama’s decision to conduct drone warfare without judicial warrants and even to wage war with questionable congressional authority suggests that such abuses are not a partisan or unusual matter. How dare the United States claim to be committed to human rights and due process. Fifth, U.S. claims to have defeated aggression in the 20th century ring hollow when the history of 20th-century conflicts is actually consulted. Although Americans tend to congratulate themselves for winning World War I, there are scholars who think the U.S. entry into the war only once the great European empires were thoroughly depleted was really aimed at succeeding those empires as the master of the international scene.[41] Woodrow Wilson may have proclaimed the war a fight to make the world “safe for democracy,”[42] but anyone can see in retrospect — it is asserted — that it was really the opening salvo in an effort to build an American empire in Europe. Critics also argue that, although Americans similarly congratulate themselves for having won World War II, most of the fighting was done in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler’s war machine was borne by the Soviet Union.[43] And while Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, they ignore the contributions of the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the “velvet revolutions” of 1989.[44] Sixth, although President Bill Clinton said that the United States was “indispensable to the forging of stable political relations,”[45] and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, even referred to the United States as “the indispensable nation,”[46] we will soon find out whether this is really true. Like the little boy who finds himself at the head of a marching band and thinks he is leading it through the streets, should the little boy turn down an alleyway, the band will go on without him. What states look to the United States for moral and political leadership today, critics ask? As Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, remarked, today America doesn’t have “that many” friends.[47] Thus runs what one may call the “outer critique”: the exposé of the true history (it is said) of America’s interaction with the international system. Now let us engage these critiques, seriatim. It may be best to concede that every society and every state not only claims to be exceptional but is, in fact, exceptional. However, they are exceptional not in the way that Obama proclaimed: that every state, like every child, is “exceptional.”[48] Instead, what makes a society exceptional is simply what defines it in contrast to other societies. What makes a Japanese or an Australian not a Frenchman or a Ugandan is a function of his or her country and its culture and history. What makes a state exceptional is its unique constitutional ethos — the way it deploys its sovereignty to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of its people and territorial integrity in the face of its adversaries. This account of exceptionalism does not make the United States or any other state uniquely virtuous or successful, although the constitutional institutions that each state creates will channel the virtue of its citizens and martyrs and can accelerate its successes. It really does not say much at all except that it is important to determine the “nature of the exception” — how the state determines who will decide the ambit of law. In the case of the United States, this is its greatest legacy — not the hamburger, not the Corvette, not jazz or baseball — but the daring constitutional innovation by which the State was put under law. That America has sometimes failed to live up to that legacy only means that it is fallible. Indeed, the self-criticism that points out these flaws is actually a necessary part of such a pluralist, yet individualist, system. Now let us try a thought experiment as we work our way through the various charges of the “outer” indictment against the United States. Let us imagine the present as if the past simply omitted the role of the United States in world affairs. Such a thought experiment is merely a heuristic device to overcome the Anachronistic Fallacy that underlies so much of both the outer and inner critiques of American behavior. That Fallacy occurs when we transport our current context — not just its technology and wealth but its attitudes and mores — to earlier periods. Why, for example, didn’t earlier societies treat infectious diseases more successfully? Koch’s postulates weren’t “discovered”; they were formulated using ideas that had been present in many cultures for centuries. Should we reproach our ancestors for not having figured this out earlier? Or must we concede that without something like these postulates, the causal connection between disease and germs isn’t apparent? The Anachronistic Fallacy enshrines itself in an attitude that everything about the present can be held fixed and imported into the past even though the present is a result of the past.[49] [quote id="3"] It is true that by purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France and by pacifying lands through countless aggressions and defensive battles against the native population of the continent, the United States created an empire on our island continent. It is also true that along with these strategic accessions, including those of the Mexican War, the United States brought the American political culture westward. Would the West and Southwest have been better off today if California and Texas had remained under a European emperor like Napoleon or the Mexican dictator Santa Ana, even if we assume that his attitude toward slavery was preferable? Even if we concede that the life of the Native Americans was better before their defeat, despite their own internecine campaigns of ethnic cleansing against each other,[50] would this way of life have prevailed against the Spanish conquistadors? It didn’t in South America, where the native populations were better armed and organized to resist invasion than their northern counterparts. Have those states fared better with the legacy of Iberian colonial culture? Has the rule of law prospered as a guiding principle in politics even at the hortatory level? I am aware of the critique that American meddling and exploitation in Latin America have given rise to a structure of plunder that is responsible for the chronic poverty and underdevelopment there. Without addressing the economic merits of this description — which is sometimes reduced to “We’re poor; it’s their fault”[51] — does it lead to the conclusion that the U.S. presence in the hemisphere prevented its liberal practices and traditions from flourishing in Latin America? Those revolutionary leaders who expelled the European colonialists in the early 19th century felt otherwise.[52] The strategic bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan had elements that today one might think of as war crimes — the pitiless attacks against urban populations, for example. But those campaigns, fought with less precision and with cruder aerial weapons than are now deployed, played a crucial role in the defeat of the fascist dictatorships. Would those wars have been won without the Americans (and without their sometimes ruthless tactics)? If it is true, as I believe, that the atomic weapons used against Japan discredited Japanese fascism in the eyes of its own people, what would have been the outcome had there been no Manhattan Project? Besides the United States, only Germany had the technology, organized technocracy, and wealth to create nuclear weapons during World War II — suppose it had? If the Americans had not fought in the Pacific, would China and Korea have been liberated? If so, by whom? It is worth recalling that the Soviet Union did not even declare war against Japan until the Americans had used the atomic bomb against Hiroshima.[53] The U.S. mission in Vietnam did not achieve its war aim of preserving the South Vietnamese regime, but it did buy time for the other states in the region. No less an authority than Lee Kuan Yew[54] stated many times that without the U.S. effort in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and perhaps even the Philippines would have become communist states.[55] His point is that the widely assumed discrediting of the “domino theory” only possesses a superficial credence because the United States did in fact intervene in Southeast Asia. The American occupation of Iraq was a fiasco, but can it really be assumed that the world would be safer today if Saddam Hussein and his psychopathic dynasty were still in power in Baghdad? Based on the testimony of his own scientists, Saddam planned to seek nuclear weapons at the earliest possible moment after sanctions were loosened[56] — sanctions that were themselves unraveling before the U.S. invasion.[57] Is it even conceivable that there would have been an agreement with Iran to cease production of nuclear weapons if Saddam were still in power? With respect to the suffering of the Iraqi people that the invasion and its aftermath brought, it seems highly relevant that, however much they rightly condemn the U.S.-led coalition’s failures during the occupation, a large majority of Iraqis, when polled in the early months of the occupation, supported the coalition’s invasion and removal of Saddam, saying it was “worth it.”[58] U.S. drones and special operations forces do inadvertently kill civilians. But are the number of civilian casualties not dramatically reduced by using drones and special forces instead of high-altitude bombing?[59] Is it true that countries that suffer from terrorist attacks, countries that implore the United States to aid their armed struggles, would be better off if America ceased trying to cripple those malevolent and savage terror networks? Would there be fewer Muslim deaths if the Islamic State still reigned over much of Iraq and Syria? Is Syria today better off because the United States chose not to intervene in force? What about the claim that the United States is hypocritical in its promotion of human rights and international law? It is true that America, along with other democracies, has refused to sign a number of human rights treaties that have been signed by dictators. However, scholars have persuasively argued that this is because the United States actually enforces those treaties in its domestic courts and therefore has to be very careful about its commitments.[60] Dictators, on the other hand, can sign whatever they please, knowing that such treaties amount to nothing but scraps of paper in their judicial systems. Is it really the case that the cause of human rights around the world would be further advanced today without the American efforts that fostered these rights? Without the Helsinki Accords?[61] Without the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Landmines are useful in military defense because they persist — that is, they do not fail when a tactical position is lost, and they do not require the presence of troops to maintain a position in order to give fire. This is also why landmines pose a humanitarian problem. Long after the battle is over, they continue to explode when innocent civilians set them off. As a matter of technology, however, this does not have to be the case. Timing mechanisms can be used that cause landmines to deactivate within as little as a few hours or as long as 30 days, which is the maximum allowed under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, to which the United States is a party.[62] By contrast, the Ottawa Convention of 1997, the Landmines Treaty, to which the United States is not a party, bans only anti-personnel mines and freely permits all types of anti-vehicular mines.[63] Yet few members of the public seem to realize that anti-vehicular mines can be every bit as dangerous to civilians as anti-personnel mines. Indeed, persistent anti-vehicular mines kill innocent civilians trying to use roads, thus preventing refugees from returning to their homes and keeping humanitarian assistance from reaching them. The public seems to be generally unaware that this treaty bans only one class of explosives or that the U.S. policy of deploying time-sensitive mines — mines that effectively turn themselves off — would do far more to reduce civilian casualties if it were universally adopted. In any case, it has been U.S. policy not to use any persistent landmines since 2010 and this policy covers all mines, those that target persons and as well as vehicles.[64] But why doesn’t the United States simply cease using landmines? To do so would mean removing mines from the 38th parallel that separates North from South Korea — virtually the only place where the United States currently deploys mines. It is a no man’s land where a highly dangerous and unpredictable regime has more than one million active soldiers in its military, with 70 percent of its ground forces positioned south of the Pyongyang-Wonsan line, most less than 100 miles from Seoul.[65] Without mines, no realistic conventional force could protect South Korea’s capital — which is less than 35 miles from the Demilitarized Zone — from a surprise attack by North Korean forces. Would it really be a step toward peace on the peninsula to remove this barrier? Suppose the United States stopped trying to defend South Korea. Would the Canadians and Swedes, who have been the most critical of the American deployment of landmines, be willing to take up these responsibilities with their own forces? Would South Korea long be content to remain a nonnuclear power when it becomes clear, as it will, that North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons has been in service of that state’s aggrandizement? Would Japan? Surely the resulting nuclear proliferation to these states would not bring about a safer and more humane world. [quote id="4"] What about the International Criminal Court? What is America afraid of? That it would lose its impunity to commit war crimes? In the first place, it is important to remember that even if the United States were a party to the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, the jurisdiction of that tribunal would engage only when the United States fails to prosecute its war criminals. Yet, in 2005, U.S. military tribunals handed down stiff sentences to prison guards who abused Iraqi prisoners.[66] Of course, there is more to it than that. In fact, the U.S. government fears prosecutions by the court — unlike those prosecutions that are authorized and instructed by the U.N. Security Council, whose tribunals the United States supports — because it fears these would tip the balance against American intervention in marginal theaters, eroding the already vanishing public support in America for humanitarian intervention. Today, the world order depends upon American soldiers to protect human rights in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, and many other places. The spectacle of U.S. soldiers being tried before a foreign tribunal for acts committed while in the service of such interventions should give pause to anyone who wishes to persuade Washington to undertake those missions. It is difficult enough to muster public and congressional support for such deployments. The tragedies in Somalia, for example, led directly to the horrors in Rwanda because once American soldiers had been murdered and mutilated in Mogadishu there was no political will to engage them again in an African humanitarian mission. U.S. missions only make things worse, it is often said. So, suppose the Americans didn’t go abroad. Consider what life would be like now in the Balkans. When President Lyndon B. Johnson overruled the unanimous opinion of his advisers to press for the creation of the NPT regime, he may well have hoped that someday the world would be rid of nuclear weapons. This hope is enshrined in the treaty. But would the world be safer — would there be fewer states with nuclear weapons — if the American nuclear deterrent that protects so many other states was withdrawn? For technological and economic reasons, the United States may be the one nuclear power that could dispense with its nuclear arsenal. If it did, would the net number of nuclear powers actually decrease in the frenzy of rearmament that would ensue? The fourth charge of this “outer” indictment implies that war crimes, torture, and extrajudicial killings are as American as apple pie. Many states have resorted to torture — Britain in Ireland, France in Algeria, Israel in Palestine — and often on a scale considerably greater than the American abuses. It seems worth noting that the U.S. abuses, at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo for example, were not exposed simply by intrepid journalists and litigators but by the U.S. Armed Forces themselves. The point isn’t that the American constitutional ethos ensures that the United States will not commit terrible wrongs but that it makes it possible — indeed depends upon — the United States owning up to its errors and attempting to avoid their repetition. In fact, a nuanced and accurate assessment of American action, when it succeeds in upholding the professed values of its ethos as well as when it fails, is both consistent with our constitutional principles and a necessary guide to a stronger footing in establishing a global order that reflects those values. The charge that drone warfare amounts to extrajudicial killing not only misunderstands changes underway in the nature of warfare,[67] it also fails to comprehend the constitutional system by which actors other than courts play a role in waging wars and in ensuring their lawfulness. Addressing the fifth charge that the United States entered World War I to further its economic interests and to provide the basis for an American imperial role in Europe, it is hard to credit that anyone familiar with Wilson’s policies truly believes him to have been seeking such a role in Europe (or anywhere else). The suggestion is not only ahistorical, it is laughable. The principle of self-determination with which Wilson is most prominently associated is anathema to the very concept of empire, as the empires that began World War I discovered for themselves. Nor is it germane to the question of the American contribution to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II to observe that the great sufferings and sacrifices of the Soviet Union are also responsible for the defeat of Germany. Again, consider a counterfactual: Is there a military strategist or historian alive who believes the Soviet Union could have successfully resisted Germany without American aid, without a second front, and without American strategic bombing? Aerial bombing of German cities forced Germany to move its fighter aircraft away from the Russian front, giving Soviet arms air superiority. Perhaps equally important, Germany was compelled to move its 88mm anti-aircraft guns back to Germany when these were the most effective anti-tank weapons against Russian forces.[68] As for the Cold War, the United States, of course, did not win it alone. Far from it. Indeed, U.S. strategy was to build alliances so that it could win with the help of others. But rather than solicit the opinion of critics who decried the American policy of containment at the time, why not ask the dissidents themselves in the states that were liberated? Do they believe that without the American presence in Germany the Berlin Wall would have come crashing down? Why not ask Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany?[69] Finally, although it may seem hubristic to cast the United States as “the indispensable nation,”[70] to use this claim as a slur raises many questions. For example, indispensable to what? I’ve tried to give a number of examples in which American participation abroad, often in the face of powerful domestic opposition, has proved a decisive force for good. But perhaps the more important question today is, if not the United States — if not U.S. leadership of the world order that was established with America’s allies after World War II — then to which state should that leadership be committed? To the European Union? To China? To Russia and Iran? To a deadlocked U.N. Security Council? Perhaps the proffered answer is that there should be no leader, that the world we seek should be multipolar. Well, that has been tried. The multipolar world brought us both World War I and World War II. No single state was powerful enough to prevent either of those conflicts. Is it just a coincidence that the number of wars in the world, and the number of deaths both of soldiers and civilians, has dramatically declined since America took up its role as leader of the Alliance?

III. The Inner Critique

This essay began by discussing the subject of constitutional law and now has strayed into strategy. Such is the stuff of the “outer critique” because it claims that America’s diplomatic and strategic initiatives have been a sham, that it’s just old-fashioned rent-seeking, in contrast to the inspiring claims made by the architects of the current world order. Thus, it should not surprise anyone that the “inner critique” focuses on discrediting the heroic myths of America’s own history. For law, strategy, and history are intertwined in a way that the separated academic disciplines tend to obscure. As disciplines, each has its own understanding of causal dynamics, and practitioners are loath to increase, rather than reduce, the multiplicity of causal accounts by suggesting that some factor outside their own field is at work. Within each subject — law, strategy, and history — academics and analysts expect economic or political or perhaps sociological causes to account for developments. They are unlikely to see any necessary relations among these three classical ideas themselves. They do not appear to depend upon each other. Historians record how events in one arena can affect events in another. A war is won, and the peace conference that ends the war writes the ensuing international law in the victor’s terms. Or a war is lost, and a new constitutional structure is imposed. The first happened after World War II in San Francisco;[71] the second, at about the same time, in Tokyo.[72] Thus, the outcomes of strategy change law — and it becomes history. Or, a revolution changes the constitutional order of a state, replacing the aristocratic armies of the 18th-century territorial state with the mass armies of conscripts of the imperial state nation, enabling Napoleon to conquer Europe. Thus, constitutional law shapes strategy, and this too is called history. Or, new developments come into play — a new religion drives migration across a continent or technological innovation creates a mobile cannon — and an empire falls, and with its strategic collapse, its laws also die. While such examples are familiar, we are inclined to see their inter-relationship — the relationship among law, strategy, and history — as the byproduct of cause and effect, the result of developments of which history is simply the record. But history is not brought into being by context, whether strategic or legal. History brings context into being. And as this context unfolds, strategy and law are made manifest in events. It is therefore hardly surprising that the “inner critique” would be an attack on the American perception of its own history.
For law and strategy are not merely made in history — a sequence of events and culminating effects — they are made of history. It is the self-portrayal of a society that enables it to have an identity. Without this self-portrayal, this identity, a society cannot establish its rule by law because every system of laws depends upon the continuity of legitimacy, which is an attribute of identity. Furthermore, without such a self-portrayal, no society can pursue a rational strategy because it is the identity of the society that strategy seeks to promote, protect, and preserve. One might say that without its own history, its self-understanding, no society can have either law or strategy, because it cannot be constituted as an independent political entity.[73]
The view of American history that forms the basis for the “inner critique” claims that the U.S. national narrative is born in original sin, three sins, actually: slavery, the theft of land, and genocide. On this telling of the American story, the United States has grown powerful owing to monstrous crimes. That history cannot provide Americans with a common morality, or common heroes, or a common etiquette where national symbols, like the American flag or an unsingable national anthem, are concerned because to make common cause with these cultural artifacts is to drink the draughts that have poisoned U.S. history from the founding. This account has significant implications for world order and for the U.S. defense of that order. Indeed, the connection between the inner and outer critiques now becomes clear: They are a combined effort to dismantle the foundation of America’s international behavior, which is America’s confidence in the constitutional ethos that makes the United States exceptional. As the writer I quoted at the outset of this essay put it,
The American myth is at a crossroads. Our old stories will not save us. We need a new way to understand ourselves … Our new story would admit that much of our democracy has grown despite the rules and myths of the Founders and the frontier, not because of them. Freed of those rules and myths … we would be less eager to use our war machine and to spend so much of our wealth upon it. More aware of our own sins, we would feel less driven to avenge them abroad.[74]
One seldom sees such a frank admission of the synergy of outer and inner critique. And it’s not hard to see the sort of constitutional rules the author has in mind. At one point in his essay, he complains that the Constitution forbids legislatures from abrogating private contracts as if this was a telling exposé of the class bias of the Constitution’s ratifiers (very few of whom were creditors) and not in fact a rule that actually protects the availability and lowers the costs of credit in a developing economy. In any case, this is hardly what is exceptional about the U.S. Constitution. What made the Constitution unique among modern states is the decisive role it gives to law and, in constitutional law, to the individual conscience. It is true that the Constitution forbids the federal and state governments from coercing the press or establishing religious orthodoxy, including requiring a religious test for office; that it protects free speech and requires the equal protection of the laws for all persons — not just citizens — and insists on due process in the application of its rules. The constitutions of many countries do these things. More importantly, America’s Constitution limits the scope as well as the application of state power. It does not allow the State to determine where its citizens shall live, whom they shall marry, how many children a family can have, or what profession or trade to pursue not through the granting of rights but through the withholding of power. It does not define the “nation” as an ethnic or religious or racial group but as a body of citizens. It does not enshrine a popular democracy with the power to oppress by means of the law but, instead, aims to protect democracy with complicated structures — like the protection of civil contracts, including marriage[75] — that safeguard human rights. By these means it seeks to transmute deadly political questions into legal ones. [quote id="5"] The original, unamended Constitution was written in the context of a particular way of life that was shared by the European societies that had colonized the Americas. That worldview was patriarchal, racist, and imperialistic, and America lives with its consequences and, for some few, even its ideology — although that worldview is no longer widely held in those countries. The Three-Fifths Compromise, for example, is often cited as a constitutional concession to the Southern states that allowed for counting slaves in determining the census, which was the basis for representation in the House of Representatives.[76] But it is also true that this provision, similar to the decision to count children and women in the census, aligns with the idea that a male head of family represents the household — including any slaves who lived there. That slaves were counted only as three-fifths of a person was resented and objected to by white Southerners,[77] only 5 percent of whom ever owned a slave. Indeed, this figure underscores the conclusion that racism and patriarchy, rather than mere slavery, were at the heart of the dispute that divided the Union: Perhaps as many as a third of white Southerners were members of households that owned slaves and thus subordinated them regardless of ownership.[78] This does not exonerate that generation but simply gives a clearer description of the cultural basis for American constitutional practices. A Constitution cannot be better than its people, but it can provide for the ways in which the People can change because their values are not only reflected in law, they are shaped by it. Bear in mind that, in the 18th century, when the original constitution was drafted, most of the world’s slaves were owned by Europeans, Africans, and Ottoman Muslims. Many more slaves were brought through the trans-Atlantic slave trade to European colonies elsewhere (especially Brazil) than to North America.[79] Slavery itself — the conquest of captives who were sold into bondage and traded like chattel — was an ancient practice that thrived in many countries and in the empires of native peoples in the Americas. American and British opinion that despised slavery was a notable advance. What made American slavery both so odious, however, and has left such a pernicious legacy was the racial element in American slavery, a result of 18th-century globalization and the slave trade with Africa, something that was deplored in the Declaration of Independence. There was no room in such an institution for an Epictetus. Thus, even freedmen were held by the U.S. Supreme Court to be ineligible for citizenship because race came to determine rights.[80] Yet in other ways, the United States appeared more progressive than its peer countries at the time, for instance, in imposing no property ownership requirement to vote in federal elections.[81] It required an internal war, the most costly in American lives of all U.S. wars combined, to correct this terrible and degrading defilement, but correct it the Americans did. Would the American continent have remained unsettled by Europeans if the Anglo-Dutch colonies had never been established? Even assuming harmony among Native American tribes, such an assumption seems uninformed. Is it reasonable to suppose that the other powers that coveted an American empire for themselves would have forborne the conquest of land from the Native Americans they found here? Or that slavery would not have come to the continent when those powers arrived with their own customs and practices? Were those countries less patriarchal, racist, and imperialist than Britain and the Netherlands? Was that the lesson of the French in Haiti or the Spanish in Latin America? And what exactly does “land theft” mean for states for whom conquest was legitimate under the law of nations, and for those native tribes whose nomadic practices defied the conventional concept of land ownership? Let me be clear: My plea for historical realism cannot excuse slavery or genocide, acts that have been condemned for millennia. It cannot condone Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s or President Andrew Jackson’s racist policies. But it might give us a fuller picture of the intentions of Gen. Robert E. Lee, who detested slavery but shrank from the civil war he believed would attend immediate abolition,[82] and President Sam Houston, who was a protégé and supporter of Jackson’s but who was adopted by the Cherokee and fought to expose the behavior of government agents against them.[83] For the purposes of this essay, the question is not whether America’s history is pristine but whether that history would have been better in some other country’s hands and, given how history unfolded, what efforts America has made to overcome its negative legacies because that overcoming is an essential element in the ethos I have described above. If a people lose confidence in or despise or become disgusted by their history, it will result in their national enervation. It is evident that that is what the writer quoted above and many other critics of U.S. national security policy want. Perhaps this might be wise in some instances. You may want an aggressive society enervated, as the Germans and Japanese were after World War II. But a world order cannot be led or protected by a psychologically enfeebled society. With its allies, the United States created the current world order — the Charter of the United Nations, the Bretton Woods international financial system, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States did not act alone and could never have succeeded by trying to impose a post-war order. The United States sought, by benefiting others, to secure itself. Thus, the enervation of the United States can be costly to many states and is not just a matter of one actor sitting out the dance. That is why the criticism that U.S. policy has been self-serving is so beside the point. Of course U.S. policy was self-serving; it would have been unsustainable otherwise. U.S. leadership attempted to serve American interests, however, by embedding the interests of other states in the United States’ calculus of costs and benefits. Such leadership imposes costs that will not be willingly borne by a society that believes its principal legacy is shame. In fact, such a society will turn inward toward the accumulation of material advantage because this is the surest means by which it can reassert its self-respect. Because of its pessimism and self-loathing, it will come to resent other states and hold them in contempt as the only way of salvaging its own history. With its allies, America has created and led the current world order because it has been strategically successful — it is rich and powerful — and because it has put that leadership in service of democratic and humane principles — the source of its reliance on law. To give an unrealistic and fanciful account of America’s history — for the fancy of some of its critics reflects their resentments and obsessions as fancies do — is to deny the true sources of that order to undermine it. And because strategy and law are made of history, this process works both ways: If the critiques are historically uninformed and naïve, then the defenses must take care not to degenerate into cheerleading,[84] but must be historically well-formed and sophisticated enough to avoid anachronism. This is not simply a matter of research; it also requires imagination, for most peoples in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have been spared and can scarcely imagine the atrocities that would have befallen them without U.S. leadership.[85] This is not to say — I emphasize — that American history is unblemished, or a more morally admirable one than that of other societies. Far from airbrushing the past, America must take its historic wrongs — for example, against African Americans and Native Americans at home and against Southeast Asians and Filipinos abroad — and study them to create a future that is more humane and more inclusive. When it functions as it was designed to work, the operation of the American constitutional ethos requires criticism, debate, and decisions according to conscience.

IV. Disillusion Leads to Dissolution

Unfortunately, the loss of common ground — even the willingness to engage in debate and discussion with those with whom one disagrees — can be facilitated by the decentralized U.S. constitutional system with as-yet uncalculated consequences. Thoughtful analysts such as the liberal James Fallows[86] and the conservative David Brooks[87] have celebrated the regeneration of the United States through the renewal of localities. While there are many inspiring stories — and not just in the United States,[88] because the devolutionary change in the constitutional order I have described elsewhere[89] is not limited to America — there are also grounds for concern about the “new localism.”[90] Fission is what happens when the nucleus of a large atom splits into smaller nuclei. When an atom undergoes nuclear fission, a few neutrons are ejected from the reaction. These free neutrons then react with other isotopes, like uranium 235, and cause more fissions. This is the phenomenon known as a chain reaction. This “fissioning” is what is happening, at a varying but often accelerating pace, within the political society of the United States. In 2004, the writer Bill Bishop described a development he called “the Big Sort,”[91] which traced the self-segregation of Americans into like-minded, evermore ideologically polarized communities. At the regional level, the sorting has been distinctly bicoastal, with New England, the mid-Atlantic, and Pacific regions growing more Democratic, while the West, Texas, and the South grew more Republican. At the same time, America’s coastal cities are becoming better educated, wealthier, and more cohesive while much of the center of the country is hollowing out. In most states, this trend has picked up momentum in the last 25 years. Just three states had less political polarization in 2012 than in 1992.[92] Like-minded people are clustering together, and clustering together seems to make people even more like-minded. Data from the 2016 presidential election show that this sorting is actually increasing: Although the Democratic candidate decisively won the popular vote, she carried only 487 of the 3,141 counties.[93] Four years before, Barack Obama won 689.[94] In 20 years, one-half the population will live in eight states; the 16 most populous states will have about 70 percent of the population. This means that 34 states will have about 30 percent of America’s people. [quote id="6"] This raises concerns that the people in two-thirds of the states (34) — the number required to call a constitutional convention or propose constitutional amendments — could amount to far less than two-thirds of the population and, similarly, that the population of three-quarters of the states — 38 states — could ratify the results even though they contain far less than three-quarters of the population. Whatever the formal consequences of this demographic and political sorting, there is a real threat to America’s common tradition when states that have become overwhelmingly representative of particular minorities — and I include white Anglo-Saxon Protestants — achieve overwhelming political power in the various states. For one thing, this could bring about a reversal of the constitutional dynamic of the last century and a half by which human rights were made uniform across all the states. Right now, a shoplifter or a bank robber arrested in Wyoming is read the same Miranda rights as one arrested in Florida. The same standards are applied banning prayer in schools, or forbidding the criminalization of abortion, or prohibiting the use of narcotics. This could change. Already, some states practice capital punishment while others do not — even though in most foreign states there is a uniform rule with respect to this question. In some instances, this fissioning of the national project might encourage welcome reform — I am thinking of the decriminalization of certain drug use. But there is also deadly risk to the American constitutional project in such market-driven variation, which treats the citizen more like a consumer than a member of the national polity. For example, I need hardly observe that racializing discourse would add an accelerant to this fissioning that could prove fatal to the American project.

V. Overcoming

Reflecting on the effort to create a world order after World War II, Dean Acheson wrote that his task was “just a bit less formidable than that described in the first chapter of Genesis. That was to create a world out of chaos; ours, to create half a world, a free half, out of the same material without blowing the whole [thing up] in the process.”[95] Acheson’s hope was to craft political and economic arrangements that would bind the anti-communist world through the benefits conferred by free trade, stable currencies, and the example of liberal democracies that flourished in the atmosphere of tolerance and open debate. Since the end of World War II, this world order has achieved more, perhaps, than Acheson could have hoped for. The United States has contributed money and ideas to expand trade, fight disease, encourage the development of new technologies, and increase the scope and lower the cost of global transport. Most importantly, America has risked its own safety to guarantee the safety of other states. It was American leadership of that world order that ended the Cold War, that reversed the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait, that finally halted the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and that brought peace between Israel and Egypt. It is hardly implausible to say that had the American state not developed as it has, the world would be poorer, less free, and, above all, less hopeful. America can vindicate its role in defending the world order if it can maintain confidence in its constitutional and strategic values. Those values reflect the American assumptions that alliances are a strategic asset (America’s first foray into world affairs was the Monroe Doctrine, guaranteed by the British Royal Navy[96]); that public policy abroad, like policy at home, must reflect America’s values, because the assertion of U.S. interests is the assertion of U.S. values; that security, wealth, and freedom flourish in environments that aim to nurture them and therefore are not the result of a mercantile competition that assumes that one person’s gain is another’s loss. America will succeed because constitutional innovation and free markets and ingenious technology are endeavors America is good at. But if America betrays its constitutional ethos — what makes it exceptional but cannot by itself make it exceptionally virtuous or good — it will lose confidence and won’t even try. The weakest link in U.S. national strategy is a growing lack of confidence in America’s institutions, its heritage, and its goals. When America has succeeded as a country, it is because it has relied on a sense of purpose and a shared belief that it can and will do the right thing because — not in every case and every time — it has subscribed to the ideals of the American constitutional ethos, and it has taken pains to convince others that it would act in accordance with that ethos. Without this sense of past achievements and of struggles overcome, America will necessarily fail, because it will have defeated itself. Other states, motivated by different principles, will take up this role. As William Burns, former deputy secretary of state, put it, “We can shape things or wait to get shaped by China and everybody else.”[97] Indeed, one can already see in the backlash that triumphed in the 2016 presidential election, the disabling of those steps — like the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement— that would have been positive steps in countering the de-stabilizing rise of China.

•          •          •

The rise of populist movements in the West, the rise of China in the East, and the growth of social media all have converged to undermine America’s commitment to democratic republics, which are the structural form of the U.S. constitutional ethos, an ethos of liberal values that the United States has championed in the international system. The rise of these movements is widely taken to be an implicit criticism of that system. As has been observed earlier in this paper, it is an illiberal reaction to the unresponsiveness of the democratic political process. This reaction is supercharged by the growth of social media that bypasses the traditional processes of party politics and representative government. Perhaps equally important, social media platforms also bypass the intellectual gatekeepers of the mainstream media, upon which Americans have relied for a factual consensus to ground political debate. Champions of this development claim to be disenchanted with the corruption of the republican structure of representation. Thus, both populism and its developmental companion, social media, are fueled by disgust. As Jack Balkin has put it, populists are angry about the democratic shortfall of government,[98] and social media reflects anger about the unrepublican shortcomings of representation. The evidence, however, might be characterized differently. One might say that only a few political scientists care about democracy per se — or republicanism for that matter — and, while they obsess about the unrepresentative nature of the Senate and the loss of civic virtue in politicians, the public is not similarly preoccupied. Rather, what motivates contemporary populists and social media movements are the expectations that their members should be treated like customers and consumers rather than citizens, and thus that they bear no responsibility for reforming the system through their own participation, other than simply going on to another carrier or vendor to satisfy their needs. This attitude, reflected in various surveys, is especially worrying among the young.[99] Not only is there an illiberal “cohort shift,” with young citizens today being more skeptical about democracy than their parents were at the same age, but Millennials are also more likely to denigrate democratic institutions and to express a preference for a shift — to the right in some places, to the left in others — away from their liberal democratic heritage. In such a situation, the legitimacy of the State is put into play. It is a commonplace to say that the governments of the West are dysfunctional, but are there agreed-upon ends they are not functioning to achieve? A debate between Sanford Levinson and Balkin on this subject quickly revealed that “dysfunctional” was largely a label for “unable to pass the legislation I favor and that, I concede, is widely opposed.”[100] The admiration and confidence accorded the governing operating systems of the democratic republics are waning, but it is not their functionality as operating systems so much as their legitimacy — the relationship of the State to the People — that is responsible for this. The industrial nation-state is increasingly unable to make the claim that it will improve the material well-being of its people, and this claim has been the basis of the legitimacy of this constitutional order for more than a century. In fact, with regard to the spread of nuclear and chemical weapons; the growth of global terror networks, international criminal conspiracies, and hacking threats; the frequency and virulence of epidemics; climate change; the fragility of national financial institutions; the protection of national morals and culture; and the use of law to enforce moral codes, the State seems increasingly to be at a loss. [quote id="7"] This is why the rise of China is salient for the constitutional order of democratic republics. China provides an alternative, undemocratic, unrepublican form of government that does seem to be able to affirm its basis for legitimacy. The Chinese regime appears capable of increasing the total wealth of society steadily, consistently, even dramatically, while increasing the economic opportunities available to its people. As such, it is a harbinger of the new constitutional order of states that tends to treat its citizens as consumers.[101] Globally, Millennials are much more positive about President Xi Jinping and his ability to invest in the future, and they appear less troubled by his repression of political opposition and debate.[102] China’s rise in the international order is directly proportional to its success domestically, a success that depends upon jettisoning the basis for legitimacy that undergirds the other great states of the world. By contrast, in the United States the increase in racial antagonism and alienation, increasing income inequality and hostility to leading elites, considerable illegal immigration and the largest levels of legal immigration since 1890, and the executive’s increasing reliance on discretionary law enforcement all testify to an unraveling of the compact that forms the basis of democratic republics, the triumphant variant of the constitutional order of industrial nation-states. Calling this “dysfunction” is a misnomer. It is instead the transition from one constitutional order to another. One dreadful consequence of these developments is the growing, concomitant hatred of various groups within society. The white supremacists at Charlottesville are indeed more vile than the antifa mob at Berkeley, because racial and religious prejudice is uniquely odious, but both are marinated in hatred for the other. The threat to the rest of society arises, as Machiavelli observed, from the fact that tyranny comes to power by promising to crush the elements that the people hate. So what is to be done? The first step is to recognize that what is happening in the United States is happening everywhere and that it is a fundamental, not a transient, development. That development is the challenge to the current constitutional order of the United States and other dominant states by a new form of the State.[103] Absent this recognition, America is condemned to dealing with its problems piecemeal and ineffectively. But armed with this awareness, America can instead craft its own version of the coming constitutional order, just as it did with its predecessor within which we now live. Second, America must recognize those common threats that beset the world order: climate change, networked terror, an increasingly febrile and fragile international financial system, and the proliferation of technologies of mass destruction that could lead to the use of nuclear and biological weapons. Failure to deal with all of these matters is destroying the legitimacy of the industrial nation-state. Third, the United States must use those techniques it is best at: assimilation and tolerance against terror; the ingenuity of markets and innovative technology to manage climate change and global financial connectedness; deterrence and — if necessary — intervention by an alliance against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. America knows that it knows how to do these things because it has done them successfully in the past. If it is true that the international order is shaped by the most successful and dynamic constitutional order, then America must look to its domestic polity to begin these initiatives. As much as such efforts may cause unease, America must find a way to bring together the concerns of protesting students, grieving and outraged African-Americans who are victims of state violence, marginalized sexual groups of varying self-identification, working-class persons frustrated by apparently unstoppable immigration and evaporating economic opportunity, families discouraged by the coarsening of American life, and religious communities that feel themselves at war with the larger culture, along with the currently dispirited liberal advocates of tolerance, dispassion, and debate. That will mean inventing a constitutional order based on the traditional values of America’s democratic republic and legitimating its structure through an equal responsiveness to the concerns of those currently alienated from that structure and to those who are alienated from the apparent shifts in that structure. In this task, the sheer bloody-mindedness of the current administration may be a solvent, dissipating the hardening molds of distrust and making possible a new era of faith in the American enterprise. As a start, the United States should consider some regime of reparations for African-Americans — who regardless of their relationship to the practice of racial slavery still labor under its legacy — and Native Americans whose treaties with the United States remain to be honored. It is not simply a matter of obligation to these groups so much as it is a matter of self-respect. The way to redress foreign wrongs is to recover American self-confidence so that the United States can lead the international order to a prosperity and security that embraces all states that wish to participate in that order. Although it has been routinely misinterpreted by American politicians — or perhaps because it has been so misinterpreted — I want to close with a reflection on John Winthrop’s famous speech charting a vision for the American colonists in 1630. He said to the passengers of the Arbella, “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”[104] By this Winthrop emphatically did not mean that the excellence of America’s example would be the marvel of the age or that the virtue of the immigrants he addressed would make their enterprise a success. On the contrary, he knew that Europeans expected this experiment to fail. This is what Winthrop meant when he warned that “the eyes of all people are upon us.” His words were a caution to the new Americans to behave themselves, to take up their grave responsibilities and face their equally grave challenges with a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. An elected legislature was established. Ministers were prohibited from holding political office. Harvard College was founded six years later.[105] All this was done without a formal charter from the British government. No one can say where the American experiment is headed. Its strife and failures have also been a part, perhaps an indispensable part, of its triumphs. Its legacy — the American constitutional ethos — has redeemed its history. Now that ethos must create history anew.

Conclusion

In this essay I have argued that what makes the United States exceptional is also what makes it indispensable going forward as the states of the world adapt a new constitutional order to cope with the challenges that are overwhelming the industrial nation-state. The alternative is not a return to the halcyon days of national identity secured by laws that privileged a dominant ethnic or national group’s values in the governance of the State, not because these laws were morally wrong, though in some places and at some times they certainly were by the contemporary standards of today (for what other moral standards can we authentically apply?), but because such constitutional regimes cannot manage the challenges of the 21st century. The alternative is an illiberalism of both the left and the right that will infect the emerging market-states of the world just as fascism and communism infected the industrial nation-states of the last century. American exceptionalism does not make the United States uniquely virtuous or especially virtuous, for that matter; it merely makes the American state capable of adaptation according to rules that rely on the conscience. The constitutional challenges that currently beset states are responsible for the various, seemingly contradictory, crises that are occurring globally; these challenges can be resolved favorably to the values of the liberal tradition that ground the American constitutional ethos. Only a recognition of that ethos and its reinvigoration will enable the United States to play a positive role in leading the world to that resolution.   Acknowledgements: I should like to thank two remarkable research assistants, Andrew Elliott and Philippe Schiff, for their outstanding efforts on this essay; and I would also like to thank Megan Oprea, Autumn Brewington, and Ryan Evans for their editorial assistance at the Texas National Security Review. Of course, any errors of fact or judgment that remain, despite their help, are mine alone. Philip Bobbitt is Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and Director of the Center on National Security, Columbia Law School and Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas. Image: Wikipedia Commons [post_title] => America’s Relation to World Order: Two Indictments, Two Thought Experiments, and a Misquotation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => americas-relation-to-world-order-two-indictments-two-thought-experiments-and-a-misquotation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-10 14:45:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-10 18:45:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=676 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => The State is undergoing a crisis of legitimacy owing to its inability to cope with novel problems of weapons proliferation, transnational threats including climate change, a fragile global financial infrastructure, cultural influences carried by electronic communications, and an undemocratic regime of human rights law. These fatal inadequacies are summoning forth a new constitutional order, the latest in a series of century-spanning archetypal regimes that have arisen since the Renaissance and the collapse of feudalism. A backlash against the harbingers of this new order, however, is crippling the development of those modes of action that are required to deal with the underlying crisis. In the United States, this crippling reaction has operated in tandem with a formidable critique of America’s right to lead an international order that has brought unprecedented prosperity and low levels of warfare to the world. This backlash is as much a reaction to the critique of the United States’ political and cultural heritage as it is to the governing techniques that are harbingers of this new constitutional order. Only a restoration of faith in America’s constitutional and strategic heritage — its exceptional ethos — will make possible the preservation of liberal traditions of governing in the new world that is being born. To accomplish this, we must answer the critiques by identifying what is the animating American quality that entitles the United States to compete for leadership. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Iss 4 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => [F]reedom is preferable to authoritarianism because coercion is incompatible with the exercise of the conscience... ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The liberal tradition assumes that, at any one moment, one not only can be wrong but, to some degree, almost certainly is. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => [W]hat makes a society exceptional is simply what defines it in contrast to other societies. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The principle of self-determination with which Wilson is most prominently associated is anathema to the very concept of empire... ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => If a people lose confidence in or despise or become disgusted by their history, it will result in their national enervation. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Like-minded people are clustering together, and clustering together seems to make people even more like-minded. ) [6] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The industrial nation state is increasingly unable to make the claim that it will improve the material well-being of its people... ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 144 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] E.g. the Front National in France (see James McAuley, "As France's Far-Right National Front Rises, Memory of Its Past Fades," Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/as-frances-far-right-national-front-rises-memory-of-its-past-fades/2017/01/26/dfeb0d42-e1ac-11e6-a419-eefe8eff0835_story.html), the M5S in Italy, the ÖVP and FPÖ in Austria (see Jon Henley, "Rise of Far-Right in Italy and Austria Gives Putin Some Friends in the West," Guardian, June 7, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/07/rise-of-far-right-in-italy-and-austria-gives-putin-some-friends-in-the-west), and the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain (see Alex Hunt, "UKIP: The Story of the UK Independence Party's Rise," BBC.com, Nov. 21, 2014, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-21614073). [2] See Xi Jinping’s removal of presidential term limits (Steven Lee Myers, "With Xi's Power Grab, China Joins New Era of Strongmen," New York Times, Feb. 26, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/world/asia/china-xi-jinping-authoritarianism.html) and China’s massive and invasive domestic surveillance program (James A. Millward, "What It's Like to Live in a Surveillance State," New York Times, Feb. 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/opinion/sunday/china-surveillance-state-uighurs.html). [3] Steven Lee Myers and Ellen Barry, “Putin Reclaims Crimea for Russia and Bitterly Denounces the West,” New York Times, March 18, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/world/europe/ukraine.html. [4]Alex Beuge et al., “A Guide to North Korea’s Advance Towards Nuclear Weapons,” Guardian, Nov. 29, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/11/how-has-north-koreas-nuclear-programme-advanced-in-2017. [5] Josh Smith, “How North Korea’s Latest ICBM Test Stacks Up,” Reuters, Nov. 28, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-technology-factbo/how-north-koreas-latest-icbm-test-stacks-up-idUSKBN1DT0IF. [6] Letter from U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to E.U. President Donald Tusk, March 29, 2017, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604079/Prime_Ministers_letter_to_European_Council_President_Donald_Tusk.pdf [7] Will Martin, “This Map Shows the European Regions Fighting to Achieve Independence,” Independent, Oct. 2, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/map-european-regions-fighting-for-independence-vote-europe-countries-state-a7979051.html. [8] See, among many commentators, Robert Kagan, “Things Will Not Be Okay,” Washington Post, July 12, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/everything-will-not-be-okay/2018/07/12/c5900550-85e9-11e8-9e80-403a221946a7_story.html. [9] Alan S. Alexandroff and Andrew F. Cooper, eds., Rising States, Rising Institutions: Challenges for Global Governance (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). [10] Richard Hurowtiz, “What We Can Learn From Bretton Woods,” Weekly Standard, July 1, 2017, https://www.weeklystandard.com/richard-hurowitz/what-we-can-learn-from-bretton-woods. See also G. John Ikenberry, “The End of Liberal International Order?” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (January 2018): 7–23, https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix241. [11] Jayshree Bajoria and Robert McMahon, “The Dilemma of Humanitarian Intervention,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 12, 2013, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/dilemma-humanitarian-intervention. [12] See, e.g., Janet Daley, “Islamic Terror Could Kill Off the West’s Liberal Values,” Telegraph, July 30, 2016, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/30/islamist-terror-could-kill-off-the-liberal-values-of-the-liberal/. [13] “Figures at a Glance,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, June 19, 2017, http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html. [14] Kori Schake, “The Trump Doctrine Is Winning, and the World Is Losing,” New York Times, June 16, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/opinion/sunday/trump-china-america-first.html. [15] For a history of the constitutional orders of the modern state, see Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History (New York: Knopf, 2001). Industrial nation-states first appeared in the last third of the 19th century and by the end of World War I had largely supplanted the imperial state nations of the great powers that dominated the 19th century. We still live within this constitutional order, but elements of its challenger, the informational market state, are already evident — for examples, see Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Knopf, 2008) — and have provoked the backlash to which I refer. This essay is not about a new constitutional order, nor is it principally about the backlash that is taking place in many societies. Rather it is about the role of the United States in managing this transition in the face of powerful critiques of its past actions. [16] Ronald Reagan’s election-eve address, “A Vision for America,” Nov. 3, 1980, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=85199. [17] “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” Obama said in an April 4, 2009, news conference. White House transcript is available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/news-conference-president-obama-4042009. [18] All persons born in the United States are eligible to serve as president, except those who would be younger than age 35 when inaugurated. The exception provides the rule that one must be 35 years of age to be president. [19] Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie, 8th ed. (1934), ch. 113 (“Souverän ist, wer über den Ausnahmezustand entscheidet”). [20] See, generally, Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America 2nd ed. (Wilmington, MA: Mariner Books, 1991). [21] Alan Wolfe, “Nobody Here but Us Liberals,” New York Times, July 3, 2005, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/03/books/review/nobody-here-but-us-liberals.html. [22] Declaration of Independence, 1776, para. 2. [23] J.M. Opal, “America Should Never Be ‘Great Again,’” Time, April 5, 2017, http://time.com/4726868/donald-trump-america-great-again-myth/. [24] Max Weber, Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus [The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism] (1905). [25] Michael Millerman, “The Historiography of America’s Founding: Lockean Liberalism versus Republicanism,” Telos, July 16, 2013, http://www.telospress.com/the-historiography-of-americas-founding-lockean-liberalism-versus-republicanism/. [26] See, e.g., Luigi Marco Bassani, “The Bankruptcy of the Republican School,” Telos 124 (Summer 2002): 131–57. [27] See generally Philip Bobbitt, Constitutional Fate: Theory of the Constitution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), and Philip Bobbitt, Constitutional Interpretation (Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell, 1992). The six fundamental forms of constitutional argument — or “modalities” of argument, as they are sometimes called — are: historical, textual, doctrinal, structural, prudential, and ethical. [28] Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. and trans. Peter Bondanella (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Philip Bobbitt, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World that He Made (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013), 10, 16. [29] Martin Luther, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (2008), ebook available at http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/274/pg274-images.html. [30] Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 8, 13–16, 127–28. [31] My terminology for the constitutional order that achieved dominance in the 19th century; it sought popular allegiance on the grounds that the State would exalt the nation by fusing it with the State. See Bobbitt, Shield of Achilles, 144–204; also Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twentieth Century (New York: Knopf, 2008), 26 et seq. [32] Jonah 1:8. [33] Stephen M. Walt, “The Myth of American Exceptionalism,” Foreign Policy, Oct. 11, 2011, http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/. [34] Richard Overy, The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe, 1940–1945 (New York: Viking, 2014), 304–7. [35] Michael Tillman, Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942–1945 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 256. [36] Michael Clodfelter, Vietnam in Military Statistics: A History of the Indochina Wars, 17921991 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1995), 225. [37] Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 442–53. [38] I am by no means convinced of these figures, to say nothing of the blithe assumptions of “direct or indirect responsibility,” but they are a customary feature of the critique and it would not change minds if the numbers were significantly less (even if more accurate). [39] Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction; see treaty status information at http://www.icbl.org/en-gb/the-treaty/treaty-status.aspx. [40] For a summary of the U.S. policy toward the court per an Obama administration National Security Strategy, see: https://www.state.gov/j/gcj/icc/. [41] See Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: Harper, 1980), 362; Richard Hofstadter, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (New York: Knopf, 1948), 266; and “Trials of the Great War 1914–2014: War and the American Century,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_hNqxTp3UI; Craig Calhoun, Frederick Cooper, and Kevin W. Moore, eds., Lessons of Empire: Imperial Histories and American Power (New York: New Press, 2006); Michael Mann, Incoherent Empire (London: Verso, 2003). [42] 55 Cong. Rec. 1, 120 (1917). [43] Walt, "Myth of American Exceptionalism." See also Ishaan Tharoor, “Don’t Forget How the Soviet Union Saved the World From Hitler,” Washington Post, May 8, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/05/08/dont-forget-how-the-soviet-union-saved-the-world-from-hitler/. [44] Walt, "Myth of American Exceptionalism." [45] A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, White House (July 1994), 5, http://nssarchive.us/NSSR/1994.pdf. [46] Interview by Matt Lauer with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, “Today Show,” Feb. 19, 1998, https://1997-2001.state.gov/statements/1998/980219a.html. [47]Remarks by President Donald Tusk on E.U.-NATO cooperation, European Council, July 10, 2018, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/07/10/remarks-by-president-donald-tusk-on-eu-nato-cooperation/. [48] Schake, "Trump Doctrine Is Winning." [49] Note, this is not the same as saying we must not judge an earlier society by our current moral, political, and aesthetic values; as I remark later in the essay, “Who else’s judgments would we apply,” the consciousnesses of earlier cultures being so inaccessible to us. [50] See Jeffrey P. Blick, “The Iroquois Practice of Genocidal Warfare (1534–1787),” Journal of Genocide Research 3, no. 3 (2001): 405–29, https://doi.org/10.1080/14623520120097215. [51] “Author Changes His Mind on ’70s Manifesto,” New York Times, May 23, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/24/books/eduardo-galeano-disavows-his-book-the-open-veins.html. [52] See Simón Bolívar’s Letter from Jamaica, Sept. 6, 1815. “As long as our countrymen do not acquire the abilities and political virtues that distinguish our brothers of the north, wholly popular systems, far from working to our advantage, will, I greatly fear, bring about our downfall. … Although I seek perfection for the government of my country, I cannot persuade myself that the New World can, at the moment, be organized as a great republic. Since it is impossible, I dare not desire it; yet much less do I desire to have all America a monarchy because this plan is not only impracticable but also impossible. Wrongs now existing could not be righted, and our emancipation would be fruitless. The American states need the care of paternal governments to heal the sores and wounds of despotism and war.” Selected Writings of Bolivar, trans. Lewis Bertrand (New York: Colonial Press, 1951). Accessed via Brown University Center for Digital Scholarship: https://library.brown.edu/create/modernlatinamerica/chapters/chapter-2-the-colonial-foundations/primary-documents-with-accompanying-discussion-questions/document-2-simon-bolivar-letter-from-jamaica-september-6-1815/. [53] Though violent clashes had occurred in 1939 between the two powers. [54] First prime minister of Singapore and leader of the People’s Action Party that campaigned for Singapore’s independence from Britain. [55] See, e.g., Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, 19652000 (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 467, 573. [56] See statement by David Kay on the interim progress report on the activities of the Iraq Survey Group, hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Oct. 2, 2003, https://www.cia.gov/news-information/speeches-testimony/2003/david_kay_10022003.html. [57] David Rieff, “Were Sanctions Right?” New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/27/magazine/were-sanctions-right.html. [58] Richard Burkholder, “Gallup Poll of Iraq: Liberated, Occupied, or in Limbo?” Gallup, April 28, 2004, https://news.gallup.com/poll/11527/gallup-poll-iraq-liberated-occupied-limbo.aspx. [59] Daniel L. Byman, “Why Drones Work: The Case for Washington’s Weapon of Choice,” Brookings Institution, June 17, 2013, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/why-drones-work-the-case-for-washingtons-weapon-of-choice/. [60] See Oona A. Hathaway, “Between Power and Principle: An Integrated Theory of International Law,” University of Chicago Law Review 72 (2005): 469, 499. “States that are more likely to engage in domestic enforcement of the terms of international legal agreements are therefore less likely to commit to them in the first place, all other things held equal.” [61] See Michael Cotey Morgan, The Final Act (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018). [62] Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons; see Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices, Technical Annex 3(a). [63] See Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Art. 1, § 1(a). [64] For more on U.S. policy on landmines, see: https://2001-2009.state.gov/t/pm/wra/c11735.htm. [65] Dave Majumdar, “North Korea’s Army by the Numbers: 4,300 Tanks and 200,000 Lethal Special Forces,” National Interest, Feb. 1, 2018, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-koreas-army-by-the-numbers-4300-tanks-200000-lethal-24301. [66] See, for example, “Graner Gets 10 Years for Abu Ghraib Abuse,” Associated Press, Jan. 16, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20121231082819/http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6795956; “Harman Found Guilty for Abu Ghraib,” Army News Service, May 19, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20071123112051/http://www4.army.mil/news/article.php?story=7348; “Two More Soldiers Sentenced for Abu Ghraib Abuse,” Army News Service, Feb. 10, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20050915220948/http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=6843. [67] See Philip Bobbitt, “The ACLU Goes to War,” Just Security, Nov. 25, 2016, https://www.justsecurity.org/34885/aclu-war/. [68] See Antony Beevor, “Freedom Sweeps Europe — But at What Cost?” Guardian, Sept. 10, 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/10/second-world-war-liberation-europe; see also Antony Beevor: “Hitler’s anger with Goering over the Luftwaffe’s inability to stop Allied bombers getting through, forced Nazi Germany to withdraw the bulk of its fighter squadrons and its 88mm anti-aircraft guns from the eastern front to defend the Reich. By 1944, there were just 1,200 heavy anti-aircraft guns left for the whole of the eastern front, yet more than 7,000 back in Germany. And if these 88mm anti-aircraft guns, which were also the most devastating anti-tank weapons of the whole war, had not been withdrawn from the eastern front, even more Soviet soldiers would have died. But the most decisive contribution to the outcome of the war was the withdrawal of Luftwaffe fighter formations from the eastern front to defend German cities. This gradually tipped the balance of air superiority on the eastern front away from the Luftwaffe, to such a degree that by 1944, it could hardly send any reconnaissance flights over Soviet lines. This allowed the Red Army to prepare the huge deceptions which culminated in Operation Bagration, the destruction of Army Group Centre in Belorussia, the most devastating victory of the whole war.” Antony Beevor, email message to author. [69] Werner Reutter, “Who’s Afraid of Angela Merkel? The Life, Political Career, and Future of the New German Chancellor,” International Journal 61, no. 1 (2005/2006): 214, 216, https://www.jstor.org/stable/40204139. [70] See footnote 31. [71] Multilateral Treaty of Peace with Japan, Sept. 8, 1951, 3 U.S.T. 3169. [72] Surrender by Japan, Terms Between the United States of America and the Other Allied Powers and Japan, Sept. 2, 1945, U.S.–Japan, 59 Stat. 1733. [73] See Bobbitt, Shield of Achilles, 5–6. [74] Schmitt, Politische Theologie (emphasis added). [75] Brief for the United States on the Merits Question, United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744 (2013) (No. 12-307), https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/osg/briefs/2012/01/01/2012-0307.mer.aa.pdf. [76] See Paul Finkelman, “How the Proslavery Constitution Led to the Civil War,” Rutgers Law Journal 43, no. 3 (2013): 405, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2243060. [77] South Carolina and Georgia both voted for a proposal to count slaves “as equal to Whites in the apportionment of Representation.” See Madison Debates, “Wednesday, July 11, 1787,” Yale Law School Avalon Project, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_711.asp. [78] Information from the 1860 Census is available at http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html. [79] See Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database estimates here: http://www.slavevoyages.org/assessment/estimates. [80] Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857). [81] Akhil Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography (New York: Random House, 2012), 66–67. [82] “In this enlightened age, there a few I believe, but what will acknowledge that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.” Robert E. Lee, Dec. 27, 1856. See: http://fair-use.org/robert-e-lee/letter-to-his-wife-on-slavery. [83] In 1830, Houston began representing the Cherokee nation and other Native American tribes in Washington. See his absorbing series of articles for the Arkansas Gazette defending Native American rights and exposing the exploitation of Native Americans by U.S. officials. Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland, Sam Houston with the Cherokee, 18291833 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967); Amelia Williams and Eugene C. Barker, The Writings of Sam Houston, 18131863 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938). [84] An observation urged on me by my research assistant Andrew Elliott. [85] I am indebted to my research assistant Philippe Schiff for this point. [86] James Fallows and Deborah Fallows, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America (New York: Pantheon, 2018). [87] David Brooks, “The American Renaissance Is Already Happening,” New York Times, May 14, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/opinion/the-american-renaissance-is-already-happening.html. [88] “This trend is accelerating and moving outside the U.S. … Copenhagen, Hamburg and Kings Cross in London are held up as good examples. … [M]illennials are more collaborative … and want to create a new narrative from what they see at the national level.” “The Untold Good News Story of America Today,” BBC News, June 18, 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44349211. [89] Philip Bobbitt, “The Decay and Renewal of the American Constitutional Order,” in Nation, State and Empire (Engelsberg Seminar, 2017). [90] Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak, The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism (Brookings Institution Press, 2018). [91] Bill Bishop, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart (Wilmington, MA: Mariner Books, 2008). [92] Ron Johnston, David Manley, and Kelvyn Jones, “Spatial Polarization of Presidential Voting in the United States, 1992–2012,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106, no. 5: 1047, https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2016.1191991. [93] “Thanks to a Bad Map and Bizarre Math, Breitbart Can Report That Trump Won the REAL Popular Vote,” Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/15/thanks-to-a-bad-map-and-bizarre-math-breitbart-can-report-that-trump-won-the-real-popular-vote/. [94] “Obama Won a Record-Low Share of U.S. Counties — But He Won Them Big,” NBC News, Dec. 4, 2012, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50073771/t/obama-won-record-low-share-us-counties-he-won-them-big/. [95] Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969), "Apologia Pro Libre Hoc" (1987). [96] See Jay Sexton, The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011). [97] Dexter Filkins, “Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point,” New Yorker, Oct. 16, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/16/rex-tillerson-at-the-breaking-point. [98] Jack M. Balkin, “Constitutional Rot” in Can It Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America, ed. Cass R. Sunstein (New York: Dey Street Books, 2018). Also published by Yale Law School as Public Law Research Paper no. 604, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2992961. [99] See Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk, “The Danger of Deconsolidation,” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 3 (July 2016): 5, https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/article/danger-deconsolidation-democratic-disconnect. [100] Sanford Levinson and Jack M. Balkin, “Democracy and Dysfunction: An Exchange,” Indiana Law Review 50 (posted online Aug. 8, 2016). Also published by Yale Law School as Public Law Research Paper no. 579, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2820202. [101] Charles Rollet, “The Odd Reality of Life Under China’s All-Seeing Credit Score System” Wired, June 5, 2018, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-social- credit. [102] Richard Wike, Jacob Poushter, and Hani Zainulbhai, “China and the Global Balance of Power,” Pew Research Center, June 29, 2016, http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/29/3-china-and-the-global-balance-of-power/. [103] For a discussion of market-states in the context of contemporary international politics, see Philip Bobbitt, “States of Disorder,” New Statesman, March 1, 2016, https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/03/states-disorder. As constitutional orders are differentiated by their claims to legitimacy, one way to understand the industrial nation-state and its competitor the informational market-state is to specify their respective bases for legitimacy. Very roughly, the nation-states say, “Give us power and we will improve your well-being by using law to tame the operations of the market,” while market-states say, “Give us power and we will maximize your opportunities by using the market to make the society richer and more spacious.” [104] Winthrop’s speech can be read at http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=3918. [105] Harvard College was founded in 1636: https://college.harvard.edu/about/mission-and-vision. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [post_count] => 2 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 735 [post_author] => 219 [post_date] => 2018-10-09 04:00:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-09 08:00:15 [post_content] =>

1. Introduction: Revisiting Reagan’s Pride of Place in Republican Foreign Policy

By Evan D. McCormick In the nearly thirty years since he departed the White House, Ronald Reagan has been ubiquitous in the spirit and image of the Republican Party. At every turn, the GOP has sought to recapture the energy that Reagan fomented around the conservative ideals of small government and American exceptionalism. Reagan’s vision for America’s role in the world has been central to this enduring mythos. Reagan sought to project American strength abroad through military spending, unsparing rhetoric about the deficiencies of communism and the threat it posed to American security, and a commitment to use force — covertly or overtly — in the name of American interests and ideals. To his admirers, it was this strategy that made possible the diplomatic breakthrough in his second term that helped end the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Though some of his adherents may be loathe to admit it, Reagan’s foreign policy was a key referent in Donald Trump’s successful 2016 campaign. With a slogan cribbed from Reagan (“Make America Great Again”), Trump promised to reverse the naïve diplomacy and missteps of his predecessors, Democrat and Republican alike, just as the Gipper fashioned a critique of détente policies advanced by both the Carter and Nixon administrations. Much as Trump made straw men out of the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal (“This deal was a disaster”[1]) and vowed to “cancel” the Paris Climate Accords, Reagan came to office railing against the 1978 Panama Canal treaties (“fatally flawed”[2]) and vowed to withdraw from the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (“a flawed treaty”[3]). Beyond pillorying particular aspects of the status quo, both politicians fashioned these efforts as part of a broader restoration of America’s standing in the world. For Reagan, it was an attempt to reverse the uncertainty and self-doubt wrought by the Vietnam War; for Trump, a vaguer, but no less powerful, determination to reverse some Americans’ insecurities in the face of globalization by putting “America first.” Since taking office, however, the Trump administration’s foreign policies have, for the first time, cast the GOP’s idolatry of Reagan into limbo. First, under the America First brand, Trump has deliberately pulled the United States back from its leadership role in the international system, most notably by questioning the value of U.S. participation in NATO. Trump has bemoaned the disparity in financial commitments between the United States and other NATO members and equivocated when given the opportunity to affirm the North Atlantic Treaty’s Article 5, which guarantees mutual defense.[4] Reagan left no such uncertainty, calling NATO “[t]he bedrock of European security,” in one 1983 speech. Portraying the U.S. commitment to NATO as central to U.S. defense against Soviet foreign policy, Reagan lauded it as “not just a military alliance,” but
a voluntary political community of free men and women based on shared principles and a common history. The ties that bind us to our European allies are not the brittle ties of expediency or the weighty shackles of compulsion. They resemble what Abraham Lincoln called the “mystic chords of memory” uniting peoples who share a common vision. So, let there be no doubt on either side of the Atlantic: the freedom and independence of America’s allies remain as dear to us as our own.[5]
Second, the Trump administration has repeatedly sworn off any foreign policy based on spreading U.S values. Although many of Reagan’s policies were guided by the logic of national security, he vocally embraced universal liberal democratic ideals as the central thrust of U.S. Cold War foreign policy. “While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change,” Reagan stated in his famous Westminster address in 1982, “we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward them.” Those objectives were “to foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.”[6] Under Reagan, Republicans co-opted the language of human rights, albeit an instrumentalized version that they used to highlight Soviet misdeeds in the international arena while typically remaining silent about the abuses of authoritarian regimes in allied countries.[7] The Trump team has forsaken even that semblance of human rights leverage, however, withdrawing in June 2018 from the United Nations Human Rights Council,[8] while the president has touted his warm relations with dictators in the Philippines,[9] North Korea,[10] and Russia.[11] The Trump administration’s strategy of principled realism, set forth in the 2017 National Security Strategy, places the operative emphasis on realism, a fact that Trump emphasized when he promised, in a presidential address on Afghanistan, that “[w]e are not nation-building again; we are killing terrorists.”[12] Finally, there is the Trump administration’s nationalistic approach to trade. In 1988, Reagan warned that protectionism was being used as a “cheap form of nationalism, a fig leaf for those unwilling to maintain America's military strength and who lack the resolve to stand up to real enemies.” Trump, meanwhile, seems to relish the prospect of trade wars, directly contradicting Reagan’s vision that “expansion of the international economy is not a foreign invasion; it is an American triumph, one we worked hard to achieve, and something central to our vision of a peaceful and prosperous world of freedom.”[13] It is worth remembering that NAFTA, the trade deal that Trump has spent the most energy disparaging, was originally proposed by Reagan himself. And yet, at the same time, there has been enough incoherence in the administration’s policies — and in its relations with congressional Republicans — to suggest a deeper continuity with the Reagan worldview. While the White House distances itself from NATO, for example, officials like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have sought to reassure allies of U.S. commitment to its European alliances.[14] While swearing off nation-building, criticism of Venezuela by Vice President Mike Pence and leading Republicans in the Senate make clear that this abandonment of idealism is hardly clear-cut or unanimous in the GOP.[15] And while the president has trumpeted the demise of NAFTA, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — who served as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative during the Reagan administration — effectively reinforced the importance of free trade by negotiating a U.S.- Mexico-Canada Agreement that improves upon its predecessor.[16] What then is to be made of Reagan’s legacy at a time when that legacy is being pulled at by fracturing impulses within the Republican Party and debated anew by scholars?[17] Does the Republican worldview, forged during the age of Reagan, still serve as a map for this administration and its congressional counterparts? If so, are the policies of the Trump administration continuing that legacy, or deviating from it? Texas National Security Review has asked four scholars to examine these questions from different perspectives. Andrew Natsios, former Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, also finds salience in Reagan’s legacy in the Republican Party’s approach to development and human rights. Highlighting the way that Reagan linked democracy promotion to development, and greatly expanded humanitarian aid policy, Natsios argues that Reagan came from a tradition of conservative internationalism, with more in common with Woodrow Wilson than Richard Nixon. According to Natsios, Trump’s “warmed over isolationism, protectionism, and aggressive unilateralism” has thrown Reagan’s legacy into flux. Nevertheless, he still argues that the Republican development vision remains strong among members of Congress. Gail Yoshitani, Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, turns next to the area of national security policy. She finds precedent for Trump’s National Security Strategy, and its doctrine of “principled realism,” in the writings of Reagan’s first ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick’s writings in the years leading up to her appointment critiqued the assumptions regarding American power that underlay détente, and skewered the “vague, abstract universalism” of the “global approach” embodied by the Carter administration. If Kirkpatrick helped give form to the Reagan motto “peace through strength,” Yoshitani argues, Republican foreign policymakers are now drawing on similar ideas as they seek to maximize U.S. power in a competitive world. Jayita Sarkar, Assistant Professor at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, examines the role of the nuclear industry in shaping GOP policy toward nonproliferation dating back to the Eisenhower era. She draws similarities between the dynamics that confronted Reagan in the 1980s — “proliferation risks are high, adversaries are confrontational, and Washington’s economic prowess is uncertain” — and those facing Republicans today. According to Sarkar, the crisis currently facing the nuclear industry, together with Trump’s disregard for international institutions, puts the traditional GOP “grand strategy” for nonproliferation at risk. She argues that it is unclear whether the Trump administration will be able to do what Reagan did: “walk the fine line between trade and controls, and economics and security.” Brian Muzas, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, explores the impact of religion on Trump’s and Reagan’s approaches to major foreign policy crises: Reagan’s competition with the Soviet Union and Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea. While arguing that religion’s influence on the two individual leaders is quite different, Muzas uses the concept of Religious Cultural Heritage (RCH) to explore a more structural dimension of religion in diplomacy. Comparing the impact of RCH on the decision-making of Reagan and Trump — along with the role of RCH in both Soviet and North Korean political cultures — Muzas suggests that attention to RCH questions can “provide unexpected avenues to apply lessons from Reagan’s Soviet policies to Trump’s North Korean policies.” The multivalent approach in this roundtable reflects at once the enduring importance of Reagan to understanding American conservatism and the shifting judgment of Reagan underway as an increasing number of scholars turn their attention to the Reagan years. The unclear nature of Reagan’s legacy owes in part to Reagan’s enigmatic nature while in the White House. Policy disagreements in the administration were common, factionalism was bitter, and turnover of key foreign policy officials was frequent. For scholars of the Reagan years, discerning Reagan’s guiding hand in policy and process — and determining those achievements and failures that most bear his imprint — remain central tasks. Fresh approaches to national security and international politics that go beyond Cold War frameworks, along with newly available declassified documents, should help scholars to demystify Reagan. In the Republican mind, however, he is likely to be remembered, above all, for placing foreign policy at the service of the political-cultural cause of renewing America’s purpose. For this reason, even as Trump steers the Republican party into unfamiliar policy and ideological directions in coming years, the shadow of Reagan is likely only to grow. Evan D. McCormick is the Robert P. Smith Scholar-in-Residence at the Roxbury Latin School, where he teaches on borders in history, and an adjunct professor at Simmons University, where he teaches courses on leadership and human rights. His first book project, Beyond Revolution and Repression: U.S. Foreign Policy and Latin American Democracy, 1980-1989, is under contract with Cornell University Press.  

2. Reagan’s Legacy Today: Development Policy and Human Rights

By Andrew S. Natsios Ronald Reagan remains a controversial, but also enigmatic, figure in American political history among scholars and policymakers alike. For those on the ideological Left, he protected the American plutocratic elite, cut programs for the poor, crusaded against Soviet communism as a zealot, and increased income inequality through his tax cuts. Internationally, they argue, he imposed Reaganite-Thatcherite free market classical economics (also called neo-liberalism) on the developing world through the Washington consensus — economic policy reforms designed by western hemisphere finance ministers in Washington in 1982 to rescue Latin American countries from bankruptcy and default — which forced social service cuts for the poor at home.[18] For those on the ideological Right, Reagan remains the greatest conservative president of the 20th century. He marshalled the resources of the federal government to defend freedom and roll back government’s size and scope, defeated Soviet communism, reasserted American power in the world, saved American capitalism (and the developing world) from creeping socialism, and renewed the American dream.[19] These two ideologically-tainted views of the man distort the historical reality of his presidency: Reagan was more complex and yet also more consistent than critics and supporters understood. This article focuses on one aspect of Reagan’s legacy — international development policy and human rights — and the status of that legacy in the Republican party today. I argue that Reagan was a conservative internationalist in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson, rather than a realpolitik president in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles, and later Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. Newt Gingrich once called Reagan a “Conservative Wilsonian,” an accurate observation. On foreign policy at least, Reagan is the antithesis of Donald Trump — in rhetoric, policy, and budgeting. Traditional foreign policy realists who dominated the Republican Party after World War II argued that moral principle and democratic norms should not drive foreign policy because they would lead the United States into quagmires and other unwinnable battles in an attempt to save the world from a host of evils and ills. Reagan disagreed. He believed if America fought the Cold War solely on the basis of national interest, and devoid of moral purpose and democratic idealism, it would ignore the Eastern Block’s greatest weakness: that it operated without the consent of its own people. The Cold War, Reagan believed, was not only a clash of conflicting national interests, but, even more importantly, of ideas. Ultimately, western democratic ideals were superior to Lenin’s dictatorship of the proletariat, which led to some of the most horrific atrocities of the 20th century. Reagan’s vision of conservative internationalism, free and open markets, and democracy and human rights has dominated the Republican Party since his presidency. But that has begun to change as Donald Trump makes a 180-degree turn to an odd mixture of warmed-over isolationism, protectionism, and aggressive unilateralism. Reagan’s Approach to Foreign Aid, Human Rights, and Democracy Promotion During his tenure in office, Reagan signed budgets that increased foreign aid spending dramatically. Sam Butterfield published one of the few political histories of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the principal federal agency responsible for carrying out the U.S. government’s foreign aid programs. Butterfield reports that, in the first term of the Reagan administration, development assistance increased from $7 billion in 1980, the final year of the Carter presidency, to $12 billion in 1985 — a 58 percent increase.[20] At the same time, the Economic Security Fund — the diplomatically allocated, State Department-controlled foreign aid account dedicated to short-term diplomatic purposes, increased from 50 percent of all aid spending to 65 percent. It then dropped to 50 percent again during the second term of the Reagan presidency, as Cold War tensions diminished. Reagan raised development assistance to its highest level as a percent of GDP (0.6 percent) in decades, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an advocacy group for the 150 Account.[21] In 2015, the percentage was 0.18 percent of GDP. Thus, arguably the most conservative Republican president since Calvin Coolidge increased foreign aid, at least in his first term, more than any previous Republican president. Certainly, some of this funding increase was used to fight the Soviet Union’s influence in the developing world, which had become a Cold War battleground. But all foreign aid programs since their creation have furthered U.S. foreign policy objectives, broadly defined, including the Marshall Plan, so that, in and of itself, does not distinguish Reagan from previous American presidents. The Reagan administration initiated several new aid programs, one of which was the Development Fund for Africa, with initial funding in 1987 of $500 million, a precursor of the Millennium Challenge Account of the George W. Bush administration.[22] Both programs sought to reward good performers (as opposed to need-based aid): They distributed aid if the country undertook economic reforms (among other things), governed justly, and treated their people decently. The Reagan administration also introduced democracy and good governance programs into the U.S. foreign aid portfolio by creating the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and other initiatives to institutionalize democracy programs, all with federal funding. Funding for these accounts has grown steadily in both the State Department and USAID budgets in every presidency since then. Until the Reagan democracy program, most development was focused on economic growth, transportation and electricity infrastructure, or social service programs in education, clean water, and health. At the inauguration of the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983, Reagan made an important statement about U.S. policy on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, which is an eloquent summary of his conservative internationalist vision:
…In my lifetime, my adult lifetime, the world has been beset by “-isms”. And we remember one of those -isms that plunged us into a war. And it suddenly dawned on me that we, with this system that so apparently works and is successful, have just assumed that the people would look at it and see that it was the way to go. And then I realized, but all those -isms, they also are missionaries for their cause, and they’re out worldwide trying to sell it. And I just decided that this nation, with its heritage of Yankee traders, we ought to do a little selling of the principles of democracy.   Speaking out for human rights and individual liberty and for the rule of law and the peaceful reconciliation of differences, for democratic values and principles, is good and right. But it’s not just good enough. We must work hard for democracy and freedom, and that means putting our resources — organizations, sweat, and dollars — behind a long-term program.   Well, the hope is now a reality. The National Endowment for Democracy, a private, nonprofit corporation funded by the Congress, will be the centerpiece of this effort. All Americans can be proud of this initiative and the congressional action which made it possible…   This program will not be hidden in shadows. It’ll stand proudly in the spotlight, and that’s where it belongs. We can and should be proud of our message of democracy. Democracies respect individual liberties and human rights. They respect freedom of expression, political participation, and peaceful cooperation. Governments which serve their citizens encourage spiritual and economic vitality. And we will not be shy in offering this message of hope.[23]
The Reagan administration USAID administrator, M. Peter McPherson (who many career officers regard as the greatest administrator since the agency’s founding by John F. Kennedy, in 1961), institutionalized the democracy initiative by quietly creating the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, better known as IFES, as a private institution. Since its establishment in 1987, IFES has become the most prominent and respected international non-governmental organization focused exclusively on providing technical assistance to countries establishing the permanent institutional mechanisms needed to hold free, fair, and transparent elections. McPherson chose to create IFES discretely because he did not wish it to be regarded as a quasi-American government institution. It has since developed a deserved international reputation for integrity and independence, and for non-partisanship in its work. The Reagan democracy agenda has had another unstudied consequence in international development policy in the 35 years since Reagan gave his celebrated speech. Democracy and governance programs have become a major sector of foreign aid investment by bilateral and multilateral aid agencies. USAID has an Office of Democracy and Governance and the State Department has the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which together fund hundreds of democracy programs around the world through support for the development of local civil society, think tanks, and research centers. These programs also fund election monitoring to ensure integrity in voting, judicial reform to ensure an independent judiciary and thus the rule of law, the creation of political parties that support democracy, an independent news media, and legislative branches that are better staffed with a stronger capacity to do research and policy analysis. Prior to Reagan’s initiative, limited aid dollars were spent on democracy and governance programs. This change has been accompanied by considerable resistance from dictatorships in the developing world, which have opposed adding democracy programs to U.N. agencies, such as the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank. This opposition has been led for several decades by China, and more recently, by Russia. The most recent scholarship on development has identified the failure of governance as the single most important factor in state failure and state fragility. Democracy was thought to reduce economic growth in poor countries: Samuel Huntington and Joan Nelson argued famously that one-party states are more stable and have higher growth rates than democracies.[24] However, the more recent work of Steve Radelet and Joseph Siegle, Michael Weinstein, and Morton Halperin, has shown that democracies in poor countries have a better record on economic growth than dictatorships.[25] The Reagan bully pulpit put the prestige and power of the United States government behind democracy and development. Reagan’s democracy agenda and its programmatic manifestation programmatically and rhetorically connected his presidency with that of Wilson, rather than the traditional Republican realist school of foreign policy. In his speech before the U.S. Congress on April 2, 1917, Wilson argued that he was bringing America into World War I to “make the world safe for democracy,” which may be the most famous summary formulation of Wilsonian idealism. Less than a year later, Wilson presented his 14 points plan for world peace, in an address once again to the U.S. Congress. While his 14 points go well beyond democracy promotion and human rights, his call for self-determination for oppressed people certainly advanced his principle of making the world safe for democracy and is expressed in his proposal to break up the colonial empires in points five through 13. While Wilson did not propose any democracy and governance aid programs per se, he did recruit one of the most celebrated American humanitarian figures of the first three decades of the 20th century, Herbert Hoover, to run a massive food aid program to feed starving Europeans caught in the bloodshed and economic devastation of World War I, a program that saved millions of European lives. Wilson initiated this program days after the U.S. entrance into the war. It was the largest aid program in U.S. history until the Marshall Plan following World War II. Because of his food aid programs during and following the war, Hoover was among the most popular and respected Americans of his generation in Europe, until his humanitarian reputation became a casualty of the Great Depression. During the great Sahelian drought of the mid-1980s, Reagan asked for a $1 billion supplemental appropriation for humanitarian assistance for the dozen African countries severely affected by the drought, an initiative very much in keeping with Woodrow Wilson’s food aid programs during World War I.[26] That drought had the most devastating impact in Ethiopia and led to a famine in 1984 and 1985. Because of infighting between USAID and the National Security Council over whether to send food aid to Ethiopia, the U.S. humanitarian response was delayed and between 500,000 and one million Ethiopians died. The dispute was over whether or not to provide aid to people in a country governed by a U.S. Cold War-adversary, in this case Ethiopia, which was a Soviet client-state led by Haile Mariam Mengistu, called the Stalin of Africa for his brutality. After a BBC broadcast described people’s suffering during the famine, a political storm erupted in the United States and other western nations. Reagan settled the dispute by siding with USAID and announced at a press briefing what is now known as the Reagan Doctrine of humanitarianism, that “a hungry child knows no politics.” Since food aid does not go to governments, but is delivered through neutral U.N. humanitarian agencies, such as the World Food Program and UNICEF, the Red Cross, and international NGOs, to be distributed to people based on need, the assistance would benefit the people, not the abusive government of their country. Reagan’s view was that politics should not impede humanitarian programs during disasters. In 1987, USAID administrator Alan Woods issued what subsequently became known as the Woods Report, advocating a much more aggressive and forthcoming use of U.S. aid resources to support policy reforms aimed at promoting economic growth, which the Reagan administration argued was the best way to reduce poverty. Reagan was a strong advocate of free trade and open markets, as was Wilson (reflected in point three of his 14 points). The massive reduction in poverty in the developing world since 1980 in part is a function of the free trade regime put in place during the Reagan administration. Steve Radelet, who served as USAID’s chief economist during the Obama administration, argues in his book, The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World, that the opening of western markets (and to a lesser degree foreign aid) since 1980 has led to the largest proportionate reduction in poverty in world history, the highest rates of literacy, and the lowest levels of infant and maternal mortality.[27] Alex de Waal similarly argues in Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine that the years since 1980 have seen the largest reduction in mass starvation and famine deaths in the past 150 years both because of economic growth stimulated by the reduction of trade barriers and food aid programs run by donor governments.[28] One of Reagan’s other foreign aid initiatives was focused on Central America.[29] This aid program was based on recommendations made by the 1984 Kissinger Commission, which he appointed to review U.S. policy in that troubled region. The Commission proposed an $8 billion aid program for the region to be spent between 1985 and 1989 to reduce social and economic inequities. Despite the failure of the administration to appropriate all of the proposed funding, USAID initiated a robust aid program in the region. Thus, during his time in the White House, Reagan used foreign aid as an instrument of national power to advance American national security interests, but, at the same time, he also advanced the interests of developing countries, which benefited from the economic assistance, and put in place the U.S. government doctrine of humanitarian neutrality during disaster responses. Reagan’s Humanitarian Legacy Today Both President Trump’s rhetoric and his actions have been an attempt to move the Republican Party (and the country) in the opposite direction of Reagan when it comes to development policy, democracy programs, and human rights. This has put the entire Reagan legacy in doubt, though Republicans in the Congress have resisted Trump’s lack of interest in developing countries, his hostility to democracy promotion, and his seeming indifference to human rights. The Trump administration, in contrast to the Reagan administration, proposed a 28 percent reduction in foreign aid in its first budget, and an even higher cut in its second budget. However, Congress ignored the proposed administration budget cuts and instead appropriated more funding (this includes supplemental funding) than had been spent in the last Obama administration budget. According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, when Sen. Rand Paul proposed a nearly 50 percent cut in foreign aid in 2015, the Senate vote against the amendment was 4-96. In 2017, Paul attempted to fund aid to Hurricane Harvey survivors by proposing a nearly 50 percent cut in foreign aid — he was defeated by a motion to table the amendment in which he garnered 10 votes. Thus the Republican senators themselves appear to be protecting the U.S. foreign aid program from Trump administration cuts. The Trump administration also contemplated merging USAID and the State Department, which would have effectively ended the U.S. government’s long-term development program. The administration only later backed down because of sustained bipartisan opposition in the U.S. Congress and from civil society organizations. Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s reputation for being hostile to democracy and human rights did not extend to who the president appointed to lead USAID: Mark Green, who had previously served with distinction as president of the International Republican Institute, a Reagan democracy initiative creation. While Reagan supported democracy and human rights both in his rhetoric, but, more importantly, in his budgets, Trump has embraced political leaders abroad who have undermined democracy and the rule of law in their countries — including Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, among others. While Reagan became the greatest champion of free trade among post-World War II presidents — which helped to reduce poverty in developing countries — Trump has become its greatest opponent, initiating open trade wars with both U.S. allies and adversaries alike. Donald Trump has reconstituted the Republican Party’s governing coalition and its political principles, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs (which is where presidents exercise the greatest influence and face the fewest institutional constraints). The robust conservative internationalism that all post-World War II Republican presidents have shared, whether they have been realists or idealists, has been replaced with a hostility to refugee resettlement in the United States, aggressive protectionism on trade, dramatic cuts in foreign assistance, an insensitivity to human rights, and a hostility to democracy promotion. Only time will tell whether these changes in the Republican Party’s worldview are permanent or whether they are a historical anomaly driven by a peculiar populist figure. If it’s the former, then it constitutes a seismic shift that will put an end to the American-led post-World War II international order. Radelet argues that the past few decades have been the greatest period for development in world history, a virtual Golden Age of Development.[30] But perhaps more of that credit belongs to Ronald Reagan than many critics have been willing to admit. While it appears the rule- and institution-based world order created by the United States after World War II, and strengthened and sustained by Reagan and later George H.W. Bush, is coming to an end, it is not at all clear what international system will take its place and whether that new system will advance democracy and human rights — or undermine them. America has been historically conflicted on whether and how to interact with the world beyond its borders. Isolationist sentiments have always churned below the surface, and risen to influence policy depending on election results and perceived foreign threats. In a democracy, no foreign policy prescription is ever final. No alliance and no allies are ever permanent. Reagan’s vision of democratic idealism may yet rise again. It all depends on where the voters take the country. Andrew S. Natsios has served as Executive Professor at the George H.W. Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University since 2012, and since 2013 has been Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs. He was Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University from 2006 to 2012 and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2001 to 2006, U.S. Presidential Envoy to Sudan from 2006 to 2007, and served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 22 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Natsios served as Vice President of World Vision, the international faith-based NGO from 1993 to 1998. He is the author of three books and 28 journal articles and has contributed to 13 other books.  

3. Principled Realism in the Reagan Administration

By Gail Yoshitani  

Champion nations design the world by building world systems that work for them. There are four pillars that support these world systems: a global economic system, a global framework of thought, a global military system, and a global system of rules.[31]    

Col. Liu Mingfu

  In his 2010 work, The China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era, Col. Liu Mingfu laid out a plan for China to replace the United States as the “champion nation” in the 21st century.[32] Victorious in World War II, the United States served as the architect for the last major revision of the international system, shaping each pillar — economic, thought, military, and rules — to best suit the security and prosperity of America and its allies. Presented with a bipolar world at the time, the United States shaped the four pillars within that context. When a unipolar world emerged at the end of the Cold War, the United States again adapted the pillars accordingly. Within different contexts, the United States has possessed the requisite power — soft, hard, and smart — to design the international system it desired and to attract or pressure other powers to participate within that system.[33] Today, most agree that the context facing the United States is that of a multipolar world. The National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) Global Trends: Paradox of Progress reports that “Between States, the post-Cold War unipolar moment has passed and the post-1945 rules based international order may be fading too.”[34] In addition, the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy, while never using the word “multipolar,” describes “a competitive world” and identifies China and Russia as “revisionist powers” that “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”[35] Assuming the United States wishes to continue to serve as a “champion nation,” how should its leaders reengineer each of the key pillars — economic, thought, military, and rules — so that American interests are well-served in the multipolar world that is unfolding in the 21st century? One answer to that question is found in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy which provides strategic prescriptions meant to help the United States grapple with the increasingly multipolar world. This essay will focus on the parallels that exist between the ideas articulated under the banner of “principled realism” in the 2017 National Security Strategy and several of the core foreign policy concepts laid out by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick to guide the Reagan administration’s foreign policy in the more bipolar 1980s. Realism Redux At the conclusion of the Cold War, Henry Kissinger wrote Diplomacy with the expressed purpose of helping contemporary statesmen make wise decisions during the transition to the multipolar world he saw arising.[36] Kissinger presumed that the United States would attempt to decisively shape the international system in accordance with its own values. He said America could not “change the way it has perceived its role throughout its history, nor should it want to.”[37] As a warning, Kissinger cautioned that “[n]ever before has a new world order had to be assembled from so many different perceptions, or on so global of a scale,”[38] and that, “[f]or America, reconciling differing values and different historical experiences among countries of comparable significance will be a novel experience and a major departure from either the isolation of the last century or the de facto hegemony of the Cold War.”[39] Kissinger’s optimistic view in the mid-1990s, that leaders could make decisions to impose global order, differs from those in the NIC Global Trends report and from the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy. The NIC report forewarns, “It will be tempting to impose order on this apparent chaos but that ultimately would be too costly in the short term and fail in the long run.”[40] The authors of the National Security Strategy, rather than assume an overly chaotic world, as the NIC does, instead describe a “competitive world” and advise that the United States promotes a balance of power favorable to the nation, its allies, and its partners.[41] And, in answer to Kissinger’s concerns about “reconciling differing values and different historical experiences,” the National Security Strategy makes two suggestions: first, tailor the U.S. approach by region, and second, limit the role America plays in the formation of a global system of thought.[42] Regarding the former, the security strategy notes,
The United States must tailor our approaches to different regions of the world to protect U.S. national interests. We require integrated regional strategies that appreciate the nature and magnitude of threats, the intensity of competitions, and the promise of available opportunities, all in the context of local political, economic, social, and historic realities.[43]
Regarding the latter, the strategy document explains, “An America First National Security Strategy… is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.”[44] Although the tag line, “America First,” in capital letters, is striking and not typical of U.S. pronouncements, the authors of the 2017 National Security Strategy are not the first realists to provide foreign policy prescriptions for the United States. Parallel Visions of America’s Role in the World In 1980, as Ronald Reagan campaigned for the presidency, Americans were introduced to the realism of Kirkpatrick. A life-long Democrat and a professor at Georgetown University, Kirkpatrick came to Reagan’s attention through her essay, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” published in Commentary.[45] She subsequently served as a foreign policy advisor to Reagan during the campaign and on the president-elect’s transition team, and was one of the very first officials that he selected for his Cabinet. Her position as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and her service on the National Security Council ensured Kirkpatrick a place at the table whenever American foreign policy was considered, from January 1981 to April 1985. The full scope of Kirkpatrick’s thinking, taken from her essays and speeches, is reflective of the “principled realism” described in the 2017 National Security Strategy. First, Kirkpatrick constructed a case against the theories that underlay the American policy of détente, which had long served as the basis of American East-West policy toward the Soviet Union. She also objected to the theories that motivated the American move toward taking a global approach to international affairs, which served as the basis of American policies in the Third World. Finally, she possessed resolute faith in the American principles of liberal democracy. Doing Away with Détente Kirkpatrick believed that “détente,” which had been followed by the nation’s leaders from the late 1960s until the election in 1980, was not working and needed to be discarded. As evidence, she pointed to the expansion of Soviet power both via its proxies in Latin America and Africa throughout the 1970s, and via direct use of Soviet forces in Afghanistan in 1979. Kirkpatrick explained that détente rested upon several popular theories that had proven to be untrue. The first incorrect theory held that “the proliferation of economic and cultural ties and rewards would function as incentives to restrain Soviet expansion” and that “deliberately building networks of relations between the West and the Soviet bloc would lead to the liberalization of the Soviet Union.”[46] The second theory of “weaker is stronger” suggested that “U.S. military superiority constitutes a provocation, which stimulates countermeasures and overreaction.”[47] Lastly, a third theory of “the stimulus-response, frustration-aggression” surmised that, “The Soviet Union behaved aggressively because it was frustrated by a sense of insecurity deriving from its relative weakness…[T]he solution to aggressive behavior…lay in creating a feeling of security by eliminating the impotence.”[48] Kirkpatrick believed that these three theories had gained so much traction because they aligned with rationalism and with “popular conceptions of human psychology and behavior.”[49] Thus, the 2017 National Security Strategy’s attempt to temper U.S. expectations that China will liberalize is not without precedent. The document notes, “For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.”[50] Such thinking aligns well with the conclusions Kirkpatrick reached regarding the Soviet Union. Reagan campaigned on a foreign policy strategy entitled “Peace Through Strength.” In 1981, the administration’s answer to the Soviet challenge was to restore the American economy and rebuild the military. Kirkpatrick explains: “The fact that giant increases in defense spending have been undertaken by a president bent on economy should make the message all the clearer” that the United States was determined “to defend its legitimate interests.”[51] The 2017 National Security Strategy follows a similar course, with two of its four pillars entitled “Promote American Prosperity” and “Preserve Peace Through Strength.” Curbing the Global Approach In addition to her critiques of the premises that underpinned détente, Kirkpatrick also spoke out against America’s pursuit of a “global approach” in the late 1970s. In her essay, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” she provided a detailed critique of the global approach’s ideology, which rested on what she called “a new optimistic theory of historical development” composed of “declining ideological competition, declining nationalism, increased global interdependence, and rising Third World expectations.”[52] In response to those trends, the global approach promoted the U.S. abandonment of the regionally focused Monroe Doctrine, trusting that hemispheric continuity was no longer needed for American security.[53] The United States should assume a “disinterested internationalist spirit” because, “What was good for the world was good for the United States,” and, “Power was to be used to advance moral goals, not strategic or economic ones.”[54] Kirkpatrick found this redefinition of national interest troubling and called for the United States to “abandon the globalist approach which denies the realities of culture, character, geography, economics, and history in favor of a vague, abstract universalism.”[55] Such refrains appear again in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy recommendation that the “United States must tailor [its] approaches to different regions of the world to protect U.S. national interests.”[56] Identifying sovereignty rather than universalism as the key component to order and stability, the strategy document explains, “Peace, security, and prosperity depend on strong, sovereign nations that respect their citizens at home and cooperate to advance peace abroad.”[57] Remaining Faithful to the Liberal Democratic Tradition Finally, Kirkpatrick and the authors of the National Security Strategy share an allegiance to the principles of the American liberal democratic tradition. Both link legitimacy of government to consent, believe men and women possess fundamental individual liberties, and warn that, while American principles are good for the world, foreign policy should not be conceived of as a crusade nor should history be thought of as unfolding in a preordained fashion. While it was unusual for Kirkpatrick to praise the Carter administration, in her essay, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” she noted her appreciation for Carter’s emphasis on human rights as a reminder for America and the rest of the world that the “nation’s identity and purposes are deeply involved with the assertion of universal human rights.”[58] Kirkpatrick was fond of explaining that “there are universal moral rights that men as men (and women as women) are entitled to and that these ought to be respected by governments.”[59] In agreement, the National Security Strategy states:
We will continue to champion American values and offer encouragement to those struggling for human dignity in their societies. There can be no moral equivalency between nations that uphold the rule of law, empower women, and respect individual rights and those that brutalize and suppress their people.[60]
Kirkpatrick saw Reagan’s 1980 election as a sign of “a returned confidence concerning the relevance of our [America’s] basic principles to the contemporary world.”[61] Nevertheless, her writings suggest that she would agree with the authors of the 2017 strategy document that, “The American way of life cannot be imposed upon others, nor is it the inevitable culmination of progress.”[62] For instance, in her “Dictatorships and Double Standards” essay, she explained that the “assumption that one can easily locate and impose democratic alternatives to incumbent autocracies” had been detrimental to American security interests.[63] Kirkpatrick wrote:
No ideas hold greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances… Many of the wisest political scientists of this and previous centuries agree that democratic institutions are especially difficult to establish and maintain — because they depend on complex social, cultural, and economic conditions.[64]
In her essay, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” she also asked, “Why was the President [Carter] ‘confident that democracies’ examples will be compelling,’ when history so clearly establishes that democratic governments are both rare and difficult to establish?”[65] This familiar sentiment is captured in the National Security Strategy: “And we prize our national heritage, for the rare and fragile institutions of republican government can only endure if they are sustained by a culture that cherishes those institutions.”[66] According to Kirkpatrick, the principles of the liberal tradition were foundational to Reagan and key leaders of his administration. She explained, “The president and many of his principal advisers see themselves as purveyors and defenders of the classical liberal tradition in politics, economics, and society.”[67] Such a dutiful adherence to these principles compelled her to remind audiences that individuals, not forces, shape history. She advised against imagining “events [as] manifestations of deep historical forces,” which could not be controlled, or to presume that “the best any government can do is to serve as a ‘midwife’ to history, helping events to move where they are already headed.”[68] The Trump administration’s strategy document provides similar counsel: “There is no arc of history that ensures that America’s free political and economic system will automatically prevail.”[69] Conclusion When the Cold War ended, the United States followed Kissinger’s urgings and sought ways to decisively shape the international system in accordance with American values. In contrast, Kirkpatrick in the 1990s urged the United States to prepare for a multipolar world by disbanding NATO, pulling most of its forces from Europe, and slashing the defense budget. She believed America lacked the money, will, and wisdom for global dominance and that conversion of the world to America’s political ideology was beyond America’s capacity.[70] For Kirkpatrick, to be a champion nation, the United States must preserve its freedom and well-being, support the spread and vitality of democratic governments consistent with the nation’s resources, and prevent the violent expansionist control of major states.[71] Faced with a competitive international system, the 2017 National Security Strategy and its “principled realism” parallels Kirkpatrick’s foreign policy pronouncements in the 1980s and her recommendations for a champion nation in a multipolar world.[72] *The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of USMA, the Department of the Army, DOD, or the U.S. Government. Col. Gail E. S. Yoshitani is the Professor and Deputy Department Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. She holds a Ph.D. in Military History from Duke University. Her publications include Reagan on War: A Reappraisal of the Weinberger Doctrine, 1980-1984 and The West Point History of Warfare, vol 4. (Warfare since 1945), co-edited with Clifford J. Rogers.  

4. The Reagonomics of Nonproliferation in GOP Behavior

By Jayita Sarkar American nuclear nonproliferation policy is a combination of economic and security imperatives. Since the early Cold War years, the GOP’s policy response to the international threat of nuclear proliferation has been pro-business/pro-market marked by the intrinsic struggle to strike the right balance between trade and controls. While the Trump administration’s nonproliferation policy might seem unique, I argue that it is far from it. In fact, there are more similarities than differences between the current Republican administration and that of Ronald Reagan when it comes to nonproliferation. Although the second decade of the 21st century is comprised of political and economic realities that are distinct from the new Cold War and the stagflation of the Gipper’s era, a look back at the Reagan administration’s policies may help identify key converging patterns that unite Ronald Reagan with Donald Trump and shed light, at least in part, on the Republican “nuclear” grand strategy. In the era of Trump, however, the balance between trade and controls, and economics and security, is harder to attain since the incentives driving such balance are not abundant. President Dwight Eisenhower initiated the nonproliferation regime with his 1953 “Atoms for Peace” proposal and the subsequent formation of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This nonproliferation regime, as it expanded with new institutions and mechanisms, such as the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, offered innovative possibilities both in terms of spreading nuclear technologies for economic gains and controlling them for security. Even though the NPT was negotiated by the Johnson administration, when it entered into force in 1970, the Nixon administration was willing to sell reactors in the Middle East as a means to implement a “partial NPT.”[73] The complex matrix of economics and security imperatives that constitutes U.S. nonproliferation policy leaned toward business interests during the GOP years, a trend that continues under the Trump presidency. Nearly three decades after Ike, the Reagan administration faced a very different international economic and political context. Reagan’s public legacy on economics, politics, and diplomacy is well known. The Gipper fought hard the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union, and won the Cold War for Americans. Melvyn Leffler, in a recent essay in the Texas National Security Review, calls upon scholars to embrace Reagan’s complex legacy — he was a president who “won” the Cold War perhaps but provided little actual direction for his staff and advisors.[74] During Reagan’s presidency, American capitalism entered a new stage — late 20th century finance capitalism — characterized by consolidation of the financial sector and the rise of institutional investors. The stagflation that plagued the U.S. economy for most of the 1970s was treated through extensive deregulation of the market and massive reduction in government expenditures. The celebration of the free market and faith in its “invisible hand” led to serious restructuring of the industrial landscape in the United States, so much so that, in some quarters, the Reagan years came to be known as the era of mergers.[75] Between 1980 and 1988, 25,000 deals were concluded worth $2 trillion. And by the end of that period, merger filings had soared to 320 percent of what they had been in fiscal year 1980. Before entering politics, Ronald Reagan, the actor, spent about a decade as the national spokesperson of General Electric (GE) through the American television series, General Electric Theater (1953–62) that was broadcast on CBS radio and television at a time when GE was fast expanding into nuclear reactor technologies.[76] This was the era of the U.S. nuclear industry successfully expanding by selling light water reactors abroad: GE and Westinghouse were the top U.S. firms constructing reactors at home and overseas. During his GE years, the Reagan family house showcased cutting edge GE home appliances, and was meant to push the company slogan, “Live Better Electrically.”[77] Reagan was also GE’s goodwill ambassador, spending several weeks per year on the road touring the company’s myriad facilities scattered throughout the country. He was fiercely pro-business and anti-regulation by the time he became California governor, a position he held for two consecutive terms (1967–75). As U.S. President, Reagan reduced government spending in a host of areas like public housing and food stamps. However, his administration was a staunch supporter of the nuclear industry. Instead of spending cuts, the Reagan administration increased the budget for nuclear energy by 36 percent to $1.6 billion in 1981.[78] This was unique because every other Department of Energy program at that time experienced a slash in their budgetary allocation. The U.S. nuclear industry was in dire straits. Between 1977 and 1983, there were no new orders for domestic nuclear power plants, and a large number of existing orders were cancelled. American companies — large corporations like Bechtel as well as smaller and lesser known firms — appealed to the Reagan transition team in late 1980 to help save the industry, and the president and his administration tried to oblige for the better part of the decade. Reagan inherited a U.S. nuclear industry that had been under such economic duress since the mid-1970s that, by the end of that decade, the United States had lost its monopoly as the supplier of civilian nuclear technologies in the non-Communist world. The global atomic marketplace had new contenders such as the French, the West Germans, and others. The formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 1975 was not merely a response to India’s first nuclear explosion the previous year, but was also in reaction to the economic reality of decline in U.S. global market share in nonmilitary nuclear technologies.[79] The Carter administration’s heavy-handed policies in favor of nonproliferation hurt the industry further by terminating lucrative programs such as commercial reprocessing. Even before the 1979 accident in Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, the profitability and cost-effectiveness of the civilian nuclear sector were becoming suspect. The Reagan administration’s efforts to aid the nuclear industry included two main components: promoting pro-business policies at home and opening new markets abroad. First, in terms of pro-business policies, Reagan undertook deregulation of the nuclear industry by easing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process and overturning major Carter-era policies. In his statement in October 1981, he announced, “Nuclear power has become entangled in a morass of regulations that do not enhance safety but that do cause extensive licensing delays and economic uncertainty.”[80] Hence, he put forward a series of business-friendly measures that included lifting the ban on commercial reprocessing, and encouraging the construction of plutonium-fueled breeder reactors. The Reagan administration even gave the go-ahead on the Clinch River breeder reactor in Tennessee, despite questions over whether the reactor and the technology itself were economically viable.[81] Second, the Reagan administration sought out new, and perhaps proliferation-risky, markets abroad for the U.S. nuclear industry, namely, the People’s Republic of China. In December 1982, the Reagan White House commissioned a study on “U.S. Relations with China and Taiwan,” which examined, among other things, “What are the problems in reaching a satisfactory agreement with the Chinese which will advance U.S. non-proliferation goals and at the same time permit the U.S. to sell the PRC nuclear power equipment?” and, “How can we encourage China to join the IAEA?”[82] A little over a month later, Reagan gave the green light for a 123 agreement with Beijing.[83] In October 1983, a CIA report noted that Chinese entry into the IAEA would serve the twin purposes of restraining China as a nuclear exporter (possibly, vis-à-vis Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program), as well as opening China up to nuclear cooperation with advanced industrial nations like the United States.[84] China entered the IAEA in 1984, and in July 1985, Reagan submitted the U.S.-China 123 agreement for congressional approval.[85] Reagan’s approach was not a departure from the pro-market initiatives inaugurated under the Eisenhower administration, but rather a return to them. The Gipper’s policies were a strong reaction against the Carter-era controls that hurt the U.S. nuclear industry, not to mention U.S. relations with allies and friends abroad regarding nonproliferation. The policies of the Reagan era, by undoing a host of nonproliferation controls put in place by Jimmy Carter, only solidified the GOP strategy on nonproliferation, namely, that nonproliferation was an important international commitment of the U.S. government — but that it would not come at the expense of U.S. financial interests and those of its nuclear industry. Nonproliferation in the Trump Era A closer look at Donald Trump’s presidency reveals similar pro-business, pro-market policies in the nuclear domain. The revelation earlier this summer that Trump had directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to bail out unprofitable nuclear and coal plants was uncannily similar to the Gipper’s call for “efficient utilization of our abundant, economical resources of coal and uranium.”[86] The current discussions on whether to build a mixed oxide fuel plant in South Carolina and the Trump administration’s early support for it are similarly reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s initial backing of the Clinch River breeder reactor project.[87] The U.S. nuclear industry is worse off now than it was in the Reagan years. Westinghouse Electric’s bankruptcy filing in 2017 is a major case in point.[88] While the fate of the U.S. civilian nuclear enterprise remains uncertain, Westinghouse’s first next-generation nuclear reactor AP1000 will soon begin producing electricity in Zhejiang, China.[89] New and proliferation-risky markets are being explored as well. Take, for example, the proposed 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, a country already at odds with its regional rival, Iran, and its nuclear program.[90] With Westinghouse’s recent acquisition and reorganization, there are arguably economic incentives to ignore nonproliferation priorities.[91] Saudi Arabia has expressed its desire to keep the uranium enrichment option open — a direct pathway to developing nuclear weapons — in future civilian nuclear cooperation. If the enrichment option is indeed kept open to “sweeten” the nuclear cooperation agreement for the Saudis, it would stand in opposition to U.S. nonproliferation goals. In that scenario, the Trump administration would have failed to strike the right balance between economics and security, unlike its Republican predecessors. When Nixon offered U.S. power reactors to Israel and Egypt, he and Henry Kissinger hoped the offers could function as a “partial NPT” in the Middle East.[92] In Reagan’s offer of power reactors to Beijing, the key issue was selling U.S. reactors in a way to both serve the interests of U.S. nuclear industry as well as bind the recipient country (i.e., China) into new nonproliferation controls. If the Trump administration moves forward with an enrichment-permissive 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, it would be representative of both the current administration’s disdain for international commitments as well as the unique position of the U.S. nuclear industry. The United States’ transformation from a monopoly nuclear supplier in the Eisenhower years, to one of several suppliers in the Reagan era, to a very weak supplier in contemporary times, has implications for the effectiveness of U.S. nonproliferation policy. From the late 1950s onward, economic clout enabled Washington to push for safeguards on its reactors, luring recipients with generous loan offers. That was harder to do in the 1970s, and became even harder in the 1980s because of the economic downturn. The current situation is even tougher. The economic imperative of selling nuclear facilities abroad is high — after all, it could save the U.S. nuclear industry — while the security imperative of preventing proliferation is low. The current administration’s neglect of international institutions, like the IAEA, and its disdain for U.S. commitments to global governance structures raise doubts whether there might be many nonproliferation accolades to hand out to the contemporary GOP. Today, three decades since the end of Reagan’s presidency, the United States finds itself in a world similar to that of the 1980s — proliferation risks are high, adversaries are confrontational, and Washington’s economic prowess is uncertain. Uniquely, this time under the Trump presidency, the U.S. nuclear industry is in a crisis that is far more serious than it was under Reagan. The Reagan administration was mostly able to walk the fine line between trade and controls, and economics and security.[93] It is far from certain, however, whether the Trump administration can adhere to what has been, up to this point, the GOP’s “grand strategy” on nonproliferation. The outcome could unravel the longstanding U.S. position in favor of nuclear nonproliferation. Jayita Sarkar is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University, a U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security Fellow at Dartmouth College for 2018–19, and a nonresident fellow with the Stimson Center’s South Asia Program.  

5. O Kings (Presidents?), Show Discernment: Religious Cultural Heritage and Foreign Policy in the Reagan and Trump Eras 

By Brian K. Muzas There is a rich literature on U.S. presidential religion in general, with many presidential biographies treating the religion of individual presidents specifically. Although these inquiries sometimes connect religious background to presidential outlooks and decision-making, most do not offer rigorous social-scientific analysis of the connection between religion and policy. Nevertheless, even a casual examination of these works indicates that religious cultural heritage (RCH) is a factor in presidential decision-making. Ronald Reagan drew from his religious cultural heritage as a means of expression and used it as a tool for communicating his policy ideas, both domestic as well as foreign. But does religious cultural heritage continue to influence current Republican foreign policy in ways that are similar to those of the Reagan era? Endeavoring to understand how religious cultural heritage influenced Reagan’s foreign policy, in particular with regard to the Soviet threat, may illuminate how the current administration could apply lessons learned from the Reagan era to the national security threats it faces today. When considering how religious cultural heritage can wield influence on a president’s foreign policy, the first thing that comes to mind is the nature of RCH influence upon individual leaders — influence that arises either because of exposure to a religious tradition, adherence to a religious tradition, or both. However, religious cultural heritage can also exert influence at a collective level: Interacting states or peoples may have a common religious history, due either to sharing a religion or adhering to conflicting religions. In both individual and collective cases, religious cultural heritage can provide a vocabulary and framework for expressing and evaluating ideas concerning the best way to live. As a result, both individual and collective decision-making frameworks may show the fingerprints of religious cultural heritage in terms of philosophical anthropology (i.e., the theory of human nature), philosophical ethics (i.e., a theory of good and bad, right and wrong), or philosophy of government (i.e., what governments should and can do well, and what they cannot). Because current Republican foreign policy is inextricably linked to President Donald Trump, I will begin by making individual-level comparisons between Presidents Reagan and Trump, before going on to compare the role of religion in the major foreign policy crises of the two administrations. First, however, it is important to briefly review the foreign policy doctrines of both men before considering how RCH has manifested in the foreign policies of each president. The Reagan and Trump Doctrines The Reagan Doctrine can be summed up as a strategy to overwhelm the Soviet Union so as to diminish its global influence and end the Cold War. To achieve that aim, the Reagan administration pursued policies including continuing a military buildup and providing aid to anti-communist movements throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In short, U.S. policies of containment and détente were superseded by a policy of rolling back the Soviets. In contrast, the Trump Doctrine has been pithily, if somewhat cheekily, characterized as “No Friends, No Enemies.” Those struck by the seemingly chaotic nature of Trump’s statements and actions have described the emerging Trump Doctrine as “Don’t Follow Doctrine.” Others, explaining how the Obama Doctrine has been superseded, have described the Trump Doctrine as the “[expletive deleted] Obama Doctrine.” These characterizations are consistent with Trump’s first foreign policy speech in April of 2016. In that speech, Trump said, “America is going to be ... a great and reliable ally again,” yet he also said, “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must ... let these countries defend themselves.” Again, Trump said, “We need to be clear-sighted about the groups that will never be anything other than enemies,” and yet added, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends and when old friends become allies.”[94]  Christianity in America To properly understand the role religious cultural heritage has played in the foreign policies of both Reagan and Trump, it is necessary to understand the different Christian approaches to war and use of force. Philosophies of anthropology, ethics, and government often come together in important ways when religious traditions grapple with questions of war and force. Concerning such questions, Roland Bainton divided Christian thought on war into the following three categories: crusade, just war, and pacifism.[95] Additionally, Reinhold Niebuhr defined good as “the harmony of the whole on various levels” and evil as “the assertion of some self-interest without regard to the whole.”[96] These definitions parallel the classical and Christian understandings of bellum versus duellum (recourse to force on public authority for public interest versus recourse to force on private authority for private interest), and caritas versus cupiditas (charity versus selfishness), as explained by James Turner Johnson.[97] If one adopts Bainton’s terminology, Niebuhr’s approach to self-interest, and Johnson’s definition of Christian charity, a sensible comparison can be made between crusade, just war, and pacifism, and realism, selective engagement, and isolationism. This is supported by the fact that classical Christianity stressed the idea of sovereignty as responsibility for the common good (including the good of those not of one’s own political unit), with the common good understood in terms of tranquillitas ordinis (the tranquility of order, meaning a well-ordered peace).[98] In terms of propensity to use force, one could characterize realism and crusade as militant, selective engagement and just war as moderate, and isolationism and pacifism as restrained. However, when it comes to interest, the approaches of realism, selective engagement, and isolationism come from self-centered points of view, whereas crusade, just war, and pacifism arise from other-centered points of view. Granted, all six of these categories are ideal types, and there are ranges of predispositions towards the use of force just as there are mixed motivations. Nevertheless, the noted differences afford one way to distinguish the influence of religious cultural heritage from conventional analyses of self-interest, power, and opportunity. Reagan and Religious Cultural Heritage The above big-picture take on Christian thought on war and force can be fleshed out for specific leaders. In the case of Reagan, his RCH experience was varied. His chosen denomination was that of his mother, namely the Christian Church (also known as the Disciples of Christ or DOC). Although the DOC is a mainline Protestant denomination in the Reformed tradition, Reagan often used evangelical language, such as referencing “born again” to express himself both in speaking and in writing. Catholicism was also part of his RCH experience, both because of the Catholic heritage of his father and because of the conversion of his first wife to Catholicism (their children were baptized Catholic as well). Overall, Reagan’s Christianity was a practical or applied Christianity. Nevertheless, he was capable of maintaining distinctions when using words which could have different meanings in the pulpit and the public square. For example, Reagan’s use of the equivocal term “spirit” is strikingly consistent across the speeches he gave during his career: He used the term “renewal” when speaking about American spirit but the term “revival” when talking about religious spirit.[99] Likewise, his general policy of peace through strength and his specific nuclear policies and goals — the Strategic Defense Initiative was defensively oriented, and, in an ideal world, Reagan would have preferred nuclear abolition[100] — fall at an intermediate position between just war and pacifism that might be characterized as just nuclear defense.[101] The way that Reagan’s religious cultural heritage came into play can be seen by exploring how his approach to arms control, arms reduction, and nuclear abolition are instances of Reagan’s philosophical ethics, philosophy of government, and philosophical anthropology. Reagan saw the world in terms of universal ideas. Through them, he understood the Soviet Union to be an evil force that must be fought. Reagan did so with a strong military, but he avoided direct provocation in order to foster arms reductions. His approach was consistent across two presidential terms, and religious cultural heritage was a foundation of Reagan’s worldview and decision-making, a source of language and expressions when articulating his ideas and policy goals, and a tool to achieve his aims. Although Reagan was perhaps more defensive or restrained in orientation than some of his predecessors (for example, President Harry Truman’s decision-making framework proved to be fairly permissive concerning what he considered to be just means for wartime use), Reagan’s “quiet diplomacy,” with “features of détente,”[102] falls within the just war framework expected of the broad contours of American Christianity. Because Reagan did not face the same kind of nuclear brinksmanship that some of his predecessors did, it is more profitable to focus on the philosophies of ethics, government, and human nature which underlie just war thought, rather than on the just war framework itself. Reagan’s conception of the Soviet Union expressed his ethics and theory of human nature and implied an other-centered vision of sovereignty as responsibility for the common good, even the good of one’s adversaries. Moreover, Reagan’s approach to peace through strength implicitly differentiated between force and violence, while proportionately and prudently relating ends to means. Finally, Reagan expressed his ideas, which he believed to be universal in scope, not only through secular illustrations and terminology derived from the Enlightenment, but from imagery and literary allusions originating from Christian religious cultural heritage. It is misguided to wonder whether Reagan was a hawk or a dove because those binary categories do not capture the RCH characteristics pertinent to Reagan’s worldview and nuclear decisions. Trump and Religious Cultural Heritage It is harder to judge the influence of religious cultural heritage on Trump, both because his presidency is still in progress and because present-day commentary lacks historical distance. Nevertheless, it is possible to say a few words about Trump’s RCH experience and to connect that experience to his attitudes, policies, and worldview. Trump’s father was a Lutheran and his mother was a Presbyterian. His parents were married in the Presbyterian Church, and Trump attended and was confirmed in the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, Queens. However, the family began to attend Marble Collegiate Church because of author and minister Norman Vincent Peale. Peale, perhaps most famous for publishing The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952, mentored Trump until his death in 1993, and Trump has cited Peale and Peale’s works.[103] More recently, Trump has associated with prosperity theology proponent and Pentecostal televangelist Paula White. It has been claimed that White brought Trump to Christianity,[104] and it is certain that Trump engaged her for private Bible study. White has also hosted him on her television show, and it was White who gave the invocation at Trump’s inauguration. The way that religious cultural heritage manifests itself in Trump’s presidency is perhaps less full-featured than in Reagan’s case. Nevertheless, the influence of RCH cannot be discounted. Trump would have learned from his mainline Protestant upbringing that work and service go together. Many, although not all, of his policies and guidelines are compatible with traditional Judeo-Christian principles, yet, paradoxically, Trump’s worldview seems to encompass patriotic, God-and-country, Judeo-Christian values in a manner that nevertheless disregards certain conventions of language intended to avoid offending or disadvantaging members of particular societal groups. Moreover, Trump has spoken about a God-given right to self-defense.[105] Although the setting of that remark was an address to the National Rifle Association, the December 2017 National Security Strategy references both defense and God-given rights in the context of international politics.[106] Add in Trump’s stated preference for nuclear abolition and the strategy document’s references to peace through strength,[107] and Trump’s and Reagan’s positions may be closer in certain respects than some realize. As a result, it is possible that select characteristics of mainline, religious cultural heritage may present themselves in the two men’s presidencies and policies, including foreign, defense, and nuclear policies. However, I expect that the direct effect of religious cultural heritage will manifest itself less strongly in the Trump administration’s policies than it did in those of the Reagan administration. Whereas Reagan exhibited a vocabulary, conceptual toolbox, and imagination that was suffused with RCH references, in this respect, Trump’s expressions, framework, and notions seem impoverished by comparison. Nevertheless, consider Trump’s decision-making framework in light of what he said about the missile strike against Syria in the wake of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in April 2017. According to Johnson,
Aquinas’ conception of just war places the resort to armed force squarely in the frame of the sovereign’s responsibility for the good of the public order. His three conditions necessary for a just resort to force — sovereign authority, just cause, and right intention — correspond directly to the three goods of the political community as defined in Augustinian political theory: order, justice, and peace.[108]
Concerning order, Trump acted on his presidential authority as commander-in-chief. Concerning justice, Trump called the death of the victims “brutal” and continued, “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” Concerning peace, Trump said,
Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.[109]
RCH references are clearly included in these quotations which correspond to Augustinian political goods. Thus, while it is convenient to explore RCH influence on Reagan through the lenses of government, ethics, and human nature, it is easier to explore such influence on Trump through the different, but related, Augustinian categories of order, justice, and peace. Religious Cultural Heritage at the Collective Level: Two Case Studies As useful as it is to consider how RCH experience at the individual level can affect foreign policy, it is also valuable to think about religious cultural heritage in the context of the interactions between U.S. culture and the culture of America’s adversary in a given era. For Reagan, that means examining the shared religious backgrounds of the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States was and is a secular state that makes room for religion. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was a secular state that did not. Nevertheless, historically, Russia was influenced by Orthodox Christianity. Although there are differences between Western and Eastern Christian thought on war — Western Christianity speaks of just wars and stresses caritas or charity (love) while Eastern Christianity speaks of justifiable wars and stresses justice[110] — nevertheless, at some level, there was common RCH currency between the two sides in the Cold War. At first glance, the current U.S.-North Korean situation in which Trump finds himself appears to be altogether different from Reagan’s Soviet dilemma. To begin with, Asian religions such as Korean shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism (which was at one time the state religion) are strikingly different from the various sects of Christianity. Moreover, North Korean juche ideology now holds important sway in that country. However, there is some evidence to indicate that the two cases are more similar than they first appear. Juche (self-reliance) is a system of ideas and ideals that forms the basis of economic and political theory and policy for North Korea and provides some of the same grist for the mill that RCH does. Statements like “man is the master of his destiny” express a philosophical anthropology.[111] Likewise, historical materialism can provide the basis of philosophical ethics, while socialism, in addition to its economic aspects, can fill out a philosophy of government. Additional concepts like jaju (political independence), jarip (economic independence or self-sustainability), and jawi (defensive self-reliance) flesh out these philosophies in more detail. In addition to these similarities between juche- and RCH-influenced philosophies, there is also a literature which characterizes juche as a national religion.[112] Thus, perhaps there is a parallel to the Soviet Union after all. Perhaps the atheist Soviet Marxist-Leninist ideology overlaid upon an Eastern Christian RCH substratum could be compared to the atheist North Korean juche ideology overlaid upon an East Asian RCH substratum. A thorough exploration of this parallel could prove useful, if one were to apply the lessons of the Reagan-era foreign policy challenges to those of the Trump era. Indeed, there were legions of Sovietologists during the Cold War who were dedicated to solving the problems that arose in U.S.-Soviet relations. Today, there is a clear need for North Koreanologists to develop comparable expertise to address U.S.-North Korean relations — relations that may be influenced by RCH-like realities including juche. Despite the fact that the Soviet Union was officially atheist, the 1000-year history of Christianity in Russia was important to Reagan’s approach to the communist country. In the contest between democracy and communism, having a common RCH made Reagan’s language, imagery, and decision-making intelligible to the other side. For the United States and North Korea, however, the differences between Christianity and juche influence both the field of play and the players on the field, and I suspect this salient difference in the playing field will limit the direct applicability of Reagan’s RCH legacy. Nevertheless, insights gained by exploring the Reagan era could indicate how to avoid certain contemporary pitfalls precisely because those pitfalls were not present during the Cold War. Finally, treating juche as a state religion may provide unexpected avenues to apply lessons from Reagan’s Soviet policies to Trump’s North Korean policies. Brian Keenan Muzas graduated summa cum laude with a B.S.E. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1996. Supported by an NSF Fellowship, he obtained an M.S. in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1998. He then entered seminary and received an M.Div. in pastoral ministry, an M.A. in systematic theology, and two John Paul II Medals for academic accomplishment at Seton Hall University (SHU). Ordained a Catholic priest in 2003, Father Muzas used his days off to teach computer science or international relations at SHU or to work in the NGO community at the United Nations where he co-chaired several committees for several NGO annual conferences. Supported by a Harrington Doctoral Fellowship, Father Muzas received a Ph.D. in public policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of The University of Texas at Austin in 2013. His dissertation explored the influence of religious cultural heritage on the nuclear decisions of presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan. Now Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies at SHU’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Father Muzas’ research interests include international security, human security, and ethics. He also serves as Secretary of the NGO-DPI Executive Committee, the liaison between civil society and the United Nation’s Department of Public Information.   Image: White House [post_title] => Policy Roundtable: Does Reagan's Foreign Policy Legacy Live On? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => policy-roundtable-does-reagans-foreign-policy-legacy-live-on [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-09 08:52:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-09 12:52:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=735 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => We convened a roundtable to discuss Reagan's foreign policy legacy, its place in the Trump doctrine, and its future in the GOP. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Policy [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 219 [1] => 221 [2] => 220 [3] => 218 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] “Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views,” New York Times, March 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/us/politics/donald-trump-transcript.html. [2] “The Canal Debate,” Washington Post, Jan. 24, 1978, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1978/01/24/the-canal-debate/43b772f5-beab-48ba-bb43-25aa5782302a/?utm_term=.674df2354124. [3] Hedrick Smith, “Reagan: What Kind of World Leader?” New York Times, November 16, 1980. [4] “Remarks by President Trump at Press Conference After NATO Summit,” The White House, July 12, 2018, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-press-conference-nato-summit-brussels-belgium/; Rosie Gray, “Trump Declines to Affirm NATO’s Article 5,” Atlantic, May 25, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/05/trump-declines-to-affirm-natos-article-5/528129/. [5] Ronald Reagan, “Excerpts from Reagan’s Speech to Legionnaires,”New York Times, Feb. 23, 1983, https://www.nytimes.com/1983/02/23/world/excerpts-from-reagan-s-speech-to-legionaires.html. [6] Ronald Reagan, "Address to Members of the British Parliament," June 8, 1982, online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “The American Presidency Project,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=42614. [7] See, for example, Ronald Reagan, "Statement on the 44th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights," Jan. 30, 1988, online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “The American Presidency Project.” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=36334. [8] Colin Dwyer, “U.S. Announces Its Withdrawal From U.N. Human Rights Council,” NPR, June 19, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621435225/u-s-announces-its-withdrawal-from-u-n-s-human-rights-council. [9] Noah Bierman, “Trump Praises His 'Great Relationship' with Duterte, Ignores Questions About Human Rights,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 13, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-pol-essential-washington-updates-trump-meeting-with-duterte-praises-1510551368-htmlstory.html. [10] Max Greenwood, “Trump Lavishes Kim with Compliments After Historic Summit,” Hill, June 12, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/391770-trump-lavishes-kim-with-compliments-after-historic-summit. [11] “Trump Says Putin Summit 'Even Better' than NATO Meeting,” Reuters, July 17, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-nato/trump-says-putin-summit-even-better-than-nato-meeting-idUSKBN1K71PW. [12] The White House, The National Security Strategy of the United States, December 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf; “Remarks by President Trump on the Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia,” The White House, Aug. 21, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-strategy-afghanistan-south-asia/ [13] Ronald Reagan, “Radio Address to the Nation on the Canadian Elections and Free Trade," Nov. 26, 1988, online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “The American Presidency Project,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=35207. [14] “US Commitment to NATO 'Iron-Clad': Mattis,” France24, Oct. 2, 2018, https://www.france24.com/en/20181002-us-commitment-nato-iron-clad-mattis; John Bowden, “Pompeo: NATO 'More Indispensable than Ever' in Light of Russia Threat,” Hill, April 27, 2018, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/385211-pompeo-nato-more-indispensable-than-ever-in-light-of-russia-threat. [15] Alexandra Valencia, “Pence Urges Latin American Countries to Isolate Venezuela,” Reuters, June 18, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-pence/pence-urges-latin-america-to-isolate-venezuela-idUSKBN1JO2NO; “Senate Passes Rubio, Menendez Bill Extending Venezuela Sanctions,” Office of Marco Rubio, April 28, 2016, https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=C4D049EC-4D0F-4D23-830C-E18BFC1E6DF3. [16] Justin Worland, “Trump's NAFTA Replacement Largely Maintains the Status Quo on Free Trade,” Time, Oct. 1, 2018, http://time.com/5411444/nafta-trump-deal-usmca/. [17] Melvyn P. Leffler, “Ronald Reagan and the Cold War: What Mattered Most?” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 3, http://hdl.handle.net/2152/65636. [18] See Paul Krugman, “The Political Failure of Trickle-Down Economics,” New York Times, Aug. 20, 2017 https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/the-political-failure-of-trickle-down-economics/; Peter Dreier, “Reagan’s Real Legacy,” Nation, Feb. 4, 2011, https://www.thenation.com/article/reagans-real-legacy/; Nate Jones and J. Peter Scoblic, “The Week the World Almost Ended,” Slate, April 13, 2017, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/able-archer-almost-started-a-nuclear-war-with-russia-in-1983.html. [19] See Paul Kengor, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006); John Fund, “The Triumph of Optimism,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 3, 2009; Lee Edwards, “The Reagan Legacy,” Heritage Foundation, June 3, 2005, https://www.heritage.org/commentary/the-reagan-legacy. [20] Samuel Hale Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid: An Historic First. Achievements and Failures in the Twentieth Century (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 199–202. [21] “President Reagan on Foreign Assistance,” U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, http://www.usglc.org/media/2017/04/USGLC-President-Reagan-on-Foreign-Assistance.pdf. [22] Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid, 199–201. [23] Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at a White House Ceremony Inaugurating the National Endowment for Democracy,” Dec. 16, 1983, online by John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, “The American Presidency Project,” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=40874. [24] See Samuel Huntington and Joan Nelson, No Easy Choice:  Political Participation in Developing Countries (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976). [25] Steve Radelet, Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way, (Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development Books, 2010); Morton H. Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle, and Michael M. Weinstein, The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace, (New York: Routledge, 2005). [26] See Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid. [27] Steve Radelet, The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015). [28] Alex de Waal, Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine, (Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018). [29] See Butterfield, U.S. Development Aid. [30] Radelet, Great Surge. [31] Liu Mingfu, The China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era (New York: Beijing Mediatime Books, 2015), 31. [32] Mingfu, The China Dream. Liu’s book was originally published in 2010 but not translated into English for publication until 2015. For more background and insights regarding Liu’s work, see Jared McKinney, “The China Dream of Liu Mingfu,” China-U.S. Focus, Apr. 12, 2016, https://www.chinausfocus.com/culture-history/the-china-dream-of-liu-mingfu. [33] Joseph Nye argues, “Power is the ability to attain the outcomes one wants, and the resources that produce it vary in different contexts.” Joseph Nye, “The Future of American Power: Dominance and Decline in Perspective,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 6 (November/December 2010): 2, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20788711. Also see William Inboden, “What is Power?: A Bold New Design for a Master Metric of National Power,” National Interest 5, no. 2 (Nov. 1, 2016), http://www.the-american-interest.com/2009/11/01/what-is-power/. In “What is Power?” Inboden writes, “The applicability of power depends on context; if the context changes, so does the value of prior investments in military force, intelligence methods, alliances, and other traditional instruments of power.” [34] National Intelligence Council, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, January 2017, www.dni.gov/nic/globaltrends. Traditionally, the National Intelligence Council publishes a Global Trends report every four years and specifically times its publication to be after the November presidential election and before the inauguration in January. The intent is to have the report be viewed as nonpartisan as possible. The 2017 report is the sixth in the series of reports that have sought to look 20 years into the future. [35] The National Security Strategy of the United States, The White House, December 2017, 2, 25, 3, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. By law, presidential administrations are required to provide Congress with a national security strategy that describes national security concerns and plans for dealing with those concerns. [36] Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 27–28. Kissinger explained the importance of making correct choices early on in the transition period. “In retrospect, all international systems appear to have an inevitable symmetry. Once they are established, it is difficult to imagine how history might have evolved had other choices been made, or indeed whether any other choices had been possible. When an international order first comes into being, many choices may be open to it. But each choice constricts the universe of remaining options. Because complexity inhibits flexibility, early choices are especially crucial. Whether an international order is relatively stable, like the one that emerged from the Congress of Vienna, or highly volatile, like those that emerged from the Peace of Westphalia and the Treaty of Versailles, depends on the degree to which they reconcile what makes the constituent societies feel secure with what they consider just.” Kissinger, Diplomacy, 26–27. [37] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 19. [38] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 26. Kissinger explained: “The two international systems that were the most stable – that of the Congress of Vienna and the one dominated by the United States after the Second World War – had the advantage of uniform perceptions. The statesmen at Vienna were aristocrats who saw intangibles in the same way, and agreed on fundamentals; the American leaders who shaped the postwar world emerged from an intellectual tradition of extraordinary coherence and vitality. The order that is now emerging will have to be built by statesmen who represent vastly different cultures.” Kissinger, Diplomacy, 27. [39] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 24. It is worth bearing in mind that Kissinger was an American statesman who is widely associated with adhering to the Realist tradition. His association with the policy of détente discredited him with leaders in the Reagan administration. [40] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 27; National Intelligence Council, Global Trends, ix. [41] National Security Strategy, 2, ii. [42] Kissinger, Diplomacy, 24; National Security Strategy, 45, 1, 4, 37. [43] Emphasis added. National Security Strategy, 45. [44] Emphasis added. National Security Strategy, 1. [45] Robert Nisbet, “Foreword,” in Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, The Reagan Phenomenon – and other Speeches on Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, 1983), xi. [46] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” in The Reagan Phenomenon (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1983), 33, 13. [47] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Reagan Reassertion of Western Values,” in The Reagan Phenomenon (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1983), 33. [48] Kirkpatrick, “Reagan Reassertion of Western Values,” in The Reagan Phenomenon, 34. [49] Kirkpatrick, “Reagan Reassertion of Western Values,” in The Reagan Phenomenon, 34. She explained rationalism in this way: “Failure to distinguish between the domains of thought and experience, of rhetoric and politics, is, of course, the very essence of rationalism. Rationalism encourages us to believe that anything that can be conceived can be brought into being. The rationalist perversion in modern politics consists in the determined effort to understand and shape people and societies on the basis of inadequate, oversimplified theories of human behavior….Rationalist theories are speculative rather than empirical and historical; rationalist reforms seek to conform human behavior to oversimplified, unrealistic models.  Rationalism not only encourages utopianism, but utopianism is a form of rationalism.  Utopianism shares the characteristic features of rationalism: both are concerned more with the abstract than the concrete, with the possible than the probable, both are less concerned with people as they are than as they might be (at least as rationalists think they might be).” Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Introduction,” in Dictatorships and Double Standards: Rationalism and Reason in Politics (New York: American Enterprise Institute, 1982), 11. [50] National Security Strategy, 25. Also: “These competitions [with Russia and China] require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades – policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.” National Security Strategy, 3. [51] Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” 14. [52] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 56. [53] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 56. Kirkpatrick is quoting from Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (New York: The Viking Press, 1970), 288. [54] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 58. [55] Kirkpatrick, “U.S. Security and Latin America,” 56. [56] Emphasis added. National Security Strategy, 45. [57] National Security Strategy, 1. [58] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” 91. [59] Kirkpatrick, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” 92. [60] National Security Strategy, 38. [61] Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” 12. [62] National Security Strategy, 1, 4. [63] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” 34–35. [64] Kirkpatrick, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” 30. [65] Kirkpatrick, “On the Invocation of Universal Values,” 92. [66] National Security Strategy, 1. [67] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition,” 7–8. Continuing: “In this regard let me mention a fact about the Reagan administration that has generally escaped notice: it is how relatively many academics are present in that administration at relatively high policy-making levels. The presence of intellectuals in politics almost always, I think, constitutes a signal that there is something more ideological self-conscious going on than is usual in American politics. There are more people in the Reagan administration thinking about fundamental questions than our highly pragmatic political tradition usually features.” [68] Kirkpatrick, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” 37. [69] National Security Strategy, 37. [70] Peter Beinart, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (New York: Harper Perennial, 2010), 295–96. For the thinkers and ideas who challenged Kirkpartick see Beinart, 296–311. [71] Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Making War To Keep Peace (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 2. Kirkpatrick asked that this work be published posthumously. [72] While President Ronald Reagan shared Kirkpatrick’s deep and abiding respect for the principles of the liberal democratic tradition and agreed that the nation’s identity and purpose were deeply involved with the vindication of liberty, he did not share Kirkpatrick’s moral realism. [73] Or Rabinowitz and Jayita Sarkar, “‘It Isn’t Over Until the Fuel Cell Sings’:  A Reassessment of U.S. and French Pledges of Nuclear Assistance in the 1970s,” Journal of Strategic Studies 41, no. 1-2 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2017.1328355. [74] Melvyn Leffler, “Ronald Reagan and the Cold War: What Mattered Most,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 3 (2018), https://tnsr.org/2018/06/ronald-reagan-and-the-cold-war-what-mattered-most/ [75] Peter Bahr, “Wave of Mergers, Takeovers is a part of Reagan Legacy,” Washington Post, Oct. 30, 1988, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1988/10/30/wave-of-mergers-takeovers-is-a-part-of-reagan-legacy/e90598c2-628d-40fe-b9c6-a621e298671d/. [76] Tomas Kellner, “Lights, Electricity, Action: When Ronald Reagan Hosted ‘General Electric Theater,’” GE Reports, Feb. 19, 2018, https://www.ge.com/reports/ronald-reagan-ge/. [77] Jacob Weisberg, “The Road to Reagandom,” Slate, Jan. 8, 2016, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/01/ronald_reagan_s_conservative_conversion_as_spokesman_for_general_electric.html. [78] Mark Hertsgaard, “Nuclear Reaganomics,” New York Times, Oct. 9, 1981, https://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/09/opinion/nuclear-reaganomics.html. [79] William Burr, “A Scheme of ‘Control’: The United States and the Origins of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, 1974–1976,” International History Review 36, no. 2 (2014), https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2013.864690. [80] “Ronald Reagan’s Statement Announcing a Series of Policy Initiatives on Nuclear Energy,” Oct. 8, 1981, Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=44353. [81] Michael Camp, “‘Wandering in the Desert’: The Clinch River Breeder Reactor Debate in the U.S. Congress, 1972–1983,” Technology and Culture 59, no. 1 (2018), http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/tech.2018.0005. [82] National Security Study Directive 12-82, “U.S. Relations with China and Taiwan,”  Dec. 7, 1982, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/reference/scanned-nssds/nssd12-82.pdf. [83] National Security Decision Directive 76, “Peaceful Cooperation with China,” Jan. 18, 1983, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/archives/reference/scanned-nsdds/nsdd76.pdf. [84] CIA Report GI M-83 10237, “China’s Entry Into the IAEA,”  Oct. 6, 1983, CIA CREST Database, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP85T00287R000600940001-4.pdf. [85] The Reagan administration’s brief suspension of U.S. membership of the IAEA in September 1982, therefore, was not a reduced commitment to nonproliferation. Instead, it must be understood in the context of the U.S. position on Israel’s counterproliferation. [86] “Statement from the Press Secretary on Fuel-Secure Power Facilities,” June 1, 2018, The White House Briefings & Statements, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-fuel-secure-power-facilities/. See also: Brad Plumer, “Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants,” New York Times, June 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/01/climate/trump-coal-nuclear-power.html. [87] Timothy Gardner, “Trump Administration Axes Project to Generate Power from Plutonium,” Reuters, May 13, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-plutonium-mox/trump-administration-axes-project-to-generate-power-from-plutonium-idUSKCN1IE0LH. [88] Diane Cardwell and Jonathan Soble, “Westinghouse Files for Bankruptcy, in Blow to Nuclear Power,” New York Times, Mar. 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/westinghouse-toshiba-nuclear-bankruptcy.html. [89] “Westinghouse’s Marquee Reactor in China Begins Fuel Loading,” Bloomberg News, Apr. 25, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-25/westinghouse-s-marquee-reactor-in-china-begins-fuel-loading. [90] “Trump Considers Easing Nuclear Rules for Saudi Project,” Bloomberg News, Dec. 12, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/trump-is-said-to-consider-easing-nuclear-rules-for-saudi-project. [91] Anya Litvak, “Westinghouse Emerges from Bankruptcy with New Owner,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 1, 2018, http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2018/08/01/Westinghouse-emerges-from-bankruptcy-with-new-owner/stories/201808010162. [92] Rabinowitz and Sarkar, “‘It Isn’t Over Until the Fuel Cell Sings.’” See also: Or Rabinowitz, “Signed, Sealed but Never Delivered: Why Israel Did not Receive Nixon's Promised Nuclear Power Plants,” International History Review 40, no. 5 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2018.1436581. [93] The Reagan administration’s nonproliferation efforts toward China were closely associated with Beijing’s nuclear weapons assistance to Islamabad — a frontline ally at the time against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. [94] “Read Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ Foreign Policy Speech,” Time, April 27, 2016, http://time.com/4309786/read-donald-trumps-america-first-foreign-policy-speech/. [95] Roland H. Bainton, Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-Evaluation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1960). [96] Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1944), 9. [97] James Turner Johnson, “Just War, As It Was and Is,” First Things (January 2005), http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/just-waras-it-was-and-is-2. [98] See Joachim von Elbe, “The Evolution of the Concept of the Just War in International Law,” American Journal of International Law 33, no. 4 (October 1939): 665–688. The whole article is worth reading, but pages 668 and 669 are particularly relevant to the tranquillitas ordinis. [99] Paul Kengor, God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (New York: ReganBooks, 2004), 166. I hypothesize that this consistency could be explained by the 19th-centure historical ties between the Disciples of Christ and the Restoration Movement rooted in the Second Great Awakening. [100] “Reagan’s nuclear abolitionism was visionary, even utopian.” Paul Lettow, Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (New York: Random House, 2005), xi. [101] See, for example, James W. Walters, ed., War No More? Options in Nuclear Ethics (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989). Faced with Cold War arms race escalation, this intermediate position between pacifism and just war gave, under the circumstances, provisional moral sanction to nuclear deterrence while holding pacifist ideals. [102] Ronald Reagan, “Interview with Representatives of Western European Publications,” The American Presidency Project, May 21, 1982, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=42572. [103] See, for example, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President (New York: Scribner 2016), 81. [104] Samuel Smith, “James Dobson Says Paula White Led Donald Trump to Jesus Christ,” Christian Post, June 29, 2016, https://www.christianpost.com/news/james-dobson-says-paula-white-led-donald-trump-to-jesus-christ-165844/. [105] Donald J. Trump, “Remarks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Dallas, Texas,” The American Presidency Project, May 4, 2018, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=129655. [106] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, White House, December 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. [107] “What would be the ultimate? Let’s see. No more nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, no more wars, no more problems, no more conflicts ... That would be my ultimate.” Reuters staff, “Trump Says ‘Ultimate Deal’ with Putin Would Be World Without Nuclear Weapons,” Reuters, July 12, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nato-summit-trump-nuclear/trump-says-ultimate-deal-with-putin-would-be-world-without-nuclear-weapons-idUSKBN1K21ME?il=0. [108] James Turner Johnson, “Just War, As It Was and Is,” First Things (January 2005), http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/just-waras-it-was-and-is-2. [109] “What Trump Said About the Missile Strike Against Syria, Boston Globe, April 7, 2017, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2017/04/06/read-full-text-trump-syria-speech/goi36mkYFMRQy8cJORGL9H/story.html. [110] Alexander F.C. Webster and Darrell Cole, The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West (Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2004). [111] “Juche Ideology,” Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Official webpage of the DPR of Korea, http://www.korea-dpr.com/juche_ideology.html. [112] For example, see Philo Kim, “An Analysis of Religious Forms of Juche Ideology in Comparison with Christianity,” International Journal of Korean Unification Studies 11, no. 1 (2002): 127–144, http://www.dbpia.co.kr/Journal/ArticleDetail/NODE01386087. Juche is treated as an “ersatz religion” in Christopher Hale, “Multifunctional Juche: A Study of the Changing Dynamic between Juche and the State Constitution in North Korea,” Korea Journal (Autumn 2002): 283–308, https://www.ekoreajournal.net/issue/view_pop.htm?Idx=3206. Comparisons to Confucianism and shamanism are found in Hyang Jin Jung, “Jucheism as an Apotheosis of the Family: The Case of the Arirang Festival,” Journal of Korean Religions 4, no. 2 North Korea and Religion (October 2013): 93–122, https://www.jstor.org/stable/23943356. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Roundtable Contents [contents] => 1. Introduction: Revisiting Reagan’s Pride of Place in Republican Foreign Policy, by Evan D. McCormick 2. Reagan’s Legacy Today: Development Policy and Human Rights, by Andrew S. Natsios 3. Principled Realism in the Reagan Administration, by Gail Yoshitani 4. The Reagonomics of Nonproliferation in GOP Behavior, by Jayita Sarkar 5. 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