No Higher Law: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere since 1776

No Higher Law: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere since 1776

No Higher Law: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere since 1776

No Higher Law: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere since 1776

Synopsis

Dismantling the myths of United States isolationism and exceptionalism, No Higher Law is a sweeping history and analysis of American policy toward the Western Hemisphere and Latin America from independence to the present. From the nation's earliest days, argues Brian Loveman, U.S. leaders viewed and treated Latin America as a crucible in which to test foreign policy and from which to expand American global influence. Loveman demonstrates how the main doctrines and policies adopted for the Western Hemisphere were exported, with modifications, to other world regions as the United States pursued its self-defined global mission.
&9;
No Higher Law reveals the interplay of domestic politics and international circumstances that shaped key American foreign policies from U.S. independence to the first decade of the twenty-first century. This revisionist view considers the impact of slavery, racism, ethnic cleansing against Native Americans, debates on immigration, trade and tariffs, the historical growth of the military-industrial complex, and political corruption as critical dimensions of American politics and foreign policy.

Concluding with an epilogue on the Obama administration, Loveman weaves together the complex history of U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy to achieve a broader historical understanding of American expansionism, militarism, imperialism, and global ambitions as well as novel insights into the challenges facing American policymakers at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Dismantling the myths of United States isolationism and exceptionalism, No Higher Law is a sweeping history and analysis of American policy toward the Western Hemisphere and Latin America from independence to the present. From the nation's earliest days, argues Brian Loveman, U.S. leaders viewed and treated Latin America as a crucible in which to test foreign policy and from which to expand American global influence. Loveman demonstrates how the main doctrines and policies adopted for the Western Hemisphere were exported, with modifications, to other world regions as the United States pursued its self-defined global mission.
&9;
No Higher Law reveals the interplay of domestic politics and international circumstances that shaped key American foreign policies from U.S. independence to the first decade of the twenty-first century. This revisionist view considers the impact of slavery, racism, ethnic cleansing against Native Americans, debates on immigration, trade and tariffs, the historical growth of the military-industrial complex, and political corruption as critical dimensions of American politics and foreign policy.

Concluding with an epilogue on the Obama administration, Loveman weaves together the complex history of U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy to achieve a broader historical understanding of American expansionism, militarism, imperialism, and global ambitions as well as novel insights into the challenges facing American policymakers at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Excerpt

Writing history is almost always an effort to make the past speak to the present. I have written No Higher Law in that spirit. My research has been guided by concerns about the United States and the world in the first decades of the twenty-first century, even as I write about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the campaign against pirates of the Caribbean in the 1820s, America’s first treaty protectorate regime in Colombia in 1846, and Senate debates on treaties from 1794 to the end of World War ii. Asking the past to speak to the present is not the same as seeing and describing the past strictly through modern perspectives, ideas, or morality. Rather, such a historical inquiry reconsiders the past both to better understand it on its own terms and to reframe our understanding of the present.

As I wrote this book, the United States was engaged in a Global War on Terror. Unilateral, preemptive, and even preventive military intervention was official American policy. President George W. Bush proclaimed this policy with less stealth than Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, but with hardly more imperiousness than James Polk, more swagger than Theodore Roosevelt, or more cynicism than Richard Nixon. President Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, had declared: “When our national security interests are threatened, we will, as America always has, use diplomacy when we can, but force if we must. We will act with others when we can, but alone when we must.” and George W. Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, had told the Chicago Council of Global Affairs on April 23, 2007: “No president should ever hesitate to use force—unilaterally if necessary—to protect ourselves and our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently threatened.”

U.S. presidents since the Republic’s first decades had announced their willingness to use force unilaterally to protect U.S. citizens and the country’s security interests, a disposition consistent with conventional notions of the right of sovereign nation-states to act in self-defense to preserve their independent . . .

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