Authored by: Alynna J. Lyon

Routledge Handbook of American Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  August  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415800884
eBook ISBN: 9780203878637
Adobe ISBN: 9781135967352


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The chronicle of American foreign policy is composed by the liberal tradition (Kennan 1951; Kagan 2002). For more than 200 years, liberal thought provided ideological orientation, policy direction, and, at times, a rhetorical tool to justify strategic foreign engagements. The advocacy of free-market capitalism, the creation and use of international organizations, the commitment to human rights, and the promotion of democracy are all indicative of the liberal agenda’s realization in U.S. foreign policy. This intellectual tradition is evident in pre-founding speeches, early directives of President George Washington, the long period of American expansionism through the world wars, numerous Cold War interventions, and the years following the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, liberalism remains central to the era of globalization, the post-9/11 security environment, and the “post-American world” (Zakaria 2009). In all these respects, liberalism is a “constant” in U.S. foreign policy (Desch 2007/2008).

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