Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Colin Dueck's "Hard Line"

Colin Dueck is associate professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University. He is the author of Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II, and reported the following:
Hard Line tells the story of conservative and Republican Party foreign policy traditions in the United States since World War II. I argue that Republican foreign policies have long been influenced by a hawkish and intense American nationalism, but that specific approaches within that broad framework have been very much determined by presidential leadership. Page 99 of the book illustrates the point, by introducing President Eisenhower’s policies toward Latin America. As I describe on that page:
Eisenhower believed, as he said, that “in the long run, the United States must back democracies.” Nevertheless, he faced a dilemma that was also faced by every cold war president of either party: namely, whether to pressure allied yet autocratic regimes in the direction of democratic reform, when the very process of such pressure might simply undermine an American client and substitute a hostile autocracy in its place. Eisenhower’s instinct in such cases was to bolster American allies.
Interestingly, it was none other than fellow Republican George W. Bush who repudiated this “realist” approach to foreign policy, by embracing forcible democratization in Iraq as a solution to America’s national security challenges. Clearly there is a considerable range of specific foreign policy traditions on the Republican side, and I sketch out these differences through a series of biographical essays. But the leeway presidents receive on foreign policy, including from within their own party, means that future Republican presidents need not replicate Bush’s exact approach. I end the book with some predictions as to where Republicans may be headed on foreign policy issues, and also with some recommendations for a new conservative realism that gets beyond the frustrations of the Bush era.
Read an excerpt from Hard Line, and learn more about the book at the Princeton University press website.

--Marshal Zeringue