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It has become a staple among critics of American foreign policy to refer to the United States's approach as "liberal imperialism." By this they mean that America's globalist agenda and its willingness to use force in theaters across the globe derives from its desire to evangelize the gospel of liberalism and thereby extend the reach of a US-dominated democratic capitalist order. These critics point to the presidency of Woodrow Wilson and trace how this agenda evolved over the next century. The dominance of liberal ideology, they argue, is so all-encompassing that virtually all of the main variants within the modern US foreign policy tradition, from anti-communism to neoliberalism to neoconservatism, fit under liberalism's umbrella. In Republic in Peril, the eminent foreign policy scholar David C. Hendrickson turns this thesis on its head. A trenchant critic of America's quest for global dominance, Hendrickson argues not only that liberalism is not the culprit, but is in fact where we should turn because it offers a powerful critique of both militarized interventionism and the US quest for full-spectrum global dominance. Covering all of the major episodes of the past century, he shows how the US has fully abandoned a tradition of republican liberalism that dates back to the Founders. The republican liberal tradition, which dominated US foreign policy for over a century, mandated non-intervention and the promotion of peace. This "golden rule" policy toward other nations served America well, he contends, and many of the pathologies that plague US foreign policy now-particularly its disastrous approach to the Middle East-can be traced to the desertion of the republican liberal tradition. He therefore advocates returning to the more collegial form of internationalism ("iso-internationalism") that preceded Wilsonianism. Combining both a rich historical overview of modern American foreign policy with a forceful indictment of the illiberal straitjacket in which US has bound itself, Republic in Peril provides a genuinely original defense of liberalism in the service of peaceful non-intervention-a position that contemporary critics of aggressive liberalism are sure to find surprising.
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About the Author

David C. Hendrickson is Campbell Professor of History, Colorado College, and co-author of Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson.

Reviews

"Republic in Peril is a masterpiece of perspicacity from one of our greatest political scientists. Critiquing the 'liberal world order' promoted by our political establishments as profoundly illiberal, Hendrickson bids Americans to remember the words of their original prophets and return to first principles. Those with ears to hear, let them hear."--Walter A. McDougall, Pultizer Prize Winner, University of Pennsylvania"In this incisive, sharply observed, and utterly persuasive account, David Hendrickson offers a scathing critique of the blundering march toward militarized folly that has defined U.S. policy since the end of the Cold War. Citing the wisdom of the Founders, he also identifies a path offering a return to sanity--an approach to statecraft rooted in realism, modesty, and prudence. Americans concerned about their country's fate should read this brilliant book."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of America's War for the Greater Middle East"In Republic in Peril, David Hendrickson, true to form, musters his erudition, elegant prose, wit, and mastery of history and political thought to offer a scorching critique of the (bipartisan) principles and practices of post-Cold War American foreign policy, explaining why and how they have reduced Americans' liberty, security, and prosperity. Unlike most critics, however, Hendrickson also presents an alternative strategy that is substantive and compelling, the more so because it exposes the impracticalities of reflexive isolationism and the perils of hubris-driven exceptionalism. This is truly a book for our times."--Rajan Menon, Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations, City College of New York/City University of New York"Hendrickson compellingly demonstrates that the American Republic is in peril--not from foreign enemies, but from the consequences of its own misguided foreign policy. Ranging widely and deftly, from the classics of American political thought and international theory to the bewildering thicket of hot wars and regional feuds across the globe that embroil America, Hendrickson forcefully shows that U.S. foreign policy has become increasingly imperial and militarist--and deeply at odds with the animating purposes and original philosophies of the liberal republican American experiment."--Daniel Deudney, Associate Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University"In Republic in Peril, one of the foremost scholars of U.S. foreign policy makes a passionate and convincing case for a return to the first principles of American republican liberalism."--Michael Lind, author of The American Way of Strategy "This is an incisive critique of American policy from the standpoint of an earlier era but with troubling implications in the unlikely event that it actually gains traction in Washington, D.C."--Kirkus Reviews

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