Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II

Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II

Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II

Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II

Synopsis


Hard Line traces the history of Republican Party foreign policy since World War II by focusing on the conservative leaders who shaped it. Colin Dueck closely examines the political careers and foreign-policy legacies of Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He shows how Republicans shifted away from isolationism in the years leading up to World War II and oscillated between realism and idealism during and after the cold war. Yet despite these changes, Dueck argues, conservative foreign policy has been characterized by a hawkish and intense American nationalism, and presidential leadership has been the driving force behind it.


What does the future hold for Republican foreign policy? Hard Line demonstrates that the answer depends on who becomes the next Republican president. Dueck challenges the popular notion that Republican foreign policy today is beholden to economic interests or neoconservative intellectuals. He shows how Republican presidents have been granted remarkably wide leeway to define their party's foreign policy in the past, and how the future of conservative foreign policy will depend on whether the next Republican president exercises the prudence, pragmatism, and care needed to implement hawkish foreign policies skillfully and successfully. Hard Line reveals how most Republican presidents since World War II have done just that, and how their accomplishments can help guide future conservative presidents.

Excerpt

Where is the Republican party headed politically and ideologically? Should it become more strictly conservative or less so? These questions have interested observers and animated conservatives in particular since the Republican electoral defeats of 2006 and 2008. Heated debates continue as to how far the Republican Party should adjust and adapt, in terms of either style or substance, to recover national political success. Reformers such as David Brooks and David Frum urge Republicans to modernize, strike a new tone, and directly address middle-class economic anxieties. Rock-ribbed conservatives respond by saying that the basic principles of limited government embodied in the American founding need no updating. Yet amid these conflicting recommendations, surprisingly little popular attention is paid to foreign policy. Where will issues of diplomacy and national security fit into a new Republican appeal?

One way to help answer that question is to start with a better grasp of the true history of Republican foreign policy alternatives. This should come naturally to conservatives, who point out that only by understanding our own past can we move forward to good effect. in 2002, responding to the terrorist attacks of the previous autumn, the administration of President George W. Bush embraced a new national security strategy based on concepts of regime change, rogue state rollback, counterproliferation, preventive warfare, and assertive democratization, a strategy that became known as the Bush doctrine and that led directly to the subsequent U.S. invasion of Iraq. As of 2009–10, there were essentially three leading interpretations, whether explicit or implicit, of the Bush . . .

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