20th Century Quotes on Noninterventionist and Isolationist Positions on American Foreign Policy

"Much interest has of late been manifested in this country in the discussion of various proposals to outlaw aggressive war. I look with great sympathy upon the examination of this subject. It is in harmony with the traditional policy of our country, which is against aggressive war and for the maintenance of permanent and honorable peace. While, as I have said, we must safeguard our liberty to deal according to our own judgment with our domestic policies, we can not fail to view with sympathetic interest all progress to this desired end or carefully to study the measures that may be proposed to attain it."

President Calvin Coolidge
Miller Center
December 3, 1924
Library Topic

"Now I would be the last man in the world to say that war is never justified. Many men of my own family have borne arms. I myself in the course of the World War repeatedly stated that I was prepared to serve my country in any capacity from that of laborer to that of soldier in the frontline trenches. There are issues for which it is right that men, if need be, should sacrifice their lives to defend them.

Nevertheless, I had at that time 4 years of unique personal observation of the horrors of war, 4 years of study of its causes, and after the armistice I had another year in endeavor to stem the tide of famine to save the children and to reestablish economic life in Europe. I then had another 8 years of intimate study of its appalling aftermaths in dealing with the foreign commerce of our country. And I have grappled daily, in my last 30 years as President in the most responsible office of government in the world, with the fearful aftermaths which had overwhelmed the world from war. All these experiences have impressed upon my mind with ineradicable vividness the colossal error of war as an instrument of national policy. I have learned the futility of war as a solvent of great human problems, and I have perceived the fearful toll that war takes of the generations succeeding the one which fought the battles."

President Herbert Clark Hoover
The American Presidency Project
November 7, 1932
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"Indelibly impressed upon my deepest emotions is the profound conviction that the very first of all problems pressing upon the human race generally, in its large assemblage of nations, is the problem of prevention of future wars. The greatest safety of the world from these crises we are now passing is to prevent war. I see this not only in its terms of crushing economic burdens, not only in its fearful disorganization and dislocation of economic life for years to come, not only in its crushing burdens of taxation for generations innocent of responsibility, I see it far more intensely as a supreme human problem. …

For these reasons, it has been a major purpose through all of my administration to guide the foreign policy of this Nation so as to maintain our traditional peace with amity with all nations. But, of even more importance, I have sought to do everything in my power to place the full weight of the moral strength of the American people behind every agency, existing or that can be devised, which has for its purpose the upbuilding of the spirit of peace in the world and the maintenance of peace among nations. I have made but one reservation, and that is, we will join no movement that proposes to use military or economic force in its attempts to prevent war. For that is a contradiction in method."

President Herbert Clark Hoover
The American Presidency Project
November 7, 1932
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"By instinct and tradition our country has been, throughout its history, sincerely devoted to the cause of peace. Within the limitations imposed by time and circumstance we have earnestly sought to discharge our responsibilities as a member of the family of nations in promoting conditions essential to the maintenance of peace. We have consistently believed in the sanctity of treaty obligations and have endeavored to apply this belief in the actual practice of our foreign relations. In common with all other nations we have, since the end of the World War, assumed a solemn obligation not to resort to force as an instrument of national policy. All this gives us a moral right to express our deep concern over the rising tide of lawlessness, the growing disregard of treaties, the increasing reversion to the use of force, and the numerous other ominous tendencies which are emerging in the sphere of international relations."

Cordell Hull
March 12, 1938
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"In announcing our intention to afford appropriate and reasonable protection to our rights and interests in the Far East, I stated clearly that we are fully determined to avoid the extremes either of internationalism or of isolationism. Internationalism would mean undesirable political involvements; isolationism would either compel us to confine all activities of our people within our own frontiers, with incalculable injury to the standard of living and the general welfare of our people, or else expose our nationals and our legitimate interests abroad to injustice or outrage wherever lawless conditions arise. Steering a sound middle course between these two extremes, we are convinced that a policy of affording appropriate protection—under the rule of reason, in such form as may be best suited to the particular circumstances, and in accordance with the principles we advocate—is imperatively needed to serve our national interest."

Cordell Hull
March 12, 1938
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"I say it is the interventionist in America, as it was in England and in France, who gives comfort to the enemy. I say it is they who are undermining the principles of Democracy when they demand that we take a course to which more than eighty percent of our citizens are opposed. I charge them with being the real defeatists, for their policy has led to the defeat of every country that followed their advice since this war began. There is no better way to give comfort to an enemy than to divide the people of a nation over the issue of foreign war. There is no shorter road to defeat than by entering a war with inadequate preparation. Every nation that has adopted the interventionist policy of depending on some one else for its own defense has met with nothing but defeat and failure.

When history is written, the responsibility for the downfall of the democracies of Europe will rest squarely upon the shoulders of the interventionists who led their nations into war uninformed and unprepared. With their shouts of defeatism, and their disdain of reality, they have already sent countless thousands of young men to death in Europe. From the campaign of Poland to that of Greece, their prophecies have been false and their policies have failed. Yet these are the people who are calling us defeatists in America today. And they have led this country, too, to the verge of war."

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"Why did I vote against the Atlantic Pact? I wanted to vote for it-at least I wanted to vote to let Russia know that if she attacked western Europe, the United States would be in the war. I believe that would be a deterrent to war. We issued just this warning in the Monroe Doctrine, and though we were a much less powerful nation, it prevented aggression against Central and South America. That was only a President’s message to Congress, and there were no treaty obligations, and no arms for other nations. But it was one of the most effective peace measures in the history of the world. I would favor a Monroe Doctrine for western Europe.

But the Atlantic Pact goes much further. It obligates us to go to war if at any time during the next 20 years anyone makes an armed attack on any of the 12 nations. Under the Monroe Doctrine we could change our policy at any time. We could judge whether perhaps one of the countries had given cause for the attack. Only Congress could declare a war in pursuance of the doctrine. Under the new pact the President can take us into war without Congress. But, above all the treaty is a part of a much larger program by which we arm all these nations against Russia. A joint military program has already been made. It thus becomes an offensive and defensive military alliance against Russia. I believe our foreign policy should be aimed primarily at security and peace, and I believe such an alliance is more likely to produce war than peace. A third world war would be the greatest tragedy the world has ever suffered. Even if we won the war, we this time would probably suffer tremendous destruction, our economic system would be crippled, and we would lose our liberties and free system just as the Second World War destroyed the free systems of Europe. It might easily destroy civilization on this earth."

Robert A. Taft
July 26, 1949
Library Topic

"It follows that except as such policies may ultimately protect our own security, we have no primary interest as a national policy to improve conditions or material welfare in other parts of the world or to change other forms of government. Certainly we should not engage in war to achieve such purposes. I don't mean to say that, as responsible citizens of the world, we should not gladly extend charity or assistance to those in need. I do not mean to say that we should not align ourselves with the advocates of freedom everywhere. We did this kind of thing for many years, and we were respected as the most disinterested and charitable nation in the world.

But the contribution of supplies to meet extraordinary droughts or famine or refugee problems or other emergencies is very different from a global plan for general free assistance to all mankind on an organized scale as part of our foreign policy. Such a plan, as carried out today, can only be justified on a temporary basis as part of the battle against communism, to prevent communism from taking over more of the world and becoming a still more dangerous threat to our security. It has been undertaken as an emergency measure. Our foreign policy in ordinary times should not be primarily inspired by the motive of raising the standard of living of millions throughout the world, because that is utterly beyond our capacity. I believe it is impossible with American money, or other outside aid to raise in any substantial degree the standard of living of the millions throughout the world who have created their own problems of soil destruction or overpopulation. Fundamentally, I doubt if the standard of living of any people can be successfully raised to any appreciable degree except by their own efforts. We can advise; we can assist, if the initiative and the desire and the energy to improve themselves is present. But our assistance cannot be a principal motive for foreign policy or a justification for going to war."

Robert A. Taft
Doubleday & Company
Library Topic

"It is a well-known fact that during a war the State acquires powers that it does not relinquish when hostilities are over. When the enemy is at the city gates — or the illusion that he is coming can be put into people's minds — the tendency is to turn over to the captain all the powers he deems necessary to keep the enemy away. Liberty is downgraded in favor of protection. But, when the enemy is driven away, the State finds reason enough to hold onto its acquired powers. Thus, conscription, which Mr. Roosevelt reintroduced at the beginning of the war, has become the permanent policy of the government; and militarism, which is the opposite of freedom, has been incorporated in our mores. Whether or not this eventuality was in Mr. Roosevelt's mind is not germane; it is inherent in the character of the State. Taxes imposed ostensibly 'for the duration,' have become permanent, the bureaucracy built up during the war has not been dismantled, and interventions in the economy necessary for the prosecution of war are now held to be necessary for the welfare of the people. This, plus the fact that we are now engaged in preparing for World War III, was the net result of our entry into World War II. Whichever side won, the American people were the losers."

Frank Chodorov
Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist
Library Topic

"Isolationism is not a political policy, it is a natural attitude of a people. It is adjustment to the prevailing culture within a country, and a feeling of security within that adjustment. The traditions, the political and social institutions and the moral values that obtain seem good, the people do not wish them to be disturbed by peoples with other backgrounds and, what is more, they do not feel any call to impose their own customs and values on strangers.

This does not mean that they will not voluntarily borrow from other cultures nor that they will surround themselves with parochial walls. Long before interventionism became a fixed policy of the government, American students went to Europe to complete their education and immigrants introduced their exotic foods to the American table. But these were voluntary adoptions, even as we welcomed German and Italian operas and applauded the British lecturers who came here to decry our lack of manners. We certainly enjoyed the bananas and coffee imported from Latin American countries, and, while we might deplore their habit of setting up dictatorships, we felt no obligation to inject ourselves into their political affairs; that was their business, not ours."

Frank Chodorov
Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist
Library Topic

"And yet, isolationism is inherent in the human makeup. It is in the nature of the human being to be interested first in himself and secondly in his neighbors. His primary concern is with his bread-and-butter problems, to begin with, and then in the other things that living implies: his health, his pleasures, the education of his children, wiping out the mortgage on the old homestead and getting along with his neighbors. If he has the time and inclination for it, he takes a hand in local charities and local politics. If something happens in his state capital that arouses his ire or his imagination he may talk to his neighbors about the necessity of reform — that is, if the reform happens to engage his interests. Taxation always interests him. But, events and movements that occur far away from his immediate circumstances or that affect him only tangentially (like inflation or debates in the UN) either pass him by completely or, if he reads about them in the newspapers, concern him only academically. A Minnesotan may take notice of a headline event in Florida, as a conversation piece, but he is vitally interested in what has happened in his community: a fire, a divorce case, or the new road that will pass through. How many people know the name of their congressman or take the slightest interest in how he votes on given issues?

It has become standard procedure for sociologists and politicians to take opinion polls and to deduce behavior patterns from such data. Yet it is a fact that the subject matters of these polls do not touch on matters in which the questionees are vitally interested but are topics in which the pollsters have a concern. Putting aside the possibility of so framing the questions as to elicit replies the pollsters want, the fact is that the pride of the questionees can well influence their answers. Thus, a housewife who has been asked for her opinion on South African apartheid, for instance, will feel flattered that she has been singled out for the honor and will feel impelled to give some answer, usually a predigested opinion taken from a newspaper editorial; she will not say honestly that she knows nothing about apartheid and cares less. On the other hand, if she were asked about the baking of an apple pie she would come up with an intelligent answer; but the sociologists are not interested in knowing how to bake an apple pie.

The scientist immersed in the laboratory will weigh carefully any question put to him regarding the subject matter of his science and will probably not come up with a yes-or-no answer; but, he is positive that the nation ought to recognize the Chinese communist regime, because he heard another scientist say so. The baseball fan who knows the batting average of every member of his team, on the other hand, will denounce the recognition of the regime because he has heard that the 'reds' are no good. The student whose grades are just about passing will speak out boldly on the UN, reflecting the opinion of his professor on that organization. Everybody has opinions on international subjects, because the newspapers have opinions on them, and the readers like to be 'in the swim.' That is to say, interventionism is a fad stimulated by the public press and, like a fad, has no real substance behind it. If a poll were to be taken on the subject, should we go to war, the probability is that very few would vote for the proposition; yet, war is the ultimate of interventionism, and the opposition to it is proof enough that we are isolationist in our sympathies. A poll on the subject of isolationism — something like 'do you believe we ought to keep out of the politics of other nations and ought to let them work out their problems without our interference?' — might bring out some interesting conclusions; but the politicians and the energumens of interventionism would prefer not to conduct such a poll. Our 'foreign-aid' program has never been subjected to a plebiscite."

Frank Chodorov
Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist
Library Topic

"My own view of war can be put simply: a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them."

Murray N. Rothbard
May 1994
Library Topic

"In a theory which tried to limit war, neutrality was considered not only justifiable but a positive virtue. In the old days, 'he kept us out of war' was high tribute to a president or political leader; but now, all the pundits and professors condemn any president who 'stands idly by' while 'people are being killed' in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, or the hot spot of the day. In the old days, 'standing idly by' was considered a mark of high statesmanship. Not only that: neutral states had 'rights' which were mainly upheld, since every warring country knew that someday it too would be neutral. A warring state could not interfere with neutral shipping to an enemy state; neutrals could ship to such an enemy with impunity all goods except 'contraband,' which was strictly defined as arms and ammunition, period. Wars were kept limited in those days, and neutrality was extolled."

Murray N. Rothbard
May 1994
Library Topic

"There is an important point about old-fashioned, or classical, international law which applies to any sort of war, even a just one:

Even if country A is waging a clearly just war against country B, and B’s cause is unjust, this fact by no means imposes any sort of moral obligation on any other nation, including those who wish to abide by just policies, to intervene in that war. On the contrary, in the old days neutrality was always considered a more noble course, if a nation had no overriding interest of its own in the fray, there was no moral obligation whatever to intervene. A nation’s highest and most moral course was to remain neutral; its citizens might cheer in their heart for A’s just cause, or, if someone were overcome by passion for A’s cause he could rush off on his own to the front to fight, but generally citizens of nation C were expected to cleave to their own nation’s interests over the cause of a more abstract justice. Certainly, they were expected not to form a propaganda pressure group to try to bulldoze their nation into intervening; if champions of country A were sufficiently ardent, they could go off on their own to fight, but they could not commit their fellow countrymen to do the same.

Many of my friends and colleagues are hesitant to concede the existence of universal natural rights, lest they find themselves forced to support American, or world-wide intervention, to try to enforce them. But for classical natural law international jurists, that consequence did not follow at all. If, for example, Tutsis are slaughtering Hutus in Rwanda or Burundi, or vice versa, these natural lawyers would indeed consider such acts as violations of the natural rights of the slaughtered; but that fact in no way implies any moral or natural-law obligation for any other people in the world to rush in to try to enforce such rights. We might encapsulate this position into a slogan: 'Rights may be universal, but their enforcement must be local' or, to adopt the motto of the Irish rebels: Sinn Fein, 'ourselves alone.' A group of people may have rights, but it is their responsibility, and theirs alone, to defend or safeguard such rights."

Murray N. Rothbard
May 1994
Library Topic

"History taught that republics that engaged in frequent wars eventually lost their character as free states. Hence, war was to be undertaken only in defense of our nation against attack. The system of government that the Founders were bequeathing to us — with its division of powers, checks and balances, and power concentrated in the states rather than the federal government — depended on peace as the normal condition of our society."

Ralph Raico
Freedom Daily
The Future of Freedom Foundation
February 1995
Library Topic

"Washington's general remedy for keeping America on an even keel was to stress the proper role of interest in foreign policy. He insisted in the Address that 'there can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nations.' Washington had long held the conviction, as he had written to Henry Laurens in 1778, that 'no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it.' But the Address argued that America's pursuit of its legitimate national interests in the world - especially when it came to questions of war or peace - ought to be 'guided by our justice.' Washington did not act according to the modern dichotomy between 'realism' and 'idealism' in the formulation of foreign policy. He agreed both with Hamilton (the supposed realist) that nations act solely out of their own interest; and with Jefferson (the supposed idealist) that there is but one standard of morality for men and for nations.

Was Washington confused or deceived when he said that interest could be guided by justice, or, more ambitiously, that interest and justice could be reconciled and comprehended? Part of the answer lies in the particulars of Washington's foreign policy in the 1790s .... But at a more fundamental level, Washington thought that a just foreign policy must begin with, and not depart from, the defense and advancement of particular American interests - especially those related to the nation's security and prosperity. Essentially, Washington believed that although the standards of justice were the same at home and abroad, their application necessarily differed.

To the extent that America was a true political community, self-sacrifice and gratitude (friendship) among its citizens was possible. But such 'disinterested friendship', as Washington called it, was not possible among nations. Justice in foreign affairs essentially meant making and keeping agreements faithfully, but it did not require sacrificing one's essential interests for those of other nations. Nor should the United States expect others to sacrifice themselves on its behalf. Differently put, Washington believed in the Socratic definition of justice: minding one's own business, but minding it well."

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"On this side of the Atlantic, Burke is often seen as a friend of the American Revolution, which he most certainly was not. He argued not on behalf of Americans seeking independence, but as a Briton striving, vainly as it turned out, to preserve his country's choicest asset from the foolishness of his own countrymen.

In the first place, Burke argued that it blinked reality for British policymakers to ignore what had happened in America, where 'a fierce spirit of liberty has grown up.' Not only was Burke undisturbed by the American love of liberty, he feared that London's efforts to reduce that liberty threatened his own:

... in order to prove that the Americans have no right to their liberties, we are every day endeavoring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole spirit of our own. To prove that the Americans ought not to be free, we are obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself.

Here is the confluence of interest and ideology so typical of Burke. He was not celebrating America's 'spirit of liberty' as a pure value, but because his government's threat to America directly and tangibly threatened him."

John Bolton
The National Interest
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19th century quotes on noninterventionist and isolationist positions on foreign policy.

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Commentary or Blog Post

This article discusses how discontent with the Afghan and Iraq wars is encouraging a non-interventionist mindset among some Americans. Huang then discusses the many implications this type of policy would involve, concluding that "from a strategic perspective, a policy of strict non-intervention is neither realistic nor desirable for the United States. Rather than convincing the United States...

According to Congressman Ron Paul, "A non-interventionist foreign policy has a lot to say for itself, especially when one looks at the danger and inconsistency of our current policy in the Middle East." Paul recalls the words of the Founders by saying, "We were warned, and in the early years of our Republic, we heeded that warning. Today, though, we are entangled in everyone's affairs...

"'American Isolationism' is a label that has long been used malevolently by its opponents. Non-interventionism, a less emotive phrase, denotes disapproval, ranging from scepticism to outright opposition, with respect to a cluster of related issues: war (particularly ideological wars and crusades) and other government interventions (alliances, 'aid,' posting of military personnel, etc.) in...

This article discusses the rampant wasteful spending occurring in the Department of Homeland Security. De Rugy points to several occasions where money allocated for this Department is spent locally on pork projects "ranging from Coast Guard rescues to hurricane aid." She argues that this is a result of four factors: a lack of oversight, the skeptic-numbing power of the word 'security,' a...

Bandow, a former special assistant to Ronald Reagan, analyzes the current state of Conservative foreign policy, and proposes that, rather than continuing George Bush's tactics, the GOP should advocate a "humble foreign policy" and lessen our presence in the global sphere.

"Clinton talks endlessly about his commitment to NATO and the international community, but glosses over his earlier, more fundamental commitment: his solemn pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The Framers of the Constitution were determined not to grant the president an unfettered power to make war. Having just suffered at King George's hands, they...

"But there's at least one aspect of conservative doctrine that desperately needs rethinking. That's the Right's embrace of the neoconservative approach to foreign affairs, which insists that America is weak, threatened on all sides, and can only be kept safe by an aggressive policy of preventive war and democratization at gunpoint."

"U.S. defense contractors are preparing to disclose mass job cutbacks ahead of November elections if Congress fails to reach a deficit-reduction deal by then, industry officials said."

Kirkpatrick lays out some of the basic tenets of conservative foreign policy and, specifically describes the role of the UN in the world order through the conservative lens. The second to last sentence in the article provides an excellent summation: "The ultimate test of the legitimacy of U.S. actions is not a temporary majority of the Security Council; it is the U.S. Constitution."

"While many political observers agree that 'the great mass of Tea Party America does not seem headed toward a new isolationism,' ... its silence on foreign policy issues has allowed isolationist voices to speak up for the Tea Party as a whole and to discredit the movement’s relevance to American diplomacy. This isolationist voice could be detrimental to America’s security and is at odds with...

In this piece, Marion Smith argues that the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers was not isolationist.

A short opinion piece criticizing Democratic foreign policy, as compared to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Vecchione theorizes that only by a show of strength can America have a successful foreign policy.

"So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters. Genius, said de Gaulle...

Written during the Cold War period, this article encourages a non-interventionist stance toward the Soviets. Bartlett suggests that the arms race on the part of the Soviets may have actually been in self-defense, rather than an aggressive move against western powers. Note: The article begins on page 30 of the magazine.

This piece confronts the issue of whether or not the foreign policy of the Founders was isolationist in nature. According to Smith, "Given the resources at their disposal, their material capabilities, and the vast array of threats and challenges confronting them at that time, the Founders’ foreign policy was remarkably successful. Indeed, their examples have much to teach us about America’s...

"The term 'isolationism' has been used—most often in derogation—to designate the attitudes and policies of those Americans who have urged the continued adherence in the twentieth century to what they conceived to have been the key element of American foreign policy in the nineteenth century, that is, the avoidance of political and military commitments to or alliances with foreign powers,...

As his title bluntly suggests, Robert Pape believes that the increase in terrorist attacks around the world is actually due to the presence of American troops on foreign soil, not Islamic extremism. Pape goes on to present a variety of information to back up this argument.

"Senator John McCain said that with almost 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan and the drawdown from Iraq still not complete, Obama's plan to send troops to act as military advisers for Ugandan government forces fighting the rebel-led Lord's Resistance Army was ill-advised.

'I worry (that) with the best of intentions we'll somehow get engaged in a commitment that we can't get out of. That'...

This article discusses the practical use of largely symbolic allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in future theatres of American foreign policy. Galen writes that these allies send only nominal support that often ends up proving a liability rather than an asset to American troops who lead and bear the brunt of the campaign. "The governments of those countries want to show that they are good allies...

"The Old Right was made up mainly of right-wing Republicans who wished to avert the institutional and economic costs of war and empire. As such, they are not seen as worthy predecessors by the anti-war Left and their insights have been abandoned by most of their Republican successors. Yet they saw that making the authoritarian fixtures of war into permanent 'peacetime' policies was the high...

"A poll released on December 3 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press revealed that 49 percent of Americans believe that their country should ... 'mind its own business internationally.' Pew headlined its report about the poll in the language long favored by those advocating an interventionist U.S. foreign policy: 'Isolationist Sentiment Surges to Four-Decade High.'"

"As American operations in Iraq continue to lose support from both the American and Iraqi people, the neoconservatives who engineered the war are on the defensive. There is a pervasive fear among neoconservatives in Washington of the resurgence of realism: a foreign policy that emphasizes the defense of vital national security interests and rejects values-based...

This piece describes the thought processes and philosophies behind the concept of Neoconservatism.

Writing in response to C. Bradley Thompson's Neoconservatism Unmasked, Douglas Rasmussen concurs that "one cannot successfully defend liberty or indeed grasp what is unique about the American political tradition by embracing neoconservatism."

"Voters in the pivotal battleground states of Ohio and Florida show strong interest in global security issues, and want to hear the candidates' views on defense, Iran and terrorism in the final presidential debate, according to a new poll conducted jointly by leading Democratic and Republican pollsters for Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs."

In this piece, Benjamin Friedman comments on Senator Rand Paul's comments about discontinuing American federal aid to allies such as Israel. According to Friedman, the United States can still be an "ideological" ally with Israel, but "[t]he problem is that Israel no longer needs our charity." Friedman continues his assessment by saying, "Without our three billion dollars in aid, Israel's...

"Here’s a thought experiment: imagine a candidate saying that if we want to balance the federal budget, we need to cut warfare as well as welfare. Throw in some talk about the military-industrial complex. Then try to picture that candidate gaining the support of Sarah Palin, James Dobson, and Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate...

Richard V. Allen, Reagan's first National Security advisor, explains how he believes Reagan would have handled the foreign policy decisions over the past 18 years since he left office (the article was written in 2006).  The article presents a brief, but comprehensive overview of the current (as of 2006) state of foreign affairs, with a special focus on Islamic terrorism, and concludes...

"The rallying cry of the Tea Party Movement has been fiscal responsibility and limited government. It appeals across a broad spectrum of the electorate, but falls far short of addressing core issues of governance. One of those core issues is national defense. Without question many drawn to the Tea Parties would be happy to slash defense spending, close...

"One of the most remarkable episodes in American history was the spontaneous and widespread opposition to Franklin Roosevelt's obvious attempts to embroil the United States in the European war that broke out in 1939. That opposition was centered in the America First Committee. In modern accounts of the war period, the committee is either ignored or maligned as a pro-fascist, anti-Semitic...

"Those who advocate strict non-interventionism usually intend it to mean that America should remain militarily uninvolved abroad except when there is a clear and imminent threat to U.S. territory. But this isolationist doctrine of non-interventionism is not in keeping with the founding principles of America's early foreign policy.

The Founding Fathers, whose foreign policy some non-...

"I believe our founding fathers had it right when they argued for peace and commerce between nations, and against entangling political and military alliances.  In other words, noninterventionism. Noninterventionism is not isolationism.  Nonintervention simply means America does not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of...

In this article, Rep. Ron Paul presents an argument in favor of a return to the foreign policy groundwork laid out by our founding fathers - a policy of "noninterventionism". According to Rep. Paul, noninterventionism does not imply a position of isolationism, rather, America should not, "interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations."  He does...

Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Representative Ron Paul congratulates the U.S. on the destruction of a huge adversary. Paul, however, believes "[i]t is time to consider a sensible non-interventionist foreign policy as advised by our Founders and authorized by our Constitution. We would all be better off for it."

"Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander there [Afghanistan], has asked for 40,000 or more additional United States troops, which many are calling an ambitious new course. In truth, it is not new and it is not bold enough.

America will best serve its interests in Afghanistan and the region by shifting to a new strategy of off-shore balancing, which relies on air and naval...

"The general public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations are apprehensive and uncertain about America's place in the world. Growing numbers in both groups see the United States playing a less important role globally, while acknowledging the increasing stature of China. And the general public, which is in a decidedly inward-looking frame of mind when it comes to global affairs, is...

Written just before President Obama's inauguration, this article addresses the conflicting ideologies among neo-conservatives in wake of recent defeats. "Like not a few revolutionary movements that have fallen on hard times, neoconservatism is experiencing a schism. Two camps are starting to face off over the question of the true faith, with the first embracing orthodoxy and the second heresy...

"As Barack Obama prepares to take the inaugural oath, it almost seems otiose to note that his victory represents a sweeping repudiation of the neoconservative movement. Though neocons such as Randy Scheunemann formed a kind of Praetorian Guard around John McCain during...

"Conservatism once was cautious, urged prudence, and emphasized fidelity to the Constitution. Conservatives saw responsibility as the flip-side of liberty, opposed the transfer society, and detested welfare dependence. On international affairs conservatives believed in defending America, not promoting social engineering overseas.

Liberals responded by tarring traditional conservatives...

"Ponder the part of the debt ceiling compromise that has some conservatives in a state of upset: if a future deal isn't reached to reduce the deficit, automatic cuts to defense spending will result, something they're calling a threat to national security.

Is it?"

In the days leading up to the war in Iraq, Congressman Ron Paul, a traditional isolationist, argued against American entrance into war. Paul lists six reasons why he disapproves of a war with Iraq, including the fact that it "cannot be morally justified."

In this article, Victor Davis Hanson, a noted Conservative Academic and commentator, reviews Martin Van Creveld's book, The Culture of War.

Chart or Graph

"We account for nearly 50 percent of all military spending; our allies and potential strategic partners contribute much of the rest. (See Figure 2.)"

The United States is widely viewed as the world's leading military power. A majority of the public (57%) continues to say that U.S. policies should try to maintain America's role as the world's only military superpower -- although far fewer favor this if it risks alienating U.S. allies.

In the years 1783-1860, the US engaged in military action nearly sixty times at locations around the globe (see map). These military engagements can be divided into three categories: defense, intervention, and Law of Nations enforcement.

Analysis Report White Paper

"The U.S. has much at stake in the world, but it only has limited ability to shape nations and events. Washington's policy of promiscuous intervention has proved to be an expensive and violent dead end. Washington should adopt a more realistic and measured strategy — essentially engagement without illusions."

In fact, during the period 1913-15, Mexico was one of Wilson's main foreign policy concerns, and after June 1914 it was second only to the war in Europe.

This informative piece describes many of the Founding Fathers' views on foreign policy. According to Spalding, "the Founders rejected modern approaches in American foreign policy represented in what today is called power politics, isolationism, and crusading internationalism.

"Were the Founding Fathers somehow to return, they would find it impossible to recognize our political system. The major cause of this transformation has been America's involvement in war and preparation for war over the past hundred years."

"The isolationist tradition in America, as it was manifested from 1939 to 1941, was based on two fundamental doctrines: avoidance of war in Europe and unimpaired freedom of action."

"The United States needs a defense budget worthy of its name, one that protects Americans rather than wasting vast sums embroiling us in controversies remote from our interests. This paper outlines such a defense strategy and the substantial cuts in military spending that it allows."

When the United States acts militarily in a U.N. context, it asks American soldiers to risk their lives for causes without direct relation to their identifications and interests. When the U.N. commits forces, the U.S. acquires approximately 30 percent of the bill.

"Few years in the history of the world have been as significant as the years 1939-1941. Not only did a cataclysmic conflict break out, far more worthy of being called a genuine world war than its predecessor, but large areas of the globe changed hands. By the end of 1941, a new German Empire dominated Western Europe and much of Eastern Europe as well. The Japanese Empire had penetrated...

The record of past U.S. experience in democratic nation building is daunting. The low rate of success is a sobering reminder that these are among the most difficult foreign policy ventures for the United States. Of the sixteen such efforts during the past century, democracy was sustained in only four cases ten years after the departure of U.S. forces.

Thus, NATO's new members are weak, vulnerable, and provocative - an especially dangerous combination for the United States in its role as NATO's leader.

"The Old Right began as a diverse group of politicians, writers and activists awakened by a common threat: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his unprecedented accretion of executive power."

"...[I]n the realm of foreign affairs Taft’s policies have been subject to a good deal more misunderstanding, and they were certainly more ferociously attacked by his contemporaries, who tended to dismiss him with epithets such as 'isolationist' and 'obstructionist.'"

There are ways in which the United States could help Somalia escape its cycle of violence and peacefully encourage progress by working with this former enemy, but Washington should err on the side of nonintervention.

"This essay begins with some brief coverage of Hoover's background and then notes the degree of isolationism in his presidency. It then shows how Hoover's reputation as an isolationist really came about because of the positions he took during World War II and the Cold War."

"Instead, being an 'isolationist' in the 1930s meant that one wanted America to maintain an absolute neutrality in military-political conflict overseas, to keep its freedom of action in international security matters, and to avoid war at almost any cost."

"To be called an isolationist wins no popularity contests, and no politician can afford the label. Indeed, the indiscriminate use of this word has done much over the years to cloud serious debate over foreign policy."

"From Bunker Hill to the Berlin Wall, the American love of liberty has inspired a commitment to see the cause of liberty triumph abroad, and U.S. foreign policy has reflected this reality."

"This article will examine the thought of David Hume and Adam Smith on the meaning of the expansion of commerce for war and peace between nations."

While Burke's speeches and writings are generally considered a guide to domestic policy (as we understand that term), much of his thinking and active politicking dealt with America, Ireland, India, and, most famously, France.

"Every American citizen has much more at stake in understanding how and why the U.S. was drawn into World War II than in perusing the Warren Report, its supplementary volumes, and the controversial articles and books of the aftermath, or the annals of any isolated public crime, however dramatic."

"Although derided as ostrich-like, Taft was prescient on several points, such as the structural weakness of the United Nations and the propping up of repressive regimes that would result from U.S. interventionism."

Adopting a doctrine that compels the United States to act to prevent atrocities occurring in other countries would be risky and imprudent. U.S. independence--hard won by the Founders and successive genera­tions of Americans--would be compromised if the United States consented to be legally bound by the R2P doctrine.

"Porter maintains that much of the history of the West during the past six centuries can be reduced to a simple formula: war made the state, and the state made war. In the process, countless individuals suffered the destruction of their liberties, property, and lives."

This piece dissects and analyzes Washington's famous Farewell Address. According to Garrity, the Farewell Address is "one of the classic expressions of American foreign policy."

"From the beginning, the purpose of the United States’ foreign policy has been to defend the American constitutional system and the common interests of the American people. The U.S. has thus been committed to providing for its common defense, protecting the freedom of its commerce, and seeking peaceful relations with other nations."


"Lecture by Justin Raimondo presented at the Ludwig von Mises Institute's 'The Costs of War' seminar, the first full-scale war revisionism conference in the post-Cold War epoch. Recorded at the Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, May 1994. ...

Justin Raimondo is an American author and the editorial director of the website Antiwar.com. He describes himself as a 'conservative-paleo-...

This podcast ponders the foreign policy positions of the new members of the 2011 Congress. Preble suggests that the ideas of limited domestic government that many of the new members hold will extend to limited foreign policy, especially in the area of funding.

"The United States confronts a host of foreign policy problems in the 21st century, yet the Republic's security strategy is increasingly muddled and counterproductive. The litany of misplaced priorities and policy failures grows ever larger. Ted Galen Carpenter examines America's foreign policy challenges and diagnoses what is wrong with Washington's current approach. Throughout these essays,...

"Amid the self-doubt and anti-Americanism paralyzing the nation after 9/11, Neoconservative intellectuals appeared self-confident and pressed for military action. Since then they have become architects of U.S. foreign policy. They support the Bush administration’s campaign to plant 'freedom' in the Middle East. To secure our 'national interest,' they argue, America must assert its unrivaled...

"Bruce Bueno de Mesquita of Stanford University's Hoover Institution and New York University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about threats to U.S. security, particularly Iran. Bueno de Mesquita argues that Iran is of little danger to the United States and that Ahmadinejad is an unimportant player in Iran's political system, more of a stalking horse for provocative ideas rather than a...

"In his two terms in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Hagel has distinguished himself as one of our nation's most outspoken and thoughtful political leaders. Unafraid to challenge the policies of his own party, Senator Hagel has drawn praise and admiration from across the ideological spectrum by expressing grave concerns about the war in Iraq. In America: Our Next Chapter:...

"Upon the outbreak of war, Franklin Roosevelt cautioned the American people that the fall of the European democracies would cause imminent danger to the western hemisphere. He was strongly criticized, and branded a war monger by isolationists and the Nazi propaganda machine. Many believed the French and British, comprising huge empires and boasting modern militaries, would never be faced with...

"Dr. John Ridpath, member of the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute, American history scholar, and a retired Canadian professor, explains George Washington's farewell address about American isolationism."

Cato Institute Foreign Policy Analyst Malou Innocent discusses India and Pakistan on CNBC Asia on Dec. 1, 2008.

According to the speakers, "The United States provides defense for Europeans who are more than capable of defending themselves," providing a modern example of the "entangling alliances" that the Founders cautioned America to avoid.

"Presidential candidate Ron Paul proposes major changes to U.S. foreign policy. We caught up with him in Iowa."

"Libertarians Doug Casey and Rep. Ron Paul debated conservatives Dinesh D'Souza and Larry Abraham on the topic of U.S. foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Topics included the efforts to combat terrorism and whether the U.S. should accept its position as world power. Rep. Paul is a Republican presidential candidate. This event was held at Bally's Paris Resort in Las...

Primary Document

Delivered amidst the early aggression in Europe during World War II, this speech reflects American tension between the isolationist and interventionist camps preceding U.S. involvement in the conflict. Among other things, President Roosevelt encouraged defense preparedness in case American security would be threatened.

This act prohibited a general embargo on trading war materials and weaponry to all parties involved in a war. The act also declared that Americans travelling on ships in war zones or on the ships of warring nations are travelling at their own risk. The act was a response to Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, but it was allowed to expire after six months.

This act renewed the 1935 provisions for another 14 months, and also prohibited all loans or credits to belligerent nations. There was a loophole in the act, however, that didn't cover countries in civil war like Spain.

This act included provisions from the earlier acts and contained no expiration date. US ships were prohibited from transporting any persons or articles to belligerent nations, US citizens were prohibited from travelling on ships of belligerent nations, and this act was extended to include countries embroiled in civil war.

This act effectively ended the arms embargo by allowing arms trading with belligerent nations on a cash and carry basis. Americans were forbidden from entering war zones designated by the president, and the National Munitions Control Board was charged with issuing licenses for all arms imports and exports. The Neutrality Acts of 1935 and 1937 were repealed.

In this State of the Union address, Andrew Jackson explained the many foreign relationships that America was engaged in. Jackson declares that this foreign policy approach follows in the steps of George Washington, who encouraged the United States to avoid entering into the affairs of other nations.

"With all the powers of the world our relations are those of honorable peace." Thus declared Martin Van Buren in the opening paragraphs of his 1840 State of the Union speech. President Van Buren then went on to explain America's neutral, but friendly, stance with the rest of the world through a variety of treaty agreements.

According to Franklin Pierce, "The wise theory of this Government, so early adopted and steadily pursued, of avoiding all entangling alliances has hitherto exempted it from many complications in which it would otherwise have become involved." Pierce goes on to describe European attempts to get America involved in foreign affairs, while further emphasizing the United States' determination to...

As the title suggests, this piece contains John Stuart Mill's views on foreign policy intervention into the affairs of other nations. According to Mill, "The doctrine of non-intervention, to be a legitimate principle of morality, must be accepted by all governments."

"I have written this book to emphasize the fact that the freedom of the people of the United States is in serious danger from the foreign policy of the present Administration. I have frequently written of the danger to liberty at home from the constant increase in the activity, the spending, and the power of the Federal Government, but today the threat from foreign policy is even greater. We...

I have sought this opportunity to address you because I thought that I owed it to you, as the council associated with me in the final determination of our international obligations.

"Since parting with you I have been considering your paper dated this day, and entitled 'Some thoughts for the President's consideration'-- The first proposition in it is, '1st We are at the end of a month's administration, and yet without a policy, either domestic or foreign'--"

In the years preceding World War II, the United States desperately tried to pursue a neutral stance toward the friction in Europe and Asia. This speech by the Secretary of State reflects that stance and declares America's middle-of-the-road approach to European hostilities.

This speech concludes with some of Herbert Hoover's views on American foreign policy. Due to his observations during WWI, Hoover advocates a non-interventionist type of foreign policy, declaring that "we will join no movement that proposes to use military or economic force in its attempts to prevent war."

"'OUR PRINCIPLES were right. Had they been followed war could have been avoided.' So ran the final statement of the America First Committee issued in December, 1941, after the official entry of the United States into World War II.

Organized to keep the United States out of the European war, the America First Committee failed completely to achieve its primary objective. The organization...

In this work, David Hume puts forth his theory of the origin, development and utility of human morality. His method is to apply "an inviolable maxim in philosophy, that where any particular cause is sufficient for an effect, we ought to rest satisfied with it, and ought not to multiply causes without necessity." With respect to morals then, he claims that "in the course of nature that though...

"Isolationism is not a political policy, it is a natural attitude of a people. It is adjustment to the prevailing culture within a country, and a feeling of security within that adjustment. The traditions, the political and social institutions and the moral values that obtain seem good, the people do not wish them to be disturbed by peoples with other backgrounds and, what is more, they do not...

"John T. Flynn's classic work from 1944 on how wartime planning brought fascism to America. Flynn was a prominent journalist and rare case of an American public intellectual who resisted the onslaught of both the warfare and welfare states during the period in which FDR ruled America. This study links the domestic policy of the New Deal with the drive for war and wartime central planning. He...

"The Obama Administration is investing in a strong, agile, well-trained, and well-equipped U.S. military that can fight and win the nation's wars. U.S. Armed Forces must be able to prevail in current operations and the missions they are most likely to face, while developing capabilities to deter potential adversaries and provide a hedge against other risks and contingencies. Our policies will...

Among other things, President Calvin Coolidge used his second annual address to speak to the American people about foreign affairs. Coolidge noted that "the traditional policy of our country ... is against aggressive war."

"There are many viewpoints from which the issues of this war can be argued. Some are primarily idealistic. Some are primarily practical. One should, I believe, strive for a balance of both. But, since the subjects that can be covered in a single address are limited, tonight I shall discuss the war from a viewpoint which is primarily practical. It is not that I believe ideals are unimportant,...

"The following information is offered as a resource to understand Charles Lindbergh's involvement within the Noninterventionist movement and America First Committee prior to the start of World War II."

These essays present his view on various philosophical, political, economic, and social topics.

"The following is a summary of Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports on the history of U.S. military involvement in Africa. The Congressional Research Service is part of the Library of Congress, and its analysts produce unbiased nonpartisan reports for members of Congress and their staffs. The information in this timeline is contained in CRS Report RL32170, 'Instances of Use of United...

Federalist Papers 2- 5, written by John Jay, deal specifically with the issue of foreign policy - both the United States' influence on other nations, and vice versa. The subtitle reads, "Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force or Influence." These comprise four of the five papers John Jay wrote. All are available from the above link.

This and Federalist no. 25 were written by Alexander Hamilton, and discussed, "The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense."

Federalist Papers 26 - 28, also written by Alexander Hamilton, address "The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense."

"The genius of our institutions, the needs of our people in their home life, and the attention which is demanded for the settlement and development of the resources of our vast territory dictate the scrupulous avoidance of any departure from that foreign policy commended by the history, the traditions, and the prosperity of our Republic. It is the policy of independence, favored by our...

"This collection of essays and articles provides a small sampling of Flynn's work, as well as a look at some of the great themes that animated the Old Right. The articles and essays in this volume were chosen to highlight Flynn's advocacy of limitations on the intrusive, interventionist state, and the disastrous consequences of allowing those limitations to relax. Many of his warnings revolve...

In this statement, President Roosevelt comments on an unsettled situation in the nation of Cuba. At the time of this statement, America enjoyed friendly relations with Cuba. President Roosevelt therefore expressed America's non-interventionist stance toward the country by declaring the following:

"We feel that no official action of the United States should at any time operate as an...

"Welcome to the distinguished Jefferson Lecture Series. Today's speaker is Dr. Jerome Dobson, known to all of us and you as Jerry. Dr. Dobson is a professor of Geography at the University of Kansas, currently serving as a Jefferson Fellow, and senior scientist in the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues. ...

His research contributions include the paradigm of automated geography;...

As the title suggests, this speech celebrates the Kellog-Briand Pact. In his address, President Hoover declared the following:

"I congratulate this assembly, the states it represents, and indeed, the entire world upon the coming into force of this additional instrument of humane endeavor to do away with war as an instrument of national policy and to obtain by pacific means alone the...

"Those who have a true understanding of America know that we have no desire for territorial expansion, for economic or other domination of other peoples. Such purposes are repugnant to our ideals of human freedom. Our form of government is ill adapted to the responsibilities which inevitably follow permanent limitation of the independence of other peoples....

"Many important subjects will claim your attention during the present session, of which I shall endeavor to give, in aid of your deliberations, a just idea in this communication. I undertake this duty with diffidence, from the vast extent of the interests on which I have to treat and of their great importance to every portion of our Union. I enter on it with zeal...

According to Murray Rothbard, "a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination." Rothbard goes on to argue that the position of neutrality has historically been an honorable position and not the cowardly stance that many view it as now.

"WHEREAS a Treaty between the President of the United States Of America, the President of the German Reich, His Majesty the King of the Belgians, the President of the French Republic, His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the President of the Republic of Poland...

Written during the midst of the Civil War, this piece expresses America's desire to maintain a non-aggressive stance toward other countries, particularly Mexico. In expressing these convictions, the United States also expects other countries to treat her in the same manner.

"Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality. If there be candor in the world, the truth of these assertions will not be...

"In 2010, America is hardened by wars, and inspired by the servicemen and women who fight them. We are disciplined by a devastating economic crisis, and determined to see that its legacy is a new foundation for prosperity; and we are bound by a creed that has guided us at home, and served as a beacon to the world. America's greatness is not assured—each generation's place in history is a...

"After the Third Congress adjourned, Madison again defended his commercial propositions and Republican conduct in general in this anonymous pamphlet."

In this address, President McKinley comments on Spain's handling of the revolts against its rule in Cuba, a matter which ultimately led to the Spanish-American War. He describes in some detail the efforts of the American government to get Spain to bring resolution to the conflict with Cuba.

"In this January 8, 1918, speech on War Aims and Peace Terms, President Wilson set down 14 points as a blueprint for world peace that was to be used for peace negotiations after World War I. The details of the speech were based on reports generated by 'The Inquiry,' a group of about 150 political and social scientists organized by Wilson's adviser and long-time friend, Col. Edward M House....

"The steady aim of this Nation, as of all enlightened nations, should be to strive to bring ever nearer the day when there shall prevail throughout the world the peace of justice. There are kinds of peace which are highly undesirable, which are in the long run as destructive as any war. Tyrants and oppressors have many times made a wilderness and called it peace....

"Why did I vote against the Atlantic Pact? I wanted to vote for it-at least I wanted to vote to let Russia know that if she attacked western Europe, the United States would be in the war. I believe that would be a deterrent to war. We issued just this warning in the Monroe Doctrine, and though we were a much less powerful nation, it prevented aggression against...

A large portion of President Fillmore's 1851 State of the Union address was devoted to recent aggression relating to Cuba. Fillmore strongly encouraged American non-intervention in foreign affairs, declaring, "If we desire to maintain our respectability among the nations of the earth, it behooves us to enforce steadily and sternly the neutrality acts passed by Congress and to follow as far as...

"Our commitment to freedom remains strong and unshakable. But others must bear their share of the burden of defending freedom around the world. And so this, then, is our policy: We will maintain a nuclear deterrent adequate to meet any threat to the security of the United States or of our allies. We will help other nations develop the capability of defending...

"It is true that Washington thought a time might come when, our institutions being firmly consolidated and working with complete success, we might safely and perhaps beneficially take part in the consultations held by foreign states for the common advantage of the nations. Since that period occasions have frequently happened which presented seductions to a departure from what, superficially...

"The Old Right applied its aversion to government to foreign policy as well as domestic. It held the increasing interventions of the American government in the affairs of other nations to be illegitimate, and even imperialist, intrusions that benefited neither the American people nor the world as a whole. It held such intervention to be destructive of peace, and as posing a potentially grave...

"Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. This is demonstrably true; nor could it occur otherwise. The percentage of positively malignant, vicious, or depraved persons is necessarily small, for no species...

"The nations of Europe seem to desire it most, in spite of the fact that their representatives in this country certainly realize the impossibility of its fulfilling its purpose. They want it because to them it means American participation in their affairs. This has been shouted from the house-tops; it has been proclaimed in many public ways; it really needs no...

Written shortly after WWII, this piece examines Senator Robert Taft's foreign policy views. According to Schlesinger, "Senator Taft, indeed, is a man in transition, an Old Isolationist trying hard to come to terms with the modern world."

"A code of international law declaring war a crime and making criminally liable those who foment war could be carried out as successfully as any provision of domestic law in the United States. Under our Constitution, Congress may punish violations of international law, and so could other nations... Is there any law upon the statute books which awaited its...

This proclamation by George Washington declared the United States' neutrality in the European frictions of 1793. Among other things, Washington encouraged his countrymen to "pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerant Powers."

Grotius, another scholar sometimes referred to as the Father of International Law, wrote following the incredible devastation of the Thirty Year's War. He maintains "that there is a common law among nations, which is valid alike for war and in war.... I have had many and weighty reasons for undertaking to write upon the subject.... I observed that men rush to arms for slight causes, or no...

Montesquieu was a significant advocate of separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and his discussion of law contributed significantly to the concept of rule of law.

"You ask what I think on the expediency of encouraging our states to be commercial? Were I to indulge my own theory, should wish them to practise neither commerce nor navigation, but to stand with respect to Europe precisely on the footing of China. We should thus avoid wars, and all our citizens would be husbandmen. Whenever indeed our numbers should so increase...

All the world is becoming commercial. Was it practicable to keep our new empire separated from them we might indulge ourselves in speculating whether commerce contributes to the happiness of mankind.

"In the transaction of your foreign affairs, we have endeavored to cultivate the friendship of all nations, and especially of those with which we have the most important relations. We have done them justice on all occasions, favored where favor was lawful, and cherished mutual interests and intercourse on fair and equal terms. We are firmly convinced, and we act on...

"CALLED upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful...

In this piece, the great English philosopher Edmund Burke reflects upon the French Revolution and the pros and cons of war or peace in this situation.

"Though governments can originally have no other rise than that before mentioned, nor polities be founded on anything but the consent of the people, yet such have been the disorders ambition has filled the world with, that in the noise of war, which makes so great a part of the history of mankind, this consent is little taken notice of; and, therefore, many have mistaken the force of arms for...

"The state of war is a state of enmity and destruction; and therefore declaring by word or action, not a passionate and hasty, but sedate, settled design upon another man's life puts him in a state of war with him against whom he has declared such an intention, and so has exposed his life to the other's power to be taken away by him, or any one that joins with him in his defence, and espouses...

George WashingtonPreparing to leave office, Washington wrote his now famous "Farewell Address" to placate American concerns that a country without his leadership could not survive. Washington stresses the importance of unity, the supremacy of the Constitution, the danger of...

"So far, in our aid to the British we are following, step by step, the pattern of the last World War. First, materials; second, money; and third, men. I am willing to take the first two steps, but not the third. Baldly stated, this brings little disagreement—publicly, at least. But the way we do the first and the second is the answer to the third. Too many of us...

"Some thoughts for the President's consideration...;1st. We are at the end of a month's administration and yet without a policy either domestic or foreign. I would demand explanation from Spain and France, categorically, at once. I would seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia, and send agents into Canada, Mexico and Central America, to rouse a vigorous...

Among the few issues addressed by Zachary Taylor in his inaugural speech was the issue of foreign entanglements. Taylor cautions that the American love of liberty must not cause the nation to commit herself to involvement in extraneous affairs.